November 14, 2008

The evils of centralization.

This debate goes back to the beginnings of our country, and our present course of action was not decided until the end of the Civil War. *history over*

According to Alexis de Tocqueville, "Complicated systems are repugnant to [the American people], and [the people's] favorite conception is that of a great nation composed of citizens all formed upon one pattern and all governed by a single power." And again, "The notion [the American people] all form of government is that of a sole, simple, providential, and creative power." In essence, de Tocqueville is saying that the American people naturally desire the government to have no limits in its centralization and power, or in other words, the people naturally think that all federal power ought to be wholly in the federal (as opposed to state or local) government, and that this power ought to be limitless. Although I disagree with him in that it is a natural desire, he is uncannily correct in the effect - the American government has gradually moved from a very distributed, freedom-oriented government, as opposed to the current centralized, authoritative machine we have today.

For example, before the Civil War, one would always write about the United States in plural. E.g., "The United States are very nice." Now, we would say "The United States is very nice." This is a subtle but meaningful shift. Before, in 1840 or so, the Supreme Court would nothave had the power to decalre abortion constitutionally acceptible - the state governments, not the federal governments, would have. Now, of course...

What does this mean? Isn't this just a simpler system that guarentees equality across the states, so that no one is greater than the others? Doesn't it take all the problems of state-border issues, and doesn't it give a greater unity to the nation? Well, certainly. But are those things necessarily good, and do the benefits outweigh the cost?

All men are not created with equal needs. Granted, all humans have equal rights and dignity before God, but each man in his individual situation has unique needs. Just like you wouldn't give a person needing a pain killer something more like an antacid, you shouldn't give a man in the country the same regulations as someone in a city. The city dweller may need more heavy police protection in his area, because the dangers are greater, but certainly the man living in the middle of nowhere does not need police patrolling at every minute. The principle is simple enough - every man needs something different to thrive.

The federal government, however, cannot treat each citizen according to his needs. Although, perhaps, it can see the problems with the country as a whole, it simply cannot know the complex set of circumstances which surround every American. Thus, it cannot possibly give every man what he needs. It can try to please most people, but there will be a group who are not taken care of, or perhaps even harmed by regulations. This is an absolute tragedy.

Moreover, the central government in our country is amassing more powers and rights over us. For instance, no food product can make it onto the market unless approved by the FDA. Maybe that's a good thing, since quacks cannot produce poison and sell it to the masses. However, I think that the government deciding what food you can buy is a particularly bad thing. Similarly, the government decides - how you can make additions to your house (Zoning boards...), what TV and radio you can listen to (FCC), what lawyers and doctors can treat you, and even where you can go in the world (Passports). In essence, you can't do much of anything without the federal government's permission. Am I the only one who thinks that there is a problem with this? Am I crazy to think that I should be able to buy whatever food I want? Is it evil for me to want to add a new room to my house? What happened to America, the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Clearly, something is wrong here. And, quite frankly, if we don't do something, we may end up in a dictatorship. And I'm quite sure that nobody wants that.

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