What we really have in the United States is not so much a political problem, as Mr. Flum postulates, but a legal problem. Here's the difference between the U.S. and European countries: size. Not just geographical or population sizes, but in scale of operations. Think for the moment of roadways. If you live in Spain, you may not even care how the roads are in France. But if you want to drive from Madrid to Bordeaux, you'll want to know that there is an easy to follow, properly maintained route to follow. As a Kentuckian, I don't even have to care about how the roads in Ohio are; I know that the federally operated Interstate will be direct and (mostly) well-maintained. We no longer live and die within 20 miles of where we were born.
|Unlike European countries, we maintain one system from sea to shining sea.|
We forget, but Eli Whitney's cotton gin was one of the most important causes of the Civil War. That invention increased the potential for production and gave rise to a dramatically expansive economy. Northern factories boomed in the 1800s, driven by the massive output of cotton from the South. The idea that we're still all little autonomous states only tangentially involved with one another is a fantasy.
|Eli Whitney's cotton gin reinvigorated the "peculiar|
instituation" that had been on the verge of dying out.
When the county whose children need to be educated won't pay the bill, the county asks the state for funding. The state obliges to a point, dipping into its coffers, but of course with lots of counties full of residents refusing to pay higher taxes, those coffers don't last long. The state, then, asks for federal money for education, which the federal government provides. Find me a state that doesn't take federal money to compensate for its own insufficiently funded needs, and I'll show you a state that's entitled to say, "Leave me alone."
Companies that operate on a national or international scale have a very good idea how to play the game. Factories are built in states that are lax about pollution. Corporate headquarters are established in states with low corporate tax rates. Board members maintain a "primary" residence in states with the lowest personal tax rates. Meanwhile, their products are sold across the globe, the money flows from all places to those at the top, and they in turn go as they please to spend it. Great for the profits of those at the top, of course, but is it reasonable to protect a haphazard legal system that allows and even encourages this kind of cherry-picking?
In short, we have outgrown the model of state/federal relations that the founders had in mind in 1787. We have to live in the now, and the truth is that regional nostalgia aside, there is little meaningful value to continuing to differentiate each state in the Union.
|James Madison is dead.|
It's okay not to worry about him.
Conservatives keep screaming about an intrusive federal government prying into their lives. You know what? I don't want the Kentucky State Police in charge of protecting me from terrorists. I want the F.B.I. and C.I.A. on that job. Our legal and economic system needs to be revised, and the first step is admitting that we are no longer the United States of 1787. We have outgrown that model.