The United States was formed from the colonial rabble who defied a British Empire and established their own government, justified by reason and founded to defend their inalienable God-given rights. A little more than two centuries later, the Union is but a justification for the sundry governments to exploit their citizenry, and for the central government to exploit the states.
What remains of the philosophy that guided our founders remains embedded in the breasts of the patriotic, and all pretense to sharing the views of the broader electorate has been abandoned by our nominal representatives within the bounds of that swamp that became Washington D.C.. Throughout rebellions, wars, and depressions, Americans tended to hold fast to the view that government is best when it governs least. The observation that centralized government is necessarily a danger always requiring a watchful master animated local and state public discussions.
Though early stirrings of abusive national authority can be found in the cases of the draconian Alien and Sedition Acts and the chartering of the First Bank of the United States and the Second Bank of the United States, the sentiment of liberty was so strong in the American mind that oppressive measures and institutions could not persist long.
But one cannot overlook the long-term view of such an undeniable statist as Alexander Hamilton, who made glowing reference to “empire” in The Federalist Papers, and whose proposal for a central bank was rebuked at the Constitutional Convention, given that the colonial experience of such institutions was remarkably bad.
A haunting scene from the series John Adams illustrates well Alexander Hamilton’s plans to draw the republic ever closer together under the dominant authority of the federal government.
Hamilton’s vision has come true in many respects. We have incurred a colossal national debt through a central bank of sorts, and states are indeed closely bound to the national government. Federal grants to the states and state obligations due to federal mandates have reached monumental and indeed, unsustainable proportions. Due to such malignant institutions as the Federal Reserve Bank, a Hamiltonian throwback, the United States has debauched its currency and is monetizing the debts of the federal government, and thereby, through federal grants and spending, the debt of the states.
Regardless of what one might speculate about the reasons the federal government is dominating the political life of the country, the truth remains that Washington has acquired almost imperial control over the states of the country, effecting through red ink what it did not need to effect through red blood. When we have a monetary system itself based on public and private debt, instead of money as a “store of value,” as Mises defined it, then perhaps such a state of affairs is inevitable. Fiat currency, or money unbacked by wealth, after all, is money the government can produce and direct at will, knowing the citizens’ labor will follow it. When the control of money is taken out of the people’s hands, then the control of the economy will necessarily follow.
The real problem is that many Americans have retreated from that healthy skepticism of centralized authority so vital to retaining a free country. “If men were angels, no government would be necessary,” is a true dictum. We men also must acknowledge that the government itself is not comprised of angels, and assume politicians do not have our best interest at heart until they prove otherwise. Even if one group of politicians holding power in our stead is well-meaning, those who follow them in office may not be. Accumulation of power is a continual call for abuse by unprincipled politicians and an open invitation to corruption. If our politicians are incapable of restraining themselves while in government, we citizens must be more vigorous and vigilant checking the government for them.
This leads me to revisit the warnings of the Anti-Federalists, whose admonitions of the danger of a centralized government are clear, even if their political theory was occasionally less sound than most of our Founders.’ The words of George Mason are particularly stunning. From his “Objections to the Constitution“:
“Under their own construction of the general clause at the end of the enumerated powers, the Congress may grant monopolies in trade and commerce, constitute new crimes, inflict unusual and severe punishments, and extend their power as far as they shall think proper; so that the state legislatures have no security for the powers now presumed to remain to them, or the people for their rights. There is no declaration of any kind for preserving the liberty of the press, the trial by jury in civil cases, nor against the danger of standing armies in time of peace.
The state legislatures are restrained from laying export duties on their own produce; the general legislature is restrained from prohibiting the further importation of slaves for twenty-odd years, though such importations render the United States weaker, more vulnerable, and less capable of defence. Both the general legislature and the state legislatures are expressly prohibited making ex post facto laws, though there never was, nor can be, a legislature but must and will make such laws, when necessity and the public safety require them, which will hereafter be a breach of all the constitutions in the Union, and afford precedents for other innovations.
This government will commence in a moderate aristocracy: it is at present impossible to foresee whether it will, in its operation, produce a monarchy or a corrupt oppressive aristocracy; it will most probably vibrate some years between the two, and then terminate in the one or the other.”
Let Mason’s words sound the alarm: Our nation is being usurped by a centralized authority, and the only solution is for the people and the several states to rise up and push back.
As posted on Political Crush.