Since the Reagan era there has been a large move away from the federal government. As he so eloquently said “Government is not the solution to your problems, government is the problem”. Though I am personally not a big Reagan fan, I have to give credit where credit is due as his influence on our country was immense. Not all of it good. His ideas officially ended when Donald Trump was elected. But the conservative movement without him would have been nothing. A big part of Reagan was shrinking federal government, but to be realistic though the attempt was made to shrink the federal government, the problems that governments deal with were not destroyed. They were just transferred to the states, which in many ways made sense. States are not like Federal government they have to balance the books, they do not have the Federal Reserve, they cannot print dollars and issue T-Bills. They can issue bonds, but these are passed by state voters. As I write the sidewalks I voted on several years ago are finally being made, through bonds the city of Shoreline issued. Is doing things at the state level a good thing, it all depends on the issue.
People in the country are always moving, in fact since 1492 people in the US have been moving as the country expanded. Before independence we had pioneers. People moving west, before and after independence. Seeking new opportunities, seeking new lives it was the spirit of the frontier (it also was in the spirit of genocide of native Americans). It was romanticized in print and later in film. In current times that spirit still exists as people exit cities like Detroit and Cleveland going to where opportunity is available, cities like Seattle and Austin. We are a entrepreneurial country, Ford is now replaced by Amazon and Microsoft. As Ford exported its economy so a new one was needed to be built, but that is something America excels at. In many ways the spirit of the pioneer lives on in America, to be honest it is just part of the American DNA.
Early on in COVID-19 the idea put forth by the Trump administration was to put the onus on the states. Let them battle out for supplies and the Federal government can play back up. Quickly we discovered since it was a new virus and we were not prepared. Early on it was ventilators, some states were ahead of the curve when it came to the spread early on of COVID-19. New York needed ventilators and requested help form other states, the ugly side of this being New York could only count on blue sates to help. Other states needed to rely on contacts. to get necessary supplies. Maryland’s Governor Larry Hogan leveraged his wife’s South Korean roots to get COVID tests as the Trump admin was unreliable. As they went to market states competed against each other for supplies. While people were suffering and dying the federal government turned a blind eye. There are certain problems that come about the that only the weight of the federal government can solve as they have the resources. They have access to money that states do not, states by definition have to be fiscally conservative. They have a military that understands supply lines and how to quickly create and facilitate. They can coordinate at a national level and focus on areas with urgent needs. All things that a state just does not have access or visibility to.
Now we come to another divide as it looks like the Supreme Court will overturn Roe v Wade and pass responsibility to the states. Some of the arguments I have to admit are head scratching, I guess I am not inline with the “originalist” views of the constitution. Yes abortion is not covered in the original document. Nor were women or black people (refer to Dred Scott). But what really concerns me is how differently woman will be treated depending on what state you live in. Those who are hurt the most are the most vulnerable, the poor and the uneducated. Neighboring states will also be affected. Idaho will trigger one of the most extreme abortion laws if and when Roe v Wade is overturned. Idaho accounts for 5% of abortions in Washington State, that number is expected to increase by 385% should the new abortion law be triggered. There will be a corporate effect as companies opt to move out of states they view as less supportive of their female workforce. Roe v Wade usually comes in at 65% for and 35% against, but in hi-tech companies with educated and a growing population of female employees I would think the number is even higher (Microsoft has already announced it will fly woman who need an abortion at companies expense) .
When I look at this I am not sure we have thought through the long term ramifications of pushing more and more responsibility to the states. But once Roe v Wade is overturned, given we have a very right leaning Supreme Court what is next? I think a likely target will be same sex marriage. People think we can push more and more down to the states. Like it or not what we are promoting is division as a nation. You will have states where you are not welcome based on your political views. The issue wit States determining personal freedoms is you are going to have a patchwork of freedoms across the country, no uniformity. Literally as you drive across states you could have gay marriage in one, none in the other , no interracial marriage in one, transgender rights in one etc…Then how those laws are enforced and severity of punishment will differ. In the end it will be utterly confusing and unsustainable. The only winners will be attorney’s. If I had a law degree I would focus on confusing issues as that is where the money is.
Increasingly we are becoming narrow minded and isolated in our residence of choice. People move to places where the state government and people are inline with their views. Today’s America sees its citizen retreating to what they view as safe havens. In the long run this will not make for a stable democracy. We are transitioning from blue states and red states to ice blue states and blood red states. We are becoming extreme. Where depending on your political outlook you will either be received with open arms or thrown back to whence you came. The cost will be freedom, ironic for a country that was built on those word, but at the same time hopefully we can appreciate the meaning. Right now I am not so confident. As former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said “In the long run democracy is the most stable form of government, in the short run it is the most fragile”.
Good Night and Good Luck,
Hans Henrik Hoffmann May 11, 2022