Wednesday, December 25, 2002

The latest Alan Reynolds commentary in the Washington Times is a Trent Lott story with a difference. Mr. Reynolds want to talk about the difference between "states' rights" and "Federalism".:

When he researched his family background, Mr. Eubanks "found the words 'states' rights' and 'illegal encroachment by the federal government' used in place of 'segregation' and 'integration.'" That comment is quite correct, yet it troubles me for two reasons. As a college student in the early 1960s, I was passionately opposed to the military draft and just as passionately in favor of the Rev. Martin Luther King's dream of treating people as individuals, not as members of arbitrary categories. On the other hand, I was and still am a big fan of decentralized government, otherwise known as federalism or devolution.

His words are worth thinking about, but I think several points bear more emphasis. First, any effort to limit the power of the Federal government will always draw support from those still fighting the civil war, and it is a rare politician who will resist subtly shifting his emphasis to draw more votes if he can do so without alienating anyone else. Much of his case is made by discussing Federal programs that were or were considered by some failures - while ignoring failed programs and initiatives of states. Most important perhaps is the desire to have it both ways. Oddly enough, most of the states where they complain about the Federal government get more money from the Federal government than their citizens pay back in taxes. This is the latest study from the tax foundation. Via Andy X of In the Land of the Blind who left the link in a comment on Atrios's Eschaton.

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