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Monday, May 24, 2010

"The Last Days of the Sweet Land of Liberty"?

Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal signed House Joint Resolution 2 (HJ0002), claiming “sovereignty on behalf of the State of Wyoming and for its citizens under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States over all powers not otherwise enumerated and granted to the federal government or reserved to the people by the Constitution of the United States.”
Wyoming joins 10 other states that have passed similar resolutions since last year; Alaska, Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Tennessee passed theirs in 2009, and Utah, Alabama, and South Carolina have joined Wyoming in passing resolutions this year.

This is not calling for complete independence but it if the central government won't role back power it is a first step on a road that could only lead to separation or forceful repression.

The United States Constitution was certainly drafted for the purpose of giving the central government minimum power. There are arguments both ways but I tend to think federation is the form of government that best secures liberty & stability. If central government is not strong enough to coerce the sub-units then it cannot establish dictatorship generally & if there is free movement & trade between the subunits local governments which fail to match something approaching the average level of competence will not survive the competition. Switzerland & the USA are the outstanding examples. I would like to see Britain as such a federation. It is perhaps unfortunate that the British Empire did not develop some sort of central government & instead broke into completely separate countries.

It used to be said that the American Civil War had finally determined where national sovereignty lay. However in supporting the dissolution of Yugoslavia Clinton & the US government reversed that. If for Yugoslavia, which was recognised as a sovereign state without any explicit right of the sub-states to secede (the USSR's constitution had such a right) the western countries & specifically the USA could assert that the substates did have a right to secede they are have now debared themselves from making the opposite claim over the USA. Of course realities 7 legalities are not the same thing & the rules we applied on Yugoslavia were done to justify a mugging. On the other hand legality & reality are not entirely separate - when Stalin wrote the right of secession into the USSR's constitution he did it to "prove" what a free & liberal union it was. I am certain he never expected that rule to be used but because of it, when circumstances changed, it was.

I don't think it certain or even probable that the USA will break up but if it is to exist as a free society it will either dissolve or central government will be rolled back as required by the Constitution.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor
prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively,
or to the people.
Anybody who has read Heinlein's Friday, showed the break up of the USA into several unattractive madhouses. Yet reading it, 1 of my 2 favourites of his for its sheer complexity & the accuracy of its prediction, it is clear that it broke for good economic reasons & that a centralised state would have been madder yet.

Certainly if all the states which have already expressed a desire for the 10th Amendment to apply as written were to want out it is highly unlikely the USA could continue to function.
But would liberty function better? I think it would be more secured than by the present centralised state -we may well see.

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