An Astute Observation

By way of Fred Reed comes this observation from none other than Robert E. Lee:

The consolidation of the states into one vast empire, sure to be aggressive abroad and despotic at home, will be the certain precursor of ruin which has overwhelmed all that preceded it.

Never have truer words been spoken. As Fred writes in response to Lee's observation, “The man was perceptive. Amalgamation of the states under a central government has led to exactly the effects foreseen by General Lee.”

It used to be solutions to state problems were either handled by the state affected, or the state directed the federal government in regards to the help it needed. Those days are long gone>

Today it's a “one size fits all” solutions handed down by Washington DC even if the solutions don't apply to specific states. An illustration of one of the silliest solutions to a problem that really only affected one region in the country can be summed up in two words: flush toilets.

You may think I'm being facetious or playing the wise ass, but I assure you I am not. Since some time after 2001 the manufacture and sale of flush toilets that were not low water use toilets has been illegal. Under EPA regulations, flush toilets cannot use more than 1.6 gallons of water per flush. This was done to help save water, which makes perfect sense for arid and semi-arid parts of the US like California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada. But to apply it across the board doesn't. In fact, many of those low flush toilets cause problems when used with older sewer and septic systems because there's not enough water being used to make sure the 'effluvia' moves along to where it is supposed to go. That more than one flush may be necessary to get the waste from Point A to Point B is well known to those who have had the misfortune to replace an older toilet in their home with one of the new 'efficient' flush toilets.

Kind of defeats the purpose, doesn't it?

Another observation made by Fred:

In, say, 1950, to an appreciable though imperfect extent America resembled a confederacy. Different regions of the America had little contact with each other, and almost no influence over one another. The federal government was small and remote. Interstates did not exist, nor of course the internet, nor even direct long-distance telephone dialing. West Virginia, Alabama, Massachusetts, New York City, Texas, and California had little in common, but little conflict arose since for practical purposes they were almost different countries. They chiefly governed themselves. The  proportion of federal to state law was small. 

It is important to note that regional differences were great. In 1964 in rural Virginia, the boys brought shotguns to school during deer season. Nobody shot anybody because it wasn’t in the culture. The culture was uniform, so no one was upset. It is when cultures are mixed, or one rules another, that antagonism comes.  Such shotgun freedom would not have worked in New York City with its variegated and often mutually hostile ethnicities.

Regions differed importantly in degree of freedom, not just in the freedom of local populations to govern themselves but also in individual freedom. It made a large difference in the tenor of life. If in Texas, rural Virginia, or West Virginia you wanted to build an addition to your house, you did. You didn’t need licenses, permits, inspections, union-certified electricians. Speed limits? Largely ignored. Federal requirements for Coast Guard approved flotation devices on your canoe? What the hell kind of crazy idea was that? 

Indeed. And here's where Fred and I are on exactly the same page:

Democracy works better the smaller the group practicing it. In a town, people can actually understand the questions of the day. They know what matters to them. Do we build a new school, or expand the existing one? Do we want our children to recite the pledge of allegiance, or don’t we? Reenact the Battle of Antietam? Sing Christmas carols in the town square? We can decide these things. Leave us alone.

States similarly knew what their people wanted and, within the limits of human frailty, governed accordingly.

As Fred observes, democracy works pretty well at the small scale. I see it all the time in my home town. The townspeople decide how much the town will spend and on what, or what local ordinances they want to add or do away with.. The same goes for the school system. No input from the federal government is required or wanted. We know what we need and more importantly, what we don't need. To think that some faceless bureaucrat can have any understanding of what we need or want is ludicrous at best and deranged at worst. To think that we are a monolithic society where 'solutions' can be applied with a broad brush approach is the height of delusion (with a huge portion of arrogance thrown in). That type of approach creates more problems that it solves, pissing off a lot of people in the process.

As the saying goes, Read The Whole Thing.