We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined.... [T]he powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.
This division of labor accords with the venerable principle of subsidiarity, which allocates governmental responsibilities to the lowest levels able to exercise them. The effect is to ensure that governmental decisions most immediately affecting people's lives will be made by officials who are the closest to them and have the most intimate knowledge of the relevant facts and conditions. This design served us so well during the first 150 years of our national existence that the eminent British historian Lord Acton, declared that our constitutional development of federalism "has produced a community more powerful, more prosperous, more intelligent, and more free than any other which the world has seen." Over the years, however, our federal government has engaged in massive raids on the constitutional prerogatives of the states. Today there is virtually no governmental responsibility beyond the reach of federal authority. As a consequence, our nation has been converted into an administrative state overseen by unelected officials who issue regulations that reach into every corner of American life. Few appreciate the extent of this transformation. In 1935, at the outset of the New Deal, the United States Code consisted of a single volume containing 2,275 pages of statutes. Today, it comprises 30 volumes of statutory law. When I was in law school, Title 42, which contains the federal laws relating to public health and welfare, consisted of just 128 pages. Today it contains over 6,200 pages, more than twice as many as the entire body of federal law at the beginning of the New Deal.
Bureaus and agencies issue endless marching orders to administer those federal statutes. By 2010, the Code of Federal Regulations contained over 166,000 pages of detailed, fine-print regulations that have the force of law and affect virtually every aspect of American life.
People have to spend tons of money on lawyers just to know what is in those pages. What a waste. Good for the legal industry, however.
The 21st century will be known as the Era of Bureaucrats. And just as a bureaucratic mandarins retarded progress for centuries in China, so too they will stifle innovation in western civilization. Unless there is a profound change in the size of government, we will see only stasis.
Here in Canada we have a similar system which allocates powers to the federal, provincial and municipal levels as appropriate.
When I lived in the UK, I was flabbergasted by the number of piddling local issues the British PM routinely got stuck with. A sterling example was a nationwide firefighter strike! Such a thing would be unheard of in Canada (or the US) where fire departments are entirely a municipal responsibility. If you're not happy with your pay and benefits in the Edmonton Fire Department, that's purely between you and the city, not the rest of Canada. And it's none of the PM's business.
Still, we in Canada are also alert to the centralizing impulse of Big Government. I do find a part of the problem these days is the shocking public ignorance about basic civics (does anyone anywhere get this sort of instruction anymore?).
Case in point was a recent debate in another blog about a corrupt taxi commission in a Canadian city. A number of folks felt that "Prime Minister Harper ought to abolish the commission".
Er, no, folks. That's not how it works. Maybe abolishing the taxi commission might be a good idea. But that's a job for the mayor of the city, not the prime minister of the country.