Study their behaviors. Observe their territorial boundaries. Leave their habitat as you found it. Report any signs of intelligence.

Loading Table of Contents...

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Is Federalism Inherently Libertarian or Un-Libertarian?

There are very good reasons for preferring that civil liberties in early 21st-century America should be protected at the level of the federal judiciary, rather than at the level of state governments -- or at the level of the U.N. However, those reasons are empirical matters of historical contingency, and have no more necessary connection to abstract libertarian principles than does the historical scarcity of gold. Seventy years ago, when the federal government was just as bad as the various states on civil liberties, and was leading the assault on our economic liberties, it would indeed have been preferable to limit federal jurisdiction as much as possible in precisely the way that 72-year-old Ron Paul suggests. The last 70 years of improvements in America's civil liberties weren't due to any magic wand of the federal judiciary -- rather, the courts were just spurring (and sometimes chasing) social changes that were happening anyway. However, the federal nanny state has slashed our economic liberty in ways that the several states could never have replicated even by acting in parallel. States that tried to create mini Medicare or Social Security schemes would have failed miserably, because people could leave (and because states can't print money).

I for one don't want the federal government to do for other civil rights what it's done for substance use and campaign speech and equal marriage and warrantless monitoring and gun rights and 'hate crimes' and reproductive technology and digital copying technology. Still, if in 2009 a magic button could put the federal judiciary in charge of all of America's personal liberties, while eliminating all federal jurisdiction over our economic liberties, I'd gladly push it. Unfortunately, I don't yet see a way to get the feds to protect our civil liberties without also trampling out economic liberties. At this point, I'd be willing to radically reduce the federal involvement in both areas, and let the states compete in things like marriage laws and socialized healthcare. Let the free-est jurisdiction win.

No comments: