The Cato Institute has conducted a new poll of Americans' attitudes toward federalism. Apparently Americans have become much more favorable to federalism and decentralization over the past 40 years. The Cato Institute commissioned YouGov for the poll. They asked respondents questions about which level of government should have primary control over each issue area, using … Continue reading Changing American Views on Federalism
I recently read Daniel Treisman's brilliant book, The Architecture of Government: Rethinking Political Decentralization. This book is particularly important for classical liberals who defend decentralization as an important institutional reform for promoting and protecting individual freedom. Treisman's thesis is essentially that decentralization is overrated. He doesn't argue that decentralization generally has bad consequences, even under … Continue reading Is Decentralization Overrated?
Is federalism for progressives? Libertarians, who are generally enthusiastic about the competitive federalism model, have tried to argue that the model provides, at the very least, a kind of modus vivendi for all ideological camps, allowing citizens in each state to have roughly the kind of government that they want. Relative to a single national … Continue reading Does Status Quo U.S. Federalism Advantage Progressives?
1. I'm not a big fan of CNN but it occasionally produces an interesting piece. This one on a surrogate who rescued a baby with birth defects from the natural parents (or so she thought!) who wanted the baby aborted is a must-read and raises a lot of interesting questions about law and ethics. It also highlights how states are … Continue reading Pieces Worthy of Your Attention
In Canada, provincial parties are totally organizationally independent of federal parties and may not even have the same names. Thus, the British Columbia Liberal Party has generally been right-of-center, and British Columbia Liberals tend to vote Conservative at the federal level. Quebec Liberals have generally been more Quebec-nationalist/decentralist than the federal Liberals. Most provinces have … Continue reading Should State Parties Change Their Names?
Harvard economist Ed Glaeser weighs in on federal mandates in general: Although I am open to having state governments require more health coverage, I fear a federal government with too much power to control individual behavior. The track record of federal interventions in managing markets suggests a strong case for limiting that power. The question … Continue reading Ed Glaeser on Federal Mandates
Constitutional debates swirling around the PPACA's individual mandate have much to do with federalism. The core issue the Supreme Court is addressing is whether the federal government has essentially unlimited authority in economic policy, or whether they are yet some areas of economic policy-making (such as whether to compel commerce) exclusive to the states. As … Continue reading Federalism & Inequality, Part One
Vermont has passed a law authorizing a single-payer, government-run health insurance system. Apparently the plan fails to grasp the fiscal nettle and thus may never come to fruition. Nevertheless, I hope they go forward with it. I don't think it will work - to the contrary, the experiment should serve as an object lesson to … Continue reading Socialism in One State
A rumble can be heard emanating from assemblies and governor’s mansions across these fruited plains. It is a sound reminiscent of by-gone days that echo down through centuries of constitutional thought. Prompted by everything from unfunded Congressional mandates to the new omnibus healthcare bill, (See here and here) these reverberations strike cords of distant legal memory that … Continue reading Interposition: Part One: An Essential Purpose of the States
The latest Economist has an interesting feature on inequalities among regions within countries. The article compares countries on their ranges in GDP per head (the ratio of richest region to poorest). Thus, we get charts like the following: But range is an extremely crude concept for measuring inequality. In the U.S., the District of Columbia … Continue reading Regional Inequality
Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) had an interesting bipartisan health care bill with the now-ousted Bob Bennett of Utah that, unfortunately, never got anywhere. But apparently he sneaked into the bill that did pass a provision that will allow states to set up their own universal insurance systems. While conservative states are backing a legal challenge … Continue reading Oregon to Opt out of Parts of Obamacare?
So what do we think about the district court ruling overturning California's same-sex marriage ban? To my knowledge, this is the first time a court has asserted a federal constitutional right to marriage. As a longtime supporter of getting government out of marriage licensing and of legal equality for same-sex and nonmonogamous relationships, I am … Continue reading A Constitutional Right to Marriage?
It is probably fairly obvious to our readers that many (all?) of us here at Pileus support a more robust form of federalism (and decentralization) than we currently enjoy in the U.S. So it is with much chagrin that I relay news from this weekend that President Obama wants more federal dollars to bail out irreponsible supposedly … Continue reading More Money for the States?
In the 2005 case Gonzales v Raich, the Supreme Court pulled back on its federalism jurisprudence and ruled that the federal government may prosecute someone for growing marijuana at home for personal use under the authority of the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which grants Congress the right to regulate commerce among the several … Continue reading Who’s Afraid of Fiscal Federalism?
Under certain conditions, decentralization can in and of itself represent an increase in freedom, even if government does not shrink as a consequence. Libertarians need not be complete anarchists, just radical decentralists.
As the New York Times reported: Esther Duflo, a development economist at M.I.T., has been awarded the John Bates Clark Medal. The award is given to “that American economist under the age of 40 who is judged to have made the most significant contribution to economic thought and knowledge.” Professor Duflo, 37, helped found the … Continue reading Experiments, Health Care, and Federalism