Sunday, December 11, 2011

States Rights

At long last I am back to the world of my little blog.  I have a couple of posts that I am working on, but I would like to do this one first.  A while back I approached a friend to write a small piece about the importance of States Rights to our nation, and how increasing the rights of the individual states to manage their own affairs can only be a beneficial thing for our nation.  He has done a great job, and I think you will like his piece a lot.  He begins his piece quoting a comment from my last post, where a different friend was questioning my thoughts, and implying I showed some intense naivete for supporting State Rights.  I will include some of my own thoughts at the end.  

From my friend Greg Safsten, The Rocky Mountain Prepper:

                                                 State's Rights at ALL Costs.

"'I am really glad you are involved in politics!! Glenn and I are also, I think more people are age should be. I am interested in your explanations of specifically the prostitution and the drugs(not pot, the harder ones) I understand that his policy is based upon giving the States rights and taking them from the federal government(by the way, that is Mitt Romney's policy as well, I know you don't like him or agree with him as a candidate but I just wanted you to know Ron Paul is not the only one with this platform and most people think he is.) and I agree with that wholeheartedly in most situations. So he is saying make prostitution and various drugs legal, and then the particular states can make their own law to ban those things from their states. The problem with that logic is thinking that individual state laws don't affect other states. Which is a very naive mindset. When you address this, I would love to hear how you think making prostitution and drug use legal will benefit our society. It only takes one state of people to say, yeah it wouldn't be bad to leave these laws out, and then the sudden decline that our country is going in, will not only be financial and political as in our situation now but morally. Sexual sin has always destroyed nations and if you think our country cannot get worse, just legalize all three that you mentioned above and see how fast life will change. If you see how the Church has fought against the legalizing of gay marriage in this nation, do you really think that they don't mind if prostitution has that opportunity. Yes, they mind. Do you think our leaders are wrong?'”

Point 1: “I am interested in your explanations of specifically the prostitution and the drugs(not pot, the harder ones) So he is saying make prostitution and various drugs legal, and then the particular states can make their own law to ban those things from their states. The problem with that logic is thinking that individual state laws don't affect other states. Which is a very naive mindset. When you address this, I would love to hear how you think making prostitution and drug use legal will benefit our society”

This is a much more complex issue and has many facets to it than is being supposed here. While you get to one point in saying it is naïve to suppose that individual state laws will not affect other states, there are many other aspects that determine whether or not these changes in law will effect other states, and even more importantly, how they will effect those states.

Despite the ignoring the complexity of the argument at hand, it seems to also be lost on you that there are certain basic governing principles embodied in the Constitution that are not up for debate. The very nature of a Constitution is to sternly and authoritatively set forth basic governing principles by which those who choose to live in the country must abide by. In examining the Constitution, and surely through the examining of the historical record, it is blatantly obvious that the objections to the very existence of a federal government were manifold. We were “lucky” to even get a central government.

A good example of how anemic many of the Founders wanted the central government to be is the Articles of Confederation and the confederate government that was set up. Despite this first government’s impotence, people still had to eventually be dragged back kicking and screaming to the Constitutional Convention to hack out the issue of states’ rights and centralized governmental power. We can get into the many documents, journal entries, meeting records, etc if necessary to make this point clear, but hopefully that is not necessary so as to avoid the production of a fully cited scholarly article here.

Ultimately, as those who study history know, the central government was given more power than most wanted, but as a compromise certain authority came about. In the end though as it is made clear in the documentation, the historical record as a whole, and even the very personal sentiments of “Americans” all the way through the Civil War ***remember the ONLY known reason that General Robert E. Lee (who was extended the commission of Commander of the Union Forces upon the commencement of intervention by Federal troops) turned down the commission offered by the Federal government and became the Commanding General of the Confederate Forces was because he was a Virginian! State loyalty, and the personal responsibility to make your State a place where you would want to live, and to make it a place you were PROUD to hail from (as all traditionally did as stated all the way into the 20th century) was of the utmost importance.

Note an interesting concept here. I am a firm believer that the shift toward centralized governmental power, and the loss of local sovereignty is a primary cause for the great decline our nation has experienced (although the effects of were somewhat slowed by a century of war (20th century). Because of this century of diversion, we are only more recently realizing the effects of this shift. As centralization occurred, the mythology of great leaders seemed to really disappear from American history. Centralization of government leads to exclusivity, dark rooms, and dirty deals. There is no accountability, and why should there be? At this point, even in the best scenario, they serve the nation as a whole. What’s the point of locally elected representatives if really the job they are doing (again in the best case scenario) is making decisions for the whole nation? This is not how the government was set up to be by that all important Constitution. The purpose of locally elected representative that were to be sent to the centralized government, was to ensure that state sovereignty was preserved and that the happenings of the Federal Government would not infringe upon the basic rights of statehood. If it were meant to be any other way (which it is clearly not) why would it not be established that we elect a panel of people to run the country regardless of their origin(s)? But again, this is the best case scenario for this perspective.

What has really happened is that that lack of accountability, which stems from 1st. the removal of the expectation for states’ citizens to take responsibility for and have the authority to make changes prompted by their conscience of responsibility to make their state a nation unto itself that is a place they can thrive in an live the way they want to so long as it is within the basic framework of the U.S. Constitution. 2nd, the consequential apathy and lack of involvement of the citizens (because of such policies that restrict their rights to control their own local destiny results in those representatives who get into office) further emboldens a government “official” to do what lies in his or her own best interest. Not only are they no longer accountable to the citizens of their district (because nobody holds them accountable) but the fact that these “officials” are likely of the same mindset as the idiot populous makes them much more likely to be deceived when it comes to what exactly their job is. Not only that, but with no founding principles based on local pride, sovereignty, and the resulting accountability  these people in government are easily swayed by big talk, sly catch phrases, and of course, large sums of money…..

Now, there also seems to be the implication that legalizing prostitution and drugs will result in a drastic and sustained increase in use of these two vices. The only problem is this “is a very naïve mindset”. A student of history, knows full well that alcohol use increased 3 times the original figure when Prohibition went into effect. Even before this, the use of hard drugs was seen as a sickness and if they were used, they were used often almost with shame. As soon as they could get off of whatever drug they used (believing it to be a remedy) they would often not partake of the substance again. This goes back to a very basic analogy regarding what happens when you tell a child/teen that they absolutely cannot have something or do something. What usually results? Not only do they want to do it more, but they often do whatever the forbidden practice was and sustain the practice for longer than they likely would have had they never been explicitly told to do so in the first place. This is a basic law of human nature.

Aside from the obvious futility of outlawing such practices (drug use/prostitution etc) it is also “a very naïve mindset” to believe that by making something illegal, you make it a less common practice. Based on the basic principles stated above, and statistics on crime and drug use, this is not the case. In fact, the commission of these crimes is more common when it is outlawed. The only thing outlawing something does, is make it more expensive. That’s it. This has been the case throughout history, and one can openly review the histories of various nations who use these vices to further their own aims of total governance. A good place to start would be the British Empire.

I won’t delve into all of it here, but it would be “a very naïve mindset” to believe that the government does not want to keep these things illegal. It would be even more of a “naïve mindset” to believe that they do not directly profit from this policy. A place to start would be the 6 gigantic banks who have been caught over and over participating in even more grotesque crimes (child kidnapping and human/sex trafficking for example). Guess who the biggest contributors are to many of the big players in government??? <span class="emote_text">;)</span><
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To make the criminalization of drugs a states’ rights issue is the first step to taking our states, and our country back. There is a mirage sustained by the majority of the population (the majority of the population is uneducated in these matters) that there is a Federal government that is superior to the states, and that by approving motions to increase/sustain the power grabs the authority of the central government, “we” are making our country stronger. Nothing can be further from the truth. A good analogy is a sports team. It’s impossible to treat the team as one person. No, but rather each person in the team requires its own individual attention. By strengthening each INDIVIDUAL on the team (building pride, responsibility, accountability) and recognizing that their value to the team lies in their individual strength, one can quickly coach a team to victory. So how will allowing states to choose be a positive thing? Well, it is naïve to think that the majority of states are going to endorse hard drug use. However, in the end it really does not matter. The positives that will result from relinquishing the stolen power that the central government thrives on, back to the states will outweigh any negative of that decision.

It is not the government’s job to tell us what to do. It is not their job to teach us morality. It is not their job to control what we decide to do with our own destinies. The Constitution and Bill of Rights do not “grant” but proclaim that our rights to our own destinies are God given and are not granted or to be controlled by man. There is a hidden poison in zealousness to establish a righteous society by the rule of law alone. This poison is the apathy that results from the constant meddling of “do-gooders and teetotalers” (C.S. Lewis talks much of these types). When you insist on the involvement of yourself or other governing bodies to get involved in something as fundamentally basic as what someone does with their body, you castrate the human spirit, and they soon become dependent and through this dependence they lose their self worth and their personal responsibility. I often find today that so many people blame others for their poor plight in life. And you know what? I think they are often very right. Those who insist on making decisions for people, must be insisted upon to bear the burden of consequence(s) and guilt at least as much, or more so, than the supposed “offender”. This really is the spirit of the argument. Personal accountability vs well, none. The issue of states' rights verses the constant and surely unlimited encroachments made by a central government (which is much more easily manipulated and controlled by outside forces, especially in our modern world) is as basic as an argument for and against the importance of personal responsibility. The beauty and value of insisting upon personal responsibility is not so that we can conveniently rid ourselves and our conscience of any guilt or part in the failures and sins of others. Rather, it's value lies in the fact that it is by strong individuals that societies are built. Make no mistake, that the creation of a personally strong, independent, and responsible person is by no means always a pretty business. It includes gross failures, hideous moments of pain and anguish, and great triumphs. If asked to choose between any effort to try and ensure that something does not happen no matter what the cost...I will opt for personal freedom and welcome the coming dangers of being a human being in this mortal existence.

I could go on and on. The insistence upon states rights is the insistence upon the rediscovering of human dignity, accountability, and accomplishment."

States rights were one of the most crucial aspects of the Founding of our Nation.  If you were to read both the Federalist, and the Anti-Federalist papers closely you would see that the major concern for most people was whether the proposed Federal government would have been granted too much power through the Constitution.  (Keep in mind that in today's society one of the larger complaints about the Constitution is that it doesn't do ENOUGH by way of management.)  That is one of the large reasons for why the Bill of Rights was passed, because the people AND the States wanted to be assured that their rights would not be oppressed by the Federal Government.  This is why Jefferson talked about binding the hands of people in government positions with the "Chains of the Constitution". When we assume that a problem for a State will be solved by increased Federal involvement then we are assuming that people are not capable of knowing what is best for themselves and that the great god of Government is needed to step in and save us from ourselves.  We all know that this is impossible.  If a person does not want or desire help or "saving" then it cannot be forced upon them, no matter how desperately we may try.

As always we welcome any comments on these thoughts, and please feel free to share with your friends!

~The Fair Raven~


  1. Two small points to bring up about your article. 1-What was the increase in alcohol use from when Prohibition was in place and after alcohol was again made legal?... 2-Your point about being over zealous to protect laws that protect morality is inconsistent with the LDS Church's stance on Proposition 8 which was my point in the first place.

    Thank you for sharing your point of view. I really do enjoy reading and considering opinions and insights from everyone!

  2. Well to address point number 2, proposition 8 was a state bill, not a federal one. Am I correct? I could be wrong. I was either on my mission or moving for the bulk of that controversy.

    As for your first question, I don't know about the increases in alcohol consumption between before, during, and after Prohibition. I do know that alcohol related crime sky-rocketed during Prohibition (Al Capone anyone???) and that sugar consumption reached its highest point per capita in the history of our nation (at least to that point in time anyway) and then dropped dramatically after Prohibition was overturned. Sugar actually turns to alcohol when your body digests it, which is why you can show up with a blood alcohol content without ever touching the stuff.

    The real point about Prohibition is not whether it was a good idea (what easier way to get a morally upright people than to legislate it, right?) but whether it actually succeeded. Sure some people stopped drinking alcohol for a while, but some just turned to distributing and selling it illegally, others turned to making it themselves, and then the "good" citizens merely replaced it with another vice.