Federalism Versus Individuality


That is the basic issue we constantly argue about since the founding of this nation. I will suggest a simple, complex solution, a pyramid; I'll explain that shortly.

Our history, and the history of the debate between a strong central government and leaving almost everything up to the states to decide for themselves, is one fraught with division. If you want to read a bit more about that, this PBS site has a good discussion. https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/duel-federalist-and-republican-party/

I'll use the example that I used to argue when I worked for Boeing. Boeing is a large corporation, larger than many cities in our nation. Inside Boeing are Divisions and Programs. Think of them as states and cities. There was a constant struggle in the Company between those who thought the corporate dictatorship needed to be stronger and those who argued that letting the divisions and programs exercise self-management was more efficient. I guess this debate has continued since we first stopped wandering and looking for food and settled into encampments and organized society.

If we set aside our greed and our appetites for power, something no large institution has done, to my knowledge, we can look at this logically.

The pyramid approach, simply stated, draws a line above which it's logical to have central control and below which you allow independence.

The black lines represent a critical mass point. In nuclear engineering, a critical mass is the smallest amount of fissile material needed for a sustained nuclear reaction. In other words, you've reached the point where this shit will blow up.

In terms of running a company or a country and state and county, some things need to stay above the line to avoid blowing shit up or at least screwing the pooch. In a corporation as large as Boeing, I used the example of issuing paychecks. With multiple divisions and programs within divisions, it makes no sense to let every little program issue its personalized checks and decide what day people get paid. If you work for program "A," you get paid every Friday, program "B" every other Friday, and program "C" every Thursday. You have an uncontrollable mess, and there is no logical argument for not centralizing this process so employees have defined expectations and better cost accounting and control. On the other hand, how you line up desks in the office is easily left to the needs of individual programs; there is no need for a corporate directive on that.

Looking at the government, some things are apparent. The military, air traffic control, and health issues like the current Center for Disease Control make sense at the federal level. Imagine flying across the country if each state had its own air traffic control rules and pilots had to adjust at every border - utter chaos. At the military level, each state does have its National Guard. This is an offshoot of the militias mentioned in the Constitution and is directly related to the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms. And it makes sense if you fear that the central government might try to ride roughshod over the states. This was the fear that the founders had, and so they wrote, "A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

One doesn't have to be a genius (and it seems they are in short supply in the NRA) to see what the founders were about. They had seen monarchies and dictatorships bully and overthrow smaller states in Europe by having the only organized military in the region. By having state militias, i.e., organized and managed National Guards, you ensure that if the federal government were to get out of line, a collection of states could come together with their National Guard and confront any attempt at the federal level to dissolve our democracy. And through the Second Amendment, they ensured that the federal government recognized the citizen's right to join a militia and carry a gun, i.e., the National Guard, and bear arms against a federal takeover. The second amendment had nothing to do with having squirrel guns for hunting. It was a given that those were a part of living in our country.

During the revolution, there was no organized military, only individuals with the guns they used for hunting. We now have an organized army at the state and federal levels; we don't need the average citizen armed like a commando. The Second Amendment has nothing to do with every Tom, Dick(head?), and Harry owning an AR15 because they love them and want one in their living room. They need to join their state's National Guard, and they will be able to bear any arms sanctioned by the military, including AR15s, jet fighters, howitzers, and missile launchers, but they don't get to take them home. We already know that weapons of mass destruction do just that, destroy dozens of people in seconds. They are war machines designed for war. In the hands of untrained and unsupervised people, they threaten the health and welfare of numerous innocent people.

Finding where that critical line should be drawn at each level of government will be the bitchy part of all this. Let's talk about the female elephant in the room, the cow elephant, i.e., a woman's right to choose motherhood. One of the litmus tests for drawing the critical mass line, it seems, has to do with how any law, rule, or regulation affects the population as a whole, not based on a minority opinion or church doctrine.

Is abortion a threat to others? No. Is it a weapon of mass destruction? No. Is it a threat to the woman choosing to end an unwanted, unneeded, or dangerous pregnancy? No. Is it a threat to another human? No. Under the current regulations before the SCOTUS blew it out of the water, Roe V Wade stipulated abortions be performed before the fetus is viable, in other words, before it is a human capable of living outside the womb as defined by medical science, not by a bunch of squinty-eyed politicians quoting their Bibles. A woman's right to decide to be a mother should be a Constitutional right, just like the freedom of speech, press, etc. Therefore, a woman's right to choose belongs above the critical mass line to ensure fairness of application for every woman in every state in the nation.

Each contentious issue should be debated and decided following a principle, not some politician's religious opinion.