I’m a Philly guy, through and through. City living is what I’m used to and comfortable with. Every once and awhile, I like to head up into the mountains for a long weekend and enjoy the silence. Now, you won’t see many city boys feeling comfortable in a tent, and I won’t claim that I am. A quiet little mountain house with all of the conveniences of modern living is about as far as I’ll go, but, still, it’s nice to get a change of pace. Pennsylvania is home to a diverse array of lifestyles. Philadelphia is your typical city life: modern, crowded, high paced. Travel an hour up to the Lehigh Valley, you’ll find yourself in a town resemblant of an episode of Friday Night Lights. Keep going north or turn west, you’re getting into the countryside, full of farmers and blue collar workers. In one state, there’s a different lifestyle in every direction. Different people living different lives with different challenges and problems.
In Philadelphia, you’ve got typical city problems: crime, gang violence, business closures, and mass unemployment. You go to bed every night wondering what tax will pass tomorrow and worrying you forgot to lock your doors. Other areas aren’t devoid of these issues, but the degree is different. In the suburbs, crime tends to go down, but opioid use jumps up. Farmers out in the country have an entirely different set of problems associated with farming and living in isolation.
Now, as pleasant as this simple conversation of the different areas of the Keystone State is, there’s a point that I’m building to. If one state is that diverse, Imagine the diversity of the entirety of the 4th largest nation, in terms of landmass. In Democracy in America, Toqueville, a profound French writer, described this diversity as America’s strength. It was one country during a national crisis, but was hundreds of localities during everyday life. Each layer of government was responsible only for what they needed to be, and the preference was to localize as much as possible. In this unique balance of power, the government that sat closest to the community dealt with the problems closest to the community. It sounds like a dream. Imagine having the ability to decide for yourself.
This isn’t how we live anymore. During the early and mid 20th Century there was an abundance of national issues. Jim Crow, segregation, war, and the Great Depression had people turning their heads towards the Federal government. While often necessary, this created a precedent that would generate a power imbalance for the decades to come. The federal government passed the Civil Rights Acts and ended segregation, which was objectively good policy. Following those acts, big government partisans used these events to say “See! See how good we are”. The scandals of the Vietnam War, Watergate, Iran-Contra, and stagflation, get boiled down to anecdotes in history; while, Social Security and public works get touted as evidence of the beauty of federal power. The Federal Government took over.
This led to what we experience today. Congress and bureaucrats in Washington D.C. decide education policy out in Utah. They leverage federal money to decide what the national drinking age will be. They apply blanket solutions to issues across the nation and wind up doing more damage than good. Social Security, welfare, and healthcare policies are pushed onto each and everyone of us, and have failed across the board. People are still poor, health insurance is abysmal and complicated, and one could get more ROI investing the money taken in Social Security tax into precious metals; but Congress thinks the people are too stupid to take care of themselves. They have very specific decisions they want you to make to keep a bubble economy afloat, instead of allowing us to make the decisions based on our own needs.
This is where we’re at now. Instead of localizing decisions, we’ve turned our most local and individual decisions over to the most distant form of government. For what end, simplicity? Look around, nothing is simple. Riots in the streets, botched global pandemics, 20-year wars, and an economy about to collapse are all a result of the dirty federal hands pulling strings.This is why we need small government, to give back the right of communities to choose what works for them. Let the people decide what’s best for them and their families, and stick to building roads.
Michael A. Romano