Saturday, October 16, 2010


It is sometimes interesting to see how a word, or a concept is used in real life. Take for example, the concept of diversity. We hear it preached at us every day. We need to encourage a diversity of races in this country. We need to be compassionate for a diversity of religious beliefs. We need to appreciate a diversity of lifestyles. 

In fact, we seem to encourage every form of diversity except a diversity in the ideas, laws, and regulations we are governed under. Why is this form of diversity somehow objectionable. This was certainly not something that we inherited from the Founding Fathers. 

In fact this country was formed by independent states with diverse assets, needs, and goals; that somehow managed to band together for a common purpose. They understood at the time that such an alliance did not force them to surrender such diversity, but in fact cherish and encourage it. So it is that many state constitutions are different (and yet they seem to govern effectively), that the forms that state legislatures take are likewise manifold, and that state laws are in fact more than diverse, being more of a cornucopia of common sense and nonsense. 

One could almost believe that this hodgepodge of legislative efforts was almost intentional on the part of the Founders, as an additional protection against the encroachment of an inherently flawed (as any endeavors of men are bound to be) central government. 

The Federal government for its part however, stifles the very diversity that it claims to desire. In spite of what I am sure are mostly (OK, sometimes) good intentions, the national government can usually be counted on to get it wrong and to write it in stone as it does so. Instead of carefully cultivating and encouraging the states as petri dishes of legislative and bureaucratic experimentation in the possible to be nurtured and cherished, the Federal government instead attempts to coerce and compel states to follow national dictates to the letter. Woe betide the state government that attempts to create or enforce state law that does not conform and kowtow to the legislative and regulatory commandments of the national level. In fact, the full weight of public opinion, of the media, and of the Justice Department is destined to come crashing down on the state that attempts to diverge from national preeminence. (As Arizona found out to its sorrow.) 

As for their own 'experiments', never was the scientific method given such a short shrift. Such studies are usually begun with a pre-determined final report already in place. Experimentation is in fact limited to how much money might be necessary to give such efforts 'a fair chance'. Once a goal and a budget has been determined, equally foreordained results are sure to follow; as bureaucrats attach themselves to funding like a barnacle to a ship. And like that simpler (and perhaps more intelligent) parasite, they continue to draw sustenance from their position of security while impairing their host in the process. 

I have nothing against the concept of diversity, and in fact find it an often worthy ambition (when it's not used in and of itself as a goal). Strange then that our national government (its champion) stifles such ambition and diversity in its name. Perhaps however, it's simply like the character Inigo Montoyo points out in "The Princess Bride" when speaking about the word 'inconceivable': "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."


mud_rake said...

Woe betide the state government that attempts to create or enforce state law that does not conform and kowtow to the legislative and regulatory commandments of the national level.

The Supremacy Clause (Article VI, clause 2) of the United States Constitution sort of mandates the so-called kowtow, doesn't it?

Those southern state Jim Crow Laws evaporated as the ink from Lyndon Johnson's pen dried as he signed the Civil Rights Act. Kowtowing often attends virtue.

Roland Hansen said...

Amigo Tim.
In a manner of speaking, you have answered your own concern, kind of, sort of, when you wrote "Strange then that our national government (its champion) stifles such ambition and diversity in its name."
Zero in on the key words of "in its name" and then look at the key word in the name of our country - UNITED States of America, as opposed to INDEPENDE#NT States of America.
Mud_rake is correct in quoting the Supremacy Clause. I also add that the Constitution delegates specific powers to the national government and it also states that the United States Supreme Court is supreme over all other courts.

Tim Higgins said...


The Supremacy Clause does give precedence to federal law over state law. The Tenth Amendment provides that "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

I am willing to concede the Article and Clause, but submit that the Federal government has exceeded its mandate according to the Tenth Amendment.

The states could prove a great testing ground for potential solutions for governing in modern and varied population, something which prohibited occur under onerous (and some might say unconstitutional) federal control.

Tim Higgins said...


We both know that the Articles of Confederation were too weak to hold the Union together, but the Constitution was not designed to provide the federal government with an unlimited mandate (as recognized in the 10th Amendment), something that the feds seem to forget from time to time.

I do not argue in the overriding nature of the federal government and court, only in the failure of such government to limit itself in exercising such power to the document that created it, or to allow for a diversity of states that has always existed. You place the greater emphasis on UNITED, I choose to place it on STATES. After all, it isn't just called "America".