Author's Note: This mental exercise is not meant to convince anyone that the federal government will collapse or federal money will be used as a tool to manipulate the states. The ideas in this newsletter presuppose that the reader already believes this as a possibility. The suggested policy changes are to inform development of policies with the idea that they will help us prepare for a time when federal funds dry up. If it does not collapse, it is because these policies are adopted.
I believe it is time to consider the possibility that the government emanating out of Washington D.C. for the last 232 years may be committing suicide* or evolving into a dictatorship. Its loose fiscal policies indicate troubles on the horizon. Of course, Congress and the President may decide to change course, then the government in Washington D.C. could be preserved. I, personally, don’t see any indication that this will happen. I believe that federal dictatorial policies are increasingly unwise and harmful to the American society and the freedoms of individual citizens.
This paper discusses the outline of necessary changes that should be implemented in Washington but will not be, however, they can still be implemented at the state level. If these changes are made, while there is still time, the resulting chaos and sufferings brought on by the fiscal collapse of the federal government will have less impact on states that prepare.
If the federal government ceases to exist in its current form or collapses altogether, life will continue. Some form of government will take its place. We have a choice to strengthen the roots of liberty at the state level which will prepare us for the difficulties to come, or we can wait for future events to unfold and become victims of difficult circumstances. What can we do now?
Ultimately, freedom is an individual act of accepting responsibility. Accepting responsibility is how citizens empower themselves. If they don’t aggressively assume personal responsibility, government and large institutions will take it from them.
I never learned in school the necessary building blocks of a free nation. Freedom is gained as the ability of citizens increases to take care of themselves. Freedom is not possible if citizens are dependent upon government handouts. Freedom is not given to citizens by their government. Freedom is a deliberate act of taking personal responsibility. Freedom is only possible if a nation has enough responsible people.
* The historian Alexander Frazier Tytler said. “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship…”
While the Declaration of Independence refers to “unalienable rights”, freedom requires the concept of “unalienable” responsibilities., which every citizen must assume for freedom to exist. They include: the responsibility to work, to provide food through labor, the responsibility to make wise health decisions, the responsibility to see one’s own children are educated, and the responsibility to help others become self-sufficient adults.
First, let’s look at a few negative impacts on individuals if the federal money dries up. The list below only highlights a few of these programs. There are many more.
1. Social Security – this program will disappear. What will the elderly do? Who will help them? It will not be the federal government, this responsibility and power will fall upon families, local communities, and states.
2. Food Stamps – This program is 100 percent funded by the federal government. This program as well as the funding for all welfare programs will disappear. What will people do who have become dependent upon these programs? The suffering will be immense. Besides the obvious negative impact on recipients of these programs, there are thousands of employees who administer these programs who will immediately lose employment and the ability to feed their families.
3. Medicare and Medicaid – These programs are also funded with federal dollars. They will also lose funding. Patients and hospitals will have to change their business model radically and rapidly.
4. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation – The federal government will no longer pay the wages of these employees. The responsibility and power to make forest and land management issues will fall upon states.
The federal government was meant to be limited. It has grown beyond its original intent because it has claimed responsibility for social services that are reserved for the family. The federal government has grown by centralizing responsibility. The way to reduce the size of government is to allow citizens to reclaim the responsibility that is rightfully theirs, so the responsibility flows back to the people away from government. (More about this later)
Responsibility is a marker of power. If government claims the responsibility, government claims justification to create programs (Food Stamps for example) and fund said programs with tax money. This means that taxes must be raised.
The federal government has grown in four main areas where it had no constitutional authority: health care (Medicaid, Medicare), poverty programs, retirement (Social Security) and education. These four areas now make up 60 plus percent of the federal budget.
These programs could be easier to justify if they were a blessing to the people using them. The problem is the design of these programs harms those that participate by creating dependency.
Health care – the design of federal medical programs focuses on those who are sick. They do not focus on prevention. They encourage participants to become dependent upon drugs rather than seeking the cause of illness. Responsibility for good health has flowed from the patients to health systems.
Poverty – the design of poverty programs keeps people dependent by creating benefit cliffs. They are designed to stop people from reaching their full potential and leave the programs. The programs should be designed with lifetime limits, they are not. Government has assumed the responsibility to help the poor while too many of the poor have surrendered their responsibility.
Retirement – The federal government controls all funds. The amount a Social Security recipient receives is a fraction of what it would be if it were in a self-directed account. By allowing the federal government to control the funds, the government has great power over the elderly.
Education – the design of education programs is top-down with mandates focused on compliance. The federal government has more control over education than parents. Too many parents take no responsibility to see their children are educated. Students of these parents are the ones struggling in school.
Simply stated, the design of federal programs in these four areas is incompatible with a free society. They are all designed to control citizens and interfere with the responsibility assumption and power of families. Elitists, using the power of government, began undermining the family about 90 years ago by designing government programs that assumed responsibilities properly reserved for families. The federal government has been replacing the family with government programs for decades. It is interesting to note that the areas of the United States with the greatest poverty, highest levels of crime, and drug usage are among populations that have been seduced to replace their family units with government handouts. This is a national disgrace.
The solutions I offer may seem inconsequential and meaningless. The federal government is drowning in debt and I talk about families and individual responsibility. The truth is there is no politician that can save you. Politicians are not saviors. A better future belongs to those who accept responsibility. Freedom will not exist unless there is a responsible citizenry. This is what we must rebuild the civic virtue of the people, then the other problems will be easy to solve. If we don’t increase the number of responsible citizens, no problem can be solved except through a dictatorship.
The solution is to regrow the power of the family unit. Laws cannot be passed to make people do the right thing or be responsible. However, legislators can change the structure and design of current programs that allow citizens to claim responsibility when they are ready and to reward responsible citizens.
I will give three examples in this essay. Two examples are about education and one deals with poverty. Education is the easiest place to start because education is primarily a state responsibility, so changes are much easier to be made at the state level than the federal level. Once a person claims responsibility in one area, they are more likely to claim responsibility in all other areas. The hope is to create a snowball effect.
Example #1: The Innovative Classroom Bill – This is already law in Idaho. It gives parents the ability to work with other parents and teachers to choose a different curriculum. (https://legislature.idaho.gov/wp-content/uploads/sessioninfo/2021/legislation/S1046E2.pdf)
Example #2: The Student Empowerment and Accountability Bill. This bill will be introduced in 2022. It allows school districts to be funded on an enrollment basis for engaged students (the precursor of learning). Engaged students and their parents will be able to negotiate flexible attendance or create strategies to progress faster through the curriculum. Students who are not engaged need to be in the classroom without this flexibility until they become engaged learners. (see: https://steventhayn.com/pm-issue-2)
The last example is to have the state of Idaho take over the federal Food Stamp program. The federal rules are harmful. If the state of Idaho funded Food Stamps, then Idaho could write its own rules including lifetime limits and drug testing and provide off ramps to financial independence.
Final note: the purpose of this newsletter, The Political Mechanic, is to explain small changes in the structure of government that will increase the freedom of the people and allow for government to be reduced.