Power & Market

If We Advance Freedom, It Will Be on the Local Level

A full 83 percent of all government employees are in state and local governments.

State and local governments, augmented by corporations, have the mass to be Progressivism’s strongmen. White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Deborah Birx used state and local confederates to, in her own words, “subvert” the advice given Trump by his senior advisor Scott Atlas. Anything Birx “couldn’t sneak past the gatekeepers in her reports” she “said in person” “in very blunt conversations with the governors.”

State and local governments, backed by the Constitution, should instead advance freedom.

An oath either to support or to protect the Constitution must be taken in all USA government jurisdictions by each legislator, executive officer, and judicial officer. Each individual can only uphold his oath if he independently interprets the constitutionality of his every possible action and he takes only those actions that he himself considers constitutional. This isn’t a recipe for anarchy, this is the highest standard for lawful action. These oaths confer no power for unconstitutional actions, but confer full power for constitutional actions.

Let’s take stock of where we stand on using this constitutional power for priority actions.

The actions we need from legislators and from executives (other than attorneys general) are never as impotent as pressing new lawsuits. Politicians use lawsuits to claim that they’re taking decisive action, while they’re actually failing to use their own powers that are much stronger and quicker.

Actions are needed on election integrity aren’t directly covered below, but they don’t have to be. Government people who take the actions below will improve election integrity too. In the elections in 2020 and 2022, many constitutional election rules were already on the books; the key problem was that when these rules were disputed in judicial opinions or violated by executives, majorities of state legislators didn’t intervene. By using their powers all the time, starting in the priority areas below, state legislators will get prepared to use their powers in the priority area of elections too.

The highest priorities are the policy areas that most affect life, liberty, and property, in that order, whether directly or indirectly.

Good money prevents inflation, recessions, extended wars, and social breakdown. The Constitution affirms that 100 percent-reserve gold is legal tender for payment of debts. Three state governments have by law reaffirmed gold’s legal-tender status. State governments should go further by penalizing the collection of capital gains taxes on gold and the enforcement of laws treating fiat dollars as legal tender.

Nondelegation constitutionally limits powers by separating powers and requiring elected representatives to enact all rules and penalties. But during covid, no state governments and few if any local governments refrained from delegating emergency powers. State and local governments should repeal their emergency-powers laws and should penalize other jurisdictions’ use of emergency powers.

Off-label prescribing lets existing drugs meet further needs. During covid, the FDA, the CDC, state boards, and corporations widely deprived persons of off-label prescribing. Louisiana AG Jeff Landry monitored Louisiana’s medical and pharmacy boards and warned them off as necessary. New Hampshire legislators passed a bill that would have legalized over-the-counter ivermectin, and the Tennessee government legalized over-the-counter ivermectin. State and local governments really should penalize any restriction of off-label prescribing.

Protection of life from abortion looks after the most dependent among us, whose lives begin at fertilization. Ten state governments and some local governments ban abortion except when the mother’s life or physical health are threatened or the unborn child has a fatal abnormality. All governments should penalize any taking of life after fertilization, and judges should expedite each rare case in which taking one life might save another life.

Merit-based naturalization protects against aliens who don’t support constitutionally-limited government. No state governments have enacted merit-based naturalization. State governments should penalize naturalization that doesn’t support Constitution-limited government, and should limit illegal immigration by sending their militias to border areas.

No inward-facing army is a protection in the Constitution for liberty. No state or local governments protect residents against FBI and DOJ political targeting. State and local governments should penalize FBI and DOJ actions other than against treason and counterfeiting.

No undeclared war is a constitutional boundary that limits deprivations due to war, both to us and to others abroad. No state governments have acted against unconstitutional or risky military actions, military preparations, treaties, or other foreign aid. For the duration of the national government’s military and civil support for Ukraine’s government, governors should recall their militias from national-government command anywhere. Also, state governments should take over collection of national income taxes, reduce collection by the amount being taken for Ukraine, and penalize any attempts by the national government or by employers to collect national income taxes.

The Constitution upholds natural rights by creating a structure in which rules violations by a given power are opposed and limited by other powers. This requires that these offsetting powers be used.

The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were developed in times when politicians who supported freedom succeeded, because the general public strongly supported freedom. Nowadays, state and local politicians won’t use their powers to limit governments until we make them do it.

In election seasons, activists often will have to draft better people to run in these little-watched races, and will have to get out the vote for these new candidates. Throughout legislative sessions, activists and media will have to focus majorities of politicians on using their powers for us.

State and local governments have the manpower and the reserved powers to advance freedom. But they need close supervision.

Note: The views expressed on Mises.org are not necessarily those of the Mises Institute.
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