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EDITORIAL

Evidence is in: Big no longer works

Friday, July 12, 2013 - 12:01 am

It's time to return power to state and local governments.

Has Big Government finally imploded? That question is asked by Daniel Henninger of The Wall Street Journal, and he makes a persuasive case that it indeed has, naming July 3, 2013, as the official day of collapse. That's the day a deputy assistant Treasury secretary announced in a blog post that the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) employer mandate would be delayed one year because of the “complexity of the requirements.”

Even those who support the ACA's goals, he writes, must sense that “maybe the law's theorists missed a signal from life outside the castle walls. While they troweled brick after brick into a 2,000-page law, the rest of the world was reshaping itself into smaller, more nimble units whose defining metaphor is the 140-character Twitter message.”

And that is only one of many Big Government failures. Don't forget:

The Internal Revenue Service's targeting of conservatives and the National Security Agency's telephone and Internet snooping of everyone have created a growing dread of the federal government. Is it really still “of, for and by the people,” or is it a dangerous force interested mostly in controlling its citizens?

Another 2,000-page law meant to be a “comprehensive” immigration reform plan will likely perish in a stalemate between a Democratic Senate and Republican House that have totally different visions. The same fate even seems likely for a new farm bill. The House wants to split off the food stamp program, but the Senate wants it kept in so urban and rural interests can continue colluding on ever-greater spending.

The Middle East is erupting in flames as the clueless, bloated bureaucracy known as the State Department tries to stonewall questions about why it failed to protect its mission in Benghazi.

And how about this as a perfect metaphor for what Henninger calls a “collapsing constellation of bureaucracies”? The nation's weather satellites are about to wear out and need to be replaced. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA and the Pentagon have been trying to get that done since 1994. We may be looking at a 17-month gap in crucial weather data.

In the middle of this meltdown, President Obama gives speeches calling for “smarter government.” He means even bigger government, of course, but the real answer lies in the other direction. Decision-making “should be local because it simply works better,” says a representative of the Federalism in Action Project, an organization formed by a group of state and local officials taking power back from the federal government. If that group redoubles its efforts as the diminishing effectiveness of Washington becomes more obvious, perhaps we can get on the path to a system the Founders would recognize.