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Posts Tagged ‘Decentralize’

To Avoid Civil War, Learn to Tolerate Different Laws in Different States

Posted by M. C. on July 3, 2022

Moreover, decentralizing abortion policy in this way actually works to defuse national conflict. This is becoming even more important as cultural divides in the United States are clearly accelerating and become more entrenched.

This is not a problem, however, if we relearn that rather than employ federal coercion to “solve” the world’s problems, it’s perhaps better to tolerate others doing things differently in other parts of the world. On the other hand, if Americans can’t shake the idea that the regime must force one way of life on everyone, we can expect national political divides to grow ever more bitter.

Ryan McMaken

Most commentary on the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization—which overturns Roe v. Wade—has focused on the decision’s effect on the legality of abortion in various states. That’s an important issue. It may be, however, that the Dobbs decision’s effect on political decentralization in the United States is a far bigger deal.

After all, the ruling isn’t so much about abortion as it is about the federal government’s role in abortion. State governments are free to make abortion 100 percent legal within their own borders. Some states have already done so. The court’s ruling limits only the federal government’s prerogatives over abortion law, and this has the potential to lead to many other limitations on federal power as well. In this way, Dobbs is a victory for those seeking to limit federal power. 

The decentralization is all to the good, and there’s nothing novel about it. Historically, state laws in the US have varied broadly on a variety of topics from alcohol consumption to divorce. This was also true of abortion before Roe v. Wade

Moreover, decentralizing abortion policy in this way actually works to defuse national conflict. This is becoming even more important as cultural divides in the United States are clearly accelerating and become more entrenched. Rather than fight with increasing alarm and aggression over who controls the federal government—and thus who imposes the winner’s preferences on everyone else—people in different states will have more choices in choosing whether to live under proabortion or antiabortion regimes. In other words, decentralization forces policymakers to behave as they should in a confederation of states: they must tolerate people doing things differently across state lines.  This will be essential in avoiding disaster, and laissez-faire liberals (i.e., “classical liberals”) have long supported decentralization as a key in avoiding dangerous political conflicts. Ludwig von Mises, for example, supported decentralization because, as he put it, it “is the only feasible and effective way of preventing revolutions and civil … wars.”

The Impulse to Use Federal Power to Force Policy on Everyone

Law has never been uniform across state lines in the United States, although this was not for a lack of trying on the part of the federal government. As the power of the federal government grew throughout the twentieth century, the central government repeatedly sought to make policy uniform and put it under the control of federal courts and regulatory agencies. Prior to Roe v. Wade, abortion was a state and local matter only. Before the drug war, the federal government did not dictate to states what plants they should let their citizens consume. Before the Volstead Act, “dry” states and “wet” states had far different policies on alcohol sales. Some states had lenient divorce laws. Some did not. Some states allowed gambling. Even immigration was once the domain of state government. Although some federal law enforcement agents existed in the nineteenth century, “law and order” was overwhelmingly a state and local matter prior to the rise of agencies like the FBI. 

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Why Rothbardians Should Oppose Roe v. Wade

Posted by M. C. on May 23, 2022

By Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.

It means that libertarians should cease putting all their judicial eggs in the basket of hoping to get good guys, like Richard Epstein or Alex Kozinski, on the Supreme Court. Far more important is getting rid of federal judicial tyranny altogether, and to decentralize our polity radically—to return to the forgotten Tenth Amendment.”

Like most of us who write for, I’m opposed to the Supreme Court’s pro-abortion Roe v.Wade decision. If the leak proves to be accurate and the decision is reversed, I’d be glad. As the great Dr. Ron Paul says, “All who support limited, constitutional government should support overturning Roe. The Constitution does not give any branch of the federal government authority to decide what does, and does not, constitute murder. Therefore, federal courts — including the Supreme Court — have no jurisdiction to decide what the penalty should be for performing an abortion.

Overturning Roe would not create a nationwide abortion ban. Instead, it would return to the individual states responsibility for deciding what, if any, restrictions to place on abortion.

If supporters of abortion ‘followed the science,’ they would have to admit that abortion is the taking of human life. A fetus with a heartbeat is developing, but is also still a human with a right to life.

The Biden Justice Department is supporting efforts to overturn the Texas heartbeat law in federal court. President Biden is also supporting the repeal of the Hyde Amendment, which forbids the use of federal funds for abortions. If Biden and Congress are going to use tax dollars to support abortions, then they should allow anti-abortion taxpayers to withhold the percentage of their taxes that would be used to support abortion. The same should go for those with moral objections to America’s militaristic foreign policy that forces US taxpayers to subsidize the killing of innocent men, women, and even children. . . To ensure pro-life Americans are not forced to subsidize abortions — either directly or indirectly, it could be forbidden for organizations that promote or perform abortions to receive any federal funds. Denying federal funds to international organizations that promote or perform abortions might help reduce resentment of the US in other countries.

It is no coincidence that Roe v. Wade came at a time when respect for natural rights of life, liberty, and property was on the decline. Roe contributed to the decline in respect for rights and the rise in public and private immorality. These changes have led to violent crimes, people believing they have a moral claim — that must be enforced by the government — to the property of their neighbors, and acceptance of torture and ‘preemptive’ war. The way to reverse these developments is to restore respect for the inalienable right to life, liberty, and property of all human beings, both born and unborn. The cause of life is inseparable from the cause of liberty.”

Some pro-abortionists, especially so-called “left libertarians,” criticize us in this way. “You claim to be Rothbardians, but Murray Rothbard supported abortion. You are going against Rothbard!” As usual, these phonies have it all wrong. Murray supported reversal of Roe v. Wade. As you would expect, he gives a brilliant argument for reversal.

Rothbard says something few other people would think of. Even if you are “pro-choice,” you should still favor overturning Roe v. Wade. “But even apart from the funding issue, there are other arguments for a rapprochement with pro-lifers. There is a prudential consideration: a ban on something as murder is not going to be enforceable if only a minority considers it as murder. A national prohibition is simply not going to work, in addition to being politically impossible to get through in the first place. Pro-choice paleo-libertarians can tell the pro-lifers: ‘Look, a national prohibition is hopeless. Stop trying to pass a human life amendment to the Constitution. Instead, for this and many other reasons, we should radically decentralize political and judicial decisions in this country; we must end the despotism of the Supreme Court and the federal judiciary, and return political decisions to state and local levels.’ Pro-choice paleos should therefore hope that Roe v. Wade is someday overthrown, and abortion questions go back to the state and local levels—the more decentralized the better. Let Oklahoma and Missouri restrict or outlaw abortions, while California and New York retain abortion rights. Hopefully, some day we will have localities within each state making such decisions. Conflict will then be largely defused. Those who want to have, or to practice, abortions can move or travel to California (or Marin County) or New York (or the West Side of Manhattan.)”

Many “pro-choice” people oppose reversal because if abortion is left to the state or local community to regulate, then a poor woman who lives in an area where abortion isn’t allowed would have to travel to another area. She might not have the funds to do so, For that reason, they say, leaving abortion up for popular decision is an undue “hardship” on her. Rothbard skewers this so-called “argument:” “The standard rebuttal of the pro-abortionists that ‘poor women’ who haven’t got the money to travel would be deprived of abortions of course reverts back to a general egalitarian redistributionist argument. Aren’t the poor ‘deprived’ of vacation travel now? Again, it demonstrates the hidden agenda of the proabortionists in favor of socialized medicine and collectivism generally”

Murray also opposes forcing taxpayers to subsidize pro-abortionist physicians and counselors. “An unfortunate act of President-elect Clinton was to reverse the Bush policy of not funding physicians who counsel abortions. Leftists cleverly distorted this action as an ‘invasion of the free speech of physicians.’ But no ‘freedom of speech’ was involved. People should be free to speak, but this does not mean they must be shielded from the consequences of such speech. No person, and hence no physician, has a ‘right’ to receive taxpayer funding. Everyone may have the right to say whatever they like, but not the right to say whatever they like and still be funded by the taxpayers. And just as taxpayers should not be forced to fund abortions, neither should they be forced to fund people who counsel abortions.”

As always with Murray, he sees things in their broader context. It isn’t enough to reverse Roe v. Wade, Our target should be the whole system of federal judicial tyranny. “A commitment to radical decentralization means that pro-choicers should give up the Freedom of Choice Act, which would impose abortion rights by the federal government upon the entire country. It means that libertarians should cease putting all their judicial eggs in the basket of hoping to get good guys, like Richard Epstein or Alex Kozinski, on the Supreme Court. Far more important is getting rid of federal judicial tyranny altogether, and to decentralize our polity radically—to return to the forgotten Tenth Amendment.”

The so-called “left libertarians” don’t like Murray’s answer. They aren’t Rothbardians in any sense. We are the true Rothbardians, and we agree with Murray on this vital issue.

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Decentralize New York City! | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on January 2, 2021

Gregory Bresiger

New York’s Forgotten Borough Is Persecuted

Some New Yorkers have a devolution message for our Manhattan elites: let us go. 

The battle between liberty and runaway big government is a history of imperious empires crushing political, economic, and geographic minorities. We see such a battle in New York City, whose Manhattan-based municipal government, operating in a mostly one-party system, persecutes a unique part of the city called Staten Island as well other distant areas.

The city’s enforcement of covid regulations has been harsh on the island. Staten Island’s bars and restaurants have been badly hurt by city and state regulations. But Staten Islanders, whose political preferences are different from those of the city’s ruling powers, had had many grievances for years before the covid lockdowns.

A Battle for Local Liberty

Staten Island is so unlike the rest of New York City that many of its citizens have been trying to win a decentralization battle for decades. Indeed, in the 1993 municipal elections Staten Islanders voted overwhelmingly to leave New York City.

Ultimately, Staten Island and some other overtaxed New Yorkers in this mismanaged sprawling city hate being governed by a Manhattan ruling class that often scorns and misunderstands “outer borough” residents. (i.e., those not living in Manhattan). This Manhattan ruling class quietly regards most of us as bunch of Guidos, Archie Bunkers, or local Babbitts. We are the New York City version of “deplorables.”

It is the essence of imperious government: a big political unit will not let a small unit quietly succeed. The nature of imperial government is always to hold on to everything.

Staten Island to the Mayor—We’re Not Like You 

Staten Island, unlike most of the radical leftist parts of New York City, is somewhat right-wing. It went for President Trump in the last election. It is more suburban that the rest of the city. It has a lot of Italo-Americans. It has different attitudes about the police than much of the rest of the city, especially a city council and mayor who have reduced police funding. Staten Island residents depend less on the egregious city/state transportation systems through their nightmare government agency, the MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority), and more on the use of private cars.

Republicans Joe Borelli and Steven Matteo, two city council members, recently offered legislation to create a task force to examine the feasibility of Staten Island seceding from the left-leaning Big Apple.

“If the city wants to continue going in a radical progressive direction, please just leave us behind!” said Borelli. He believes left-wing mayor Bill de Blasio has no understanding of the borough. “Just consistently when there’s issues for Staten Island, we just don’t get a big reaction from City Hall.”

Not Like the Rest of the Big Apple 

Part of the city government disconnect is Staten Island’s uniqueness. It is the least populated borough, with only some four hundred thousand. That means its voice is hardly heard in a city of over 8 million. It has many reasons to want to escape from the tyranny of a majority but a huge city government that won’t let it go.

“The city is fighting a war on the cars we need to drive,” Borelli said. He added that many city officials “loathe police officers many [of whom] live here. Why wouldn’t Staten Island want to secede?” 

Borelli also said he believes residents of the so-called forgotten borough will back secession because they’re on the short end of the city’s unfair property tax system. He says it favors neighborhoods where property values have skyrocketed, such as Park Slope in Brooklyn, where Mayor De Blasio owns property. 

The city government’s inability to effectively govern goes beyond one borough. As a result of a program of aggressive expansion in the nineteenth century, New York City is unlike almost any other city: it is five entire counties. Most big cities are the biggest part of one county; not five entire counties. Each of New York’s five boroughs is unique.

Escape from Tax Hell 

Many of Staten Island’s taxpayers, like many other New Yorkers, also want to separate from a place Money magazine once called “tax hell.” 

This is because the city chronically overspends. New York City’s government payrolls have been exploding throughout the De Blasio mayoralty. These have been big spending years. The city virtually faces bankruptcy next year. De Blasio concedes that unless the coming Biden administration bails out the city, it will face economic disaster. Under almost any circumstances, the taxpayers will face bigger tax bills. Tens of thousands aren’t waiting for next year’s crisis: they’ve moved.

De Blasio, an unpopular radical leftist and onetime supporter of Nicaragua’s Sandinistas, was asked about the secession efforts. “I can’t imagine New York City without Staten Island,” he said. 

But many Staten Islanders can.

In 1993, they voted about two-to-one in a nonbinding referendum to seceed and become the independent city of Staten Island. The measure was sent to the state legislature. But the referendum was later invalidated. Staten Island advocates hadn’t received “a home rule” approval message from the New York City Council.

Imagine if before American revolutionaries had begun their fight they had asked the permission of the British Parliament? 

A Felon Determines the Island’s Fate 

The New York State Assembly speaker, New York City Democrat Sheldon Silver, citing the lack of a home rule message, ignored the referendum when it was presented in Albany. Silver, in a reaction typical of the lawmaker presiding over an empire, said he didn’t want to be the one who helped break up the city. Like so many New York pols, Silver was later convicted of corruption. 

Still, De Blasio and other city power players should be concerned about more than Staten Island. Once the independent spirit is awakened in an oppressed people, such as New Yorkers suffering under more than a century of socialist centralization, where would it stop if it were followed to its logical conclusions? The city’s politically oppressed aren’t limited to Staten Island.

More NYC Oppression Stories 

Queens County has more than 2 million residents. If it were a city and it had home rule, it would be one of the biggest cities in the country. Queens in the 1990s had its own secession movement. It ended when Staten Island’s independence movement was defeated by the legerdemain of the region’s ruling classes.

I have lived in Queens most of my life. The quasi-suburban Queens is also a very different place from Manhattan. For example, I have a five-hundred-acre forest in my neighborhood (It was actually created in the last days of the City of Brooklyn. I have written elsewhere about this wonderous, little-known place called Forest Park).

Unfortunately, by a very narrow margin, we voted to join the big city at the end of the nineteenth century. 

The Once Great City of Kings 

And Brooklyn in the nineteenth century became one of the biggest cities in the nation until “the crime of ’98.” This was the referendum that was narrowly approved in the 1890s that joined the borough of Kings and extinguished the independence of parts of the Bronx, Staten Island, and Queens in a centralist movement called consolidation.

Brooklyn’s great newspaper, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, opposed the referendum, warning that it would destroy Brooklyn’s economy: “Manhattan’s elite gave up on the idea of upward mobility. And Brooklyn paid the price.”

Indeed, after Brooklyn had lost its status as a great city, Brooklynite novelist Pete Hamill would write of his beloved borough, “[A]n inner voice always seems to whisper: There was another place before and it was better than this.” 

The Bronx was also ruined by joining the city. It was once an industrial hub, especially the southern part of the borough. The South Bronx became one of the most infamous examples of urban blight, a place my family fled in the 1960s. Those neighborhoods have long since lost their industry, because city officials sacrificed it to a god called Manhattan. 

The Jeffersonian Staten Island Sensibility 

Staten Island is part of the huge badly governed city of New York. Many Staten Islanders believe local control would improve their quality of life. These liberty-minded folks believe in the Jeffersonian idea that the smallest government tends to be the least objectable. It tends to be more responsive since it is closer to the governed. 

Jane Jacobs, author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities, agreed. 

“Brooklyn and all the other boroughs would all be better off on their own,” wrote Jacobs over sixty years ago. Her criticism that consolidation was flawed was amazingly prophetic. 

“The richest borough, Manhattan, has received some economic and cultural benefits, and the others have been stultified in their development. Big bureaucracies,” she wrote, “can’t allow for the diversity and the experimentation that are essential to cities.” 

Indeed, true diversity and entrepreneurship arise best from the smallest, most decentralized units of government. Not surprisingly, one of the greatest libertarian historians, Lord Acton, said the issue of centralization versus decentralization is one of the most important themes in history. 

A Flawed NYC 

But this flawed leftist ruling class imposing centralization is unfit to govern us, or anybody, given the widespread venality, overspending, municipal socialism, and countless other forms of mismanagement. But some of it is understandable. It’s tough to govern people you don’t understand. 

Most city officials have either lived all their lives in Manhattan or moved to Manhattan once they became power players.

I believe Lord Acton would have understood the frustrations of Staten Islanders, their anger with being governed by a huge, distant centralized city government.

He warned of “the threat to freedom from centralized governmental absolutism, the tyranny of the majority, bureaucratic administration, democracy and socialism.” Acton could have been speaking about Staten Island today or thirty years ago. 

“It is bad to be oppressed by a minority,” Acton wrote, “but it is worse to be oppressed by a majority.” Author:

Gregory Bresiger

Gregory Bresiger ( is an independent business journalist who lives in Kew Gardens, Queens, New York. He is the author of MoneySense, a forthcoming book of basic of money management with a libertarian point of view.

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Dear Biden Supporters, It’s Not Too Late to Secede | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on November 20, 2020

Justin Murray

Four years ago, I wrote an open letter to the dismayed supporters of Hillary Clinton in the wake of her loss to Donald Trump. Before celebrating Biden’s win in this year’s election, it’s important to reflect back on the past four years. Remember your frustration, your anger, your fear of someone you believed was unhinged and dangerous being in control of all of the immense powers that are now vested with the federal government of the United States of America. Now ask yourselves this: Do you want that to happen again?

Despite the Biden victory, the Democrat Party at the time of this writing not only failed to change the makeup of the Senate, they lost ground in the House and even lost a governor to the Republicans. Further, the Biden win was not delivered by an outpouring of support by the coveted minority demographics, which Trump won in larger numbers across every ethnic category compared to the prior election, including an astounding doubling of the LGBTQ vote, but by a shift in the voting patterns of white men. Couple this with the complete lack of any real enthusiasm for the prospect of a Biden presidency, and it’s apparent that the Democrat president-elect didn’t win on the strength of the Democrat platform but because enough people were put off by President Trump’s abrasive behavior.

In other words, the Blue Wave not only failed to manifest, it turned into a slightly lower tide.

Because of these trends, short of something major happening over the next four years or the Republicans nominating another Donald Trump–style candidate, a Biden presidency is looking to be a one and done, with a Republican likely finding his way back to office in 2025.

But why is it I’m here, raining on your parades? Simple, it’s to give you advice on how to blunt the pain of this inevitability.


The best way to remove the pain of a future political opponent controlling the machine is to shut down the machine. And by this I mean radically decentralize. As it stands, very little done at the level of DC cannot be done, and done better, at the state level. As it stands, most federal spending is little more than collecting taxes from states and sending it back with instructions on how to use it. Nothing needs to be recreated since the state organs manage the day-to-day operation of all the various programs, and there would be an immediate benefit once the federal bureaucracy has been removed from the equation. All they’re doing, after all, is tumbling the money the state could collect directly itself and skimming off the expenses for all the bureaucrats.

For example, Social Security can be handled by the individual states. Despite the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) claims to the contrary, Social Security is entirely bankrupt and has no assets beyond promises to tax future workers to cover claims, either directly through the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) taxes or through the general fund via the Treasury bonds it claims as assets. Since the assets are fake IOUs, there isn’t anything to transfer back to the individual States. The only difference between the current method and a state-run method is that the tax collection is no longer funneled through a federal-level agency.

Further, by decentralizing, individual states would no longer be at the whims of an unfavored politician’s decisions in Washington. For instance, if the federal government didn’t have a Department of Fish and Wildlife and didn’t have a Bureau of Land Management owning vast tracts of land in states like Washington, the recent stress over the removal of the gray wolf from the federal endangered species listing wouldn’t exist. Certainly, the states could maintain protection of the wolf on state lands, but these laws are not applicable to federal lands. By closing the US Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Bureau of Land Management and returning all the federal lands to the states, Washington could better manage and protect the gray wolf population without having to hope for a friendly administration roughly twenty-five hundred miles away to agree with them.

From a strategic standpoint, Biden could easily do this, as he could force Republicans to accept these small-government proposals to maintain the illusion that they’re supporters of a small federal government and states’ rights. A Democrat president and Republican Senate is a perfect setup for this as Republicans will be forced to agree to maintain their position as small-government proponents (despite immediately abandoning it when in power).

Why, in other words, would you want some future administration not friendly toward your interests controlling the current government, let alone some future expansion you’ve dreamed about with a Biden presidency? Instead of asking him to push for universal healthcare or vast federal law enforcement reforms, why not demand he eliminate that interference from DC so you can easily do it yourself at home? These new agencies will just end up in the hands of a Republican president within the next decade.

Consider Secession

The problem with decentralization is that anything decentralized can be easily centralized again. Closing the Department of Homeland Security or the Drug Enforcement Agency could just be a mere speed bump when a future administration deigns to build them back up again. A much more permanent solution would be to secede from the Union and go it as an independent nation. This way, residents of California, with their lopsided support of Biden, aren’t going to have to hope that their preferred candidate isn’t tainted by the corruption by party members in Pennsylvania. Californians also wouldn’t have to rely on the unlikely prospect of a uniquely unlikable candidate like Donald Trump driving a large percentage of the electorate to the Dems in Wisconsin. Rather, by seceding, with the blessings of a friendly president, the states along the Pacific Coast and in the Northeast can safely insulate themselves from fickle Ohio and Arizona voters who can easily swing national elections to the other party.

The United States is already uniquely situated for a clean split as governance structures exist at the State level. As noted above, States are already handling nearly everything done at the DC level, so the institutions exist to handle this. Breaking up into ten to twelve different nations would not only be a relatively smooth process, it would lead to a happy electorate, as they’re no longer having to compete with culturally different people all over the continent for central policy. California will no longer have to hope that a friendly administration in DC will keep high-speed rail funded while losing the local funding it could have used to the federal maw.

Further, this idea is no longer a radical notion pushed by a few Texans or weird “The South Shall Rise Again” types. It’s gaining traction on all segments of the political spectrum, so it will be just that much easier to gain agreement on a mutual split.

A Golden Opportunity

Biden supporters, this is your opportunity. Instead of endeavoring to gain a short-term endorphin rush of winning, you should push for either radical decentralization or full secession. By doing so, you’ll set yourself up to never have to worry about a Donald Trump coming to power and save yourself another four to eight years of heartache and stress. Can you imagine a world where you’ll never have to worry about a Republican taking over again? That world is not possible if you insist on growing federal power and keeping the Union intact. If anything, that will only make the next Republican administration that much more unbearable for you to live under. Author:

Justin Murray

Justin Murray received his MBA in 2014 from the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland.

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