Growing up, I would often hear my father warn "never expect more than a grunt from a pig". His warning was in regard to seeing things as they are, not as we wish they were and is as true today as ever.
The single most glaring observation from the Hurricane Katrina debacle is that the Federal Government is not effective as the great protector of the American People. It has become too big, too bureaucratic, too political, too slow and too expensive to adequately react to localized events be they natural or man made (riots, terrorist attacks, etc.).
The Founding Fathers foresaw this over 229 years ago and sought to mitigate the problem by creating a Constitutional Federal Republic of States, which gave the State Governments the independence and power to take action required to serve their populations. Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution gave a detailed and very limited list of powers vested in the Federal Government through the Congress while the Tenth Amendment notes 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".
Unfortunately, since Roosevelt decided that the Federal Government should be responsible for creating jobs, managing retirement accounts (Social Security) and health care (Medicare); the Federal Government has morphed into an enormous swine with an insatiable appetite. Crumbling under its own weight, the hog is now sucking over $2.0 trillion out of our economy while failing to deliver on every social promise made in the last 40 years since LBJ's "Great Society". The Federal Government is now the largest employer in the country while its employees produce nothing to generate income or create wealth.
The two parties who have dominated politics since I've been around seem only to be competing for the Head of the Hog. Although it was the Democratic Party, flush with young Marxist elitists who put the massive growth of the government into overdrive, the Republicans have done nothing to reverse the progress since they've been in power. It doesn't matter who has their hand on the leash, the Hog is still eating.
Just like the moribund conglomerates of the late 1970's, the time has now come that the Hog is more valuable cut up and barbecued.
It is time to revisit Article 1, Section 8 and force the US Government to give up responsibility for anything not expressly in the general welfare of the American People and return all those other responsibilities to the States. Cabinet-level departments, for example, should be reduced to just two, the Defense Department and the State Department, with the latter purged of the weak-kneed internationalist crowd who have dominated it for so long. Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Natural Resources, Energy, Labor, etc., should all be abolished as just money-wasting bureaucracies serving outside special interests, instead of the people whose taxes support them.
Government subsidies should be drastically reduced, starting at the top. That is, there should be a prohibition against giving a dime of government money to anyone whose annual income or total assets exceed $1.0 billion. Why should agricultural subsidies be going to Ted Turner and David Rockefeller, or universal health care to pay for their medicine?
Even though Social Security and Medicare (which should also be eliminated or at least out-sourced to a more efficient organization) make up 40% of the Federal Budget, we could immediately cut federal outlays by 30% or $700 Billion dollars.
The States could then take it upon themselves to compete for these tax dollars by creating environments that would attract those dollars to them. Based on the will of their people, the State Legislatures could use tax policy, education reform, environmental policy and the like to craft an environment that would attract new business, retirees, young workers, tree huggers or whomever. If the state of Michigan wants to drive business out by over taxing and over regulating, let them. If Vermont wants Ben and Jerry's to be the sole producer in their state, let them. If Alaska wants to open up Anwar for oil drilling, let them. If California wants to force all residents to drive electric cars, let them.
Not only would this take a lot of money out of politics, it would push that money much closer to the point of use and eliminate the bureaucratic siphoning that takes place at the federal level. Senators and State legislators would once again become beholden to their state constituents instead of Howard Dean or the RNC.
Private business learned a long time ago that large, centralized bureaucracies don't work. Cuba, China, the U.S.S.R., Western Europe all failed or continue to fail in improving the lives of their citizens through centralized control. It's time for Americans to wake up and demand that our Federal Government stop the madness. The States have to act now to take back our Governments or risk becoming obsolete. If we lose the notion of States Rights, there will be no going back.