A Jeffersonian Kansas

by Mark T. Mitchell on January 2, 2012 · 11 comments <span>Print this article</span> Print this article

in Short

Here is an article describing how Kansas is leading the way toward a less centralized future.

The “revolution in a cornfield” that is happening today in Gov. Sam Brownback’s Kansas is potentially as important as what happened here in 1776. Because in the last two years the states have learned that they don’t have to do what the federal government tells them to do. They can think for themselves and govern themselves, just as Dorothy promised. As The Washington Post reports with an excellent article today titled “In Kansas, Gov. Sam Brownback puts tea party tenets into action with sharp cuts”: “If you want to know what a Tea Party America might look like, there is no place like Kansas. In the past year, three state agencies have been abolished and 2,050 jobs have been cut. Funding for schools, social services and the arts have been slashed. The new Republican governor rejected a $31.5 million federal grant for a new health-insurance exchange because he opposes President Obama’s healthcare law. And that’s just the small stuff.”

These changes may help shake up politics at the national level as well.

If Ron Paul wins Iowa — Dorothy Rabinowitz of the The Wall Street Journal, who advocated Gingrich weeks back, this morning declares Paul to be “the best-known propagandist for our enemies” (Surrender Dorothy!) — and he is doing well in New Hampshire, we will have a new party system. One a combo of Dems and Republicans (“No Labels”? Whigs?); Republicans such as George W. Bush and Dems like Obama with the same policies with cosmetic differences. The other a Jeffersonian party in the direction of Gary Johnson, Judge Nap and Ron Paul. Economically this might be seen as a shift in contention from the twins that have ravaged the world for 150 years, Marx and Keynes, to one between Keynes and Hayek. This returns us to our original nature: Hamilton vs. Jefferson.

Kansas may be blazing the trail, but as the federal government shows itself increasingly paralyzed and often inept, other states are sure to follow.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Anymouse January 2, 2012 at 1:38 pm

I hope so. We still need to be prepared for the federal government to attempt to maintain control for as long as possible.

avatar JA January 2, 2012 at 5:09 pm

A return to Hamilton and Jefferson would mean that the Jeffersonian vision would include some means of curtailing economic centralization as well. The crop of Tea Partiers and Paulite libertarians have no response to this. They are invested more in a late 19th century laissez faire capitalism than the proprietary capitalism of the founding.

There may be a realignment of parties — one is long overdue — but it will hardly be about decentralization. Civil society will remain a captive intermediary between the state and the individual. The only difference is the preference for state created markets over state managed technocracies. I’ll pass.

avatar Carl Bankston January 2, 2012 at 9:02 pm

This is an interesting little article, but it is important to recognize that a state can only make limited contributions toward Jeffersonian democracy. Self-government and self-reliance must be built through institutions more localized than those of states and larger levels of government cannot create effective institutions for smaller levels.

avatar Jerry Brown January 3, 2012 at 1:56 pm

The only difference is the preference for state created markets over state managed technocracies. I’ll pass.

What does that mean? Trying to keep up.

avatar JA January 4, 2012 at 1:10 am

Jerry Brown,

The modern state levels the “complex space” of natural human society (communities, families, etc.) by rendering individuals and government as the only valid political, social, and legal agents, creating a “simple space.” Everything else becomes an intermediary institution between the individual and the state rather than the locus of political and social life where the common good can be found based on common affections. The state manages and monopolizes public space largely through bureaucracy (direct management) or the creation of markets (indirect management).

Now think about this. Who manages the terms upon which markets operate? Who sets them up, whether political, economic, or cultural? The state. Economic markets, for instance, would not operate as they do were it not for the state creating a unitary space for them through a legal regime. This is why modern capitalism is corporate capitalism, why communities have no economic self-rule, and why there are markets for things that didn’t exist in the past. The first is established through the legal fiction of corporate personhood. The second and third because communities have no means to thwart the penetration of markets in unitary space or establish customs and norms in lieu of markets.

avatar Allan Carlson January 4, 2012 at 10:22 pm

Sam Brownback is also the only major figure in American politics who “gets” the family issues, in a thoughtful, Chestertonian, Distributist way. May his [political] tribe increase!

avatar Siarlys Jenkins January 7, 2012 at 10:44 pm

“Funding for schools, social services, and the arts have been slashed.”

This is the march of liberation, the restoration of citizen democracy in a free republic, the spirit of Jefferson and Madison?

I hardly think so. This is the spirit of the bourbon nabobs who drove the southern states to ruin and despair. This is the Revenge of the Robber Barons. This is the antithesis of the American War of Independence.

Nor is it the wave of the future. Just a bump in the road.

avatar polistra January 9, 2012 at 6:05 am

Good to hear that Brownback is making things happen. I really hoped he’d do better in the Presidential race last time, but his ‘assigned mission’ is probably to create a strong and frugal state in Kansas.

The only salvation for this country will be a mass secession by the sane states, leaving the wacked-out incompetents clinging to DC. The sane states will need to be economically and culturally firm before they try to create a sane country.

avatar Siarlys Jenkins January 10, 2012 at 8:15 pm

Any group of states that attempts secession will have to face up to Sen. Henry Clay’s observation that never will the people’s of the Ohio and Mississippi valleys accept any flag but the American flag flying over the Crescent City. More broadly, state boundaries are not drawn to form self-sufficient, economically independent, or defensible political entities. They are drawn on the assumption that the state is a sub-set of a binding federal union. The eastern coastal states, with some adjustment, might make a go of it, or even three goes of it, although if they blocked trade from the midwest and Canada didn’t take up the slack, there would be war. California can’t even secede, without aligning with Arizona and Colorado, but then, they will be fighting internecine wars over water, not to mention Nevada. Oregon and Washington might manage, but not without Idaho, and Idaho can’t go it alone without both the coastal states and Montana.

What you call “the sane states” are not arranged in a neat compact mass. Besides. voters are notoriously fickle. Some of the “sane” states will be “insane” in another four to eight years.

avatar D.W. Sabin January 10, 2012 at 9:21 pm

Bottoms up gentlemen and ladies…..bottoms up.
Cheers

avatar Diabolique January 29, 2012 at 8:24 pm

Kansas does not have cornfields. It is a wheat & sorghum producing state.

Why stop at slashing funds for social services, children and the arts? Hardly substantial. If Kansans want to go it alone, be self sufficient and ideologically pure and do their part to reduce the national debt, why not end the dependency on Federal agricultural subsidies?

Perhaps the citizens of the State of Kansas should also sacrifice any & all Federal tax subsidies that flow to its oil, gas and wind energy companies — especially since the oil and gas industries are in decline in Kansas. If you believe the Federal government is intrusive and destructive then it is time to put your money where your mouth is.

This must be done despite, according to the Sunshine Review “Kansas faced an estimated $510 million budget gap for FY 2011 and the Kansas state legislature passed a $13.7 billion state budget, one that includes over $300 million in tax increases.[1] [2] Kansas will receive approximately $179 million from the federal government under H.R. 1586, a $26 billion plan to give states money for Medicaid and education that the President signed into law on August 10, 2010.[3]
Kansas has a total state debt of approximately $28,538,211,000, when calculated by adding the total of outstanding official debt, pension and other post-employment benefits (OPEB) liabilities, Unemployment Trust Fund loans, and the budget gap. [4]“

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: