The days that open up each new year always seem to bring about a sense of optimism; the slate is clean, and we resolve to solve all of our financial challenges, lose weight, and permanently get along with all those we love. These chimeras don’t always come to fruition, of course, but there’s always hope.
Legislatively, we’re about to see at the state and local levels roughly 40,000 new laws and regulations kick in in 2014 most of which, if enforced, will diminish our freedoms nationwide. Thirteen states, for example, plan to raise the minimum wage. In SeaTac, Washington, the rate is scheduled to skyrocket to fifteen dollars an hour, more than double the federal rate. With history as the guide, this will be a job killer.
In Colorado, you can now buy an ounce of pot; in Oregon, you are prohibited from smoking tobacco in your car if children are present. In Illinois, no one under eighteen can use a tanning bed starting this week.
Parsing through the plethora of local laws facing Americans nationwide, it can safely be said that some of them stand a better chance of passing the freedom test than others. Employers in Rhode Island, for example, will no longer be able to ask whether or not prospective employees have a criminal record. In Colorado, if you decide to buy an electric car, you’ll be paying fifty dollars a year to plug it in. And in Florida–get ready–early voting is being expanded. What could possibly go wrong?
Those of us who believe in federalism always like it when states and not Washington D.C. take the lead on passing new legislation. States are indeed the grand laboratories that teach us empirically what works and what doesn’t. So the good news in this that states will spend the next year discovering just that. And if you happen to live in a state saturated with laws that make no sense, your recourse is to move out. That’s the beauty of the 9th and 10th amendments to the Constitution; the powers of the federal government are, as Madison insisted, few and defined.
Still, it’s troubling that so many states are set to implement so many stupid laws. It is their Constitutional right, but the lack of outrage at the local level about the content of some of these laws sheds a little light, perhaps, as to how Obama won two terms. The nanny state, in many parts of the nation, is alive and well in mindset.
The good news is, it’s likely that the obnoxiousness and in some cases the failure of many of these new laws will complete the task started when Obama’s big government machine went into full throttle. He scared most Americans by behaving as though all wisdom came from Washington. Philosophically, a majority of us recoil from such a notion. That’s a procedural thing, though. Procedurally, the new laws being passed by states are being passed in the right place.
The problem is that philosophically, the laws offend in some cases the fundamental premises of economics and in other cases (like the you-can’t-smoke-in-your-car law), the essence of liberty. What can be hoped in the new year as the recently passed laws get under way is that people, state by state, will become perturbed with Big Brother, however close to home he is, micromanaging the way they live their lives.
By: Will Anderson