The death of the 10th Amendment?

TRACKSIDE © by John DíAloia Jr. February 4, 2003

An excellent article by John A. Howard entitled "The Family: Americaís Hope" in the December 2002 "The St. Croix Review" opened with a quote from John Miltonís 1671 drama Samson Agonistes:

"But what more oft in nations grown corrupt

And by their vices brought to servitude

Then to love bondage more than liberty,

Bondage with ease than strenuous liberty!"

I must admit, poetry is not one of my great loves and I have never read Milton so I know not the plot of Samson Agonistes, yet with the thought expressed in this stanza, Milton demonstrated an understanding of human political frailty, a frailty being played out in 21st century America. (Similar is it not to Pogo in pointing the blame for the loss of freedom.) Just to whet your whistle about Howardís article a bit more, here is a quote he uses in his concluding paragraphs:

"The nations of our day cannot prevent conditions of equality from spreading in their midst. But it depends upon themselves whether equality is to lead to servitude or freedom, knowledge or barbarism, prosperity or wretchedness."

-- Alexis de Touqueville, Democracy in America, 1835

Many bills being introduced in the Kansas Senate this session provide examples of how we love bondage more than liberty, fulfilling Miltonís observation. Why else do we allow our elected representatives to gnaw away at our freedom? I do believe that the Kansas legislature is going to dictate the theme for many coming TRACKSIDEs: "How can we give up a bit of freedom today?"

SB16 was jammed through the Senate Judiciary committee and brought quickly to the floor. The bill requires people to provide their social security number when applying for a drivers license. The proponents talk about the need to improve the identification of citizens in the wake of 9/11 and to combat identity theft. The proponents note that the federal government requires states to get this information from citizens applying for a drivers license. Kansas is one of but a handful of states that have not implemented the requirement. The feds are giving Kansas until May to comply.

The feds forcing states to require social security numbers on applications as a prerequisite to issuing a drivers license? Is the 10th Amendment really dead as my senator friend states? It certainly would seem so in Kansas, for the feds have found that a combination of extortion and greed gives them an end-around the 10th Amendment, a means of getting Kansas to jump through whatever hoops the feds want. The fedís strategy: politely ask the state to enact this or that and mention that if the state does not comply, the state will not get this or that pot of money. They know that their bit of extortion will energize the legislatorsí greed factor, unable to say no to dollars that will allow them to continue to spend in the manner to which they have become accustomed. "We didnít force the state to pass the law, they did it on their own volition," they can piously intone. In the drivers license situation, the amount of money that Kansas will not get if they ignore the request is $31 million, plus an unquantified amount in highway funds that has been estimated on first cut to be over $100 million. By doing the fedís bidding, legislators continue to be able to play with large amounts of other peopleís money.

Several years ago the feds used the same tactics to coerce Kansas to enact a centralized system for collecting from deadbeat dads. If you remember, at the time, some Senators stated that it was all unconstitutional but voted for it - their greed overcame their principles. So much for any independent sphere of authority for the states. With extortion and greed, the feds are systematically turning state legislatures into rubber stamps - and freedom takes another knock.

A truth that our elected officials should remember is stated in a stanza written by poet James Russell Lowell in 1845, a stanza also cited by John A. Howard in his article:

"And beyond the dim unknown

Standeth God within the shadow

Keeping watch above His own."

See you Trackside.


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