Tomorrow marks one month since the recent ice storm hit us. The final figures are now in, and for Kentucky the storm was:
1. The biggest in our history, because most of the state was affected.
2. The first time that the governor called up the entire Kentucky National Guard.
3. The worst natural disaster we have ever suffered. Losses included 36 lives and $114 million in repairs and clean-ups.
By comparison, the middle of this week was much milder. The grass is starting to turn green again; temperatures got into the 50s on Wednesday, and the low 60s on Thursday. After bundling up for so long, it seems strange to walk outside without a jacket, or go into the basement and not hear the furnace. It didn’t last, though. A cold front came in today, so it was one of those bizarre situations when it was warmer before sunrise than after it. The front was proceeded by a line of short but intense thunderstorms, which passed over us at 5 AM. The rain stopped by noon, but it stayed overcast for the rest of the day. Tomorrow an inch of snow is in the forecast, and Leive and I are planning to visit Louisville, so hopefully the weather won’t make our trip too challenging.
And what may someday be considered the most important news of this week: there are now nineteen states with bills promising to enforce the Tenth Amendment of the US Constitution, by calling on the federal government to stop acting in ways that go beyond the boundaries of the powers assigned to it. It’s a response to all the irresponsible spending we’ve seen from Washington lately; yesterday I heard that President Obama is spending money like water because he has no plans to pay it back.
For those who may not be Constitutional scholars, the Tenth Amendment is probably the most neglected part of the Bill of Rights. In a nutshell, it states that all powers that the Constitution does not specifically give to the federal government must go to the states or the people. However, during my whole lifetime it has been ignored by most folks; the bureaucracy in Washington has grown, to the point that some may call it more oppressive than the British tyranny we threw out in the American Revolution, while the power of the states has shrunk by comparison. Thus, the time may be coming when the USA will have a unitary government, not a federal one.
I am discussing this because last January I started working on the fifth history paper for my North American history series. Called “The American Superpower,” it will cover US history from 1933 to the present. So far I am only up to World War II, so don’t expect to read the whole thing until late this year. Here’s a sneak preview from the paper, which ties in with the above story:
From Chapter 2 onward, American history has been a story of growth. In Chapter 2 we saw the future American community grow in population and confidence, until it was ready to survive on its own. In Chapter 3 the theme was growth in the amount of land; thirty-four states joined the Union during that time, compared with fourteen in Chapter 4 and two in Chapter 5. Then in Chapter 4 it was growth in wealth and military power.
All those trends have continued, but in this chapter a new trend became dominant: the years since 1933 have been an age of massive federal government growth. Before the Civil War, the federal government only occasionally interfered in the lives of ordinary Americans; now with taxes, Social Security, Medicare and endless regulations, it meddles in our lives constantly. And much of Uncle Sam’s growth has come at the expanse of the states; whereas the Constitution gave nearly as much attention to states’ rights as it did to the rights of individuals, today the state governments have become largely irrelevant to most of us.
I’m old-fashioned enough to be pessimistic about the nation’s future if this trend to centralize power continues. Hopefully these Tenth-Amendment resolutions are a step in the opposite direction, to put the federal government back where it belongs.