Ezra Klein praises Rick Perry’s book

This is not a boring book. More to the point, it’s not even a book about Rick Perry. It’s a book about Rick Perry’s ideas. And his big idea is that most everything the federal government does is unconstitutional.

The book is fundamentally about the 10th amendment: that’s the one that says, “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.”

I think radical federalism is not as unworkable as you might think. As Ezra suggests it takes the United States in the direction of the Eurozone, but with a few crucial difference.

First, there is a US Treasury bond. That means the central government can issue debt independent of the several states. Which in turn means that US banks can hold Treasuries rather than state debt. This makes a state default less of crisis than national default in Europe.

Second, the US labor market is far more integrated. Language is the same across the states. The educational system is the same across the states. These standards are not likely to change.

Also, I think you would see more regional collaboration in the absence of a strong national government and that would provide for co-ordination and economies of scale on most issues. You would probably see the Northeast Corridor form into its own mini-nation. Similarly along the Pacific cost.

In the long run I don’t know if the organizational structure would make a huge difference either way but to be sure I don’t think its unworkable.

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