States cp — vs Death Penalty —


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States CP
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Decoupling local law enforcement decisions from federal aid is key – enables experimentation at the local level

Edwards 2019 – director of tax policy studies at Cato and editor of www​.Down​siz​ing​Gov​ern​ment​.org
(By Chris Edwards May 20, 2019 “Restoring Responsible Government by Cutting Federal Aid to the States” Policy Analysis No. 868 IB
Residents of each state may have different preferences for policies on education, highways, transit, and other items. They may have different views on taxes and spending. In America’s federal system, state and local governments can maximize value by tailoring policies to the preferences of their residents.148 At the same time, individuals can improve their own lives by moving to juris­dictions that suit them best. Economist Gordon Tullock noted, “The fact that people can ‘vote with their feet’ and thus sort themselves out into different areas with different collections of public goods is one of the great advantages of federalism.”149 Federal aid and related regulations undermine such beneficial state policy diversity. A good example was the 55‐​mile‐​per‐​hour national speed limit, which was enforced between 1974 and 1995 by federal threats of withdrawing highway aid. Such one‐​size‐​fits‐​all rules destroy value because they ignore state variations in geography, traditions, and resident preferences. President Reagan’s 1987 executive order on federalism noted, “The nature of our constitutional system encourages a healthy diversity in the public policies adopted by the people of the several states according to their own conditions, needs, and desires. In the search for enlightened public policy, individual states and communities are free to experiment with a variety of approaches to public issues.”150 But the states cannot be free to experiment if Washington is calling the shots. Reagan was a conservative, but diversity is also a social ideal championed by liberals. It was liberal Supreme Court justice Louis Brandeis who said that with federalism each state can “serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.”151 Unfortunately, most policymakers on the left have been strong supporters of the federal aid system even though it undermines diversity and local choice. Brandeis put his finger on something important—it is less risky to pursue policy experiments at the state level than at the federal level. Federalism expert Adam Freedman notes, “When states are in charge, policy mistakes are localized,” but “when the federal government is in charge, all mistakes are Big Mistakes.”152 By contrast, he writes, with decentralization, “the failures stay local while the successes go national,” as states freely copy good ideas from other states.153

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