Much has been said and written about the Massachusetts health care legislation passed under Mitt Romney and the similarity to it of the infamous federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed under President Obama. So long as the plan established in Massachusetts complies with the Massachusetts constitution and does not violate federal laws, it may be fine for Massachusetts, but that doesn’t mean the Federal Government has a right to impose a similar plan on all fifty states, or even that it would be wise to do so.
This principle is the essence of the tenth amendment to our constitution: 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.
Competition among states and the ability of people and companies to move freely among them are key US national strengths. If the Massachusetts health care legislation provides affordable access and high quality medical care to all its citizens, companies and people will move to Massachusetts, and its economy will thrive. If it turns out to be an unaffordable and unmanageable mess, companies and people will move out of Massachusetts and the state will go bankrupt. In either case, the United States of America, land of the free, home of the brave, refuge of choice for people around the world seeking opportunity, can survive and thrive. If, on the other hand, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act follows the well-established pattern of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security and becomes just one more huge unfunded liability, we can forget the American dream, (which of course has nothing to do with home ownership).
Economics and employment reveal another clear example of the advantage of states’ rights. If the foolishly destructive California economic and environmental regulations and tax structure were imposed by the Federal Government on all fifty states, the motto of all businesses but laundries and fast food would be China, China, China. Fortunately that has not happened, and businesses can still start up successful operations in South Carolina, Texas, and other business friendly states. There is a complimentary article in today’s WSJ about the manufacturing corridor that has been established in Greenville-Spartanburg South Carolina, now US home of Michelin, BMW, and Electrolux for example. And, in spite of attempted meddlesome federal intervention at the behest of union forces, South Carolina now has a Boeing factory in Charleston.
Of course the states cannot do whatever they want. We fought a costly war a hundred and fifty years ago to establish the principle that individual states do not have a right to allow ownership of slaves or to secede from the union in order to do so. Still, hopefully reserved to the states, are the rights to establish health care systems, education systems, environmental and financial regulations, taxes, etc. and, to the people and companies, the right to move to another state if they don’t like the one they currently reside in. Failures and inefficiencies of attempts at tight federal control of our vast geography, large and expanding population, and growing diversity have convincingly demonstrated the futility of such an approach. So, let the fifty states compete and may we all learn and grow and improve as a result.