Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Liberal Federalism?

Have liberals embraced fereralism (states rigts)? Jonah Golberg thinks so, and he's happy:

But I'm ecstatic that liberals suddenly love federalism. For years I've been ranting that federalism is the greatest system ever conceived to maximize human happiness.

The analogy I always use with college audiences is dorms. Imagine you've got ten dorms on a campus and a student population divided up into the usual coalitions: stoners, partiers, jocks, and so forth on one side, and study geeks, exchange students and — no offense — nerdy Mennonites on the other. A purely democratic system where all students get to decide dorm policy could result in the tyranny of 51 percent of the students over 49 percent of the students. The party-hardy crowd could pass a policy permitting loud music and keg parties at all hours of the night. Or if the more academically rigorous coalition won, they could ban "fun" of any kind, ever. Similarly, if the administration imposed its own policy from above, you could have a system that makes no one happy.

But, if you allowed each individual dorm to vote for its own policies, you could have a system where some dorms operate like scholarly monasteries and other dorms are more fun than a pool party at James Caan's house. Theoretically, 100 percent of the students could live the way they want. Maximized human happiness!

Party on Jonah!


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