Bridge to a little more than nowhere
7barksda at jmls.edu
Fri Nov 11 09:27:32 PST 2005
Ilya Somin writes:
"southern state governments in the Jim Crow and antebellum eras were certainly not averse to receiving federal funds, especially if they could control their distribution."
I agree this is clearly so with the post-civil war Jim Crow era. But was this also so during the antebellum era? I thought Southern States were vehemently opposed to such infrastructure spending pre-civil war. I would be interested in knowing more about the kinds of projects they supported, if you have some examples.
From: isomin at gmu.edu [mailto:isomin at gmu.edu]
Sent: Fri 11/11/2005 1:23 AM
To: Barksdale, Yvette
Cc: Jerry O'Neil; conlawprof at lists.ucla.edu
Subject: Re: RE: Bridge to a little more than nowhere
Actually, the 10th Amendment places few if any limits on the spending power. That was supposed to be the job of the General Welfare Clause.
Be that as it may, southern state governments in the Jim Crow and antebellum eras were certainly not averse to receiving federal funds, especially if they could control their distribution. Indeed, federal subsidization of state governments actually is one of the forces that helped reduce their vulnerability to the "outside market pressures" Yvette Barksdale refers too. The more a state can support itself through federal financing, the less it has to cater to market forces in order to attract businesses and taxpayers. Jim Crow-era Southern political leaders understood this well and that is one of the reasons why they worked so hard to put their congressmen and senators in positions of power on the relevant congressional committees.
As for redistribution to the poor, the federal government can accomplish it simply by giving money to the relevant poor people directly, which is the means favored by most economists, libertarian and otherwise. If the money is funneled through the state government, this increases the risk that some of the funds will be "captured" by politically influential wealthy people in the state or by the state government bureaucracy. For a good short discussion of these issues, see Wallace E. Oates' classic book, Fiscal Federalism (1975).
Finally, very few if any libertarians favor "tax breaks for special economic interests." Most if not all libertarians favor having the same (low) tax rate for all income, regardless of how that income is generated.
Assistant Professor of Law
George Mason University School of Law
3301 Fairfax Dr.
Arlington, VA 22201
e-mail: isomin at gmu.edu
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