“If anyone can honestly tell me — aside from National Defense — what useful purpose the Federal Government serves, ... I’ll eat my hat.”
Well, let’s see. Hmmmmm, according to the constitution the feds are responsible for the following functions:
1) To lay and collect constitutionally authorized taxes, duties, imposts and excises and pay the national debts.
2) To borrow Money on the credit of the United States.
3) To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.
4) To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States.
5) To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures.
6) To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States.
7) To establish Post Offices and post Roads.
8) To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.
9) To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court.
10) To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations.
11) To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water.
12) To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years.
13) To provide and maintain a Navy.
14) To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces.
15) To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions.
16) To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress.
17) To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings.
18) To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.
And that’s about it. All else is left to the states and the people (including air traffic control — for whoever mentioned it).
If anything else needs to be done by the federal government and they can get the constitutionally required number of states to ratify it, then they need to amend the constitution to authorize it before taking it on.
All of the above means the federal government needs a treasury department, a state department, an immigration/naturalization department, a bankruptcy court, a mint, an office of standards and measures, a patents and copyrights office, a marshals office and federal pen and gallows to handle counterfeiters and pirates, a post office, court buildings, offices and personnel, a war department, and a few federal buildings and personnel to manage the federal district and capital buildings. And that’s about it. The war department and maintaining an army and navy would be the major expense. The rest should be able to be managed for a few billion (100 billion bucks tops) i.e, peanuts.
Everything else needs to be closed down and the functions if really needed should be handled by the states and the people as intended and authorized by the founders and ratifiers.
The Federal Government is guilty of either failure, reneging, or wholly unconstitutional overreach on each of those powers.
The Treasury prints enough to ensure we become Zimbabwe; the Post Office is bankrupt; they REFUSE OUTRIGHT to enforce the border or immigration laws; the SCOTUS rules through judicial tyranny; the Debt is unmanageable; they've unconstitutionally re-interpreted the word "regulate" to mean "stymie", and the word "commerce" to mean "NOT-commerce"; taxes are prohibitive and redistributional a la Karl Marx's Second Plank; and they wish to use the "necessary and proper" clause to institute an all-powerful totalitarian State.
So, of all the "enumerated" powers in the Constitution; the Federal Government still handles National Defense (numbers 10 through 16) better than the States would on their own.
Other than that, they've screwed up every responsibility they've been given in one way or another; so, what's the point of keeping them around even for those "enumerated" purposes? The Federal Govt is clearly too irresponsible to handle even these limited powers.
A NATO-like defense treaty among the States, and NOTHING ELSE, would suit me fine.