As the United States faces a shutdown of its government -- caused by elected officials in Washington, D.C. -- we wonder if there is a better way of governing that would avoid this situation.
Our system of governing today is different from the original establishment of the United States. The original intention was to have a strong affiliation of independent states, rather than a powerful central government.
We evolved over time for several reasons. It turned out to be unreasonable for each state to set up its own army to defend itself; it made more sense for the union to have a single army. Having separate currency for each state made trading difficult, so a common currency was established.
Perhaps the biggest factor in the shift of power lies with the federal income tax. A "temporary income tax" was established in 1861 to help pay for the Civil War, and after a few starts and stops, became a permanent tax with the passage of the sixteenth amendment in 1913.
Having the ability to borrow money and spend it also added to the power of the centralized government.
Today, the possible government shutdown is based on two factors: disagreement about borrowing more money for the government to spend, and disagreement about the reach of a federal health care program known as ObamaCare.
Could the United States return to a decentralized confederation of independent states?
Some residents of Texas asks the question, as they occasionally talk about seceding from the United States. But in practical terms, it probably could not happen. Simply put, we're past the point of no return. There is too much dependence on the federal government, from Social Security and Medicare to national defense and interstate transportation.
We believe the best solution is to resolve our deep divides using the system we have today: a strong democracy whose elected leaders have lost their way.