A Response to Objections to the Articles of Confederation
The Articles of Confederation got the USA through its toughest war and through the period the nation was most fragile. There was no pressing need in 1789 to abandon the Articles, as anti-federalists like Patrick Henry cogently explained to no avail. A purported primary rationale for its abandonment, Shays’ Rebellion, was in fact quelled before the Articles were abandoned. The real reason that the Articles of Confederation were replaced is because the most powerful interests in a society will always argue for the need of more centralized control, for such generally increases their power. It is ordinary Anglo-American patriots whose interests are most protected by preventing centralized concentrations of power. Ordinary Anglo-American patriots should seek, by God’s grace, to restore the USA to the Articles of Confederation and away from the multicultural “global nation” model, and it should be restored by the means employed by our Anglo-American patriot forefathers. In part this will involve dispelling the fears people have about returning to the Articles of Confederation. How can it be done in an orderly fashion?
Most domestic programs (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc.) can simply be devolved to the States. In other words, both the administration of them, along with the taxes which pay for them, can be placed at the State level.
Regarding the US National Guard, it can be de-federalized, and the forces return to being State militia as they began. It was wrong that they were ever federalized. The rest of the US defense forces can report to the Congress enabled by the Articles of Confederation.
The Congress enabled by the Articles of Confederation, working with the supporting States, would determine which federal departments to retain and which to close down. One would hope that a number like the Department of Education and Department of Energy would simply be shut down, leaving these matters to States and localities.
The website https://constitutioncenter.org/blog/10-reasons-why-americas-first-constitution-failed lists seven supposed problems commonly cited to the Articles of Confederation, which I shall seek to respond to herein:
1. The states didn’t act immediately. It took until February 1779 for 12 states to approve the document. Maryland held out until March 1781, after it settled a land argument with Virginia.
This supposed problem is irrelevant today.
2. The central government was designed to be very, very weak. The Articles established “the United States of America” as a perpetual union formed to defend the states as a group, but it provided few central powers beyond that. But it didn’t have an executive official or judicial branch.
That is a good thing, as history has shown the dangers of significant concentration of “central powers”. The “central powers” were strong enough in the Articles to win America’s toughest war: the War of Independence.
It is a good thing not to have an out-of-control executive or judicial branch, such as is now present in the US federal government.
3. The Articles Congress only had one chamber and each state had one vote. This reinforced the power of the states to operate independently from the central government, even when that wasn’t in the nation’s best interests.
One chamber means less bureaucracy, and one vote per State protects State power.
4. Congress needed 9 of 13 states to pass any laws. Requiring this high supermajority made it very difficult to pass any legislation that would affect all 13 states.
A ratio of “9 of 13” sets a high bar for new laws which is a good thing, to help prevent the multiplication of onerous laws. Since there is now a different number of states from the 13 at time of original adoption, the States now adopting the Articles of Confederation would need to agree to the ratio of “9 of 13” to apply to current circumstances. But if all States agreed, this ratio could be amended in the Articles.
5. The document was practically impossible to amend. The Articles required unanimous consent to any amendment, so all 13 states would need to agree on a change. Given the rivalries between the states, that rule made the Articles impossible to adapt after the war ended with Britain in 1783.
Making it very hard to amend is a good thing, so as to prevent power from being wrested from the States. It was illegal for the USA to adopt the US Constitution, because the States did not unanimously abandon the Articles of Confederation.
6. The central government couldn’t collect taxes to fund its operations. The Confederation relied on the voluntary efforts of the states to send tax money to the central government. Lacking funds, the central government couldn’t maintain an effective military or back its own paper currency.
It is advantageous to make it hard for the central government to collect tax money without State consent. It makes it hard for the central government to accumulate power. It also makes it harder to engage in unnecessary foreign wars. Regarding paper currency coined by government, it is unnecessary and even detrimental. Gold and silver, employed with block chain technology, is a sounder medium of exchange, and it avoids the pitfalls. There can be a sounder medium of exchange without government “paper currency”.
7. States were able to conduct their own foreign policies. Technically, that role fell to the central government, but the Confederation government didn’t have the physical ability to enforce that power, since it lacked domestic and international powers and standing.
This is an unfair charge, for the Articles did not permit States to conduct their own foreign policies. The Congress working with most States could punish States which ignored this requirement.
8. States had their own money systems. There wasn’t a common currency in the Confederation era. The central government and the states each had separate money, which made trade between the states, and other countries, extremely difficult.
As noted above, gold and silver, employed with block chain technology, is a sounder medium of exchange, and it avoids the pitfalls, of fiat currency of government. In theory the federal Constitution requires currency to be backed by gold and silver, but the US federal government has come to disregard this provision, allowing the federal government to spend beyond its means and thereby accumulate power to itself.
9. The Confederation government couldn’t help settle Revolutionary War-era debts. The central government and the states owed huge debts to European countries and investors. Without the power to tax, and with no power to make trade between the states and other countries viable, the United States was in an economic mess by 1787.
It is unwise for a nation to borrow huge sums of money from foreign nations in the first place. The best solution to this problem is to avoid getting into such deep debt in the first place. In any case, the Articles of Confederation offer multiple avenues for paying down debt.
The US federal government is now likely heading towards a financial collapse which will make the economic mess in 1787 look like a walk in the park. There is huge debt and unfunded liabilities which makes the situation like a house of cards.
10. Shays’ rebellion – the final straw. A tax protest by western Massachusetts farmers in 1786 and 1787 showed the central government couldn’t put down an internal rebellion. It had to rely on a state militia sponsored by private Boston business people. With no money, the central government couldn't act to protect the “perpetual union.”
It was unnecessary for the central government to get involved with a problem internal to one State which was adequately addressed by that State. If rebellion were to occur in multiple States, then multiple States could have been involved to address it.
The Articles of Confederation model can address the challenges of society, yet without the drawbacks of the current federalized system which is tending to greater and greater centralized concentrations of power, leading to serfdom for Anglo-American patriots.