Review of The Total Money Makeover and The Original Argument

Last year my wife had a spat with our son and decided that I should be ferrying my son back to college from now on. Although it involves a lot of driving I prefer to complete the round trip in one day. With all of that time in the car I have taken advantage of the local library and their supply of audio books. For this trip I chose two audio books, The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness and The Original Argument: The Federalists’ Case for the Constitution, Adapted for the 21st Century.

As a fan of the Dave Ramsey show the audio books was an enjoyable review of much of the same stuff you hear over the radio.

The Original Argument audiobook is an interesting Glenn Beck project. Glenn Beck and others have translated many of the original Federalist Papers from the 18th century English into an easier to understand 21st century English. The objective was to make the Federalist Papers more accessible to the average person and I think he achieved that. In this book we find Alexander Hamilton and James Madison making persuasive arguments for a more powerful federal government primarily because they felt a federal effort would be more efficient and cost less than independent state efforts. From their viewpoint it was a win-win decision for the country. Although I agree with Alexander Hamilton and James Madison about the benefits of a strong federal government, I think they would be shocked to see how the balance of power has shifted from the states to the federal government. Most of the safeguards for the state that Alexander Hamilton and James Madison described have been dismantled over the years. Not only are senators directly elected by the people but the states are increasing dependent on the federal government for their revenue as shown below.  The culmination of this dismantling effort can be seen in the lawsuits over the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. This year lawyers will make many of same federal versus state rights arguments before the Supreme Court that was argued originally in the Federalist Papers. I doubt any of lawyers will attempt to make the argument that the Affordable Care Act is more efficient substitute or enhancement of existing state programs. The fact that the federal government can pay for the expansion via deficit spending is a bad reason to expand Medicaid. I would be more in favor of a practice that encourages responsible governing practices.

See this Cato essay on federal subsidies to the states for more on why it is critical to reverse this trend.