State and Local Government: Key to Stopping DC Power Grab

Ezra Taft Benson

Called Unto Liberty, 20th Century Sermons, Ezra Taft Benson

The drift toward centralization of power is not inevitable. It can be slowed down, halted, reversed.

How? By state and local governments insisting that theirs is the responsibility for problems that are essentially local and state problems—insisting upon this, with the knowledge that responsibility and authority go hand in hand.

Inevitably, in centralized federal programs the money is not as wisely spent as if the states participated financially.

The people come to look to the federal government as the provider, at no cost to them, of whatever is needful.

The truth is that the federal government has no funds which it does not first, in some manner, take from the people. A dollar cannot make the round trip to Washington and back without shrinking in the process. As taxpayers we need to recognize these facts; programs which obscure them are contrary to the public interest.

The thought that the federal government is wealthy and the states poverty-stricken is a dangerous illusion. The federal debt in the United States is now sixteen times as great as the combined debt of the fifty states. It is difficult for the states to make a strong case for assistance from the federal government when anything the federal government spends must come from the states.

The states not only have rights, they also have responsibilities, and they have opportunities.

In the last analysis, we are not trying to protect one government entity from another. We are trying to protect the rights of individual people. If we ever forget this, the whole process of government is pointless.

George Washington said: “Government is not reason, it is not eloquence—it is force! Like fire it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master!” “It is hardly lack of due process,” said the Supreme Court, “for the government to regulate that which it subsidizes.” But we must remember that a planned and subsidized economy weakens initiative, discourages industry, destroys character, and demoralizes the people.

Our people must remain free. Our economy must remain free. Free of excessive government paternalism, regimentation, and control.


Source: Ezra Taft Benson, 29 September 1962. Ezra Taft Benson (1899-1994) served as thirteenth President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and as Secretary of Agriculture for both terms of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s presidency.


Called Unto Liberty is a project of Steve Farrell and The Moral Liberal.