Those State “Laboratories”

Ah, federalism.

Life in the 21st Century challenges our federalist system in a number of ways; it gets more and more difficult to decide–at least at the margins–what sorts of rules should be applied to the country as a whole, and what left to the individual states.

However those issues get resolved, however, our federalist system pretty much guarantees that state governments will continue to be the “laboratories of democracy” celebrated by Justice Brandeis, who coined the phrase in the case of New State Ice Co. v. Liebmann.  Brandeis explained that a “state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.”

Most recently, state governments have been “laboratories” for the GOP’s belief that low taxes are all that is needed to stimulate economic growth.

As David Leonhardt of the New York Times recently noted,

Until recently, Kansas offered the clearest cautionary tale about deep tax cuts. The state’s then-governor, Sam Brownback, promised that the tax cuts he signed in 2012 and 2013 would lead to an economic boom. They didn’t, and Kansas instead had to cut popular programs like education.

Now Kansas seems to have a rival for the title of the state that’s caused the most self-inflicted damage through tax cuts: Louisiana.

Those who follow economic news have been aware of the painful results of the  Kansas experiment for some time. Evidently, however, the news of its dire results and the subsequent, ignominious retreat by the Kansas legislature failed to reach Louisiana–and that state’s legislators appear unable to deal with the reality of their own failed experiment.

“No two ways about it: Louisiana is a failed state,” Robert Mann, a Louisiana State University professor and New Orleans Times-Picayune columnist, wrote recently.

A special session of the State Legislature, called specifically to deal with a budget crisis caused by a lack of tax revenue, failed to do so, and legislators adjourned on Monday. No one is sure what will happen next. If legislators can’t agree on tax increases, cuts to education and medical care will likely follow.

Leonhardt places the blame for this state of affairs on Bobby Jindal, who came to the Governor’s office having drunk deeply of his party’s ideological Kool-Aid:

Louisiana’s former governor, Bobby Jindal, deserves much of the blame. A Republican wunderkind when elected at age 36 in 2008, he cut income taxes and roughly doubled the size of corporate tax breaks. By the end of his two terms, businesses were able to use those breaks to avoid paying about 80 percent of the taxes they would have owed under the official corporate rate.

At first, Jindal spun a tale about how the tax cuts would lead to an economic boom — but they didn’t, just as they didn’t in Kansas. Instead, Louisiana’s state revenue plunged. The tax cuts helped the rich become richer and left the state’s middle class and poor residents with struggling schools, hospitals and other services.

Unfortunately, these “laboratories” aren’t working the way Justice Brandeis envisioned, because Republican representatives elected by the rest of the country refuse to learn from their failures. Ideology has once again trumped evidence– the tax bill passed by Congress and signed by Trump is patterned after those in Kansas and Louisiana.

The rich will get richer, and the poor and middle-class will pay the price. And those who refused to learn from the experiences of our “laboratories of democracy” will profess astonishment.

31 thoughts on “Those State “Laboratories”

  1. The recent tax bill appears to many I know as a very pleasant tax cut. But my visit to my accountant has forced me to face the number of deductions that will disappear when I do my taxes next year. I think that my friends who are so happy that they’ve garnered a few hundred dollars this year will be disenchanted and angry next year. Some will even blame President Obama.

  2. “The rich will get richer, and the poor and middle-class will pay the price. And those who refused to learn from the experiences of our “laboratories of democracy” will profess astonishment.”

    I read a news item recently that Congress cannot “live decently on $174,000 annual salary”; read a later article stating Congress considers $240,000 annually to be middle-income. If the federal “laboratory” figured the new “tax reform” on those figures; we know who will continue getting the biggest tax cuts. Or maybe it was my lying eyes reading those figures.

    Holcomb’s $12 MILLION one-time loan to Muncie school system must come from Indiana state budget while other school systems will continue depending the open-handedness of teachers purchasing basic school supplies for their students. They all need to to return to the lab-OR-a-tory and begin retesting their spending theories; they might begin by using a dictionary to read the definition of the word “budget”.

  3. American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and their State Policy Network are two institutions carrying out the work of the Koch’s and their paid representatives.

    https://www.alecexposed.org/wiki/ALEC_Exposed

    https://www.muncievoice.com/9390/state-policy-network-billionaires-influencing-indiana-policy/

    Bobby Jindal was/is a puppet employed by the Koch’s and ALEC. He and his state lawmakers were handed a blueprint to follow. Same as North Carolina, Kansas, and Indiana. Same as 22 other states.

    If you notice, the Koch’s puppets enjoy the “democracy experiments” when it benefits them but change the game when it doesn’t suit them. Look at what they’re doing to the EPA and it’s Clean Water Act. Look at Session’s getting tougher on marijuana laws to combat those states who’ve legalized weed — mainly progressive states.

    I hope you don’t think our elected reps have reached their decisions based on what’s best for those living in their districts. LOL

    ALEC creates laws which are shared among state reps who have become lapdogs for the Koch’s and their corporate ilk. They receive boilerplate laws with checks attached.

    And guess where many of these state policy network shills work? Universities within the state who also receive Koch dollars. Check out Ball State’s influence on the statehouse. Mike Hicks? Cecil Bohannon? Trustees on the Board?

    Mike Hicks finds his way into the Gannett owned rags all over Indiana. His “research” aligns with Koch ideology and Art Laffer and FOX News. Amazing how this works.

    They’ve built this elaborate network of disinformation and deceit over the past several decades while the Democratic Party represents the Establishment.

    The net losers are many…

  4. Sheila,

    “[Judge] Brandeis explained that a “state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.”

    There’s something else going on in the state “LABORATORIES” and not the government ones that’s being missed on this blog. It’s RACE and the controlling force is not Koch. Moreover, Indiana is not in the center of it. Mike Pence is only a convenient figure head.

    Indiana wasn’t in the Confederacy. The RACIAL HATRED [including anti-Semitism] is CENTERED in the “Bible Belt” between Texas and South Georgia/Northern Florida. Most of it is invisible to the naked eye. It has gone untreated from the beginning. It is is now an EPIDEMIC and is making it impossible to maintain any semblance of a working democracy in the U.S.

    This DISTINCTION is best described in “Divided Minds: Intellectuals and the Civil Rights Movement” by Carol Polsgrove (W. W. Norton &Company, New York, 2001). By the way, Polsgrove is a former professor of journalism at Indiana University. She really knew what she was talking about.

  5. “Unfortunately, these “laboratories” aren’t working the way Justice Brandeis envisioned”

    Oh, but they sure are working for the Koch brothers and the state legislators that they buy.

  6. “…our federalist system pretty much guarantees that state governments will continue to be the “laboratories of democracy” celebrated by Justice Brandeis, who coined the phrase in the case of New State Ice Co. v. Liebmann. Brandeis explained that a “state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.”

    Obviously; none of the 50 state “laboratories” has the right or the power to “try novel social and economic experiments” to keep us out of world wars which could be avoided by using common sense and diplomacy. We pay heavy costs economically and a heavier cost in loss of lives due to decisions made by a handful of elected officials from all states. The latest turn of chaotic Trump events only yesterday has put us again in jeopardy of sending our young women and men into another war – or wars – if Bolton has his way. And he has gotten his way in our past years with heavy unnecessary cost of lives.

    I was going to suggest reading Joe Scarborough’s letter to the editor of the Washington Post today as an aside, as a fitting end to anther week filled with mass confusion and further destruction of any sense of well-being even Republicans may have felt at state or federal level. Then I realized Trump has the remaining hours of this Friday to add to the turmoil, chaos, traumatic events, firing and/or resignations from inside what used to be the nation’s White House but has become Trump’s playground…for this is all a game to his turbo charged ego.

  7. This failed experiment is not news. It was tried in Chile in the 70s, in Bolivia, Poland, even China. It’s called “Supply-Side” or trickle-down economics. It has never worked for the benefit of anyone but the rich and the corrupt (redundancy). Republicanism is compelled to embrace this failed experiment, because they are the whores of the rich, e.g., the Koch brothers, the Mercers, Mellons, Scaifes, et. al.

    There is no experiment going on, here. These economic disasters are planned by the few to enrich themselves at the expense of everyone else. This pattern is also consistent with eventual rebellions and revolutions.

    Who among you reading this blog is betting on the over and under dates for our beloved democracy to lurch into anarchy and its subsequent rebellion? As long as Republicanism, and its unholy stepchild, racism, exists, my money is on 2022.

  8. There have been numerous books and articles written on the failures of the conservative model, but since so small a percentage of the electorate reads, those failures are not widely known.

    Democrats need to hire a good marketing firm and employ them to get the message out in the simplest form possible. People need to understand that coal and steel jobs aren’t coming back, no matter what steps the government takes to protect those industries. People need to understand that government shouldn’t work like a business, whose number one priority is to make money. Finally, Democrats need to understand that ALL politics is local, they should stop looking for that great phrase that will get them elected, and they should support local people to focus on local issues.

  9. Vernon,

    “Who among you reading this blog is betting on the over and under dates for our beloved democracy to lurch into anarchy and its subsequent rebellion? As long as Republicanism, and its unholy stepchild, racism, exists, my money is on 2022.”

    Hard to go against you on this one. Where can we place our bets?

  10. Brandeis was a New Dealer before the phrase was invented by FDR and rightly suggested that the states be laboratories for change. However, southern state politicians played the Tenth Amendment game much as NRA adherents play the Second Amendment today in order to keep Washington out of their business in a way perhaps Brandeis did not contemplate – and the beat goes on. They are still playing that game, and the contagion is spreading. The idea of laboratory status for states has been usurped by local avarice and power plays (see racism, taxation etc.) under the mantle of “state’s rights” and “local control” and other freedom-sounding slogans said to be grounded in the Tenth Amendment and, unfortunately, the concept of federalism is unpopular outside the south as well.

    Let’s wax philosophical. What we need and are unlikely to ever get is a Supreme Court case carefully delineating just exactly what the Tenth Amendment covers and what it doesn’t in federated government. Until then, expect more Kansases and Louisianas and giant federal deficits as the ideology of manna from heaven trumps reason and repetitious experience. I don’t expect to see successful laboratory experiments when the researchers project their biases into the data and, for instance, we get Alice in Wonderland explanations of how economic growth will rescue us from the massive debt we have just incurred with Trump’s tax bill (which Sheila notes in her blog today). Trickledown (per Stiglitz) has never worked in large economies, and ours is large though poised to fall behind that of China due to the fairyland adventures in spending and budgeting by our Republican toadies in the Congress which, if continued, will lead us to a 476 A.D. conclusion following the “state laboratory” examples of Kansas and Louisiana. We can do better, much better, and we had better do better this fall, as it were, or what? Or else.

  11. The “Laboratories” of the Wall Street Establishment which includes the Koch Bros. are headed by Dr. Frankenstein. The goal of the experiment is to weaken or better yet eliminate any governmental oversight or destroy any sense of a social bond among us all. The other method of sabotage is have some rules and regulations but make fines so trivial, the fines are just a minor cost of doing business.

    My theme this week has been Vulture Capitalism: One more article will illustrate: Vulture Hedge-Fund Capitalism Still Devouring U.S. Jobs. Will We Ever Do Something?

    Donald Trump promised his supporters that he would make hedge-fund billionaires finally pay their fair share of federal income taxes. Trump said — correctly! — that they were “getting away with murder.” So you’ll be shocked, shocked to learn that Trump and his GOP allies dropped that issue in order to get a tax overhaul through Congress in 2017. http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/will-bunch/78306/vulture-hedge-fund-capitalism-still-devouring-u-s-jobs-will-we-ever-do-something

  12. The TRUMPSTEIN monster is real honest to goodness MONSTER. He was created in a LABORATORY at Cielo Studios on an island in the middle of Lake Dallas where the movie “The Killer Shrews” was made by the millionaire GORDON MCLENDON. [ I was the GENERAL COUNSEL of the Mclendon Corporation] McLendon was soon joined by his best friend BUNKER HUNT, son of the billionaire H. L. HUNT who controlled the SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION which at that time was located in DALLAS.

    TRUMPSTEIN is a result of a change the DNA of the “American body politic” from one of democracy to FASCISM. With help from the likes of the Bush family, it’s been a slow motion growth of the monster, two forward, one backward since the late 60’s. He finally rose up in the body of Donald Trump and broke though from his restraints in 2015.

    The result has been inevitable from the beginning as Vernon has so well pointed out: TheTRUMPSTEIN monster will create anarchy and resulting revolution [if a nuclear disaster doesn’t occur before then] much like that which was created in the McLendon cult classic “The Killer Shrews.” The last time I looked the movie was still available on Amazon.

    “The Killer Shrews” is about a change in the DNA. The mad scientist in the movie is played by Gordon McLendon. Things go wrong and the ISLAND IS DESTROYED. I recommended the movie a year or so ago in one of my comments on this blog.

  13. Marv Kramer
    “The RACIAL HATRED [including anti-Semitism] is CENTERED in the “Bible Belt” between Texas and South Georgia/Northern Florida.”

    Not to disagree but to add to your assertion, Marv, having been exposed in Brooklyn/Queens, in Texas, in the U.S. Military, in California and in Indiana I think that RACIAL (ETHNIC) “HATRED” in varying degrees can probably be found anywhere if we pry up the rocks. It focuses on color, on gender, on nationality (micks, wops, yids, chinks, schwarze, spicks, gooks, queers, etc.). I don’t even know when or where I heard these labels. Some humans feel better if others are made to feel worse.

    There has been much push-back. There is room for much more but it will be temporarily exacerbated by the GOP elite controlling the White House and the Congress (beware of SCOTUS developments). This weekend the target of the haters will probably be the Children’s March for gun control. Fans of the NRA will spew sick epithets….stay tuned.
    And VOTE. It’s the only power we have.

  14. OMG,

    “And VOTE. It’s the only power we have.”

    I totally agree, but we need to know WHY it’s so important. There has to be OVERWHELMING MOMENTUM.

  15. Thomas Edison said something to the effect that he never had a failed experiment, he learned something from every one.

    The problem is not these experiments but the resistance to learning from any of them. It’s not an experiment then. It’s a strategy. It’s designed to accomplish an agenda, not to learn anything.

    The plot against America is thus far successful. The country and democracy and capitalism are being harvested – wealth stolen from those who create it to feed the greed of those who merely collect it. It’s their exit strategy.

    We either stop it this year or never. We either stop it with draconian action or not at all. We either fall again for the obvious lies or truth will prevail once more.

    The plot against freedom is not complicated and neither need be the solution.

    The solution is unity. The action is to vote all D’s this year. Then we can proceed to job 2.

  16. Marv, I agree Elizabeth Warren would be an excellent choice for 2020. So far she has not expressed much interest in a 2020 run. My next choice is Bernie. Warren and Bernie have a good track record of standing up to Wall Street plus they agree on Enhanced Medicare For All. My fear is the Corporate Establishment Democratic Party is pushing Joe Biden.

  17. I am Irish and was raised Roman Catholic and so have been accustomed to believe in miracles and magic. But the voodoo economics that has intoxicated the GOP since 1980 still amazes me. It has never worked any place or any how. Yet the Grab Our Pocketbook (or whatever) right continues to promote this lie. And they believe with a fervor that threatens our country like never before. Come too. Please vote straight D in November.

  18. C.Belch : “But the voodoo economics that has intoxicated the GOP since 1980 still amazes me. It has never worked any place or any how.”

    1980 Was 38 years ago. During the interim,we’ve had two Democratic Party administrations for a total of 16 years within the previous 38 years. What did the Democratic Party actually do to counter the Republican’s Voodoo Economic policy? Did the Democrats just go along with the program? Or were they totally ineffective against the Republicans?

    What will they specifically do if elected as a majority to counter such bad policies? Or is it just the rank and file Democrats that are opposed to Voodoo Economics while the denizens of the Democratic Party Political Class support the same economic policies as the Republicans?

  19. William–and others who may have wondered. Periodically, the blog platform “holds” comments for moderation. I have been unable to determine the trigger for that action (initially, I thought the inclusion of a link might be the cause). Whatever it is, it is entirely automatic–not the result of a decision made by a human. When I get a notice that a comment is awaiting moderation, I almost always approve it. The exceptions are over-the-insults aimed at another commenter (ad hominem),or spam.

  20. Monotonous,

    “My fear is the Corporate Establishment Democratic Party is pushing Joe Biden”

    I’m in agreement with everything in your comment, especially about the Corporate Establishment.

    That’s why I feel we must move RIGHT NOW in order not to be overwhelmed by the Corporate Establishment Democratic Party. They will attempt to make it impossible to take them on. They will cut off all avenues.

    We were able to neutralize this type of maneuver in the District Attorney’s race in Dallas in the mid 80’s. Henry Wade, the District Attorney had decided not to seek re-election after 30 years in office. It was a vitally important race for the nation as we were in the midst of the battle for 1 man, 1 vote. I ran for District Attorney, right at the beginning, for the sole purpose of monitoring the activities of the Corporate Establishment’s candidate. I only had the potential for 25-30% of the vote. I couldn’t win. Just before the Corporate Establishment was going to cut all avenues of opposition off, I dropped out of the race and convinced John Vance a District Judge and also a Korean War hero to run [I was also his Campaign Manager]. We won without the corporate establishment’s endorsement. John Sparling, the corporate establishment’s candidate commented in his concession speech, “I can’t understand what happened to me.” By the way this was in the Republican primary. Dallas was all Republican back then.

    My friends in the Democratic Party gave me the O.K. to make this move. Running as a Democrat had no realistic meaning. The District Attorney was the most powerful office in the city. If John Sparling had won there would have been no victory for 1 man, 1 vote.

  21. William,

    I’ve had close to ten “awaiting moderation” notices. I now feel much better after Sheila’s comment. I though they were more personal.

  22. The idea of a laboratory is to perform an experiment and learn from the results. Conservatives pushed the experiments in Kansas and Louisiana, but they refuse to learn from the results.

  23. Monotonous Liquor at 10:45am
    Thanks for the stats but what do you do besides keep records of wrongs?
    And as Pete asks would you turn down a large gift if you would make a desired speech to anyone who would listen? Jealousy of the Clintons’ speaking ability, education and political success is boring old hat. How are you going to vote? That’s my question. Are you one of the screw-ups at the polls in 2016? Do you believe inexperienced ignoramuses make the best politicians? Will you recreate the fiasco in 2018 and 2020?
    Try to consider how important it is for you to oppose the GOP until they begin to care more about our country like much of our American citizenry does.
    What about the mega gifts politicians are receiving from the NRA?
    What about the mega gifts politicians are receiving for gobbledegook and the tax cuts and then poor-mouth essential services?
    What about all the lemming-like ship-jumpers? How are the Orange Ogre and his left-hand Purity Priest doing? How are our country and its leaders perceived on the world stage?

    I don’t know where you’re from but I’m from Indiana and know about Mike Pence enough to make me shudder at the thought that he could inherit the White House, the former home of late great Presidents. Fortunately, now at age 92 it’s not likely that I will experience that disaster on top of the current one.

    The GOP is self-destructing and they’ll be better for it. They’re Americans too and they’ll get another chance to soar to greatness after their present and coming collapse.

  24. OMG @ 4:19 pm. Not sure what “stats” you are referring to??

    Your questions > Are you one of the screw-ups at the polls in 2016? How are you going to vote? <<

    Answer to question #1 I guess it depends how you define a screw up. Answer to Question #2 – As far as know we have a secret ballot.

  25. Vernon and Marv,

    “Who among you reading this blog is betting on the over and under dates for our beloved democracy to lurch into anarchy and its subsequent rebellion? As long as Republicanism, and its unholy stepchild, racism, exists, my money is on 2022.”

    I hate to tell you guys but it may be sooner than that. My bet is on 2020 during the general election campaign season where the two major political parties will be in full collapse; the Republicans from supporting Trump, his destroyed Administration, and their own moral bankruptcy and the Democrats since the glue that held its loose coalition may have evaporated by then due to its vacuous leadership.

    Hard to go against both of you on this one. Where can we place our bets where the odds tabulation has not been hacked by Gucifer 4.0?

    My Dad, who grew up during the Great Depression and saw the calamitous destruction in Europe during World War Two, once told me that someday this country’s would fall. Perhaps, he was synthesizing what he saw up close during both cataclysms.

    Being an optimist, I never thought it would ever happen but it is always stuck in my mind. After what we’ve all been through over the course of the last two years it might be just like the Police chaplain said at his funeral given my Dad’s infirmities – that death can be a release. I really can’t believe that I’m keying this but perhaps that may be the only way out of this, is where we start over things since where we are now just isn’t sustainable without the whole country suffering from a massive nervous breakdown.

  26. Tom,

    When I agreed with Vernon on 2022, I was mistaken. I was thinking of 2020 [or sooner].

    “After what we’ve all been through over the course of the last two years it might be just like the Police chaplain said at his funeral given my Dad’s infirmities – that death can be a release.”

    Maybe it’s just the other way around. For me, the idea of releasing death [from my mind] has advantages]. It’s worked for me. It has allowed me to overcome in many ways the fears we have as humans. What is happening to all of us in not human; it’s the work of the DEVIL. I should know since I was the DEVIL’S GENERAL COUNSEL.

Comments are closed.