Hamilton starts off No. 13 with an assertion that is hard to believe today: “there will be so much less to be drawn from the pockets of the people…If the States are united under one government”. We have united and have been united for over 200 years and until fairly recently in our history Hamilton’s claim was for the most part correct. But since WWII and before that with the advent of the income tax in 1916, the federal government has increased spending on everything from the military to social entitlement programs. It is as if politicians and buearucrats who work in the government mistakenly believed they discovered some sort of money fountain from which a never-ending stream of money pours forth to fund over-the-top campaign promises and pet projects like keeping wild horses and making sure that rare breed of lesbian chickens are protected in California. What many politicians fail to realize is that one federal program after another is funded in part with my money and that makes me angry. It would shock even Hamilton to see how today we have voided his argument for union.
Hamilton continues his argument, “If the States are united under one government, there will be but one national civil list to support,” which is true but it is just that the list has been enumerated a million fold. The whole basis of Hamilton’s argument in this essay, that it would cost less to have one national government than two or three confederacies, is based on all the extra costs of running those confederacies. Things that Jay wrote about such as the extra cost in maintaining an army at the borders of hostile foreign nations and jealous states, protecting commerce and regulating trade. In other words, one union could avoid all of the local entanglements brought on by a number of smaller republics. But I am convinced that in the 20th and 21st centuries the United States union has entangled itself in more mischief than two or three smaller republics ever had the capacity for.
So until we come to our national senses, a large union of strong federal power does not make as much sense as it used to. May the day come soon when Hamilton’s essay makes logical and practical sense. Who would have predicted the day when Hamilton would become a voice for a weaker federal government? Oh wait the founders did.