Federal Government Failure Could Save the Nation

The most important and consequential trend of the twenty-first century has been the rapid expansion of centralized power and the resulting collapse of government competence. We are experiencing widespread and accelerating government failure.


Consider a few examples.

The Biden administration and state governments are relentlessly pushing the nation into energy poverty by reducing the use of fossil fuels and replacing them with unreliable wind and solar power through government restrictions, subsidies, and mandates directed at changing the Earth’s temperature. Poverty, however, makes it more difficult to adjust to new climate conditions.

Nearly all the developed countries shut down their economies and brutally bullied people into taking experimental genetic injections. More than three years later, they have finally begun to admit their premises were false and their policies mistaken and disastrous to the global economy and people’s health and well-being.

The U.S. border with Mexico is now essentially undefended. Meanwhile, Chinese and other overseas investors have bought up millions of acres of U.S. farmland.

Violent crime has spiked in cities throughout the United States, as local governments make it difficult or impossible for police to arrest those who do harm to others, while city attorneys refuse to prosecute those the police do manage to apprehend. Meanwhile, homeless people have taken over large swaths of American cities, strewing the streets with garbage, human waste, and drug paraphernalia.

Violent mobs and individuals are attacking and killing innocent people in public places across the country. The U.S. press, in the rare instances when they do cover these events, downplay the racial element unless the perpetrator is white. Organized gangs of thieves are invading retail stores and stealing goods, with governments and even the stores’ corporate owners requiring employees and police to let the thefts happen without consequence for the assailants. Understandably, retailers and services are leaving these areas.


Government-run schools now indoctrinate children in ethnic and religious hatred and sexual idiosyncrasy; misbehavior and even crimes in classrooms and on other school property have increased; and children’s scores on academic achievement tests are declining. Antisemitism is on the rise, ominously growing fastest among young people. Perceptions of race relations have deteriorated badly.

Twelve percent of all websites have pornography, and approximately 69 percent of American men and 40 percent of American women view that material in any given year. Up to 34 percent of internet users report experiencing unwanted exposure to pornography through pop-up ads, misdirected links, emails, etc. Double-digit percentages of men say they are addicted to pornography. Courts have stymied attempts to restrict this material, though states and even the federal government have constitutional authority to ban obscenity.

Federal government borrowing has increased rapidly to $2 trillion per year during an economic expansion, when it should be falling. Federal tax collections decreased by $455 billion in 2023, because you can raise tax rates only so high before it becomes self-defeating.

The price inflation resulting from government borrowing has substantially reduced what people’s paychecks can buy. Prices of food and other important items remain much higher than two years ago despite a recent slowing of the rate of increase.

As the United States reels from the plethora of government-induced pathologies, other nations blithely declare their contempt and openly threaten violence. Rebel groups believed to be supported by Iran opened fire on an American warship and U.S.-owned commercial vessels flying the American flag.


While asserting vastly increased power, the federal government has engaged in selective enforcement of the law and the creation of phony rules by executive fiat. President Joe Biden has metastasized this into outright lawlessness. The Biden administration is actively thwarting measures by the Texas state government to enforce national border laws and protect lawful residents, even cutting razor wire in the Rio Grande.

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This raises the question of whether government failure in the United States is, in fact, intentional, part of Barack Obama’s promised fundamental transformation of the nation into a banana republic mired in poverty and moral degradation (though he always declined to mention that part). The chaos cited here and countless other examples of government-induced destruction indicate that the national decline is no accident.

Ironically, a collapse of the U.S. government would produce many great benefits, given its present size, cost, intrusiveness, and ineptitude. Of course, the social dysfunction caused by disruption of Social Security and other entitlements would be massive; shortages of food and other essentials would be devastating; the temptation for other nations to attack us in a variety of ways would be irresistible; and other dire problems would arise.

The states, however, especially the red ones, would surely step in to restore order and cooperate with one another to support interstate commerce, protect the nation’s borders, and take care of the less fortunate in more sensible and affordable ways. As the Texas border protection effort indicates, many states are eager to do just that.


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Though it would involve an agonizing period of adjustment, a devolution of power from the federal government to the states and localities would be a boon, well worth the temporary suffering. Until governments stop promising the moon, conditions here in the real world will continue to deteriorate.

 S. T. Karnick is a senior fellow and director of publications for The Heartland Institute, where he edits Heartland Daily News and writes the Life, Liberty, Property e-newsletter.

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