There are two main ways that most major federal programs are put into effect. Understanding this will help determine the best way to stop them.


Some new way to violate your rights comes on the scene. The feds start giving the tools to effectuate this idea – either through grant money to buy specific things, or giveaways of specific equipment – to the states. The states start using them – widely. Eventually, the feds tap into the program, essentially making it a national program.  This is done via “information sharing” that was expanded after 9-11, or Memoranda of understanding (MOUs), which are essentially partnerships with state funds attached to them. These agreements are not necessarily legally binding, but usually offer some privacy between state, private enterprises (contractors), and federal partnerships. Much of this kind of information usually remains hidden from the general public.

Examples: Parallel Construction, using NSA data without warrant in regular criminal investigations on a state and local level. Pentagon’s 1033 program of giving military equipment to local police, turning them into an army. This equipment is often used to help in Process 2 – direct enforcement.  Drones, where the DHS is giving mass amounts of grant money to the states to put surveillance systems in the sky. Automated License Plate Readers (ALPRs),  where the Wall Street Journal broke the story that the DEA has been working with local law enforcement to track people through their license plates for over 7 years. The ACLU obtained numerous documents revealing how local and state agencies build license plate reader systems using federal grant money. In other words, they buy the local agencies the equipment, which in essence makes a national system for the feds to tap in to.


The feds pass a new law or program violating your rights.  The states handle either handle the front-line enforcement, or they provide significant resources to the operation of the program. This is pretty straightforward, the local agencies are, again, doing the bulk of the heavy lifting.

Examples: The EPA has just over 200 enforcement agents for the entire country. Most enforcement is done by state agencies. Federal drug prohibition is primarily effectuated by state prohibition, and the same goes for federal gun control.  In other areas, states operate critical infrastructure for the feds, such as exchanges or medicaid expansion for the Affordable Care Act – or water and power NSA spying facilities.


The fact of the matter is this – the feds simply don’t have the manpower or resources to do what they’ve been doing. It’s the states that have been doing most of it for them.

Understanding this – the #1 most effective way to stop federal programs is to simply withdraw participation or support for them on a state level.

This is exactly what Hans-Hermann Hoppe recommended in his speech What Must Be done.  In it, he said:

“Without local enforcement, by compliant local authorities, the will of the central government is not much more than hot air.”

This mirrors the advice of James Madison in Federalist #46, which prominently recommended, among other things, a “refusal to cooperate with officers of the Union.”

The short message is this: Refuse to comply, Nullify!

I discussed this in more detail, along with some current applications of it in the states, on the Tom Woods show today.

Michael Boldin