Consider this hypothetical scenario.

Local grocery stores in several cities get caught cheating customers. Investigations reveal the markets sold tainted meat, peddled canned goods with expired sell-by dates and misrepresented weights on packaging.

To solve the problem, the powers-that-be transfer ownership of every grocery store in the United States to Walmart.

This scenario roughly parallels Al Sharpton’s proposed solution to the rash of police shooting across the country. After a witness captured a North Charleston police officer shooting a fleeing suspect in the back and apparently planting evidence, Sharpton called for what would amount to the federalization of state and local police.

“There must be national policy and national law on policing,” he said. “We can’t go from state to state; we’ve got to have national law to protect people against these continued questions.”

Of course, the Constitution authorizes no federal authority over state and local policing. In fact, police powers remain one of the few areas of authority still left by the federal courts unquestioningly to the states and the people under the Tenth Amendment.

Then again, the politically connected lawyers sitting on the Supreme Court couldn’t change their minds. In fact, some erroneously claim the “general welfare clause” provides the legal authority for Sharpton’s plan. But James Madison made it clear that phrase only qualifies the enumerated powers connected to it.

“With respect to the two words ‘general welfare,’ I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators.”

You will not find controlling state and local police among those delegated powers.

Not that constitutional considerations ever factored into Sharpton’s thinking. In Al’s world, no problem exists that an application of federal power can’t solve.

This brings us back to our hypothetical.

Any thinking person would immediately reject Walmart monopoly control over the grocery business as a solution to the problem of unscrupulous local grocers. Heck, I’d bet dollars to donuts that Al and his disciples would go apoplectic at the mere suggestion of such a scheme. Who in their right mind would trust big business to guard the interests of the people in an imposed monopoly environment?

Of course, nobody would.

So, why do these same people trust monopoly big-government?

Sharpton’s plan to centralize policing would almost certainly make the situation worse. It would take whatever evils exist at the state and local level and concentrate them at the federal level.

The impulse to centralize control over everything through Washington D.C. roots itself in the fallacious idea that the moral fiber and personal character of federal actors greatly exceeds that of their state and local counterparts. For some unfathomable reason, many Americans think the feds possess superior intelligence, stronger ethical frameworks and selflessly set aside their own self-interest for the good of the country.

They don’t.

Uncle Sam’s employees possess the same level of selfishness, the same propensity toward greediness, the same racist tendencies, the same lust for power, and the same raw political ambition as their state and local counterparts.

Simply put, federal control over policing wouldn’t prove any better than state and local control over policing.

Swapping out multiple cop bosses across the county for one cop boss in Washington D.C. doesn’t guarantee better results. One only needs to consider recent scandals involving DEA agents engaging in sex parties paid for by drug lords and widespread reports of Secret Service malfeasance to understand that slapping the word “federal “ in front of the words “law enforcement agent” doesn’t magically create some kind of super-cop who will tireless serve the people.

The problem with centralizing power in a monopoly government system lies in concentrating the most proficient political actors all in one place. You get the “best” of the power-hungry political players running the system. When it comes to the political class, “the best” doesn’t mean best for you and me. It means the best at enriching and empowering the political class itself.

Inevitably, monopoly government ends up run by the top sociopaths.

As long as government power exists, the political class will abuse it. As Madison put it; “The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse.”

The solution lies in decentralization – diluting power by spreading it across as many hands as possible. While abuse of power will forever continue, it will have far less impact when limited to the local or state level. Concentrating power in the hands of a few in Washington D.C. magnifies the abuse of power across the whole country.

Al Sharpton and like-minded Americans play a fool’s game. They feed the monster and unlock the gates. Instead we should box it in and starve it to death.

Monopoly might be a fun board game, but it makes for a crappy system of government.

Mike Maharrey

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