Disadvantages of Federalismx
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Disadvantages of Federalismx

Political scientists are also inclined to
point out some of the drawbacks of federalism as well. First, while we listed local differences as one of the “pros” of federalism, local differences could just as easily be listed
among the “cons” of federalism. While local control may keep government “closer
to the people,” it also creates complexity and confusion. People who operate nationwide businesses, for example, often complain about the confusion that arises from the myriad of complex state and local regulations and licensing requirements that they face, not to mention the fact that
they have to deal with the various tax codes of various state and local governments. Second, just as we said that federalism has
the potential to reduce conflict, it also has some potential to increase conflict as
well. Because the United States Constitution is not clear as to the precise division of
authority between the national government and the states, legal conflicts have arisen
throughout the history of our federal system over which level of government has the responsibility for a given policy area. Litigation has resulted over a wide range of issues, from regulation of wages to the hunting of migratory geese. The courts, including the United States Supreme Court, have attempted to resolve these conflicts between national and state authority on a
case-by-case basis. In 2012, the United States Supreme Court handed down its decision in the case regarding the requirement of the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as “Obamacare,” that individuals have health coverage beginning in 2014. Twenty-six states had joined the suit against the national government, arguing that the division of powers in our federal system under the Constitution reserves the authority to establish an individual mandate to the states, not to the national government. The Supreme Court, however, upheld the requirement that was imposed by the Affordable Care Act that individuals have health coverage by 2014. Third, federalism results in some duplication of services and often reduces accountability. Consider the matter of law enforcement and police protection. National, state, and local levels of government have all exercised authority in this area. Depending on where a person lives, he or she may encounter municipal police, county sheriffs or deputies, state patrol officers, and perhaps even local agents of federal law enforcement agencies such as the FBI or the DEA. Homeland security functions have become thoroughly intergovernmentalized. This led to considerable confusion and frustration
on the part of many Americans after September 11, 2001 because it became obvious that there was great confusion over which government entities should be held accountable for designing and implementing new security measures. Finally, the experience of American federalism has included significant inequalities in services and policies implemented across the country. The quality of public education varies dramatically from one state to the next, often within a
state as well from one local school district to the next. The quality of welfare services
available to those in need depends heavily on program elements that have historically
been controlled by state policy-makers. For much of the 20th century, segregationists
in the South used federalism arguments to defend their policies of denying civil rights
to African-American citizens. Thus, while federalism has been a system that has fostered progressive policy experimentation in some states, it has also been a system that has
permitted sweeping injustices and mistreatment of entire segments of American citizens.


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