Mini-Federalist #13 – Advantage of the Union in Respect to Economy in Government

This is a continuation of a series of posts that are intended to be shorter, more understandable versions of the Federalist Papers. This post deals with Federalist #13, the original text of which can be read here: http://thomas.loc.gov/home/histdox/fed_13.html

Originally published November 28, 1787 by “Publius” – who was in this case, Alexander Hamilton.

We just got done talking about government revenue. A very closely-connected subject is government efficiency. If the government is more efficient, it will be able to stretch its revenues further. There will be nationwide problems – wouldn’t it be more efficient for 1 government to handle those, rather than 3 or 4 (or even 13 – although no one seems to advocate this anymore)? Even the governments of 3 confederacies would each need to be as powerful and have as many departments and officials as the 1 proposed by the Constitution – I mean, each confederacy would be larger than Britain is today! We certainly wouldn’t need a government 3-times the size to get the job done.

There’s another thing going on, too – if the system breaks down, we’re likely to fall into 2 confederacies, North (concerned with trade and shipping) and South (who couldn’t care less about those things). Pennsylvania and New Jersey are the swing States there, but they will most likely go to the North – and if New Jersey goes to the North, there’s no hope of a 3rd confederacy.

Since it’s clear that there will at least be some form of confederacy (or confederacies) if we are disunited, isn’t it better to have just one national government, supported by all the States, than to have national governments supported by a smaller number? How would that be cheaper (as opponents to the Constitution claim)?

Besides the number of departments needed, think about the huge number of people we’d have to have employed by the separate confederate governments to guard our borders against smuggling (since that activity would be a killer on tax revenue) and the massive militaries that would come up to defend against the threats we talked about in earlier papers? If we really consider it, we realize that separate confederacies will be worse not only for efficiency, but for trade, peace, revenue, and freedom.

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