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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

“Don’t like this column? Well, sue me”

If the federal government is the parent that is meant to watch out for the best interests of the states, and occasionally chastise them for their disobedience, then states are teenagers: rebellious (sometimes for the sake of being rebellious), self-serving and much more shortsighted. Like all parents and children, states and the feds occasionally clash over matters such as room cleaning (environmental protection legislation) and allowance (Troubled Asset Relief Program or TARP, which, much like allowance, is never enough) and getting a job to pay for their own social activities (tariffs).

However, just as parents may threaten to kick out an overly rebellious teenager for his or her antics, the federal government occasionally needs to exercise its authority in order to keep the states in line. Unfortunately, much like threatening to kick out a teenager is rarely an effective tact in ensuring continued obedience, the tactics the federal government employs rarely do more than foster animosity between the federal government and the states in which it exerts its parental-type discipline. Sometimes, the states even fire back.

Such is the case with the latest legal back-and-forth between the state of Arizona and the federal government. Last week, the feds announced their intention to file suit over Arizona’s controversial Senate Bill 1070, a piece of legislation so thoroughly engrained in the psyche of the nation that it hardly requires much qualification. Unfortunately, the parents in Washington, D.C., got to the dealing table a little too late, as Arizona has already filed a suit of their own, in this case opposing the Health Care Reform Act that was passed in March.

In both instances, these two parties, supposedly both part of the same union, under the same flag and abiding by the same Constitution, have valid points in their opposition to each other. For the health care bill, it is an interesting question whether it is constitutional to require individuals to buy health insurance (even though the same logic is applied to car insurance, but I digress), and definitely needs to be addressed moving forward. For SB 1070, there are some legitimate concerns with the way the legislation is worded and how it might be applied, concerns which also need to be quelled before the meaningful immigration reform can be enacted.

The problem arises with the tact that both Arizona and the federal government have chosen to ply in voicing their opposition. Both health care and immigration reform are vital matters that need to be solved in order to ensure the future success and prosperity of the American people. The last thing that needs to happen is petty politicking and pandering between a state and the federal government over matters as important as these.

While these matters are tied up in court, the problems still persist, and endless legal wrangling, while a distraction, neither solves nor addresses the root of the problems that we face.

We live in a society where someone can successfully sue McDonald’s because they spilled coffee on themselves, or where a judge can bring a $57 million lawsuit against a dry cleaner for the incomprehensible act of losing a pair of pants. Indeed, it seems like much of American disputes today are settled through litigation, instead of moderation. But when this sue-happy culture begins to extend to the government, which Americans count on to represent them, it becomes clear that this a culture that needs to be changed. And it should start with those at the very top.

— Luke Money is a journalism junior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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