The Public Interest

The Decadence of Federalism

James Ring Adams

Fall 1978

THE political doctrine of federalism has fallen on hard times. As a slogan, it lacks a constituency. As a theory, it lacks consistency. The word itself has become so debased that it has either been supplanted by the cumbersome phrase “intergovernmental relations” or misleadingly applied to programs that are really disguised forms of centralization, like “fiscal federalism.”

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