Archive for November, 2011

A Free Reprint of The Federalist Papers

FederalistPapersReprint   <== FREE PDF reprint of The Federalist Papers

24 Nov 2011

Dear Readers:

The Federalist Papers are a series of 85 essays by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay published from the fall of 1787 to the spring of 1788.  Their purpose was to explain and defend the newly-crafted U. S. Constitution (intended to supercede the Articles of Confederation)  during the ratification debate in New York.  In the course of these essays, these three founding fathers discuss the philosophy of limited government with necessary powers, the separation of powers between the states and the federal government, and how these were implemented in the Constitution.

It is important for those who believe in limited government to read and understand the Federalist Papers.  They are as relevant today as they ever were.  Page 2 of the reprint (available in pdf only due to its length) contains a  commercial for a book that will help you understand it better; I hope you will consider that too.

The Federalist is in the public domain, and there is nothing copyrighted in this reprint.  Please distribute it as you see fit.

Thanks for reading,

Ed Duvall

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Posted in Alexander Hamilton, Articles of Confederation, Early American history, Federalist Papers, James Madison, John Jay, U. S. Constitution | No Comments »

Defects_of_the_Articles_of_Confederation_16   <== PDF version

The last issue surveyed the alteration of power at the federal level from the Articles of Confederation gave way to the Constitution.  But there were also significant alterations to the powers held by the states.  These alterations fall into three categories: a) those powers held by the states under the Articles, but were prohibited in the Constitution; b) those that were retained in the Constitution, but in a modified form; and c) those that were not addressed in the Articles and prohibited by the Constitution.  The essay closes with a list of powers that were prohibited to the states in the Articles and carried over into the Constitution.

The powers falling under the first category may be summarized as follows:

a.  The states were allowed to coin money under the Articles, but are prohibited from doing so under the Constitution.  This was to correct the paper-money problem so rampant in the states after the war, as detailed in part 10 of this series.

b.  The states were allowed to issue bills of credit on their account under the Articles, but are prohibited from doing so under the Constitution.  It is worth observing that the federal government likewise falls under the same prohibition.  This had been an enormous problem during the war, more so on the part of Congress, as it had issued the Continental bills of credit, which became worthless in a few years. This is also discussed in part 10 of this series.

c.  Under the Articles, the states could independently issue letters of marque (privateering) with the approval of Congress (which required a declaration of war); under the Constitution, only the federal government can issue them.

The power falling under the second category is the power to levy import duties.  Under the Articles, the states retained the power to levy their own import and export duties, unless they conflicted with provisions of treaties that were in negotiation withFranceandSpainat the time.  This power caused several problems after the war.  First, the states proceeded to respond toBritain’s navigation Acts by imposing tonnage duties and other duties; this was partly a consequence of Congress’ inability to negotiate commercial treaties, as detailed in part 5 of this series.  The second problem was that the states began to prey on each other in order to gain commercial advantages.  The Constitution prohibits the states from these levies, except for any necessary to cover inspection costs.  Any revenue collected that is in excess of the inspection costs are to be transferred to the federal treasury.

The powers falling under the third category (not addressed in the Articles, prohibited to the states under the Constitution) include: a) prohibited from passing bills of attainder; b) prohibited from passing ex-post facto laws; c) prohibited from passing laws that inhibit the execution of contracts; d) prohibited from passing a legal tender law, except for gold and silver; and d) prohibited from laying a tonnage duty.

Last, there are powers which were prohibited to the states under the Articles, and were likewise carried over to the Constitution.  These prohibitions include: a) creation of titles of nobility; b) establishing treaties with foreign nations; c) forming alliances with foreign nations; d) forming alliances or confederations among any number of states; e) keeping a military navy in peacetime; f) maintaining an army in peacetime except as allowed by Congress; and g) engaging in war without concurrence of Congress, except for emergency situations.

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How Obama Gets Re-Elected in 2012, Part 2

How_Obama_Gets_Re-Elected_2012_Part_2  <==  PDF version

I wrote in Part 1 of this series back on 15 Apr 2011 that the Republicans have several fundamental problems in their quest to replace President Obama with one of their own.  Among those problems is a choice of a suitable candidate.  The words I used then were, “one cannot beat Mickey Mouse [Obama] by running Donald Duck against him”.

Does anyone dispute that President Obama is the political equivalent of Mr. Disney’s cute little rodent?   He has, like his predecessor President Bush, encouraged Congress to spend money the people do not have to “buy” things the people do not want.  He has, like Mr. Bush, sought to protect and excuse the conduct of the financial elites and the politicians whom they own by bailing out the one and congratulating the other.  He continued the war in Iraq for which he criticized Mr. Bush, but announced with great fanfare (as if it were his idea) a withdrawal of U. S.troops in accordance with an agreement negotiated by Mr. Bush.  He has kept Guantanamo open for business as usual, as Mr. Bush would have done.  He has continued a policy of democratic nation-building in places where the locals neither know nor care about democracy or nationhood, as Mr. Bush would have done.  He is absent on the issue of illegal immigration, as was Mr. Bush.  He has protected and expanded the worse-than-useless security state that gives only the illusion of safety, just as Mr. Bush would have done.  He ignores the Constitution if he can get a few federal-employee lawyers to concur with it, as did Mr. Bush.  He refuses to permit his administration to publish the true unemployment rate, as did Mr. Bush.  There are some new innovations.  He believes the “Arab Spring” will usher in harmony and prosperity in places where only tyranny and poverty are respected.  He encouraged Congress to enact a national health care program and collect taxes for it now, which are being spent on other things now, which will require greater taxes in 2014 when the full scam is implemented.  He whines about the wealthy not paying enough taxes, but never submits a proposal that would have them pay an additional amount that would matter.  He complains about some corporations not paying taxes, but declines to mention that one of them (General Electric) is his greatest supporter and has benefited directly from subsidies that he favors.  He likewise fails to point out that these corporations are simply obeying the tax laws, and that his Party in Congress is equally culpable with the Republicans for those tax rules.  He refuses to consider that bailouts, benefits, and wishful thinking have only marginally boosted the economy, and that more of the same will have approximately the same results. He believes that the de-industrialization of America is good, so long as the union bosses can find enough clerical workers to pay dues.

Mr. Obama’s failures are evident enough.  What about the Donald-Duck alternatives being offered by the Republicans?  I will consider here only the ones that the Republican Establishment will permit to actually gain the nomination.

Mr. Cain is leading the polls at present.  Let’s forget for a second the anonymous sexual harassment allegations until such time as the actual complaints are made public, and focus instead on his proposed policies.  He has advocated a 9-9-9 tax system, which would reduce the federal personal income tax and corporate income tax rates to a flat 9% while imposing a 9% federal sales tax.  He claims it is revenue-neutral.  Suppose it is; how will that solve the nation’s financial problems, with the deficit continuing to grow?  That would require greater tax revenue, less spending, or an expanding economy, but he has left this question unanswered.  Why would any regular person want the government to create a whole new category of taxation (the federal sales tax) without a guaranteed abolition of the income tax?  Mr. Cain is a successful businessman to be sure.  He also became the Chairman of the board of directors at the Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City. The Chairman of such a board is a designated Federal Reserve Agent answerable to the Board of Governors.  I have great reservations about the prospect of a former Federal Reserve Agent sitting in the Oval Office.  Hasn’t the Federal Reserve done enough damage already?

Governor Romney is second in the current polls, as he has been for a very long time.  His great strength is that he is familiar with all the important issues, having been a staunch advocate for every side of all of them at one time or another.  He was instrumental in establishing a health care plan in Massachusetts; it was used as a template for Mr. Obama’s plan, but Mr. Romney now disowns the whole thing.  He has performed well in those joint press conferences (called “debates”) against the other candidates; he has ready answers; he declines to give specifics; he is the oiliest Republican since Mr. Nixon.  Yet he has continued to do well in the polls despite attempts to bring in fresh faces.  You can say what you want about Ann Coulter, but two things you cannot deny.  First, she is an outstanding writer; secondly, she has considerable influence among conservatives.  Ms. Coulter attempted to induce Governor Chris Christie to seek the Republican Presidential nomination.  Her logic was that Mr. Christie could get the nomination and beat Mr. Obama; otherwise, the nominee would be Mr. Romney who would lose.  A very odd sentiment from Ms. Coulter the conservative — if you research Mr. Christie’s policies, you will find that he is another Long Island liberal.  Presumably Ms. Coulter preferred the Long Island liberalism of Mr. Christie over the Long Island liberalism of Mr. Romney because the former would actually get a chance to implement it.  But Mr. Christie announced he would not run and simultaneously endorsed Mr. Romney.

I must admit I am thoroughly confused by Governor Perry.  He did poorly in those joint press conferences, which he readily admits.  However, in my opinion, a person who does poorly in the tit-for-tat of a press conference is not disqualified.  After all, the office of the President does not require the ability to make snap decisions and explain difficult issues, with footnotes, in less than 60 seconds.  Policy is what matters; like I said, I am confused here because I can’t figure out what Mr. Perry believes, if he believes anything.  He has stated that he will order every federal agency to review every measure passed since 2008 to determine if it negatively affects jobs: “those measures that kill jobs will be repealed”.  He fails to admit that the vast majority of the regulations that injure the economy were passed prior to 2008; some date to the 1920’s — no mention of those.  He also said he would call out the National Guard to secure the border with Mexico.  He fails to admit that as Governor of Texas he already has authority to call out the National Guard, not to mention the state militia and the Texas Rangers.  If that is his policy, maybe he should have implemented it sometime in the past ten years.  He has said he will lay out a legislative plan to balance the federal budget by 2020.  Why so soon?

Speaker Gingrich once called Senator Robert Dole “a tax collector for the welfare state”.  But Mr. Gingrich was Speaker of the House with far greater power than Mr. Dole, and we still have the welfare state.  Speaker Gingrich is the intellectual heavyweight in this division; certainly Mr. Obama will not be able to out-do him on facts, figures, logic, or history.  Mr. Gingrich has listed numerous legislative plans in his new “Contract” that differ greatly from Mr. Obama’s in regard to domestic policies; many are designed to reduce the power of the federal government and lower taxes.  Some of them are sensible ideas.  Unfortunately, the foreign policies of Mr. Gingrich are nearly indistinguishable from those of Mr. Obama: he would greatly increase the power of the United Nations and continue to sacrifice America’s sovereignty to unelected and unaccountable non-government interest groups.  He believes in the man-made global pressure-cooker hoax, and his policies to deal with those would serve to undermine America’s economic goals.  We should also keep in mind that very little of his famous “Contract with America” of 1994 ultimately went into effect, and because most of his policies require legislative action, he will have the same problem if elected.

Which leads me to the most important point about the Presidential election, which is: the President has less power than Congress.  If we the people want real change, it has to come from Congress, not the Executive branch.  If it were otherwise, we would be electing kings, guaranteed to be far worse than either Mr. Obama or his Republican challengers.

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Posted in elections | No Comments »