Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Be Very Afraid

James Madison must be turning over in his grave. Madison was the short Founder seated in the middle of the famous Christy painting of the signing of the Constitution. He was trained at Princeton, which was weird for a Virginian. And he most famously married Dolly who will forever have a soft spot in my heart for all of the cavities I got from eating the Zingers and Twinkies.

I didn't read much about James until I got to grad school where I rediscovered him and his most famous work, Federalist #10. He, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay, wrote a series of anonymous articles defending the newly written Constitution in newspapers and broad sheets in the U.S. They were instrumental in helping to get the Constitution ratified amid more opposition from the Anti-Federalists (yes, they lacked a good PR firm) than American historians tend to remember.

What did Madison say in Federalist #10? He said basically that any free system of government had to acknowledge that people were going to form groups that had competing interests. We could not, EVER hope on the goodwill of people to do the "right thing," because liberty meant people would have the right to organize and promote their ideas and interests.

Instead, we'd need to rely on having a large country with a lot of diverse interests that would check each other. Groups would battle it out in politics and hopefully we'd get a more limited government rather than one dominated by the interests of the few.

Well Madison would be very afraid of this description of the unholy alliance that's forming over the Cap and Spend/Trade bill that was introduced in the House yesterday. I think anyone would expect that environmentalists would support a limit on carbon emissions. That's obvious. But the Mother Jones piece notes that industrial and economic interests that pollute also like the bill.


That's what you should be thinking first, but then you should be thinking the following:


Whenever two opposing interests have united over a bill it is not NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER a good thing. What it means my friends is that a deal has been cut in which both of these interests are going to get something they want at our expense - the taxpayers. And in this case it's that we are going to have carbon limits legislated that we will have to pay for and we will have massive subsidies to polluting industries as well that we'll have to pay for.

In other words, Madison's system has failed to have the fight between two interests that produces a limited government. Both sides have gotten something from the state, and we are paying far more than we should for an imperfect outcome.

1 comment:

  1. The anti-freedom contigent has definatley learned that PR matters. I don't think that Hamilton would have done well on Maddow.