What the Constitution Is and Isn’t

Thomas DiLorenzo continues to have problems recognizing what the Constitution is: a grant of power to the federal government. He writes:

The article on FCC tyranny by Marc Stevens, cited below on the Blog by Charley Hardman, is excellent but contains one flaw: The Constitution is not entirely a “negative charter of liberties.” Until 1865 it was: It prohibited Congress from doing a great many mischievous things and delegated only a precious few powers to the central government, reserving sovereignty in the free and independent states.

The Constitution was never a negative charter of liberties. If that were so, there would be no reason to create a Constitution in the first place. If Congress hadn’t been constructed and endowed with power, there would be no reason to limit Congress’ power. It wouldn’t have any.

In fact, the Constitution gives Congress substantial power: levy indirect taxes, borrow money, regulate interstate commerce, establish laws for naturalization and bankruptcy, coin money, establish post offices, build roads, establish patents and trademarks, create courts, declare war, publish letters of marquee and reprisal, raise and support armies and navies, and govern the federal district. More so, they can make any law necessary and proper to carry out these powers. That is not an inconsequential grant of power, and it’s hardly a negative charter of rights.

However, the “Civil War Amendments” — 13, 14, and 15 — all contain a clause at the end that empowers Congress to enforce them. This created opportunities for endless power grabs by the central government, which it has taken full advantage of, especially with regard to the 14th Amendment. The mindless egalitarianism that now rules our society is a direct result of this. Thanks to these Amendments we’ve gone from “Congress shall make no law . . .” to “Congress can do whatever it damn well pleases, and if it doesn’t, federal judges can simply declare themselves dictators and legislate from the bench.”

Actually, Congress bases most of its legislative authority on the Interstate Commerce Clause. The legal theory is, since nearly everything affects interstate commerce, it stands to reason that Congress has authority over most everything. In recent years this has been scaled back somewhat, especially though Lopez, but the primary justification has changed little. Indeed, since nearly everything does touch or affect interstate commerce, and since Congress is empowered to make all laws necessary and proper to regulate interstate commerce, it stands to reason that Congress has considerable authority. And that authority has expanded because there is much more interstate commerce than there was in 1789.

Whether the Constitution has any proper authority, well, that’s another question.

Xenophon on Democracy and on Natural Rights

Roderick Long has a terrific article on Strike the Root about some of the libertarian inklings of Greek philosopher Xenophon. As a fan of classical Greek civilization, I love to read little snippets like this:

There were two boys, a big boy and a little boy, and the big boy’s coat was small and the small boy’s coat was huge. So the big boy stripped the little boy and gave him his own small coat, while he put on the big one himself. Now in giving judgment I decided that it was better for both parties that each should have the coat that fitted him best. But I never got any further in my sentence, because the master thrashed me here, and said that the verdict would have been excellent if I had been appointed to say what fitted and what did not, but I had been called in to decide to whom the coat belonged, and the point to consider was, who had a right to it… – Xenophon, The Education of Cyrus

Terrific, something else to put on the pile of books I’ll never get a chance to read.

The Greatest Outsource

With all the hullabaloo surrounding outsourcing recently, I think it’s time someone said it:

Outsourcing rules.

Pat Buchanan types and “patriots” will gasp or roll their eyes, but the truth is that each day they benefit from outsourcing. They deny it, of course; they protest vigourously that they try to buy American whenever they can, and that the wicked unpatriotic corporations have nearly made it impossible to do it any more.

But I’m not talking about sending American jobs overseas, I’m talking about replacing American jobs with machines. For more than 200 years the West has been furiously converting human labour into machine labour. The Industrial Revolution was simply about replacing thousands of skilled labourers with machines – the weaver replaced with the mechanical loom, for example.

Indeed, what is the difference between replacing jobs with machines and replacing them with Indians? In both cases Americans lose their jobs. In both cases it’s done to cut costs. In both cases the price lowers. Surely, those who blog and comment on the Internet wouldn’t want to give up their electric lights – replacing tallow and wax makers, cars – replacing horse breeders and buggy whip makers, running water – replacing drawing and purifying it yourself, or any other modern convenience, even though these conveniences replace jobs. Why are they so upset when foreigners replace Americans?

Free Markets, Free Price

“>imageOne of the most important economic books ever written is going to be entirely free and available to anyone with a second-hand $300 computer and a $10/month internet connection. The Mises Institute is in the process of putting Man, Economy, and State together with Power and Market online. For free. In HTML. Already you can download the entire book in .pdf (which would probably take 6 weeks on my comically-slow dial-up).

I own MES and read the first third of it or so before putting it down to deal with more pressing concerns. Although much of that portion of the book covered principles with which I was already familiar, having them explained in clear and logical fashion made them that much more profound. MES is much more accessible than Mises’ magnum opus Joshua HolmesPosted on Categories General9 Comments on Free Markets, Free Price

I’m Bart Simpson, who the hell are you?

This is a singular occurrence! I’m delighted to be joining the NT family.

Those of you who know me from the web – and any regular reader has seen me in the comments section here – have probably seen me post as Wild Pegasus over most of the internet. I use that nom de plume on ASC’s boards, in various blog comments all over the Internet, and over at my usual – currently crashed – haunt at LibertyNewsForum. I’ve spent most of the last year over there pounding away at conservatives and libertarians and generally being a gadfly and nuisance.

Now that I’ve drunk the Kool-Aid, can someone please explain just what the hell lung is?