OT - I don't _hate_ McMansions

Levi Pearson levi at cold.org
Sat Jun 28 16:58:06 MDT 2008


Shane Hathaway <shane at hathawaymix.org> writes:

> Levi Pearson wrote:
>> Actually, I think you can make pretty good guesses on where Ron Paul
>> stands on most issues based on those principles.  Basically, if it
>> involves the government spending money on something, he's against it.
>
> I read Bastiat's "The Law" a few years ago.  I found it quite
> convincing, so for weeks I tried applying it to every political
> decision I could think of.  I was increasingly convinced Bastiat was
> right... until I considered the post office.  Article I, Section 8 of
> the Constitution specifies that Congress has the power to establish
> post offices and post roads.  It seems to me that this statement was
> intended to convey not just two specific responsibilities but also for
> the federal government to establish many kinds of national
> infrastructures. It became clear to me that the authors of the
> Constitution had disagreements with the libertarian philosophy.

They also had disagreements with one another about the role and power
of government.  Alexander Hamilton, for example, had serious
disagreements with Madison and Jefferson, and advocated a much more
powerful state than the others.  Although he was clearly a proponent
of liberty, he didn't think a strong central state necessarily
conflicted with the concept of liberty.  He also established a central
bank, which I don't think libertarians generally agree with.

Another clear evidence that the framers of the constitution were not
in agreement with modern libertarians is the divergence on the matter
of taxes.  Libertarian philosophy equates taxes with robbery, more or
less.  I.e. no individual our group of individuals can compel you to
give up your property, the government only has the powers that can be
delegated by individuals, so the government doesn't have the right to
take your property.  Yet, the constitution clearly provides for
taxation.  Eminent domain would be considered robbery as well, yet the
fifth amendment illustrates that the framers viewed it as a legitimate
government power.

Jefferson himself embarked upon a campaign to provide citizens with
public education free of charge.  This would, of course, be paid for
by government, although I believe he was working in the context of the
Virginia state government.  In fact, he considered the University of
Virginia one of his greatest achievements.  According to libertarian
thought, stealing money from people to pay for education would be
immoral.

Anyway, libertarianism isn't quite what its proponents claim it to be
when they start talking about constitutionalism.  It's sort of a
reimagining of what they'd like the constitution to be about based on
classical theories of government held by *some* of the founders and
modern capitalist economic theory, and maybe a bit of Objectivism
thrown in.

                --Levi



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