X.3: Problems with Capitalism

Socialism and communism have always led to economic failure, but there are problems with capitalism as well. For example, competition makes capitalism work. But at the same time every capitalist seeks to eliminate his competition. In other words, if a company grows without bounds, it will eventually destroy its competitors. And there are other problems … Read more

IX.4: Could America Have Avoided the Civil War?

Two of the most horrific episodes in U.S. history were the abuse of Africans through slavery, and the widespread death and destruction of America’s Civil War. We have no record of how many slaves died chained in ships lost at sea or at the hands of cruel masters. But there’s no doubt many were victims … Read more

IX.3: American and European Republican Traditions

The word “republic” refers to a society that operates for the good of the public. Philip Petit describes the origins of the American and European republican traditions. He says America’s republic is based on what he calls the “Italian-Atlantic” republican tradition. Based on the writings of Aristotle and Polybius, Machiavelli developed the “Italian” part of … Read more

VIII.4: Thomas Jefferson Fought Against Judicial Review

Thomas Jefferson was not involved in writing the U.S. Constitution, as he was America’s ambassador to France at the time. But later he worked against the Federalists, who wrote the Constitution. Judicial review was not a part of the Constitution. But it was supported by Alexander Hamilton (See my earlier post) in the Federalist Papers. … Read more

VII.5: Getting Back to the Constitution

Many believe that America could solve the problems with our government if only we would “get back to the Constitution”. I like that idea, but it misses the real point. Let’s imagine we could re-align our laws and government operations perfectly with the Constitution. If those laws and operations got away from the Constitution before, … Read more

VII.1: The Origin of the Ideas behind the US Constitution

In early history, people referred to England as Angle-land because of a tribe that settled there called the Angles. Then, in the fifth century, another tribe called the Saxons began to leave what is now the state of Saxony in Germany. They traveled by sea to what is now England. (Jefferson 1774) Later, the Angles … Read more

VI.4: The Virginia Resolution

James Madison had more influence than any other person in creating the form of the U.S. Constitution. Madison wrote the Virginia Resolution a decade after the Constitution. But both came from his understanding of tyranny. That is, to prevent it, a government must divide power between separate groups of people. If the nation is to … Read more

V.4: James Madison and the Virginia Resolution

We know James Madison as the “Father of the Constitution”. But he also expressed an ingenious afterthought in his Virginia Resolution. James Madison wrote his Virginia Resolution to address a serious oversight in the Constitution. The issue began with the French Revolution in 1789, just after the nation elected George Washington for his first term … Read more

V.2: Government by the Masses or by Experts?

America’s founders expected the nation to have government by the masses and by experts at the same time. They looked for a “natural aristocracy” to lead the nation. That phrase means the natural leaders of society. They expected those leaders to take a few weeks or months each year away from their farms, law practices, … Read more

IV.3: Local Self-government

What did the great minds of history have to say about local self-government? In an earlier post I showed that both Thomas Jefferson and Alexis De Tocqueville called for local self-government. That is, local citizens should have authority over their local public decisions without state or national interference. And many more people have expressed the … Read more