Monday, September 21, 2009

"Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm." James Madison

In Federalist #10, James Madison continues the discussion of factions he begins in Federalist #9: The Union as a Safeguard Against Domestic Faction and Insurrection. (Madison, Hamilton and Jay wrote and published the Federalist Papers on behalf of the new Constitution from 1787-1788.)

The Founders were well aware that liberty is a catalyst to the faction flame. Rather than abolish liberty in an effort to extinguish factions, they argued that the establishment of a republic would mitigate factions, essentially through the dilution of factious causes. We can debate this--though the argument has essentially held up for over 200 years--another day. Today I want to focus on Madison's greatest concern: .."the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property."

The Founders understood that by allowing the majority faction (those with modest property) to regulate and/or tax the minority faction (those with greater property) would "...trample on the rules of justice. Every shilling with which they overburden the inferior number, is a shilling saved to their own pockets."

Witness California:

Yet, we are bankrupt and continue to hear the rumblings on every front that we, the citizens of California, need to pay more. Always more. Of course, we will soon be hearing this on the national level, too. We cannot continue to spend at the rate proposed without soon hearing our leaders say as former Govenor Gray Davis did before his recall election in 2003--it's not that we spent too much money, it is just that we didn't have enough revenue.

The Founders' solution to this was to establish a balance of power that would be renewed by the citizenry every two years in the House, every six in the Senate and every four in the Executive branch.

Their reason? "Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm."

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