U.S. Constitution

Peter Kilander peterk at enteract.com
Thu Feb 18 06:30:08 PST 1999

This is for all of you strident defenders of the U.S. Constituion out there. It's from a piece that appeared in the National Review, 12/22/97, and is by John McGinnis, a professor at Cardoza Law School, Yeshiva University, in New York City.

[snip] In contrast, conservatives are correct in understanding that, because of natural inequality, structures must be fashioned to prevent harmful schemes aimed at the delusive goal of eliminating it. Indeed, in Federalist 10, the most celebrated document of political philosophy in American history, James Madison observed that the greatest problem for any political structure is how to protect "the unequal faculties for acquiring property" from government interference. Over the long run, such protection assures greater prosperity for all by sustaining the incentives for the talented and productive to exercise their genius through invention and innovation. In the West over the past hundred years, this has allowed a vast array of individuals to enjoy a degree of good health and leisure that was previously available only to a select few. Nevertheless, as Madison recognized, the very inequality that makes this prosperity possible also makes the protection of the difficult abilities to acquire property more difficult because it exacerbates the danger that the government will be used as a mechanism for redistribution from one faction to another. Inequality means that there will always be a large pool of individuals with less talent than others for acquiring property. Given the human capacity for self-deception, these citizens are less likely to make a dispassionate assessment of their own abilities than to believe that some prosperous group is holding them back. Skilled demagogues and dissemblers can always be found to provide justifications for redistributing property because individuals are primed to seek status -- and nowhere can greater status be acquired than from political leadership. This natural dynamic of inequality in politics vindicates conservative attempts to establish constitutional structures that limit the power of demagogues and the potential for expropriation of wealth. The original American Constitution--with a complex system of federalism, separation of powers, and national representative democracy--is the most justly venerated of these attempts. While conservatives are right to object to the judicial usurpations that have vitiated the system over time, a Darwinian understanding of politics suggests that simple democracy is no substitute for constructing a system to guard against the passions and self-deceptions of individuals with disparate abilities. -------------- next part -------------- An HTML attachment was scrubbed... URL: <../attachments/19990218/9c20c4dc/attachment.htm>

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