When I can’t think of a blog post title, my first rule of thumb is to reference a classic Star Trek episode. This of course leads in turn to getting an excuse to post a hilarious screen cap from that classic episode. Having your own website is fun!
It seems the Lions of Liberty engine is running just a tick slow this week, celebrating our birthday a day late and now just getting around to Constitution Day a day late as well. I guess that’s what old age will do to ya.
I do sometimes find odd the reverence many libertarians have for the Constitution. Often we hear arguments like “Well it’s in the Constitution” to make an argument for, say, gold and silver as legal tender for example. This can cause problems however as it is often refuted by a typical progressive response of “well that thing was written 200 years ago, the world doesn’t work that way now” or something to that effect. Of course, supporters of sound money know that this is a silly argument, but they set themselves up for it when using the Constitution to push their point. That’s because, ultimately, the Constitution really is “just a goddamn piece of paper”.
There certainly are many good ideas in the Constitution, such as yes, gold and silver as currency as well as the protections listed in the Bill of Rights. But we certainly can’t ignore all the bad things about the Constitution. For starters, it created a central government of a higher authority than the loose confederation of 13 largely independent States under the Articles of Confederation. It also explicitly gave that same central government the power to tax and to form a “standing army”. And we can’t ignore that slavery is recognized in the Constitution, with Congress prohibited from limiting the States ability to import slaves as well as the infamous “Three-Fifths Compromise”, which resulted in slaves counting as “3/5th” of a person for census purposes.
LewRockwell.com blogger Lawrence Vance recently noted 5 other points about the Constitution:
1. The Constitution was violated soon after it was adopted.
2. The so-called Civil War destroyed the Constitution.
3. The Constitution has failed to limit the federal government.
4. Those who talk the most about the Constitution (Republicans) violate it every chance they get.
When Vance mentions the “Anti-Federalists” he is referring to those who were opposing the creation of this central Constitutional government because of concerns that, regardless of limits spelled out in the document, a strong central government was bound to grow to an unlimited size until it eventually was worse than the government they had rebelled against. It’s hard to look around today and not think that maybe, just maaaaaaybe, they might have been on to something.
These problems with the Constitution can come back to bite you when using it as the sole basis of making an argument for something. Using gold and silver as currency is a great idea, but not because it is in the Constitution. Using gold and silver as
currency is a good idea because sound money is essential to capital growth in a free economy. And then one can go on to make all the arguments for sound money and make a case against central banking.
Once you have made this argument, it is then appropriate to say something to the effect of “and that’s why the writers of the Constitution inserted the clause about gold and silver” to emphasize the point. It is important to base the “why” of an argument on a deeply held principle, a core belief – a philosophical stance that can be defended through reason.