Hamilton's Legacy

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As the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, pundits and philosophers theorize about the problems of income inequality, social stratification, and legal injustice.  Proposed solutions flow thick and fast, most advocating government intervention or denouncing government de-regulation since the Great Depression.

 

The American myth of freedom, democracy, and capitalism dies hard, but the United States has never been free, democratic, or even capitalistic, unless it was before the Europeans arrived.  Stratification of society was built into the system with the arrival of the English and their traditions of monarchs and minions, the French and Spanish, and their long histories of battle and inbreeding among themselves on the European continent.

 

The American experiment may have represented a break from the past, but it carried with it the same patriarchal patterns of its forebears.  The “Founding Fathers” ultimately adopted a government structure that varied only slightly from that of its British progenitors.

 

Many US citizens don’t know the difference between the Declaration of Independence, which we celebrate on July 4 every year, and the Constitution, which was drafted in secrecy and signed on September 17, 1787, over eleven years after the Declaration announced the United States’ independence from Britain.

 

In that eleven year gap, the Revolutionary War had been fought and won.  The now free colonies were struggling with debts to soldiers, domestic, and foreign investors.  The individual states had taxing power, but the loosely formed union did not.  Some states were paying off their debts, but others were lagging.  John Adams had been sent to London to negotiate credit for the fledgling country, and Thomas Jefferson had been sent to France for the same purpose, to replace Benjamin Franklin, who was aging and ill.

 

James Madison of Virginia and Alexander Hamilton of New York led the effort to revise the Articles of Confederation with a new Constitution that would create a strong central government, supersede state governments, and have the taxing power to pay war debts.  Once gathered at what became the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, though, each delegate found the goal was to completely re-write the Articles, and was sworn to strict secrecy. George Washington was unanimously elected president.  Madison sat by his side taking notes and was later acknowledged as having written the Constitution.  Alexander Hamilton was a strong advocate for a centralized government, brilliant and opinionated, an open admirer of the British model, including the monarchy, and wanted to reproduce the British system in the states.  He also extolled wealth and privilege, claiming the masses could not be trusted to manage their own affairs.  Madison was of the same general opinion.

 

While he initially opposed the Constitution, Hamilton later became its strongest advocate and promoter.  He induced Madison and John Jay to write with him what became the Federalist Papers, a series of anonymous essays distributed to newspapers to promote ratification by the states.  For ratification, the Philadelphia conventioneers chose to bypass state legislatures and rely on specially selected ratification conventions. 

 

Hamilton played an early and profound role in shaping the early American government.  According to his biographer, Ron Chernow*, he was an illegitimate child of a dissolute couple, born in 1755 or 1757 on the British island of Nevis in the West Indies.  After his father abandoned the family and his mother died, he was employed at age 13 as a clerk and bookkeeper for wealthy British traders on St. Croix, also in the West Indies.  His employers traded in a variety of goods, but at least one shipment a year was of African slaves.  Those employers eventually financed Hamilton’s migration to the New York colony in 1773, where periodic shipments of slave-produced sugar covered his expenses. 

 

Hamilton, who was dashing and gifted, quickly made his way into New York society, courting and marrying a daughter, Elizabeth, of the prominent Philip Schuyler.  He enlisted in George Washington’s Continental Army, gained Washington’s confidence and became his personal secretary during the Revolutionary War years.  Later, Washington granted him his one and only command, at the battle of Yorktown, where Continental and French forces defeated British General Cornwallis to win the Revolutionary War.

 

After the war ended, Hamilton practiced law in New York City and involved himself in politics.    He also involved himself in banking, writing the constitution for the Bank of New York in 1784, as agent for his brother-in-law, John B. Church, who was in Britain acting as a member of Parliament.  It was New York’s first bank and exists today as BNY-Mellon, billed as having the longest continually traded stock on the New York Stock Exchange.

 

After the Constitution was ratified, George Washington became the first US president, elected in 1788.  John Adams was elected vice president, and Hamilton became Washington’s first Treasury Secretary.  Thomas Jefferson, who was still in France, was appointed Secretary of State and confirmed by the Senate before he knew of his appointment.

 

Hamilton went to work immediately to take control of the nation’s finances.  The day after his confirmation as Secretary of the Treasury, he arranged for a $50,000 loan from the Bank of New York—of which he was a director--to pay salaries of Washington and Congress.  He then arranged for another $50,000 loan from the Bank of North America.  The Hamilton Tariff Act of 1789 was Congress’ second official move, after establishing rules for taking oaths of office. 

 

By 1790, Hamilton was busy working on a plan for the federal government to assume state debts from the Revolutionary War.  In the Constitutional Convention the question of assumption had split—like the slavery issue—essentially along North-South lines, because Southern states had paid off much of their debt, while northern states, like New York, had not.  The issue dovetailed with questions about the ultimate location of the nation’s capital.  Madison, silently backed by George Washington, negotiated for a Potomac River location near Washington's Mount Vernon plantation, in exchange for agreeing that the federal government would assume the states’ debt.   

 

Meanwhile, Hamilton was busy creating the First Bank of the United States, a central bank that could issue credit, capitalized at $10 million, 20% owned by the government and 80% owned by shareholders.  He was also looking for other sources of income and convinced Washington and Congress to support an excise tax on whiskey.  He introduced legislation for the whiskey tax on December 13, 1790 and for the central bank December 14, 1790.  At that point, Washington’s main source of income came from whiskey distillation. 

 

Both James Madison and Thomas Jefferson vigorously opposed the central bank, calling it unconstitutional.  Madison and Hamilton had been allies before, but this difference in interpretation of the Constitution caused a rift that never healed.  Jefferson and Madison wrote letters back and forth condemning the mad stock speculation that greeted the public offering of central bank stock, and the fact that people in the Northeast could talk of nothing else.  Once again, critics claimed Hamilton demonstrated a preference for rich Northerners, as he only offered the stock through three banks, in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia.  Also, opponents pointed to the fact that three-fourths of investors were foreign.  Thirty of the approximately 85 Congressmen bought shares.

 

Hamilton’s assistant Treasury Secretary, William Duer, could be called one of the nation’s first inside traders.  Philip Schuyler, who would become Hamilton’s father-in-law, had previously done business with Duer and had encouraged him to move from Antigua to New York.  Duer became an early friend when Hamilton immigrated to the continent.  But Duer turned out to be an inveterate gambler and stock speculator who was blamed for causing the Panic of 1892 through debt-backed stock speculation in First Bank of the United States stock. His method was to borrow heavily to make trades, hoping to sell at peak prices, but he ran out of cash and couldn’t make payments on his debts.  People panicked and started selling stock.  Hamilton then used the Treasury’s sinking fund to buy government securities anonymously, to stem the panic.

 

As a result of the crisis, to restore confidence, and to encourage people to start investing again, 24 stock brokers and merchants formed the New York Stock Exchange in May, 1792, by signing the so-called “Buttonwood Agreement,” under a buttonwood tree on Wall Street.  The signers agreed to trade only with each other, and to charge one-quarter percent commission on trades.  Available stock was limited to insurance companies, the Bank of New York, the First Bank of the United States, and Hamilton Bonds that Hamilton had issued to pay Revolutionary War debt.

 

The United States has operated as a triumvirate of government, banking, and the stock market ever since.  The “Framers” of the Constitution were wealthy businessmen, bankers, lawyers, and merchants, who designed a structure for exerting control over the population through laws and taxation.  While the Declaration of Independence set the states free, the Constitution bound them in economic slavery to a new taxing authority.  The links to the banking system and the New York Stock Exchange initiated the “public-private partnerships” that define the United States today.

 

If, in the 21st century the rich are getting richer and the poor getting poorer, it’s probably fair to say it was designed that way.  The Framers knew what they were doing.

 

*  The recent Broadway hit Hamilton is based on Chernow’s book, Alexander Hamilton, 2004.

Comments

Bill Kamps Added Jun 1, 2018 - 1:45pm
If, in the 21st century the rich are getting richer and the poor getting poorer, it’s probably fair to say it was designed that way.  The Framers knew what they were doing.
 
I would like to know when this wasnt so.  In every society the rich made the rules, and rest got along the best they could.   Every so often someone made it from the ranks of the poor to the rich, but that was the exception and not the rule.
 
The Framers created the Constitution for the benefit of themselves, not for the benefit of those with no means.  These were not farmers, or fishermen, these were the richest men in the Colonies, making sure they prospered more under the new rules, than under the old.
 
Dave Volek Added Jun 1, 2018 - 5:15pm
Until America gets past its myth around the making of the constitution, it will not advance.
 
The constitution was not written by perfect men with perfect philosophy and perfect intentions. While it was a superior document for its time, it was still very flawed.
 
 
 
 
George N Romey Added Jun 1, 2018 - 5:19pm
Katharine my sense is that the super rich have been selling a snow job to the less than wealthy for years, mainly through the political process. I’ve notice during the past ten years people are really waking up to the terrific con that it is.  If the Internet ever causes enough critical mass of rejection of the system it could be a total game changer.  The debt peonage system would come crashing down.
Bill Kamps Added Jun 1, 2018 - 5:32pm
Dave, all countries have their myths, probably even Canada, but I have to admit I havent looked into it enough to know.  Human nature abounds around the world and through history. Bullies and rebels describe themselves as heroes, what is new?
 
No country has a history book that describes their history as being despotic, predatory, murderous, genocidal, etc.  Though for more than a few this would be the truth. 
Bill Kamps Added Jun 1, 2018 - 5:37pm
George, in the US they sell the snow job, in Russia or China they dont have to sell it, it just is what it is. 
 
I dont see the people rejecting the system, too many benefit from it.  Nearly all here in WB are in the top 5% worldwide, with some Im sure in the top 1%.   It takes less wealth than you think to get into these percentiles.  People enjoying their standard of living rarely cause a revolution.
 
Katharine Otto Added Jun 1, 2018 - 9:25pm
Bill,
I agree it shouldn't come as a surprise, but some of us were taught otherwise or not taught at all.  Most of what I know of American history is self-taught, and it is astonishing.  Even now, people don't seem to realize how prominent a role the stock market has played, both in London and New York.  Now, with the stock market a primary repository of retirement funds, it has even more power.  The super-wealthy control the corporations, and the little guy's money is at the mercy of GoverCorp decisions.
Katharine Otto Added Jun 1, 2018 - 9:28pm
Dave,
The Constitution worked for them, by giving the federal government control over all the "economic narrows" and the taxing power to fund itself.  However, the Constitution does not obligate the federal government in any way to individuals or states.  In fact, it does the opposite.
Katharine Otto Added Jun 1, 2018 - 9:33pm
George,
I agree that people are waking up.  There's an enormous sense of betrayal going on, and like me, they are wondering what happened.  There are no easy answers, as everything is so inter-related, but it's gratifying that so many people are interested in trying to find solutions.
Katharine Otto Added Jun 1, 2018 - 9:38pm
Bill,
I don't see people rejecting the system, but the system is breaking down.   Things are changing too fast for people to keep up.  Businesses come and go.  People displaced from cities and neighborhoods.  Transients, homeless, lead in the water, kids graduating from high school without being able to read.  Over a million people incarcerated.  Groups and individuals at each others' throats.  Fear of neighbors and strangers.  People may have material comforts, but do they feel satisfied with the way things are?
Stone-Eater Added Jun 2, 2018 - 7:08am
Katharine
 
This does not only concern the US. We are facing a dumbed-down population by digitalization, a work market where work doesn't equal the pay deserved, we see a world where wars for resources are fought, be it oil and gas (now) and water (in the future). 
 
I call our era neo-feudalism. Why ? Because classic capitalism, socialism or communism didn't or don't exist anymore. The only difference is that today Zuckerberg or Buffett (for example) tell the rules, not King Whoever the First, or the pope.
Dino Manalis Added Jun 2, 2018 - 8:30am
 Systems are imperfect, but we strive for perfection.
John Minehan Added Jun 2, 2018 - 9:19am
I was very impressed with the discussion last night on the John Batchellor Show.
 
One thought, which I have probably expressed before target="_blank">http://writerbeat.com/articles/15969-Ortega-y-Gasset-and-You-Tube, is doesn't a meritocracy have greater inherent legitimacy?
 
Post-1946, we have workably identified a cognitive elite.  However, for the rest of the population (and I am one of them), we have not figured out what to do with the less-able majority.  People go to college by default who probably gain nothing from it and who would have benefited a lot more from a demanding high school curriculum and some kind of vocational training.  (I'm one of those, too!)
 
Another thing I heard yesterday was a debate by the Dems running for the nomination to run against John Faso in the NY 19th CD.  All of them parroted the same talking points (even where some of them have expressed more interesting and workable ideas than "Medicare for all" in other venues).  "Medicare for all" would mean, for those who can't afford a Part C Plan or Supplemental insurance, "Major Financial Hardship for all" as Medicare is a circa 1966 BC/BS 80-20 Plan.
 
As the sun sets in the west, our "Empire" is choking on platitudes.
 
A solution to a lot of this (I tend not to believe in "THE Solution" to anything) is to decentralize more things and to take things out of the ambit of federal, and even government, responsibility.
 
Make it easier for people to form non-employment-based group health plans.  Let people try Nate Lebron's idea of Vo-Tech for the 21st Century, with HS kids learning to be network administrators and the like.  Train a lot of contract ALJs for INS and sending out to local courts and let them regularize people who are illegal immigrants with out criminal records on the spot. 
 
Perhaps the good legacy of the (in my opinion, due to his apparent ties to the Russian Government and possibly Russian organized crime) unfortunate election of Donald Trump, is that people stop waiting for permission to make real changes at local levels     
 
 
Dave Volek Added Jun 2, 2018 - 10:08am
Katherine
I'm not sure the centralization/decentralization paradigm is the answer. There are societal things that are better done at the provincial level (state level), things at the national level, things at the munifipal level, and even things at teh very local level. Having some document that describes the jurisdiction of each level really does not place the responsibility at the most appropriate level. 
 
For example, the two big cities in Alberta are Calgary and Edmonton. According to our laws, they have to get provincial approval to repave each road. The two cities are trying to change that, but the provincial legislature being too busy, it's hard to get that change. 
 
In the TDG, the responsibilities would move up and down as best suited to the needs and times. The higher levels would not be so inclined to hold on to its "powers". 
Dave Volek Added Jun 2, 2018 - 10:11am
John
When the various levels of government are working together, with the appropriate level taking the bulk of the responsibility, great things can happen.
 
Our local recycling center was funded by federal, provincial, and five municipal governments. The non-profit society behind the center did most of the work. 
 
Sometimes the resources or expertise are not there for local authorities to take on projects by themselves.
 
 
opher goodwin Added Jun 2, 2018 - 10:44am
Katharine - I think that there is always an inbuilt mechanism to ensure the status quo. That was a very interesting explanation.
I think we need a revolution.
TexasLynn Added Jun 2, 2018 - 1:23pm
I am a member of the Sons of the Republic of Texas.  It is a historical organization of men who can trace their lineage back to someone who was a citizen of the Republic of Texas; Texas when it was its own nation between 1836 and 1845.  There is a sister (Daughters) organization as well.
 
In the early 90s I wrote a short letter to the editor (to the Houston Chronicle) extoling the founding fathers of Texas in which I mentioned my membership.
 
Years later, I got a call from a reporter for the Houston Chronicle who wanted me to give him my reaction (a quote) concerning a local college professor who posited that the Texas revolution was all about … slavery.
 
I explained to the reporter that I was just a member of the Sons and not someone who could officially speak for the organization.  He disagreed and encouraged me to respond to the professor.  As a matter of principle, I said I wouldn’t… BUT, I would get him in touch with the President of the organization.  I couldn’t understand why he wasn’t too interested.
 
I called the President of the Sons, a direct descendent of Sam Houston, and explained the situation.  He literally laughed when I was finished.  Then, he patiently explained to me that he never gave interviews or comments in February (which it was).
 
February, he explained, was “Black History Month” and that the left and media went into overdrive with race baiting articles during that month; and this was obviously one such instance.
 
It was like the clouds parting.  The professor, the timing, the reporter, and how disingenuous these people were.  It was a direct and personal education in “the main stream media” for me.  The President of the Sons said he would not speak to the reporter; he would not say I couldn’t… but he advised against it.
 
I stewed on this the rest of the evening and the next day called the reporter back to explain to him that Mr. Houston would not talk to him.  Of course, the reporter knew that before I called the man.  He asked me If I would reconsider and give him a quote.
 
I said yes, I will, and here it is.  “Men like this professor take our founding fathers and throw them in muck in the gutter.  Men like me put them on a pedestal.  The truth … is somewhere in between.”
 
The reporter didn’t use it. :)
TexasLynn Added Jun 2, 2018 - 1:23pm
Dave >> Until America gets past its myth around the making of the constitution, it will not advance.
 
Yeah… This 200+ years of not advancing is just killing us. :)
 
Dave >> The constitution was not written by perfect men with perfect philosophy and perfect intentions. While it was a superior document for its time, it was still very flawed.
 
I agree.  I was the worst system ever devised… EXCEPT for all the rest.
 
The advantage our system/constitution had (and still has) over others is…
1) The embrace of unalienable rights
2) The recognition of the nature of man (and government) and implementing checks and balances to account for that nature
 
No, our system is not perfect (no man-made institution ever will be); but it is the best so far, and it is enduring.  Thanks, even, to fallible men; Hamilton among them. :)
Katharine Otto Added Jun 2, 2018 - 3:12pm
Stone,
You are absolutely right.  I appreciate your reading, considering your views on the US.  You've mentioned elsewhere that consumerism is the culprit, and I agree.  The stock market represents the epitome of consumerism, with stock churning an increasingly significant sector of "the economy."  Interesting that you mention Zuckerberg.  I suspected that when Facebook went public, it had already peaked in value, since it stimulated so much competition.  It's just a guess.   I do remember that Twitter had never made a profit before its IPO.  The stock still sold quickly.
Katharine Otto Added Jun 2, 2018 - 3:12pm
Dino,
Unfortunately, our ideas of perfection are rarely congruent.
John Minehan Added Jun 2, 2018 - 3:34pm
"John
When the various levels of government are working together, with the appropriate level taking the bulk of the responsibility, great things can happen.
 
Our local recycling center was funded by federal, provincial, and five municipal governments. The non-profit society behind the center did most of the work. 
 
Sometimes the resources or expertise are not there for local authorities to take on projects by themselves."
 
That is the overall idea of the US Constitution.  The Federal Government has supremacy in a limited number of areas, enumerated under Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution.  Under the Ninth and Tenth Amendments to the Constitution:
 
"The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."
 
and
 
"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
 
Genera
 
 
  
John Minehan Added Jun 2, 2018 - 3:39pm
Generally, things that involve health and welfare are generally felt to be more appropriate to state  (and local) government and the people and things like defense, international relations, coining money and immigration policy are left to the federal level.  However, the Feds have gotten into everything for the last 100 years or so.  
Thomas Sutrina Added Jun 2, 2018 - 4:24pm
I would like to get back to the start and this erroneous statement: >>The “Founding Fathers” ultimately adopted a government structure that varied only slightly from that of its British progenitors.>>  European governments including the British were based on Class Society with barriers between the classes.  The founders that when to England to argue for more self government in the colonies were by being from the colonies could never raise to the upper classes even if they were rich.  The lack of representation in the Parliament was because they were lesser citizens, colonist.
 
The rich realized this and they realized that only a society not based on class would provide opportunity, but they knew that the cost would be that their inheritance if place in poor hand would not be protected by government class barriers.  I do not know if they knew that statistically when government does not put up barriers the wealth of the creating generation is lost by the forth generation.  I do suspect that they knew the downward projector of wealth when administered by their offspring. 
 
The forbidding of class barriers Katherine O. is an earth shattering difference between the Constitution and the British practice of government system that can be changed by successive parliaments. 
 
Now the Progressive/liberal/Marxist which is the present philosophy of the present Democratic Party leadership have been on a century long effort to discredit the Declaration of Independence and something that doesn't apply today.  And Amend the constitution through the Supreme Court and incompatibly of Congress.  The outline is the 1944 last State of the Union Speech by third term and soon to be forth term president Franklin D. Roosevelt.  "The Second Bill of Right"  that happen to not be an actual Bill of Right since FDR or any administration  since had any and desire to amend the Constitution by placing the elements of the "The Second Bill of Right" up for an Amendment.   The plan from the beginning was to follow the Fabian Socials approach.
  
Whittaker Chambers author of the Witness and Times Editor wrote,  "I took my first hard look at the New Deal. . . . All the New Dealers I had known were Communists or near-Communists. None of them took the New Deal seriously as an end in itself. They regarded it as an instrument for gaining their own revolutionary ends. I myself thought of the New Deal as a reform movement that, in social and labor legislation, was belatedly bringing the United States abreast of Britain or Scandinavia.

What shocked Chambers was that he recognized for the first time that the New Deal was far more than a reform movement. It was “a genuine revolution whose deepest purpose was not simply reform within existing traditions, but a basic change in the social,  and, above all, the power relationships within the nation.”

This “revolution” was not taking the same form as the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, but its effect was just as sinister: It was not a revolution by violence. It was a revolution by bookkeeping and lawmaking. In so far as it was successful, the power of politics had replace the power of business. This is the basic power shift of all the revolutions of our time.  This shift was the revolution."
http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2010/05/22/whittaker-chambers-the-new-deal-as-revolution/
Katharine Otto Added Jun 2, 2018 - 8:18pm
John Minehan,
I got sidetracked following your links.  I'm a big fan of de-centralizing power and allowing more latitude for local initiatives.  I believe the homogenization of society is a result of one-size-fits-none government over the people.  You have some good ideas, and so do others.  I like the way people seem to be waking up and proposing ideas of fixing what's broke.  
 
The idea of meritocracy bugs me, because it presumes some kinds of contributions are more valuable than others.  It also socially engineers people along some arbitrary paths that curb creativity and experimentation.
 
Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution secures control of all the nation's "economic narrows" for the federal government, along with the power to tax for them.  It specifically gives Congress control of the money, which the Federal Reserve Act shifted to the Fed.  It also gives the federal government authority to go into debt.  As Treasury Secretary, Hamilton made liberal use of the preamble's "promote the general welfare" to justify a huge spending spree.   "Implied powers" of the Constitution have justified one transgression after another since it was ratified.
Katharine Otto Added Jun 2, 2018 - 8:30pm
Dave,
In a general sense, it seems we have several forces at work.  One is that each bureaucracy has its own "fiefdom" which it strives to protect.  This is partly a funding issue, but there is often overlap of responsibility.  What I've seen is one bureaucracy wants control, but it doesn't want responsibility.  It tries to shift responsibility downward to lower status (and less well funded) bureaucracies.  An example is in Savannah, the Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for the Savannah harbor deepening, but the dredge dump site is the largest mosquito nest in two states.  It dumps on Georgia property, but pays the County to spray for mosquitoes.  Meanwhile, the county can't afford adequate drainage, so we are prone to flooding and more mosquitoes.  We also get malathion dumped from helicopters on our collective heads, because this is easier and cheaper than maintaining drainage ditches.
Katharine Otto Added Jun 2, 2018 - 8:32pm
Opher,
A revolution in consciousness, maybe.  It seems that in history, revolutions merely replace one set of tyrants with another.  We don't like to say our "Founding Fathers" were tyrants, but they planted the seeds for tyranny, as are seeing now.  
Katharine Otto Added Jun 2, 2018 - 8:49pm
TexasLynn,
Aren't you the secession advocate?  I just re-read your post on secession.  I've also recently finished a biography of James Madison, who was a great fan of checks and balances.  However, we've evolved into a nation in which the three branches of government are essentially aligned with each other against the "masses," who sustain the overhead of government.
 
If the Constitution were followed, without the transgressions that have happened over time, it might be worth keeping.  However, we have moved well beyond what the framers may have intended.  
Katharine Otto Added Jun 2, 2018 - 9:10pm
Thomas,
You're right that the British hierarchical system was anathema to some of the Framers, but Alexander Hamilton wasn't one of them.  In fact, he was so pro-British that he wanted to institute a monarchy in the United States.  Some people accused him of being a British agent or spy.  
 
On the other hand, Benjamin Franklin learned to detest the British system and broke with his only son over it.  
 
I was referring in general terms to the head of state, the two branches of the legislature (Parliament), and the judiciary, as well as the fact that early laws were based on English law.
 
There were definitely class barriers in the early days, even if they weren't formalized by government.  It was an aristocracy of wealth, or if Alexis de Toqueville is to be believed, the budding aristocracy of lawyers.
 
I would claim that the Constitution enabled FDR to do what he did.  Rather, the Framers were so intent on establishing a strong central government, to supersede states, and funded by taxes, that socialism was a predictable consequence.  The best cons convince you that they are stealing from you for your own good, to protect you from that other guy.
George N Romey Added Jun 2, 2018 - 9:51pm
We forget that a King was seriously considered by a number of our forefathers before we got a Republic.
Thomas Sutrina Added Jun 3, 2018 - 8:34am
wealth differences always creates classes but that is different then government created barriers to prevent the movement of people up or down in their wealth, class.   It is a big deal to not allow barriers.  It is a big deal that four generations out of wealthy people are not wealthy and that people have come from the welfare house holds to be wealth.
TexasLynn Added Jun 3, 2018 - 9:33am
KO >> Aren't you the secession advocate?
 
Yes.
 
KO >> I just re-read your post on secession.
 
Thank you.  Then I assume you'll remember that I also stated early on in that post...
 
"If given a wish, is secession what I'd wish for? The short answer is No.  I would wish for the healing of these United States of America and for us to turn away from the path we're on.  A path of big government, big deep state bureaucracies, socialism, moral decay, and the degradation of individual rights, responsibility, and liberty.  I would have us turn away from the world and again be that shining city on a hill." -- TexasLynn
 
But... as you said...
 
KO >> ... we've evolved into a nation in which the three branches of government are essentially aligned with each other against the "masses," who sustain the overhead of government.
 
And that is the problem (though I would use the word "devolved").  So, it seems we agree on the problem but not the path forward.
 
KO >> If the Constitution were followed, without the transgressions that have happened over time, it might be worth keeping.  However, we have moved well beyond what the framers may have intended. 
 
Exactly.  We have strayed well beyond what the framers intended to our shame.
 
You seem to advocate (as the path forward) replacing our antiquated Constitution with something evolved to the times to better serve the people.  I advocate the best path is returning to the original intent of the timeless Constitution given to us.
 
As for my Case for Secession, I advocate for both solutions.  The new nation(s) who wish to continue to "evolve" can do so.  The new nation(s) who wish to return to the Constitution can do so.
 
Thanks for the addressing of my comment.
TexasLynn Added Jun 3, 2018 - 9:33am
George >> We forget that a King was seriously considered by a number of our forefathers before we got a Republic.
 
Thanks to the father of our country; George Washington.
 
 
George >> We forget that a King was seriously considered by a number of our forefathers before we got a Republic.
 
Thanks to the father of our country; George Washington.
 
At the close of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, when queried as he left Independence Hall on the final day of deliberation... "Well, Doctor, what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?"
 
Benjamin Franklin responded. "A Republic, if you can keep it."
 
We didn't... but we could try to reclaim it. :)
Neil Lock Added Jun 3, 2018 - 9:48am
Nice article, Katharine. I knew Hamilton was one of the bad guys, but this has filled in a lot of details I didn't know.
Katharine Otto Added Jun 3, 2018 - 11:03am
George,
Many people were ambivalent about the break with Britain, and Loyalists were heavily entrenched in the Northeast, especially New York.  Lots of aristocrats with family and financial ties to the "Mother Country."  William Duer, for instance, was descended from British aristocracy, was a timber plantation owner in Antigua, and sold to both British and Continental armies.  I"m sure he was not alone.
Katharine Otto Added Jun 3, 2018 - 11:11am
Thomas,
Okay.  I'll concede that point, so the Constitution was a step forward.  I will add that the general idea of "the king owns everything" pervaded and still pervades the mass mind.  
 
I don't understand how the loss of wealth over generations fits into the picture, since aristocracy can also lose their wealth over generations.  In the US, the wealthy set up foundations, get themselves elected to director positions on corporations, buy large blocks of stock, and use other means to guarantee their progenys' financial futures.  In both countries, it's often "not what you know, but who you know."  The Constitution didn't change that.
Katharine Otto Added Jun 3, 2018 - 11:26am
TexasLynn,
Appreciate your response.  We seem to differ on the concept of centralization of power.  The Constitution provided the mechanism for the federal government to interfere with and control almost every aspect of life, as we are seeing now.  In fact, the Constitution gave the government almost free rein to do anything it wanted.  No one can know their "intent," although the Supreme Court claims to try.
 
There is nothing in the Constitution about health care, the welfare state, central banks, or the stock market, but the power to regulate commerce renders it a de facto monopoly and tyrannical in its scope.
 
What's most important is that the Constitution corrals everyone into its net without options for refusing its presumption of power over the people.  It is an economic document with taxpayers as the fodder to feed the government and its friends.
Katharine Otto Added Jun 3, 2018 - 11:33am
TexasLynn,
George Washington did a good job of insuring his own upkeep through the Constitution and the whiskey tax.  He was busy at the same time trying to make Potomac navigable further west, so his internal land speculations would be more profitable.  The whiskey tax was part of a plan with Alexander Hamilton to eliminate the barter system and replace it with taxable cash.  This was a direct betrayal of farmer/soldiers who fought his war for him, leaving their farms and families, and going bankrupt trying to keep up with land taxes after the war.
 
The "Father of our Country" was sterile, had no children, so to what benefit would it be to become king?
Kurt Bresler Added Jun 3, 2018 - 11:34am
I guess this just goes to prove the old adage "The love of money is the root of all evil"  And in the case of our present state.. Bribery and promises are two sides of the same root.  Or could we say Bankers, Lawyers, and selfishness are our enemies.
Katharine Otto Added Jun 3, 2018 - 11:34am
Neil,
Thanks for the compliment.  Alexander Hamilton is just the beginning of my stories about the sordid economic history of the US.  
George N Romey Added Jun 3, 2018 - 11:40am
Well it’s good to know that ordinary Americans getting screwed by their own government has gone on from the beginning.
Katharine Otto Added Jun 3, 2018 - 11:51am
George,
LOL.  Yes, we're all in this stew pot together, for better or worse.
Even A Broken Clock Added Jun 3, 2018 - 1:11pm
Katharine - good article. I'm your latest "like". I have wondered what sort of a constitution would result if we had to go through the process now. Given the deep divisions in this nation, I hope the movement for a constitutional convention does not succeed, since even though we have strayed from original intent, it still serves as guard rails for us to consider and possibly adhere to.
A. Jones Added Jun 3, 2018 - 2:52pm
https://www.cnbc.com/2018/06/01/the-us-economy-suddenly-looks-like-its-oppablunste.html
 
"The US economy suddenly looks like it's unstoppable"
 
"Friday's economic data provided evidence the U.S. economy is heading into the second half of 2018 with strong momentum.
Nonfarm payrolls beat expectations while manufacturing and construction indexes both showed accelerated growth.

Economists are slowly ratcheting up expectations for growth through the end of the year, with widely followed measures putting the second quarter at between 3.6 percent and 4.8 percent.
 
In the face of persistent fears that the world could be facing a trade war and a synchronized slowdown, the U.S. economy enters June with a good deal of momentum.
 
Friday's data provided convincing evidence that domestic growth remains intact even if other developed economies are slowing. A better-than-expected nonfarm payrolls report coupled with a convincing uptick in manufacturing and construction activity showed that the second half approaches with a tail wind blowing.
 
'The fundamentals all look very solid right now,' said Gus Faucher, chief economist at PNC. 'You've got job growth and wage gains that are supporting consumer spending, and tax cuts as well. . . . Business incentives are in good shape.'
 
The day started off with the payrolls report showing a gain of 223,000 in May, well above market expectations of 188,000, and the unemployment rate hitting an 18-year low of 3.8 percent.
 
Then, the ISM manufacturing index registered a 58.7 reading — representing the percentage of businesses that report expanding conditions — that also topped Wall Street estimates. Finally, the construction spending report showed a monthly gain of 1.8 percent, a full point higher than expectations."
 
* * *
 
The poor are getting poorer, eh? Right. As usual, good news for the U.S. economy is bad news for American leftists, Canadian socialists, the brain damaged of all political stripes, and ditzy psychiatrists of any nationality.
 
Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.
Stephen Hunter Added Jun 3, 2018 - 2:55pm
Katherine I sure learned a lot about how things really went down, at least from your historical facts and study. I wonder why the history books in school do not seem to get into the business side of why things happen the way that they do? 
TexasLynn Added Jun 3, 2018 - 4:04pm
KO >> There is nothing in the Constitution about health care, the welfare state, central banks, or the stock market, but the power to regulate commerce renders it a de facto monopoly and tyrannical in its scope.
 
That may be the "de facto" effect of the abuse of the commerce clause; but it didn't have to be that way... had we not strayed.  That goes for a lot of the "de facto" effects and abuse we find ourselves in.  The Tenth Amendment should have been the check that balanced much of that abuse.  To their shame our forefathers didn't uphold that part of our Constitution.  To our shame, we don't return to it.
 
EABC >> I hope the movement for a constitutional convention does not succeed, since even though we have strayed from original intent, it still serves as guard rails for us to consider and possibly adhere to.
 
I'm with you there EABC.  Even though the nuts still run the asylum, it could get worse... much worse.
George N Romey Added Jun 3, 2018 - 6:02pm
Katharine I think you’d be interested in the Zeigeist Movement and it’s principle leader Peter Joseph. Will an economy built on sustainability versus the old method of consumerism made enabled by the industrial revolution and then technology is a future we need I doubt given the current human mentality we’re ever see it. Still, it’s a very interesting movement and belief.
A. Jones Added Jun 3, 2018 - 6:41pm
Re: Peter Joseph and the Zeitgeist Movement
 
"Since 2011, Joseph has supported the Occupy movement. As a proponent of Occupy Wall St, he gave public speeches in both New York and Los Angeles."
 
Ah, yes, the Occupy Wall Street movement: a protest in search of a cause. It was populated by 20-30 year olds wearing Jordache blue jeans, Timberland boots, carrying iPods, iPhones, and camcorders, hair dyed green thanks to Clairol, etc., while holding up placards declaring, "Down with corporate profits!" Hey, kiddies. If you dislike corporations earning profits, don't buy jeans, boots, electronics, and cosmetic products from them. If enough people follow you, those corporations won't earn profits.
 
As I said: the Occupy movement was a faux-protest in search of some sort of legitimate cause to protest.
 
Peter Joseph sounds like a true-blue kook. No wonder Romey admires him.
George N Romey Added Jun 3, 2018 - 6:45pm
Jones it must be a good idea if your feeble mind and lack of intelligence can’t understand it. Maybe you can enlighten us on your views of a futuristic economy.
Thomas Sutrina Added Jun 3, 2018 - 6:47pm
KO, the statistical average is that the wealth of the starting generation is lost by the fourth generation.  That does not mean some as you present do stay wealth for many generations.  We visited the Baltimore that this generation turned into a museum.  They have a video that says the family can not afford to maintain it. 
 
America many here on WB agree that America is no longer the nation the founders created. Those 11 feet of regulations each year I provide for a lot of barriers to protect wealth and when you protect the wealthy corporations you protect the wealthy. And these barriers also prevent competition which means the barriers also prevent the rise of new wealth. 
 
At least these barrier do not discriminate against race, sex, religion, age.  I am not saying individual may choose to abuse the law and discriminate against opposition including political opposition.  
 
The barriers make success harder, or rather eliminate some lines of opportunity, but there are still those that do succeed.  
A. Jones Added Jun 3, 2018 - 8:08pm
Maybe you can enlighten us on your views of a futuristic economy.
 
I'd be delighted.
 
My view on a futuristic economy is the following:
 
I imagine an economy in which spoiled 20-somethings and pampered 30-somethings (as well as clueless 40-somethings and nitwit 50-somethings) protest the profits earned by Apple, Nike, Clairol, and Jordache right after they've spent their considerable surplus income on iPhones, running shoes, hair color, and designer blue jeans manufactured by those very same companies. That's what I imagine for the future.
 
Oh, wait. We already have such an economy. Looks as if the future is already here.
 
If you don't see the hypocrisy in the protesters' objection to Clairol's products while simultaneously buying and using their products, you must be even stupider than you look. And I've always thought you look mighty stupid.
George N Romey Added Jun 3, 2018 - 8:50pm
What a loser you are Jones. You won’t even divulge your real name. Nothing more than a pathetic troll. You probably are sitting in your mother’s basement. You weigh what 400 pounds? So sad you are.
A. Jones Added Jun 3, 2018 - 9:02pm
I see you're in the "nitwit 50-somethings" group mentioned above. That explains a lot.
Jeff Jackson Added Jun 4, 2018 - 12:19am
Great article Katherine. I have studied all of what you have explained, and your explanation is dead-on perfect. We had a revolution because there were some rich folks who were sick of paying all the taxes King George levied upon them. In fact, some thought that if they just tried hard enough, he would eventually capitulate, but then there were those who wanted the money right away. As I have taught in many classes, there was by no means a universal belief that we needed  a war, especially against what was at the time, the greatest power on earth.
Our Constitution was written, as you say, because under the Articles of Confederation, the federal government didn't have much authority and had even less money. But the point was that the states could not enter into treaties on their own, plus each of the states issuing their own money was even more of a mess. Something had to be done.
As we have progressed over the two centuries of our existence, the federal government has gained more and more power. When the Republicans say that they want more "state's rights" that is what they are saying, but that's not getting much traction.
Having read a lot of history and studied government, I would say that two things really bolstered the federal government, those being the Civil War and the Great Depression. At the end of both of those events, the federal government emerged with even more power. Events produce governments as much as people, and the people who experience those events try to construct governments that can deal with the events.
So, to ask the Marxist question, does economics determine politics? If you believe so, then Marx was right. I always loved the ask my econ profs that question. They always gave nuanced answers, but the concept still remains.
Kurt Bresler Added Jun 4, 2018 - 1:50am
George and A Jones >>> Thanks for the comedy I'm sure it gives most of us a laugh.
A Jones >>>  I think the point about the poor getting poorer has to do with relativity.  That is when your boss makes 100.00 and you make 10.00 then he can outbid you 10 times over for goods and services.  If  the economy increases and your boss makes 1500.00 and you make 15.00 then your outbid a hundred fold.  Your wages increased but your wealth relative to the system and ability to function in the economy has declined.  Thus your boss got richer and you got poorer    
Kurt Bresler Added Jun 4, 2018 - 2:06am
Katherine >>  I did enjoy your article and it was very informative of the overall politics of the era.  I am relearning history.    Thanks
 
I think I am missing something here though, were you talking in their purist sense?
 
"The American myth of freedom, democracy, and capitalism dies hard, but the United States has never been free, democratic, or even capitalistic," 
 
capitalism
1. An economic system essentially based on the private ownership of 
the means of production, distribution, and exchange.
2. An economic system in which the means of production are privately owned and producers compete to maximize their profits.
Thomas Sutrina Added Jun 4, 2018 - 8:25am
KO, I can not think of an class based nation that doesn't have the problem you started your article with, "As the rich get richer and the poor get poorer."  America is based on a 'classless' society, however; barriers to create a class society have developed.  By classless I am not saying that wealth does not create classes, no nation is without wealth disparities so no nation is without classes of wealth.  Classless means the government does not foster class by using the laws of the nation.  
 
KO, America's classless basis of law creates conditions that have drawn immigrants from class societies from the start of colonization.  The streets of America are paved with the gold of opportunity not available in their home nations, the pursuit of happiness.   Pursuit is an action verb which means the happiness comes with the sweet of human effort instead of given by the state as welfare.  
Katharine Otto Added Jun 4, 2018 - 11:13am
Clock,
Thank you.  I agree a constitutional convention now would probably just break down into warring factions.  However, I'm a big fan of open forums like this one where people engage in relatively intelligent discussion and debate. 
 
At the moment, I'm seeing more muscle in individual states asserting their rights against federal government overreach.  Those who have legalized cannabis, for instance.  California will be interesting to watch, regarding EPA rules, sanctuary cities, and sale of federal lands.  
Katharine Otto Added Jun 4, 2018 - 11:25am
Kurt,
Thanks for your comments.  I'll try to respond to all or them succinctly.  The definition of capitalism you cite comes from Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in The Communist Manifesto.  My definition (which nobody shares) is that "capitalism" comes from the Latin word "caput" for head, meaning the "capitalist" is the individual whose wealth comes from between her ears.  The "means of production" is the individual, when you think of it, because nothing gets done without human effort.  My previous post on The Communist Manifesto goes into this a little more deeply.
 
I'm currently working on an article on Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations.  Smith has been called the "father of modern capitalism," and I guess Hamilton had read Wealth shortly after it was published in 1776.  
Katharine Otto Added Jun 4, 2018 - 11:48am
A. Jones,
I don't believe government propaganda and predictions prove anything except the fortune tellers on the payroll are heavily invested in the pretense of economic growth.  Look around you.  Do you see evidence of prosperity?  I read in The Sun magazine that CEO salaries are now 800 times that of the average worker.  In 1970 the gap was 45 to one.  That's the May, 2018 issue.  
Katharine Otto Added Jun 4, 2018 - 11:55am
Stephen,
Good question and I'm still wondering about the answer(s).  I'm not sure anyone really understands how economics works, but Hamilton had a better grasp (for his times) than anyone around him, or seemed to.  While he apparently didn't profit much himself, I suspect he made a lot of money for other people, through his role as Treasury Secretary, busy promoting the idea of war with France and dishing out government contracts for military buildup, for instance.
Katharine Otto Added Jun 4, 2018 - 12:04pm
TexasLynn,
No, it didn't have to be that way, but the secrecy and inside dealing has made it easier for the abuse to continue and grow.  The states' rightists may prevail in reining the federal government in.  We shall see. 
Katharine Otto Added Jun 4, 2018 - 12:15pm
George,
Will check it out.  Thanks for the tip.
 
And A. Jones,
Thank you, too, for your insight into Peter Joseph.  The Occupy Wall Street movement at least recognized that Wall Street was a major culprit in the 2007-2008 debacle.  I believe the movement failed to recognize that sitting in was less effective than abandoning Wall Street for Main Street.  I agree those people shouldn't buy the brand name products.  In other words, I believe the US consumerist mentality is debilitating, and stock churning generates more profits than product sales.  To show profits, corporations have been cutting products and services, cutting corners, and closing offices and stores.  
Katharine Otto Added Jun 4, 2018 - 12:22pm
Thomas,
Nothing to disagree with there.  It appears you are saying the wealthy hide behind and manipulate the corporations, and thus get government protection and financial advantages.  Meanwhile, regular people who invest retirement funds are at the mercy of booms and busts that are engineered by insiders.  Afterwards, the insiders scarf up the tangible assets and start new companies or restructure old ones, dispensing with such inconveniences as debt and pension obligations. 
Katharine Otto Added Jun 4, 2018 - 12:39pm
Jeff,
Thanks for your support and your informative addendum.  It brings up ideas for many potential articles.  Your points about Lincoln's war and the Great Depression are well taken, but I would contend that the wealthy profit mightily from every war while the poor fight the wars.  The Great Depression was, I believe, the result of World War I, in which the rich got richer, and the poor got poorer.  The so-called robber barons, like JD Rockefeller, JP Morgan, and Andrew Carnegie all got rich in Lincoln's war, as did many stock speculators, while the South was devastated.
 
I wasn't aware of the Marxist question until you brought it up, but my answer would be that economics and politics are symbiotic.  Another source tells me that Marx was a third cousin of the Rothschild family and their shill.   Governments serve to protect wealth, or to pretend that they do, such as property rights.  The most wealthy are most heavily invested in protecting the structure of government, preferably the political sides that most favor them.  
Katharine Otto Added Jun 4, 2018 - 12:55pm
Thomas,
Ideally, you would be right.  The US certainly strives to provide more opportunities than other countries I know of.  I would also say we fall short of our ideals, with impractical laws that are selectively enforced, for instance.  Too many laws which favor corporate interests, such as the ethanol mandate.  
 
In discussing "the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer," I'm merely reflecting on a widely expressed concern.  This post is an attempt to show how the disparity was built into the US system from the get-go.  But it's also an attempt to address our values as a nation, with economics given far greater weight than I think it deserves.  The rich need the poor to be rich.  The greed of the rich is matched by the envy of (some) poor.  Happiness is not dependent on income, and most US inhabitants have enough to eat, even if it's fatty, over-salted, over-sugared, packaged, processed, chemicalized, GMO food that costs more than it's worth and subsidized by food stamps.  (But hey, Big Foods' stocks do well on Wall Street, and ADM has the ethanol mandate to rely on for its stock profits.)
George N Romey Added Jun 4, 2018 - 1:16pm
The thesis of the Zeigest movement is that we use technology to take care of one another and move away from an endless consumption society that demands more and more. No wonder we’re becoming human basketcases and angry when we are constantly pushed for more and more. And no wonder we constantly look for a higher power, usually government to right all the wrongs.
Katharine Otto Added Jun 4, 2018 - 1:49pm
George,
I'm glad people are waking up to that fact.  This love affair with technology scares me.  I'm practicing doing less and less, consuming less and less, and learning from animals what's truly important.  I'm the kind of person the government and Wall Street hate, because I'm a net drain on "the economy."  It's a political statement to help curb government "overkill."
A. Jones Added Jun 4, 2018 - 5:39pm
We had a revolution because there were some rich folks who were sick of paying all the taxes King George levied upon them.
 
Really? It was only rich folks who objected to taxes, the Stamp Act, the Boston Massacre, etc? Really? No one else objected?
 
You're wrong. So much for your dismissal of a genuine liberal arts education.
A. Jones Added Jun 4, 2018 - 7:43pm
This love affair with technology scares me.
 
I see. That's why you're using a computer (technology) to post to the Internet (technology); not once, but many times. Nope. No "love affair with technology" there.
 
Truly, the Salt of the Earth.
Dave Volek Added Jun 5, 2018 - 12:32pm
Thomas
 
The one thing that the early American republic did right was to break down the class barriers. People from the lower classes could rise if their work ethic and intellect warranted the rise. No where in Europe could this happen if one was born into the lower classes.
 
I wasn't aware of the protection of inheritance angle. So thank you for bringing that up. I could see the British aristocracy confiscating wealth from a colonist's family.
 
And I liked your comments that the fourth generation (or earlier) often squander their progenitor's wealth away. I think in today's fast moving business cycles, this might be reduced to one generation.
 
Katherine
I could offer a few more examples of how various governments step on each other's toes in Canada, but I think you get the point I was trying to make.
 
We need a system where authority and responsibility can be delegated to the appropriate level of government--and let that level handle most of the work. I believe the TDG will do a much better job of this than any constitution.
 
 
Thomas Sutrina Added Jun 5, 2018 - 1:42pm
KO, I have always wondered why Alexander Hamilton was pro-British monarchy style government.  The Declaration of Independence and the revolution were action directly opposite of a Master mind lead government like a monarch.    He life experiences align with the declaration principles.  "Alexander Hamilton's birth  often listed as January 11, 1755 on the island of Nevis, in the British West Indies, the illegitimate son (his parents were not married to each other) of James Hamilton, a Scotsman, and rel="nofollow">Rachel Fawcett Lavien, the daughter of a French physician.
 
Hamilton's education was brief. He began working between the ages of eleven and thirteen for a trading company in St. Croix, an island in the U.S. Virgin Islands. In 1772 he left to attend school in the American colonies. After a few months at an academy in New Jersey, he enrolled in King's College in New York City. Intelligent enough to master most subjects without formal instruction and eager to win success and fame early in life, he left college in 1776 without graduating."  http://www.notablebiographies.com/Gi-He/Hamilton-Alexander.html#ixzz5HZc79Egx
Katharine Otto Added Jun 5, 2018 - 2:22pm
A. Jones,
I use a computer, but I don't love the computer.  It serves a purpose.  I also use electricity and plumbing, for the same reason.  By "love affair," I'm referring to the widespread assumption that technology will solve all human problems, such as disease and famine, to name two.  I could make an argument that technology creates as many problems as it solves.  And, while the computer has its uses, some of us could live without them.  
Katharine Otto Added Jun 5, 2018 - 2:33pm
Dave,
Maybe the fluidity of class and wealth are signs of evolving consciousness.  Your idea of TDG could work, in a mature culture, but I tend to believe delegated power does corrupt.  Government "by the people" seems easily twisted into government "over the people," which we have now.  The larger it gets, the less responsive to the individual and her community. 
 
I don't have answers.  It seems communities that accept government help become must accept government dictates, too.  The question becomes one of deciding how much "help" they can afford.
 
Then we have cases of "help" being forced on us, with mandates to match.  The Department of Education comes to mind.
Katharine Otto Added Jun 5, 2018 - 2:40pm
Thomas,
That's all in the book Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow.  My take is that Hamilton was extremely bright and driven by a need to be accepted by his "betters."  By identifying with them and moving among elite social circles, he developed a status that he would never have achieved otherwise.  He apparently was excessively protective of his "honor," and challenged several people to duels over it, before the fatal incident with Aaron Burr.  Apparently his oldest son, Philip, had died in a duel over dad's "honor" only weeks before.  
Ryan Messano Added Jun 5, 2018 - 3:23pm
Totally disagree with the article, this is more revisionist history.  The Founders believed that government governs best which governs least.  Katherine, I doubt you've ever read five biographies of the Founders written before 1950.  Please do so before you begin elucidating again.  You'll deceive the simple, but those of us who know history know your rubbish is nonsense. 
Ryan Messano Added Jun 5, 2018 - 3:25pm
I get extremely angry to hear ahistorical and corrupt Americans criticizing the Founders who never watched hellivision, never watched porn, and never used psychotropic drugs, along with reading voraciously of worthy literature.
 
You are intellectual pygmies and moral midgets in comparison.
Dave Volek Added Jun 5, 2018 - 3:34pm
Katherine
 
 
Your idea of TDG could work, in a mature culture, but I tend to believe delegated power does corrupt.  Government "by the people" seems easily twisted into government "over the people," which we have now. 
 
In the same way we tried to put western democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan, we found those people were not ready for this social concept. And they could not be taught in a short time.
 
In a like manner, there is no doubt that the citizenry of today's democracies would not be able to make the TDG work. We have to DELIBERATELY learn new ways. So yes, we would have to become more "mature."
 
My premise is that if 1% of the population embraces the idea of the replacing western democracy with the TDG, that 1% can start building the TDG. It doesn't matter what the other 99% do in these early stages.
 
While the early TDG are building the TDG, they will learn the skills necessary to make the TDG work. These skills include voting for good characters and competence, consultation, listening to advisors, and organizational experiments to happen within the TDG--just to see how things will work out. Later, they will learn how to make adjustments when things don't work out as planned.
 
As the early builders learn these skills, the TDG will be more credible to the average citizenry, and many more people will join this movement. In other worlds, the TDG is being built as the old order loses credibility.
 
I estimate that the early builders will need to spend about 10 hours  a month. If they are elected to the first neighborhood committee, they will continue to spend about 10 hours a month. If not elected, they will spend about 10 hours a year. This is not a great time or financial commitment!
 
As the TDG matures, it will eventually come up with internal issues that involve centralization vs decentralization of powers. At this point in its evolution, the builders of this this time will be more concerned with the betterment of the TDG--and not their own careers within the TDG. In other words, they won't be influenced by enhancing their power base--because they never really had one in the first place. In other words, they will be making much wiser decisions on any centralization/decentralization issue(s). And if they do make a mistake, it won't be that difficult to fix that mistake.
 
I hope this helps.
 
 
 
 
Katharine Otto Added Jun 5, 2018 - 3:42pm
Ryan,
I've read Benjamin Franklin's and Thomas Jefferson's autobiographies.  Do they count?  Which pre-1950s biographies would you recommend?
Ryan Messano Added Jun 5, 2018 - 4:24pm
Those are great, Katharine.
They do count.  Biographies of Washington, Rush, and Webster are great too.
 
There is a great book "The Glorious Burden" which details every single election and every single mover and shaker in American history.  I read it as a child, and it filled me with wonder and awe of the people who made this nation.  Unfortunately, today's generation is brainwashed by Google and online to think our nation is one of the worst in human history.  It's very sad.  Those who read little are easy to control.
Bill Kamps Added Jun 5, 2018 - 5:42pm
Ryan, the Founding Fathers didnt of course watch TV or internet porn, however they were men of their day.   Their so called character flaws were common practice at the time. 
 
The Declaration of Independence declared that all men were created equal, the Constitution differed, making white men of property significantly more equal, than blacks or women. The Declaration of Independence is an aspirational document, while the Constitution is a compromise to get the country functioning.  
 
Blaming the Founding Fathers for not giving women the right to vote, is nonsense when it took another  125 years for the country to see this was something that should be changed.  Similarly with the rights of slaves and blacks.   We cant expect them to solve in 1781 all the problems the country would  face, but they did give us the tools by which we could move forward. 
 
We dont have a Constitution that can be changed on a whim, like many other countries.  We do have checks in Congress and the courts on what the President can realistically do.  We dont need tanks to remove the previous President from office.  When we look at the serious problems other countries face, and why they dont happen here, it is not so much because our Presidents are more wise, but often because our  Constitution is more wise, and changing it is not very easy. 
 
It isnt perfect, but the Founding Fathers, did give us a very good start.
 
George N Romey Added Jun 5, 2018 - 8:23pm
Our founding fathers were men of their time. Blaming them for their many shortfalls is like blaming cavemen for using fire instead of electricity.
A. Jones Added Jun 5, 2018 - 8:29pm
Blaming the Founding Fathers for not giving women the right to vote, is nonsense
 
The Founding Fathers did not deny women the right to vote. Your starting premise is historically wrong.
A. Jones Added Jun 5, 2018 - 8:55pm
I use a computer, but I don't love the computer.  It serves a purpose.  I also use electricity and plumbing, for the same reason.
 
In other words, you're no different from the majority of people who use computers, electricity, and plumbing.
 
By "love affair," I'm referring to the widespread assumption that technology will solve all human problems, such as disease and famine, to name two.
 
Given the fact that technology has, indeed, bettered the lives of billions of people worldwide — bettered their lives and extended their lives — it's a widespread assumption with good reason behind it.
 
I could make an argument that technology creates as many problems as it solves. 
 
I'm sure you could but you'd be wrong. As usual, you lack both knowledge and perspective: the kinds of problems created by technology — especially its mass production for mass consumption by everyone — are of a completely different order (a much lower order) from the kinds of problems solved by technology, especially when it comes to disease and famine.
 
And, while the computer has its uses, some of us could live without them. 
 
Then why don't you? Pencil and paper have their uses, too. No one forced you (or anyone else) to use a computer.
Thomas Sutrina Added Jun 5, 2018 - 9:03pm
Bill K., this is a statement taken out of the context of the period in history.  >>The Declaration of Independence declared that all men were created equal, the Constitution differed, making white men of property significantly more equal, than blacks or women. >>  Slavery was brought to the colonies 130 years earlier on British ships.  Slavery was the norm in human civilization and I believe the steam engine replaced human muscle and ended slavery. (Islam still believe in slavery)  This occurred after the nation was formed. 
 
Women status also is the social norm for centuries so to define either as a fault of the founders is crazy.   Weapons of war is like comparing swords to machine guns.  How can you do this? 
John Minehan Added Jun 5, 2018 - 9:09pm
"I'm sure you could but you'd be wrong. As usual, you lack both knowledge and perspective: the kinds of problems created by technology — especially its mass production for mass consumption by everyone — are of a completely different order (a much lower order) from the kinds of problems solved by technology, especially when it comes to disease and famine."
 
Often . . . but not invariably. 
 
Atomic Weapons are a technological artifact that is species threatening.  Swords, a lower order of technology, are deadly, but far more localized.
 
Air travel is a valuable technological innovation, on the other hand, widespread commercial air travel added to AIDS reaching pandemic status. 
 
Nothing is an absolute good.  Few things are absolute evils.  But most things involve cost-benefit analysis.  I agree with Jones to the degree that Technology usually lets us reduce or just cope with the costs.     
  
John Minehan Added Jun 5, 2018 - 9:10pm
"[A]re species threatening."  Sorry. 
A. Jones Added Jun 5, 2018 - 11:20pm
Atomic Weapons are a technological artifact that is species threatening.  Swords, a lower order of technology, are deadly, but far more localized.
 
You're contrasting nuclear weapons with swords? Interesting but irrelevant to the point I made above.
 
Technology might create its own problems but they are of a different order (a lower order) than the problems they were invented to solve. Nuclear weapons were not invented to solve the problem of dull blades on swords; they were invented to solve the problem of world wars started by tyrants intent on unifying the world according to their vision of Utopia whether others share it or not.
 
The last world war ended in 1945 after Japan was nuked, and we haven't had a global-level conflict since. That tells me nukes have solved — or at least mitigated — the original problem they were invented to address.
 
Air travel is a valuable technological innovation, on the other hand, widespread commercial air travel added to AIDS reaching pandemic status.
 
1) AIDS is not a pandemic. According to the CDC, in the U.S. about 0.34% of the population is infected with HIV (about 1.1 million out of a total population of 325 million). 0.34% is not a pandemic. Worldwide, there are about 37 million people with AIDS; out of a total worldwide population of about 7 billion, that's about 0.5%. One-half-of-one-percent is not a pandemic: a few AIDS cases might be in every country in the world but the disease is not widespread, prevalent, pervasive, rife, or rampant; criteria used for defining a disease that is pandemic.
 
2) Talk about cherry-picking! If air travel has contributed to the spread of AIDS, it has also contributed to the spread of medical care (physicians, drugs, etc.), including medical care for AIDS. AIDS (unlike, for example, malaria) is a disease spread through a certain kind of behavior (sexual practices, intravenous drug use). I don't know of anyone blaming the spread of AIDS (specifically, the spread of HIV) on air travel.

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