Thursday, February 2, 2012

#2 The Federalist Papers

The Federalist PapersThe Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Definitely worth the read, though it is tough going in places. I listened to it as an audio book, so that helped. These guys are very persuasive arguers. At least Madison and Hamilton are. Can't say I was too impressed with Jay. I wonder whether they could have argued just as convincingly against a constitution...

Among the things that caught my attention:

The authors argue:

-for the power of judicial review. I had been under the impression that at the Marbury v. Madison decision the court had pulled judicial review out of the air. This is not true at all. Judicial review had been anticipated, though it was a contentious issue (still is, I gather).

-for the power of the federal government to tax individuals, though they don't seem to think that this will happen much. In fact they appear to think that most of the federal revenue needs can be met by a duty on imported alcohol. (They also argue that reducing alcohol consumption through such a duty would be a good thing.)

-for the power of the federal government to borrow money as necessary.

-from an extremely pragmatic standpoint.

-that there must be a compromise on slavery for the sake of keeping the nation together.

-from the experience of other countries, ancient and modern.

-*against* a bill of rights (yeah, that one surprised me.)

-that for there to be any government at all, it is required that the people cede to it some of their natural rights.

Furthermore, they are dismissive of arguments that the constitution favors the "wealthy and well-born". What's more, they are dismissive of the idea of there being any "wealthy and well-born" at all.

Anyway, good read. Highly recommended. I'm only giving it three stars, but it's a high three.

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