Category Archives: Book Review

Constitutional Brinksmanship: Series Introduction

This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series Constitutional Brinksmanship

Constitutional Brinksmanship;
Amending the Constitution by National Convention

By Russell L. Caplan

Occasionally a book comes out that has a quiet importance. Quiet because almost no one has read it. Important because those who have read it founcliff_edge_signd it to be a repository of information and analysis that speaks to an issue that has a historic importance to a large number of people or even an entire nation. The book we are beginning a review of is such a book. Unless you are a Constitution geek or academic the chances are you’ve never heard of this book let alone read it. As the name indicates it is a book about amending the Constitution. But not in the usual way, the way we’ve gotten all 27 of the existing amendments. No, this book is about a current hot topic- the Article V convention method.

If you haven’t heard anything about the current effort to have a new constitutional convention called and you travel in conservative or liberal political circles then ask around or just wait. You’ll hear about it. And what you will hear will, sadly, be mostly just plain wrong, either based on honest misinformation or, worse, on deliberate obfuscation with a specific political goal in holding a new constitutional convention, especially on the conservative side. The liberal side is more honest; they want a constitutional convention in order to write a new constitution. And be sure that among the propaganda that is currently being disseminated, mostly among conservatives, is that even the phrase “constitutional convention” in relation to an Article V convention is a “misnomer.” The current propaganda is that an Article V convention isn’t a “constitutional convention” at all. It is, in fact, either an “amendments convention or a “convention of states.” There is currently a national group with this very name, Convention of States, who is diligently working in the homeschool community to convince mostly constitutionally illiterate conservatives that a “convention of states” is the only “answer” currently at our disposal to “reign in” an out of control federal government and that there are virtually no risks in it. “Don’t worry,” the proponents claim, “the process is completely in the hands of the states and most state legislatures are under Republican control.” As if this was any comfort, even if true. It isn’t true but more on that later.

It is this confusion and deliberate obfuscation that makes this a very important book, one worthy of a review. “Why?” you might ask. For a number of very good reasons. First, this book is more than 25 years old and is long out of print. That means it isn’t easy to find and is usually expensive when you can find it. And both sides of the new constitutional convention (con con) debate have used this book as a reference. Second, its age demonstrates that movements to call a new constitutional convention are nothing new. There is a new effort to use the Article V mechanism about every 10-15 years. In the 80’s it was about a “balanced budget amendment (BBA).” In the 90’s it was about the so-called “flat tax.” The current movement has numerous goals among the different political viewpoints, chief among them a BBA, term limits, etc. from the conservative side and the elimination of the Electoral College, re-writing the second amendment, federalizing control of campaign finance, among many others on the liberal side. The con con movements of the recent past lost momentum when it was made clear by opponents that the considerable risks of a new convention outweighed the alleged benefits. Many of the same arguments from the movements of the 80’s, 90’s have been recycled by the current proponents, despite being handily refuted by conservative watchdog groups like Eagle Forum and even the John Birch Society. But the arguments have a new sophistication from the conservative side that reveals that there is a great deal of money being poured into the effort, the source of which is difficult if not impossible to track down.

These new arguments now have the backing of a bevy of “constitutional experts” and “scholars.” Some of these “experts” quote liberally from the book we are reviewing. It is sad to report that some of these “scholars” have demonstrated that they are willing to twist and deliberately misinterpret what the books, historical documents, court decisions they are using to make their cases actually say. Even worse, it appears that they believe that they can do this because of their status as “experts” and “scholars.” They know that most will simply take them at their word and not bother to follow the footnotes of their books and papers to see if the documents quoted actually say what is claimed in the writings of these “scholars” and “experts.” This in fact is how we discovered this particular book. Several of us at the Institute for Principled Policy actually began finding some of the sometimes obscure references of these authors and reading them. What we discovered was disturbing. But, more about that in the review which we will be doing chapter by chapter.

You may never take the time to track down and read this book. We hope you do and we hope this sparks your interest in fact checking so-called experts who may hold the future of the governance of your country and your liberty in their hands.

Principles and Policies Podcast for 10/25/2014- A Primer On Biblical Ethics

Our Principles and Policies radio show for Saturday October 25, 2014. Barry Sheets and Chuck Michaelis interview Dr. Mark Hamilton, Professor of Philosophy at Ashland University and Chairman of the Institute For Principled Policy.

Dr. Hamilton gives us the details about his new book A Primer On Biblical Ethics. Dr. Hamilton discusses the evolution of the book, how he came to write it and how he uses it in his classes on ethics at Ashland. We discuss the theological and philosophical foundations of Mark’s teaching and his book as well as their long term effects on society.

You can get a copy of Dr. Hamilton’s book at the link below-

Principles and Policies Podcast for 9/21/2013- Helping The Church To Recover The Vision

Our Principles and Policies radio show for Saturday September 21, 2013. Chuck Michaelis and Barry Sheets interview Phil Ross, a Christian author, publisher, and blogger. Phil has written nearly 2 dozen books and has a new book which will be published soon, Ephesians: Recovering the Vision of the Church In Christ. He discusses this book, his background as a pastor and author and talks about Christian publishing.

Article links-

Book Review- “InSideOut Coaching”

Dr. Mark Hamilton

In the 2003 book Season of Life (Simon & Schuster) journalist Jeffrey Marx recounts his 1970’s childhood as a ball boy with the Baltimore Colts and his search to reconnect with many of these players twenty-five years later.   The book primarily focuses upon his reacquaintance with Joe Ehrmann, a former all-pro defensive tackle.   As a young player on the Colts Ehrmann loved to play football, but also loved life and he lived life on the edge actively engaging in a partying lifestyle.   Now many years later Marx discovers Ehrmann is a pastor in inner city Baltimore, with an active social ministry and is coaching football coach at Gilman High School.  Marx spends the 2001 football season shadowing Ehrmann and the Gilman team and writes of the unusual approach to coaching and relating to high school male athletes that Ehrmann takes.  Ehrmann teaches the players that being a man involves finding a transcendent cause bigger than themselves, accepting responsibility, and learning to love others.  Season of Life is quite inspiring and opens many doors for Ehrmann to share his approach to coaching nation-wide.  Now nearly a decade later Ehrmann had penned his own book describing in details his unique, humane, and might we even say his Christian approach to coaching. In our contemporary age when the church has become so worldly, it is refreshing to find a Christian who is seriously attempting to approach coaching youth within a truly Christian framework.

InSideOut Coaching is divided into two parts.  In the first part Ehrmann describes how he has developed his philosophy of coaching by relating numerous incidents in his youth and in college contrasting two types of coaches he had experienced.  The first are coaches who were impersonal, authoritarian, and sometimes abusive which he calls transactional coaches; this is in contrast to the humane coaches he calls transformative coaches.  The narratives he tells are powerful and detailed.  In this part of the book he emphasizes the opportunity and the power that coaches have to influence lives.  Coaches must face this responsibility because we all remember our coaches. “This is the awesome power and responsibility of coaching:  You give your players memories, for better or for worse that stay with them until the day they die” (46-47). In the light of this he asks, “What is the moral and ethical composition of their program?  What are they teaching about living an honorable life? Or do they only focus only on the win-loss record, mastery over the Xs and Os, and promotion of their own images and reputation?” (47). He explains the qualities he believes a coach should possess including dignity, integrity and grace.   In the first part there is also an excellent section describing and critiquing bullying coaches.  In the final chapter of the first part Ehrmann explains his own approach to relational coaching and the goal to make men of boys and women of girls.

In the second part Ehrmann specifically describes the pillars of his philosophy of Transformational Coaching.  It centers on manifesting and teaching virtue, including such ideas as liberty, respect, and moral courage.  In the second chapter of the second part Ehrmann argues for the educational value of athletics “and describes it as a classroom and thus cocurricular rather than extracurricular.  “The term ‘cocurricular’ designates sports as an educational activity with the potential to develop the academic, social, emotional, moral, and civic competency of every player….Extracurricular sports merely need players and a coach; Cocurricular sports demand student-athletes and a teacher-coach” (159). In this second half Ehrmann describes numerous virtues and how they can be applied both inside the athlete and manifested outside. Included are such values as empathy, justice and discipline.

Throughout the book Ehrmann interweaves amusing anecdotal narratives to elaborate on the staid moral points he is trying to establish.  One of the best is his description of how he became a better player and person through his twice a year square-offs with all-pro offensive lineman John Hannah.  These stories make the book very readable and entertaining while teaching countless lessons.  Ehrmann’s wife is trained in psychology which gives her access to a number of related studies that contribute to the accuracy of his cultural assessment but also causes the book to sound a bit too psychological at a few points.

Ehrmann states his well thought out revolutionary goal, “My intention in this book is to take back the spiritual and transformative side of the games our children play and restore sports to their original intent” (10).  Christians often speak about redeeming all of life but few think about applying redemption to the realm of sports.  Ehrmann seeks “reclamation of coaching” (43) or what could be called redemptive coaching.  Everyone who coaches should have a succinct philosophy of coaching; this is especially necessary for those who coach impressionable children.  This book will assist every coach to think through their philosophy of coaching, their motives for coaching and what their coaching goals ought to be.  To get a good introduction to Ehrmann’s approach watch a ten minute explanation on Youtube (A Different Way – Joe Ehrmann) found at


Joe Ehrmann, InSideOut Coaching.  New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011, Pp. 251, paper $24.00.

A Review Of “Doing Philosophy As A Christian”

Doing philosophy as a Christian may sound to many like a self-contradictory statement.  How can philosophy and Christianity relate to one another or as Tertullian put it, “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?”  Well, Garrett DeWeese would say, “a great deal.”  In this newest book in the Christian Worldview and Integration Series by InterVarsity Press, DeWeese undertakes the enormous endeavor to present an apologetic for philosophy from a Christian vantage point and argues how Christianity brings something unique to the formal practices of philosophy.

The introductory chapter establishes the framework of the book emphasizing the desire to think about philosophy within a Christian framework and present a way Christian philosophy might be done.  Subsequent to the introductory chapter he divides his book into four sections.  The first part is exceptional with three chapters on philosophy and the Christian faith.  The first is this reviewer’s favorite chapter of the book as it deals with various aspects of philosophy as wisdom, the Biblical understanding of wisdom and relates these to living the good life.  The next chapter is a concise thorough discussion of the classical question of the relationship of faith to reason.  He summarizes and critiques fideism then places faith and reason in a complimentary relationship emphasizing that “philosophy and theology are not mutually exclusive disciplines, but rather mutually necessary for moving toward comprehensive knowledge” (85).  In this chapter DeWeese comes across as very sympathetic to a presuppositional or systems approach to philosophy.  After the chapter on faith and reason is an intriguing insightful chapter on Jesus as a philosopher.  Of course he concludes that Jesus is not a philosopher but he argues that Jesus has much to do with philosophy.  Most of this chapter defends the authority of Jesus.  He states that “Jesus is Lord … has implications for how we do philosophy….Jesus is credible, and that credibility is pervasive: Jesus should be trusted in all matters not just when he preaches” (91).  These three chapters in the second part are valuable, topical and not necessarily dependent on one another.

The next section examines three broad traditional areas of philosophy: metaphysics, epistemology and ethics.  Each chapter provides a clear solid overview of each subject and for the person unfamiliar with these philosophical subject matters then these are a good introduction.  He provides a variety of non-Christian explanations along with a Christian critique of each area.  The section on metaphysics, universals and particulars is a vibrant presentation of a difficult topic.   While this section is well done it seems directed toward the novice philosopher.  All three of these chapters provide clear summaries of the topics and the first two present a solid Christian response of metaphysics and epistemology.  I found the section on aesthetics and ethics good summaries of the topic but found myself looking for further explanation of what the Christian belief in aesthetics or ethics entails.

The third part covers what he calls second-order questions.  He selectively chooses to cover the areas of Philosophy of Mind and the issue of Philosophy of Science.  He discusses each from a Christian worldview.  Both are fine chapters but it’s a bit puzzling why these topics were chosen for further discussion.   The only explanation seems to be because DeWeese finds himself most knowledgeable and thus comfortable with these two topics. They aptly show the application of Christian philosophy to these two topics but I was unsure of their necessary inclusion in the book.   This section shows some of the great range of philosophy and how Christians can approach a couple of these specific topics.  While the previous section was directed more towards those with little philosophical expertise, this section was designed for those who are seeking deeper philosophical insight.

In the book’s final chapter DeWeese applies philosophy to spiritual formation seeing the intellectual exercise of philosophy as a discipline which could best be done as a Christian.  This part attempts to unite the transforming of the soul linked to doing philosophy and thus to the concept of spiritual formation defined as sanctification.   DeWeese wants to show in this chapter that philosophy only really has value as it actually affects life and thus must be Christian.  Christian thinking is part of sanctification.  A good Christian view is one that transforms lives and is true because it conforms to reality more than other views.  He writes, “Clearly something hasn’t been going right in much of the church; progress toward holiness and righteousness—progressive sanctification—is often hard to spot.  If philosophical thought can help illuminate the mental processes involved in forming intentions and resolutions and acting on them, then perhaps it can also contribute to understanding and strengthening the process of spiritual formation” (322).

One should not overlook a wonderful preface by Francis Beckwith and J.P. Moreland where they focus on the necessity of viewing life wholistically with an emphasis on integration meaning integration of the Faith with all academic and life areas.  They provide seven reasons why integration matters and the rejection of compartmentalization with a view that discipleship demands integration and a rejection of the sacred versus secular dichotomy.   The self-proclaimed thesis of the book is “that there is something distinctive about how a Christian should do philosophy” (33).   It certainly achieves this purpose.

By Dr. Mark Hamilton, Professor of Philosophy Ashland University

Garrett J. DeWeese, Doing Philosophy as a Christian.  Christian Worldview Integration Series.  Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2011, Pp. 342, paper, $22.00.


One of the current pushes for a new constitutional convention is for an amendment that would allow 2/3 of the state legislatures to overturn federal legislation that upsets the balance of federalism.  Since this is an area of some interest to us at the Policy Institute we try to find scholarship that supports our position on such things.

Dr. Tom Woods explains in his book Nullification why the power to nullify federal law already exists in the form of the 9th and 10th amendments to the current Constitution.

In this video Dr. Woods also explains what happens when you propose solutions that the mainstream politicians and media don’t like or find to be “dangerous” (amazing that we live in an age where a shackled federal government is a dangerous idea). Especially since, as Dr. Woods book demonstrates in the book, nullification has been used highly successfully by states to turn back federal tyranny.


Watch the video that follows and see if you get Dr. Woods point and the joke. An interview with a zombie.


Hamilton’s Curse Chapter 8–Poisoned Fruits of “Hamilton’s Republic”

This entry is part 5 of 9 in the series Hamilton's Curse

HamiltonsCurse“Conservatives who genuinely believe in limited government are not generally exposed to the Hamilton who at the Constitutional Convention called for a king-like permanent president and who subsequently dedicated himself to undermining the limits on governmental power laid out in the very Constitution he championed in the Federalist Papers.”  This quote from page 171 of the book Hamilton’s Curse is a bit of an understatement, as most Americans, conservative and otherwise, are generally exposed to the results of Hamilton’s efforts in our government, our systems of education, business and finance, to name but a few.  The bowl of Hamilton’s poisoned fruit is spilling over with plenty.

As a matter of fact, the 1930’s saw the implementation of Hamiltonian ideology in a key area:  education.  Charles Beard,, introduced the “economic basis” theory of government, which has since poisoned generations of students, policymakers and jurists with this pernicious theory.  This “economic basis” theorem is pure Hamiltonian, and is a consequence of the shift that happened in this country from 1913 onward (with the implementation of the income tax and the Federal Reserve laying the groundwork for a wholesale restructuring of our form of government.)

DiLorenzo lays out the case for the interface of big business interests supporting big government intervention programs (think the Bush/Obama “stimulus” packages and your on the right track); a laundry list of federal “welfare” to business interests that caps out at a neat $90 billion per year.  Other studies have shown it to be greater than that in some instances.

Couple this with a “justice” system at the federal level (Supreme Court) who from 1937-1995 couldn’t find a single piece of federal legislation to be unconstitutional, and you get the complete Hamiltonian package of an “energetic” government with the “fuel” of commercial interests to drive it onward.

This is an amazing record for a body that routinely passes unconstitutional legislation (and did during that period too).  The key to this amazing record is a wildly broad reading of the interstate commerce clause which basically posits that pretty much any form of human behavior has relationships to interstate commerce, and can therefore be regulated by federal statute.

So what are some of the fruits of this poisonous philosophy of “government uber alles?”  Here’s just a representative sample of the results:

–the use of federal grants to states as a control mechanism to kill states rights (think ‘highway funds’ or ‘crime prevention grants’ and you see the link);

–the use of the Incorporation doctrine (through the 14th Amendment) to apply the strictures on the federal government through the Bill of Rights to the states as a restriction on state sovereignty;

–adoption of the “higher law theory” of jurisprudence:  allowing the courts to sidestep the rules of the Constitution in order to apply novel legal (but extra-constitutional) theories;

–the use of executive orders by the President to control or seize power, thus allowing the Executive to act as dictator;

–manipulation of the monetary supply by the Federal Reserve in order to create economic instability as a precursor to radical shifts in power through legislative enactments;

–attaching citizens to the federal government, tying bondholders and others to a primary interest in the growth of government.  Woods illustrates it this way: “According to economist Gary Shilling, 52.6 percent of Americans in 2007 received significant assistance of some kind from the federal government.” and;

–creating an international mercantilist empire, the needs of which lead to agressive expansions of military force and presence.

These are just some of the ways the fruit of Hamilton’s philosophy has ripened (and rotted on the vine).  Woods sums up the chapter’s theme:  “The final characteristic of empires, according to Morley, is that they are sold to the public in grandiose terms about spreading blessings for all mankind, when in reality their main purpose is to allow those who pull the strings of the empire to accumulate money and power.”

Hamilton would be proud of seeing the modern results of his efforts.

Hamilton’s Curse- The Hamiltonian Revolution of 1913

This entry is part 4 of 9 in the series Hamilton's Curse

The American Revolution (incorrectly so-called, at least between 1775-83) didn’t end with the Treaty of Paris in 1783. Once the British were defeated the real American Revolution, the internal battle over the form of the American government would take, began. The real revolution was fought between conservatives (the deliberately mis-named “Anti-Federalists” whom we will refer to as the “true federalists”), who originally wanted to retain but amend the Articles of Confederation and a group of nationalists (whose press-savvy leadership adopted the misnomer “Federalists” who we refer to in this article by their true view- “nationalists”) who desperately wanted to eliminate the state governments as sovereign entities and tried to use the Constitutional Convention, unsuccessfully, to do it. Just to clarify- there were Federalists who were true federalists, mostly in the south. That’s why we use the term “nationalists” instead of “Federalists” to differentiate these two groups using the same party label.

Since the nationalists had failed to eliminate the state governments at the convention they devised a plan under the leadership of Alexander Hamilton to subjugate them by adopting a new constitutional hermeneutic clearly not supported by the text of the document. The hermeneutic they adopted said, in effect, whatever authority is not expressly forbidden to the federal government by the Constitution was permitted to it, including the powers reserved to the states and to the people alone. And the method they chose to impose this hermeneutic on the new federal government was to pack the judiciary branch with its adherents.

The battle to subjugate the states see-sawed for 126 years. From splits over a national bank and foreign policy during the Washington administration to Jefferson’s “revolution” of 1800 to the War of 1812, the Monroe Doctrine, Jackson’s “Tariff of Abominations,” the nullification and secession crises, battle over the Bank of the United States, the Missouri Compromise, the Mexican War, “Manifest Destiny,” the Kansas-Nebraska Act, “Bleeding Kansas,” the Dred Scott decision, the “Secret Six,” John Brown’s raid and state treason trial were all merely the warm-ups to the real showdown between nationalists and true federalists over the Constitution and its proper interpretation- the War Between The States. The military victory of the nationalist northern Union over the federalist southern Confederation seemed to answer the question of constitutional interpretation and the nature of the Union by force. But questions answered by force of arms are rarely actually settled.

Even after a victory by force of arms the nationalists realized that there still existed in the language of the Constitution elements of state sovereignty and stiff controls on the growth of size in the federal government in the form of the minting and value of money and restriction of direct taxation (like income taxes). Nationalists knew that those parts of the Constitution that covered these restrictions intact could not be pushed aside by nationalist judicial reinterpretation, something Thomas Jefferson warned against –

Our peculiar security is in the possession of a written Constitution. Let us not make it a blank paper by construction.

Nationalists knew this because even a Supreme court packed with their cronies simply could not create by construction an argument that made explicit prohibition of direct taxation impermissible. That was demonstrated when the Supreme court declared the first two federal income taxes unconstitutional in 1872 and 1896. They just couldn’t get the job done by simply declaring they had the power to pass a tax and attempting to justify it by manipulating the meaning of the clear words of the Constitution.

Nationalists also knew that they had to stop the 10th amendment to the Constitution from being used to stifle federal usurpation of state and local authority as had been done before 1861. The only way to accomplish this was to remove the state governments’ representation in the federal Congress. They had to strip the authority to choose Senators from the state governments and place that authority in the hands of a more easily manipulated body with a short memory and nationalize it as much as possible. They were creating a super-representative with a term length guaranteed to keep the average voter from remembering that a Senator was a profligate tax-and-spender for the first 41/2 years of his term, especially if he supported some showy but meaningless legislation that allowed him to claim that he had been a “true fiscal conservative” his whole term (sound familiar?) during the final 18 months of it.

Last but certainly not least, nationalists understood that their grip on power would be tenuous and their ability to manipulate the populace would be limited without complete control of money and credit. They needed a national bank with the ability to nationalize interest rates and a fiat money supply which could be inflated or deflated to help manipulate voters, especially around presidential election years.

DiLorenzo explains in this chapter how all of this was accomplished within the span of a single year- 1913. He also explains that this was not the result of recent “progressive” tinkering as some historians have claimed but the result of deliberate and concerted efforts by men dedicated to accumulating and centralizing power in a national government at the expense of state and local governments over more than a century.

He also explains that the movement has had several incarnations during that period. Hamilton and his followers were advocates for a high tariff to “protect infant American industry” and an American form of Mercantilism.

Later, Henry Clay modified Hamilton’s vision into his “American System” of corporate welfare for road and canal building (which bankrupted several states, including Lincoln’s Illinois) and other “vital” industries, a national bank to “create credit” for these schemes and centralization of power in Washington, especially the power to tax.

Lincoln, calling himself Clay’s political heir, then further modified and implemented Clay’s system by claiming that the federal government had the “right” to keep states from seceding from the union by force of arms, thus stripping the 10th amendment of any real meaning, and tacitly claiming that it was necessary for northern corporate welfare that southern tariffs continue to be collected. Since he no longer had southern revenues to pay for the war to coerce them back into the union, he forced a graduated income tax (including withholding) through Congress claiming that it was constitutional because it was an “indirect direct tax,” making a mockery of the constitutional prohibition against direct taxation without apportionment.

I have included some media to illustrate what is meant about how nationalists think about the Constitution. Especially illustrative of the ultra-nationalist “living document” theory of constitutional interpretation is this conversation between Judge Andrew Napolitano and Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) on the constitutionality of the federal health care law. Napolitano is taking the strict constitutional constructionist position (and dropping the ball on federal intervention in education matters).


In this article, Republican party “big tent” proponent, self-titled “conservative” and  naturalized American citizen born in Canada, David Frum, completely fails to make the case that the health care law is somehow constitutional. He does, however, expose his position as a nationalist in the Hamilton-Webster-Lincoln tradition as described earlier by adhering to the arguments stemming from the constitutional position described for that group of thinkers.

By the late 19th century it became clear to nationalists that they still had one obstacle in their path; the Constitution. The language in certain sections of the constitution simply could not be adequately de-constructed by re-interpretation and changes HAD to be made.

Hence the concerted efforts by nationalists to get the 16th and 17th amendments passed. Unfortunately, there was such a complete lack of understanding among the citizenry of what money and its purpose and function were, let alone the constitutional restrictions connected with the coining of it and the regulation of its value, that there was very little protest when the Federal Reserve System, a privately owned and operated national banking system, was created by law in complete violation of the Constitution, in the same year that the 16th and 17th amendments were finally passed. Thus, the last vestiges of the original American Republic  disappeared in a single year. The Revolution of 1913 completed what was started in 1861-5. The conversion of the United States from a federated republic of autonomous states ruled by law under a Constitution which limited the powers of the federation government to a single government entity free from limitations of its power by decree of its own courts and driven by the “will of the people” as manipulated by government/media for the “common good.”

DiLorenzo explains how this all took place in the course of a few short months and what the devastating results have been in the years since.

Government is the extension of God’s moral order

“Government in every area is God’s order, law, and authority asserted over His creation. In the world of men, God’s government, whether in church, state, school, business, or family, is the extension of God’s moral order over a fallen world, an assertion, to use an old Calvinist battle-cry, of ‘The Crown Rights of King Jesus.’ To reduce government, whether in the family, the state, or elsewhere, to force is to destroy government. Modern government, having forsaken God’s law, is essentially government by force, and its force is a killing, dissecting force, a government by autopsy.

Read the rest of the entry here

Hamilton’s Curse–Hamiltonian Hegemony

This entry is part 7 of 9 in the series Hamilton's Curse


Nationalized banking, protectionist trade policy, corporate welfare–is this the definition of the current state of affairs (or those soon to come) in America? It likely will be. It is the definition of a mercantilist system of governance, and it is one that Alexander Hamilton advocated for during the period of the Constitutional convention. Those three legs were (and still are) the base of the stool of Federalist big-government nationalism.

It was, however, not the way government actually operated up until the latter part of the 19th century. Jeffersonian ideals of limited, divided sovereignty still held a pulse until that time, but the times, as the song goes, were a’changing. It took a “crisis” in order to knock the supports out from under the republican form of government.

The crisis, the War between the States, allowed the administration of Abraham Lincoln, the “greatest disciple” of Hamilton according to DiLorenzo, unprecedented opportunity to radically shift the country toward a truly mercantilist position. The method of the manipulation took the form of Congressional acts supported by Lincoln after the point in the conflict when southern Democrat members of Congress had exited.

In order to revive the national banking system, the Legal Tender acts of 1862 were put into place, and a paper money system (greenbacks) was locked into place with the National Currency Acts of 1863-64. The interface between government interest and the banking industry was noted by the New York Times as having “crystallized a centralization of power, such as Hamilton might have eulogized as magnificent” (quote from page 129 of the book).

DiLorenzo goes into a long account of Lincoln’s tariff policy, showing that protectionism and its cousin autarky (economic isolationism) were very welcome in the “house that Lincoln built”. Ohio’s own Clement Vallandigham was willing to speak out against this radical consolidation of power in the hands of the national government, but was deported by the administration for his troubles.

The third leg of the stool, the establishment and nurturing of corporate welfare, took the form of: railroad subsidies; land grants in order to give railroad owners free access to construct; the creation of powerful lobbies; and eventually bribes in order to keep the whole profit-taking scheme going (the Credit Mobilier scandal).

Now, such welfare takes the forms of: subsidies through various bureaucracies (think farm subsidies); favored corporation status (think FDA and other governmental barriers to competition in various markets); the creation of powerful lobbies; and “stimulus” or “TARP” acts to give taxpayer dollars directly to non-competitive private corporations that are “too big to fail” according to the national government.

Then, as now, the public reaction to such scandals as Credit Mobilier and AIG consists of a demand for more governmental control of business, which happened to be the problem in the first place. Not that this is something that the corporations are really trying to avoid. In fact, the public is being hustled by very crafty operators all around. The public naivete is best summed up by DiLorenzo while quoting Butler Shaffer on page 141 “‘government regulation has generally served to further the very economic interests being regulated’ and that the advantages businesses sought were those ‘denied them in the marketplace.'”

From Lincoln through Obama, the mercantilist system advocated and advanced by Alexander Hamilton has grown steadily along with the growth of governmental power and control over all aspects of American life.

It’s just another part of the “curse”.