Can You Rely on Human Goodness? Research Time, 22/06/2017

A short post today. A fable from Alexander Hamilton about the right and wrong kinds of freedom. Paraphrased from Federalist #23.

So the first constitution of the United States – the confederal constitution – had a specific process for how the national government was to build its army and national defence forces.

In that process, the federal government would make requisition orders out to the individual states. Each of them would give weapons, soldiers, and money according to their needs.

The USS Constitution, built in the earliest days of the republic, at
a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Where else could all of
that money come from but the American government itself?
The states would, of course, give freely and faithfully to their federal government. After all, these requests would be for the sake of national defence – the security of all American states acting in solidarity through the efforts and leadership of their federal government.

Such strong bonds of friendship across American state leaders lasted just as long as we would all expect. It took barely a decade for all the Thirteen respond to such requests with mocking laughter.

Every state was a miser. All the leaders from the Carolinas to New England – and especially Delaware – refused to give more than a few trinkets, some spare nickels trickling up from the state treasuries to the capitol.

Where did their virtue and patriotism go? Never trust a leader to be a virtuous patriot. As soon as someone hits the governor’s mansion, that treasury was only for them and their people. Certainly not those people, he’d say, talking about a fellow American. A New Yorker and a Virginian say it to each other.

If the federal government didn’t have the power to raise its own national defence, the leaders of states would starve them of it. So alienated from their fellow Americans people were in the 1780s.

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