[ExI] Repudiating the national debt

Dan TheBookMan danust2012 at gmail.com
Thu May 12 03:41:42 UTC 2016

On Wed, May 11, 2016 at 8:04 PM, spike <spike66 at att.net> wrote:
> From: extropy-chat [mailto:extropy-chat-bounces at lists.extropy.org] On
Behalf Of Dan TheBookMan
> >…Why not simply advocate getting rid of the presidency, so
>> that, if you succeed, there won't be a madman attaining that
>> level of power?
> Because that would require getting rid of the constitution which
> is a bad idea.

Why? Others have made a strong case against the Constitution, even since
before it was in power. One of the latest strong critics is Sheldon
Richman. I haven't yet read his new book, _America's Counter-Revolution:
The Constitution Revisited_, but from various discussions with him, he
makes a strong case against it, especially against fawning over that

> I good idea would be to read it, pay attention to what is says,
> exactly what it says, think about why it was written that way,
> keep the presidency but reduce the level of power to that
> described in that astonishing and insightful document.

The document written in legalize didn't stop the increase of presidential
power from 01789 onward. A more reasonable view would be to consider why:
the Constitution was written to limit the power of the national government,
but to consolidate its power.

> Note that in a city government, the chief of police isn’t the
> very most powerful position.  Think of the presidency as a
> national-level chief of police, who commands the military,
> selects supreme court justices, acts as influential cheerleader
> and such, but still must answer to congress.  Make it so that
> the US will be OK with the occasional madman, criminal or
> Alzheimer’s patient in that office with little permanent damage.

The happy fantasy here is that separation of powers actually checks the
separated powers, but history shows such powers working together. The flaw
is this was modeled on the view of a federation where there are real
checking interests and something like the differences in interests between
Commons and Lords in Britain. Nothing like that existed in America, so
there was no real check on overall federal power, which grew and grew and
grew. And the presidency grew in power since Washington. The amazing thing
is probably that it didn't grow faster, though that has probably more to do
with quirks of history and American culture rather than the Constitution.

> We have let the presidency evolve into a much more powerful
> position than it was carefully designed to be by those who
> really understood better than we do the bad things that power
> does to people.  We are now paying the price for that.

I disagree. The folks who wrote the Constitution for the most part wanted a
stronger centralized state with a powerful leader. There were arguments
even about having a king or president for life. I believe some of the
backing down here wasn't because they so much understood human nature as
the anti-Federalists would have more effectively blocked ratification. The
compromises here were more tactical than from any sort of libertarian or
anti-statist sentiment. They got one. The anti-Federalists during that time
were correct and were critical -- basically mentioning much of what might
be considered the modern critique of the Constitution and of the


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