Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Today in Federalism

April 2, 1788:

Federalist Paper No. 77, the last Paper to appear as a newspaper article, is published. The remaining Papers (78-85) were released in a bound volume containing Papers 37-85, on May 28.

Mark your calendars!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Birthday Festivities Cont'd

The New Federalist asks: '50 Years: The Age of Maturity for the European Parliament?' in a must read article.

E! Sharp Magazine has a slightly more pessimistic view.

The EU Turns 51

This article from the Independent was actually passed on to me last year, on the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, but I wasn't able to post it then. But I would argue that most of the points are still valid (especially no. 50), so Happy Birthday Europe!

50 reasons to love the European Union
As the EU celebrates its anniversary, The Independent looks at 50 benefits it has brought, and asks: "What has Europe done for us?"

Published: 21 March 2007

1 The end of war between European nations
2 Democracy is now flourishing in 27 countries
3 Once-poor countries, such as Ireland, Greece and Portugal, are prospering
4 The creation of the world's largest internal trading market
5 Unparalleled rights for European consumers
6 Co-operation on continent-wide immigration policy
7 Co-operation on crime, through Europol
8 Laws that make it easier for British people to buy property in Europe
9 Cleaner beaches and rivers throughout Europe
10 Four weeks statutory paid holiday a year for workers in Europe
11 No death penalty (it is incompatible with EU membership)
12 Competition from privatised companies means cheaper phone calls
13 Small EU bureaucracy (24,000 employees, fewer than the BBC)
14 Making the French eat British beef again
15 Minority languages, such as Irish, Welsh and Catalan recognised and protected
16 Europe is helping to save the planet with regulatory cuts in CO2
17 One currency from Bantry to Berlin (but not Britain)
18 Europe-wide travel bans on tyrants such as Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe
19 The EU gives twice as much aid to developing countries as the United States
20 Strict safety standards for cars, buses and aircraft
21 Free medical help for tourists
22 EU peacekeepers operate in trouble spots throughout the world
23 Europe's single market has brought cheap flights to the masses, and new prosperity for forgotten cities
24 Introduction of pet passports
25 It now takes only 2 hrs 35 mins from London to Paris by Eurostar
26 Prospect of EU membership has forced modernisation on Turkey
27 Shopping without frontiers gives consumers more power to shape markets
28 Cheap travel and study programmes means greater mobility for Europe's youth
29 Food labelling is much clearer
30 No tiresome border checks (apart from in the UK)
31 Compensation for passengers suffering air delays
32 Strict ban on animal testing for the cosmetic industry
33 Greater protection for Europe's wildlife
34 Regional development fund has aided the deprived parts of Britain
35 European driving licences recognised across the EU
36 Britons now feel a lot less insular
37 Europe's bananas remain bent, despite sceptics' fears
38 Strong economic growth - greater than the United States last year
39 Single market has brought the best continental footballers to Britain
40 Human rights legislation has protected the rights of the individual
41 European Parliament provides democratic checks on all EU laws
42 EU gives more, not less, sovereignty to nation states
43 Maturing EU is a proper counterweight to the power of US and China
44 European immigration has boosted the British economy
45 Europeans are increasingly multilingual - except Britons, who are less so
46 Europe has set Britain an example how properly to fund a national health service
47 British restaurants now much more cosmopolitan
48 Total mobility for career professionals in Europe
49 Europe has revolutionised British attitudes to food and cooking
50 Lists like this drive the Eurosceptics mad

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Faith of Our Fathers

The Founding Fathers are getting a lot of love so far this year. First, HBO makes a miniseries about John Adams, now a new book, entitled Founding Faith: Providence, Politics, and the Birth of Religious Freedom in America by Steven Waldman has just been published by Random House.

Sadly, I don't get HBO, and don't feel like changing my cable options (not sure why HBO isn't included, but oh well), so I'll just have to wait for
John Adams to come out on dvd. But Nick Gillespie, the editor of, has a good review of Founding Faith in the New York Post (founded by Alexander Hamilton!), and I've already added Founding Faith to my want-to-read pile.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Minerva Deadline EXTENDED!

Breaking news:

Thesil has extended the deadline for Minerva entries to April 15th, which means that I might actually be able to finish my piece in time. We'll see.

And MANY THANKS! to Val Schrock for making the button for us! (visible on all of the WFI's pages)

TJ and Soft Power

In Harper's this week, Jefferson anticipates the doctrine of soft power:
I wish that all nations may recover and retain their independence; that those which are overgrown may not advance beyond safe measures of power, that a salutary balance may be ever maintained among nations, and that our peace, commerce, and friendship, may be sought and cultivated by all. It is our business to manufacture for ourselves whatever we can, to keep our markets open for what we can spare or want; and the less we have to do with the amities or enmities of Europe, the better. Not in our day, but at no distant one, we may shake a rod over the heads of all, which may make the stoutest of them tremble. But I hope our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us, that the less we use our power, the greater it will be.

–Thomas Jefferson, letter to Thomas Leiper, June 12, 1815, in: The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (Memorial ed.), vol. 14, p. 308

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Federalist Paper No. 7

Poor Hamilton. He wishes he could just leave the question of what could make the states fight each other, at just: the same reasons every other group of states has ever fought against one another. But he needs to address the particulars of the American situation, so his ink can’t be spared.

The reasons he addresses are:

  1. Territorial disputes (par. 2-4)
  2. Competitions of commerce (par. 5-6)
  3. Public debt of the Union (par. 7-8)
  4. Laws in violation of private contracts (par. 9)

As he states, reasons 1 and 2 aren’t unique to America, but he does have reason to argue that 3 and 4 are.

By ‘public debt of the Union’, Hamilton refers primarily to the accumulated war debt. There are two problems he sees with leaving this debt to be dealt with by the single states:

  1. The apportionment of debt: The different states accumulated different losses and costs based on their role in the Revolutionary war (heavier losses of human life, destruction of property, interruption of trade), in the pursuit of the common good – independence. How, then should the costs be apportioned – by the ability of each state to pay, by costs that were not paid out at the time, etc? Each state will obviously want to minimize its debt.
  2. How to discharge the debt: Apparently, members of some of the states ‘either less impressed with the importance of national credit, or because their citizens have little, if any, immediate interest in the question’ to paying ANY of the debt. On the other side, there are citizens who are creditors to the Revolutionary army and young nation, and really want to be paid back. Not to mention, some countries (France) lent the Americans money, and not paying back allies is a sure-fire way to make any support disappear.

The final point Hamilton raises is ‘laws in violation of private contracts’. I don’t follow this quite as easily, but my understanding is that a citizen of one state enters into a contract with a citizen of another state, after which the legislature of the first state passes some law that violates the contract between the two citizens, and injures the citizen of the second state. And since the citizen of the second state’ rights are violated, then his state will have to act to protect him, and now suddenly two states are having a go over this contract and the interfering law. In his example of Connecticut and Rhode Island, it almost seems as if Rhode Island’s legislature passed laws that would harm citizens of Connecticut on purpose, which doesn’t seem like a very neighborly thing to do. Or as Hamilton puts it, a ‘[breach] of moral obligation and social justice.’ (On a side note, no wonder he got into a duel with Aaron Burr)

As always, Hamilton says it better than I. From his conclusion:

The probability of incompatible alliances between the different States or confederacies and different foreign nations, and the effects of this situation upon the peace of the whole, have been sufficiently unfolded in some preceding papers…[T]his conclusion is to be drawn, that America, if not connected at all, or only by…feeble tie… [would] be gradually entangled in all the pernicious labyrinths of European politics and wars; and by the destructive contentions… would be likely to become a prey to the artifices and machinations of powers… Divide et impera must be the motto of every nation that either hates or fears us.