Niall Ferguson calls his latest 300-page best-seller, Civilization: The West and the Rest “a history of the world, in which Western dominance is the phenomenon to be explained.” (xxv) It’s a rollicking fun read, to be sure, though one would hardly call it a “history.” It is more like an historical essay, woven together with cultural commentary that has a specific trigger in mind. The trigger is the financial meltdown of 2008, and the key questions it raises for the author are: Could 2008 be the harbinger of a sudden collapse of Western dominance and its replacement by an ascendant China? And: What, if anything, could the West do to avoid such an unappetizing prospect?
Archives for October 2012
One of the things that I watch closely each year is the United States’s rating as to economic freedom. There are two main annually released studies – one by the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal and the other by the Fraser and Cato Institutes. Both studies have been showing the US falling. But while the Heritage/Wall Street Journal study has the U.S. at 10, the new Fraser/Cato study has it at 18 (link no longer available). That is simply awful.
In the Law and Liberty Books section, David Foster reviews Justin Dyer's new book, Natural Law and the Antislavery Constitutional Tradition. Foster's review underscores the book's focus on the way natural law, which Dyer defines as . . . . what Thomas Jefferson called the “American mind” – a set of ideas that (in Jefferson’s words) rested on “the harmonizing sentiments of the day” (p. 1). The core of these ideas are the natural rights expressed in the Declaration of Independence, understood as resting on the premise that reason can discover in human nature, general, morally obligatory principles of action (or…
The developing standard of review under the Second Amendment holds important lessons about the judicial administration of individual rights. When the Supreme Court affirmed the individual right to arms in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) it suggested among other things that the Second Amendment protects firearms in “common use”. This invoked the longstanding view that militia as referenced in the prefatory clause, equals the body of the people, bearing their own private arms in common use at the time. I and others speculated about the boundaries of this nascent standard. But it seemed to allow relatively objective treatment of a core category of questions.
The next Liberty Forum features a tremendous essay from Michael Greve on "Constitutional Moments"where he argues that America must reconsider the current workings of its small c "constitution." Great responses to Greve follow from William Galston "Toward a Softer, Kinder Constitutional Moment" and Bill Voegeli "Can America Undo Its Purple Compromise?" Below is an excerpt from Greve's essay: I do not suggest that the formal Constitution is in any peril, nor even in need of revision. My subject, rather, is the “constitution” with a small c. It encompasses, along with the written Constitution, our basic political traditions and institutions. Think of…
In this third post on the Origination Clause, I turn to language in the Clause that is not entirely clear: “All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills” What does this italicized language mean?
Perhaps the most obvious interpretation is that it is referring to two situations: (1) the Senate may propose Amendments or (2) the Senate may concur with Amendments. In the second situation, the Constitution allows the Senate to take the House bill, amend it, pass it, and then send it to the House. If the House approves it, then the bill is passed by the Congress as a whole. In the first situation, the Senate merely proposes amendments to the bill but does not pass them. If the House likes some of the proposals, it passes them as part of the bill and then sends that bill to the Senate for passage.