Hello from Virginia, three miles from Mt. Vernon! The Gillespies are so glad to have Janine and Juliette staying with us for a few days during their East Coast Constituting America Tour! They began in New York last week, travelled to Boston, and yesterday we visited Philadelphia (with a side trip to the Jersey shore)!
Today began with Janine and Juliette taping a radio interview with Laura Ingraham! Stay tuned to this site for news as to when it will air!
We then walked the halls of Congress, and visited several Members, including Congresswomen Michele Bachmann and Marsha Blackburn, and Congressman Scott Garrett, the Chair of the Congressional Constitution Caucus. We saw many groups of young people touring the Capitol Complex, and we took the opportunity to talk to as many of them as possible, and invited them to enter our We The People 9.17 Contest! We got a great reaction from them, and many indicated they would enter! Remember, entries are due July 4th!!!!
We were excited to learn about the Congressional Constitution Caucus. We should encourage our elected Representatives to join this caucus, and assist Congressman Garrett in his mission of educating members of Congress about the original intent of the Founding Fathers.
Tonight, the Gillespie house is buzzing with Constitutional Activity! Janine is preparing for an interview with Fox News, Juliette and my daughter Mollie are editing the Behind the Scenes Video of our trip yesterday to Philadelphia, and Janine and I are writing our Federalist Paper No. 35 essay together, since we are in the same place.
Thank you to Joseph Postell for an excellent analysis of Federalist No. 35: a continuation of Publius’s discussion of taxes, and reflections on the nature of representative government. How fitting we are blogging on this subject, on a day we walked the halls of Congress!
Publius begins his essay by stating several maxims regarding taxes, including:
“All extremes are pernicious in various ways.”
“Exorbitant duties on imported articles would beget a general spirit of smuggling; which is always prejudicial to the fair trader, and eventually to the revenue itself.”
“When the demand is equal to the quantity of goods at market, the consumer generally pays the duty; but when the markets happen to be overstocked, a great proportion falls upon the merchant, and sometimes not only exhausts his profits, but breaks in upon his capital.”
“The maxim that the consumer is the payer, is so much oftener true than the reverse of the proposition.”
“Necessity, especially in politics, often occasions false hopes, false reasonings, and a system of measures correspondingly erroneous.”
And, most importantly: “It might be demonstrated that the most productive system of finance will always be the least burdensome.”
The theme of these quotes is that the consumer, the merchant, and ultimately the economy suffers when taxes become oppressive. When raising taxes to address “necessities,” false reasonings do not render the hoped for results. For example, the stimulus bill was supposed to lower the unemployment rate to 8 percent or below, but despite all the money spent, unemployment has not reached that target. Would a less “oppressive” means, such as cutting taxes, have yielded better results?
In Federalist 35, Publius also responds to various criticisms the anti-federalists made regarding the makeup of Congress. The ratification opponents argued that only a Congress reflective of the public at large, with the same percentage of merchants, landowners, manufacturers, etc as exist in the general population of the country, could truly represent the interests of the people. Publius explains that this will never happen if people are free to vote for whoever they choose. He goes on to point out that the nature of a representative government is to look past the faction that the Representative may personally hail from, and work toward the greater good. Because members of Congress are dependent upon the votes of their constituents, Publius states that Congressmen will take care to inform themselves of the opinions of all their constituents, seeking out the best policies for all, and not just individual factions.
Publius ends with a description of qualities that he feels those who make decisions on tax policy for the country should have:
“There can be no doubt that in order to a judicious exercise of the power of taxation, it is necessary that the person in whose hands it should be acquainted with the general genius, habits, and modes of thinking of the people at large, and with the resources of the country. And this is all that can be reasonably meant by a knowledge of the interests and feelings of the people. In any other sense the proposition has either no meaning, or an absurd one.”
And calls on each citizen to judge for himself who best meets that criteria:
“And in that sense let every considerate citizen judge for himself where the requisite qualification is most likely to be found.”
As “considerate citizens,” our next turn to “judge” will be November 2, 2010. May we all exercise our judgment, and our precious right to vote!
Janine & Cathy
Wednesday, June 16th, 2010