May 12, 2010 – Federalist No. 11 – Cathy Gillespie
Thursday, May 13th, 2010
You all are kicking up some dust in the comments today! I love the back and forth.
And thank you to Dr. Postell for your essay! We appreciate your participation and guidance.
Thank you also to Constituting America’s founder and co-chair Janine Turner for her brilliant essay, published early today! I am burning the midnight oil.
I begin tonight with these sentences, the first sentences of Federalist No. 11:
“THE importance of the Union, in a commercial light, is one of those points about which there is least room to entertain a difference of opinion, and which has, in fact, commanded the most general assent of men who have any acquaintance with the subject. This applies as well to our intercourse with foreign countries as with each other.”
The above quote reflects another area in which the founding fathers showed great insight, wisdom and vision. Today, African countries are suffering economically from the tariffs and entry fees they impose on each other. European countries suffered as well. Only recently have they unified economically, learning from our example. And some see a political unification of Europe as a likely next step. The founders saw the necessity of economic unity, and acted on it, over 200 years before Europe came to the same conclusion.
It is fascinating to me that in the early stages of our country, the founders could so clearly discern “the adventurous spirit, which distinguishes the commercial character of America,” and recognize that “the unequaled spirit of enterprise…..is itself an inexhaustible mine of national wealth.”
The power of Congress “to regulate commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes,” found in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, certainly propelled our country to its preeminent world economic leadership position. The Commerce Clause allows the United States to present a unified economic front to the world, and for individual states to not penalize each other. But the Commerce Clause has been a double edged sword. When utilized to keep markets free and unfettered, it allows our Nation to soar, tapping into that uniquely American “unequaled spirit of enterprise.” But when the Commerce Clause is utilized to regulate and stifle the spirit of enterprise, it can “clip the wings by which we might soar.”
The current health care reform legislation stretches the Commerce Clause further than it has ever been stretched before. Instead of regulating economic activity between the states, Congress is using its power to mandate that people pro-actively make purchases from private sector companies. I wonder what Mr. Hamilton would think of the federal government’s intervention into that type of “commercial relations.”
Tim W. said it especially well in his post today, “It was refreshing to see Hamilton cast commerce as a virtue, rather than the vice portrayed by some in power and in the larger information media.” The founders recognized that the most valuable natural resource of the United States is its people ,their “adventurous spirt,” and “unequaled spirit of enterprise.”
Thank you to all of you who are joining us in shining a light on the founding principles of our country, so that they may once again be our guide. Please continue to spread the word, and invite your friends to read and blog with us.
On to Federalist No. 12!
Good night and God Bless,