Federalist Papers Wisdom for the Week

This week we have what might be THE most prophetic papers written so far.  The Federalist and Anti-Federalist #10 seem to talk past each other, as one deals with taxes and the other with the dangers of a standing army, but both dealt with issues that were fresh in the minds of the Framers and very serious problems that needed addressing.  As always, it is vital to understand the context in which our Founders work and realize that they were very aware of current events, as it were, that needed to be dealt with.  Of course, being wise beyond their years, they anticipated problems that would prove eternal to our republic.

Federalist #10
This paper opens with addressing the need for a strong union and then dives directly into the meat of why the Constitutional Convention was meeting.  $$$$. Yup, money, money, honey.  Since the Founders were clearly part of the colonial 1%, a fact that likely bothered them not at all, they realized that getting commerce moving, paying off the colonies war debts, and expanding trade and opportunity were their numero uno priorities.  And of course, just like politicians today, they knew that commerce and taxation were interlinked and had to be addressed.  Here is an outstanding quote about property, income distribution, and wealth...hmmm, sound familiar??  The Founding Fathers were very aware of the monetary and debt crisis facing the new country (hmm sound familiar as well?) and knew that if the United STATES did not get their financial house in order, there would be hell to pay.  Good advice, don't you think?

"A zeal for different opinions concerning religion, concerning government, and many other points, as well of speculation as of practice; an attachment to different leaders ambitiously contending for pre-eminence and power; or to persons of other descriptions whose fortunes have been interesting to the human passions, have, in turn, divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good. So strong is this propensity of mankind to fall into mutual animosities, that where no substantial occasion presents itself, the most frivolous and fanciful distinctions have been sufficient to kindle their unfriendly passions and excite their most violent conflicts. But the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society. Those who are creditors, and those who are debtors, fall under a like discrimination. A landed interest, a manufacturing interest, a mercantile interest, a moneyed interest, with many lesser interests, grow up of necessity in civilized nations, and divide them into different classes, actuated by different sentiments and views. The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation, and involves the spirit of party and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of the government."

"The apportionment of taxes on the various descriptions of property is an act which seems to require the most exact impartiality; yet there is, perhaps, no legislative act in which greater opportunity and temptation are given to a predominant party to trample on the rules of justice. Every shilling with which they overburden the inferior number, is a shilling saved to their own pockets."

The italics and bold are mine, by the way...but WOW, were these guys good or what?...it's like they could almost see into the future to know that progressives like Barry O, the OWS morons, and the democRATS in Congress would come along to incite class warfare for their own ends.  And of course, for the historically illiterate among us (that would be most students of public schools and Ivy League schools) there has been income inequality THROUGHOUT HISTORY...oyyy, even Jesus said-"The poor you will always have among you." (Mark 14:7).  But hey, we don't need no stinkin' history...WE KNOW BETTER CUZ WE WANT IT...that seems to be the left's message these days.  The Founding Fathers worked very hard to ensure a level playing field, equal justice under the law, safeguarding against crony capitalism and above all LIBERTY!  They did not promise a chicken in every pot...they expected you to go out and earn your damn chicken.  Again, a Bible verse  "All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty" (Proverbs 14:23)

Anti-Federalist #10

So, the other major topic of the Founders was the issue of a standing army and the power of the new government to potentially make war on the states or coerce them into obedience.  They also feared the potential for a standing army to overthrow the fledgling government like many of the great states of history.  As usual, our Founders had a keen understanding of history and the precedent for Republics to become Dictatorships over time.  In addition, they also had recent experience, or a recent scare as it were.  At the end of the Revolutionary War, the officers of the Continental Army were in a foul mood.  They had not been paid in months or years and many of them were in great debt.  There were serious grumbling about marching to the Congress and demanding what they felt was their due from the politicians who had not bled and sacrificed as they had...hmm, that sounds familiar too.  Only the intervention of George Washington and the legendary story of him pulling out his reading glasses to read a letter to his officers (read Glenn Beck's book Being George Washington for the whole thing) stopped what likely would have been an American military coup. 

Therefore, the Founders were very leery of a standing army with a professional officer corps.

"We are informed, in the faithful pages of history, of such events frequently happening. — Two instances have been mentioned in a former paper. They are so remarkable, that they are worthy of the most careful attention of every lover of freedom. — They are taken from the history of the two most powerful nations that have ever existed in the world; and who are the most renowned, for the freedom they enjoyed, and the excellency of their constitutions: — I mean Rome and Britain.

"In the first, the liberties of the commonwealth was destroyed, and the constitution overturned, by an army, lead by Julius Cesar, who was appointed to the command, by the constitutional authority of that commonwealth. He changed it from a free republic, whose fame had sounded, and is still celebrated by all the world, into that of the most absolute despotism. A standing army effected this change, and a standing army supported it through a succession of ages, which are marked in the annals of history, with the most horrid cruelties, bloodshed, and carnage; — The most devilish, beastly, and unnatural vices, that ever punished or disgraced human nature."

What is interesting to note, to a Navy man as myself, is the Founders appeared to have no problem with a standing Navy.  Unwritten in these proceedings, but certainly in the mind of the Convention was that the new United States were already having pirate problems with the Barbary states...(hmm, Islamic piracy and terrorism in the 18th century, go figure) and the Framers knew a strong navy would be needed to protect America's new commerce.  But more on that later. ")

So, like much of the Constitution, the issue of a standing army was a compromise, and to be honest a pretty unsatisfactory one at that.  The whole militia thing never worked so well, and it would really take the War of 1812 to show that America needed a standing army, not only to fight Indians, but to form the backbone of an expanded volunteer army in case of a real war, which is basically how America fought its wars until the end of World War II.  Our outstanding professional volunteer military is really a Cold War construct of the last 40 years or so and one of the issues many hard core libertarians and nearly ALL progressive liberal pinko commies has is the size our military and our seemingly endless global military commitments.  But, again, more on that topic later.

FOR NOW, suffice it to say, our Founders understood the ETERNAL sinful nature of man, and how there would ALWAYS be have and have nots, and the only truly just way to govern was to give the have nots the best opportunity to become the haves, without taxing the crap out of the haves.  I am sure James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington would NOT have agreed with Barry O that the government should "spread the wealth around."  I think they would have said instead.."Give them Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness."