Troy Camplin and I have been discussing more of the Constitution this morning at ThinkMarkets, and rather than continue to clog up that venue, I thought I'd move the most recent comments over here for thoughts.
Troy blogs here and here (take a look at Troy's recent post on the General Theory at the second link I provided and see if you can catch his mistake on Keynes's use of the savings identity).
Troy Camplin Says: ...Sorry, but the 9th and 10th amendments make it clear that any powers not explicitly given to the federal government are not to be held by the federal government at all, but by the people (note that “people” is first in the 10th amendment) and the states, respectively.
Words mean things. It’s not a postmodernist free-for-all.
Daniel Kuehn Says: Troy – traditionally the disputes are over interpretations of Article 1, not the eighth and ninth amendment. I don’t know anyone that disputes the idea that rights not stated are reserved to the people and the states (the 14th clouds the picture a little of course).
I’ve seen this “words mean things” line come up several times now, and I’m not sure why you (and Daniel and others) act like this is some sort of point in your favor. The alternative argument is not that we get to make up what’s in the Constitution – it’s that word’s mean something and originalists ignore the plain meaning of the words. Why do you take “disagreeing with Troy” to mean “postmodernist free for all”?
Troy Camplin Says: That’s your interpretation, Daniel, and not a very mature one, at that. Try reading in context.
There are plenty of things in the Constitution I disagree with, but that I’m not going to bend with a postmodernist reading that allows words to mean “exactly what I want it to mean, no more, no less,” as the postmodernists insist. Words DO mean things. They don’t get to mean whatever you want them to so that you can get whatever reading you want. Which is clearly what you want. It is of course easier than actually following the law of the land and making changes according to the way the Constitution allows.
On the other hand, your argument seems to be that whatever you happen to disagree with is unconstitutional, but all the rest our government does is clearly constitutional. Project much?
But you are right — nobody debates the 9th and 10th (the two I was talking about) amendments. They just ignore them completely, pretending they are not there.
Daniel Kuehn Says: Troy - It’s fine that you and I disagree on the plain meaning, and I’m not immature for it. I don’t think you’re a postmodernist because you’re wrong – I just think you’re wrong. I find it odd that so many on your side think that because we’re wrong we’re also loosey-goosey with language.
re: “They don’t get to mean whatever you want them to so that you can get whatever reading you want. Which is clearly what you want.”
That’s the last thing I want. The Constitution provides no constraint on federal power and no structure to American governance if you can get whatever reading you want out of it.
Troy Camplin Says: Your last statement is immature. That’s what I was refering to. I did not say you said I was a postmodernist. I said that those who essentially argue that words can mean whatever they want them to mean, so the Constitution means whatever they want it to mean are postmodernists. They do violence to all sorts of texts, not just law.
The ones who are wrong have typically used loosy-goosy language. Thus the accusation.
You can make no argument from the Constitution that allows for government bailouts for companies any more than it allows for farm subsidies [I had earlier argued that farm subsidies probably don't pass constitutional muster].
Daniel Kuehn Says: Troy – you suggested that I interpret the Constitution to mean whatever I want to mean, and since I clearly don’t all I can conclude is that you just don’t like how I (and most others) have interpreted the plain words. There’s nothing immature about how I connected the dots there. I know better than to call you a post-modernist, but given the standards that you’ve set up for it you seem as much a post-modernist as I do.
On bailouts – it’s hard to get enthusiastic about them, but certainly the systemic benefits of the bailout qualify it as a potential promotion of the general welfare in a way that farm subsidies simply aren’t. Moreover, regulation of commerce between the states has long been interpreted to encompasses the ensuring the regularity of the channels of commerce, and attempts to maintain credit markets certainly seems to fall under this. In light of these obviously constitutional reasons for bank bailouts, and the limited time with which to respond, direct provision of funds could easily be justified as a necessary and a proper action for implementing policy. None of these elements are present with agricultural subsidies (although perhaps these were more systemic and plausibly Constitutional in the 20s and 30s).
It doesn’t mean bailouts are wise policy (that which is permissible is not always advisable), and it doesn’t mean we won’t deliberate over whether the methods are actually necessary and proper (that’s what legislatures and courts are for – to deliberate these disagreements), but it seems obvious that there’s Constitutional justification.
I don’t want to continue to crowd this blog – feel free to respond if you want, but I’m moving these last comments over to my blog so we don’t choke the discussion going on here.