bup's Reviews > Giants of Political Thought: The Federalist Papers

Giants of Political Thought by George H. Smith
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's review
Nov 28, 08

liked it
bookshelves: audiobook, 2008, history, i-m-better-than-you, librivox, american-revolution-and-thereabouts
Recommended to bup by: 'might go postal' guy at office
Read in November, 2008

It's tough to get in the mindset of someone in the 1780's who really had no idea if this new government blueprint was going to more effectively administrate, while maintaining the civil liberties they had fought and some died for, or if it was leading straight back into a monarchy with a different name. That's where I think you need to be to stay in this. I couldn't stay there through the whole thing, and parts of it are pretty dry.

Nevertheless, I'm glad I did get through the whole thing. There are many good arguments and explanations for why this constitution was needed, and what the different thoughts were in the different specifics within it. For instance, why is it that the electoral college is an ad hoc body, which can contain no members of the house or senate? It's to help ensure the separation of the legislative and executive branches. Why does the president get to name supreme court judges, and the senate only get to confirm or deny them? It's because if the president picks someone unqualified, he looks like a jerk and they won't get picked. If the senate rejects someone qualified because they don't like the politics, they look like jerks, and besides, the president gets to pick the next appointee anyway. It was an attempt to de-politicize the process. And it's remarkable that they saw it working the way the process really works, since it hadn't been ratified when they were writing.

Plus, bonus - do you have one guy at work who you've pegged as the 'most likely to come in one day and go postal'? Well, that guy at my office told me he knew the founding fathers would have been against income tax because he'd read The Federalist Papers. Well, now, so have I. And there's nothing like that in there. There are a bunch of essays toward the beginning arguing that the national government needs the teeth to levy taxes, because it's going to have responsibilities, and that they foresaw tariffs and sales taxes. But there's absolutely nothing about how this government should never tax income. It would have been unwieldy at the time, to be sure, but they are absolutely silent on the issue. I don't see anything unconstitutional in it anyway. Now I'm his number one target on 'postal day,' for sure.

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message 1: by Leslie (new)

Leslie Carbone Perhaps your colleague was thinking of Federalist 12, wherein Hamilton naively asserts "that it is impracticable to raise any very considerable sums by direct taxation.”

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