Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Unlimited Government

Sorry for the downer, but you really should read this article by Christ Muth on why our constitutional, limited government is fading away. In part, it has to do with air conditioning.
Thomas Jefferson played the pivotal role in choosing the site for our national capital, and selected what was essentially a malarial swamp. He had been in Paris when the Constitution was drafted, and he was not much impressed by its parchment provisions for limited government. So—anticipating the old dictum that “no man’s life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session”—Jefferson added a climatologic backstop. Long, miserable summers were to serve as a natural deterrent to the growth of our national apparatus.

It worked beautifully for more than a century. Legislators, lobbyists, and executive officials fled the capital en masse most summers, right through the late 1920s—when air conditioning was introduced. With the deployment of that subversive technology, there began a notable expansion of the federal leviathan.
I still think Wilsonian eggheadedness and the damnable 16th and 17th amendments had a lot to do with it. But Muth's article goes way past air conditioning, and is well worth reading.