Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Two excellent pieces.

I've received my copy of the latest edition of The Objectivist Standard and I couldn't resist recommending two excellent articles in it.

The first is "Justice Holmes and the Empty Constitution" by Thomas A. Bowden [accessible for free]. It surveys the dissenting opinion of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. in the case of Lochner v. New York. The article introduces the reader to early 20th century New York and the Bakeshop Act of 1895. The case challenges one of the first few regulations that were set on bakery shop owners. "The Act made it a crime for the owner of a bakeshop to allow a laborer to work more than 10 hours in one day, or more than 60 hours in one week." Lochner, a bakery owner was found guilty for violating the provisions of the said law. He decided to challenge it on the ground that his contract rights were being violated. Although his claim was rejected by the lower Courts, it was upheld by the Supreme Court -- on fickle grounds conceding the principle of liberty. Justice Holmes reframed the issue and asked a more fundamental question: What if, the constitution doesn't specify the relationship between the State and the individual itself? As he saw it, it is the opinion of the majority that subjectively shapes and shifts the law and that the constitution does not support any political theory.

Each time, the validity of the constitution is thwarted for the opinions of the majority, I find myself asking, "What is the whole point of writing a constitution in the first place?" The purpose of a constitution is to limit the power of the majority -- to make sure that democracy or mob-rule does not exist. To claim that a constitution does not limit the power of the government is absurd; it means annihilating the essence of the document while retaining the word. It is absurd to deny that Americans do not have individual rights even when the right to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness are clearly enumerated.

I highly recommend the article or maybe it is the fact that I am a law student that I could not let it pass without mention.

The interview I recommend is, "An Interview with a "Capitalist Pig" Jonathan Hoenig on Hedge Funds, the Economic Crisis and the Future of America". Until I'd read this interview, I had absolutely no idea what a hedge fund was and never really understood what "speculating" was all about. Although it is relatively easy to prove that the financial mess was not caused by capitalism (thanks to Yaron Brook), it gets pretty tough to really understand and comprehend the articles and posts that delve deep into the economic crisis. However, this interview is free of such jargon and makes for an excellent introductory piece to a layman.


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