I am honored to be in Intelligent Economist's list of top 100 economics blogs. I was also on their list last year, and wrote "Friends and Sparring Partners: The Skyline from My Corner of the Blogosphere" about some of the others on the list and some who weren't on the list.
Today is Independence Day for the United States of America. How to defend freedom and other key American values has been an important theme on this blog. Here are some examples:
- John Stuart Mill’s Defense of Freedom
- John Locke's State of Nature and State of War
- Benjamin Franklin's Strategy to Make the US a Superpower Worked Once, Why Not Try It Again?
- Why Thinking about China is the Key to a Free World
- The Man in the Tank: It’s Time to Honor the Unsung Hero of Tiananmen Square
- Judging the Nations: Wealth and Happiness Are Not Enough
- Gratitude Is More Than Simple Sentiment: It Is the Motivation That Can Save the World
- That Baby Born in Bethlehem Should Inspire Society to Keep Redeeming Itself
- Why You Should Care About Other People's Kids as Much as Your Own
- The Government and the Mob
- You Didn't Build That: America Edition
- No Tax Increase Without Recompense
I get choked up when I think of these values and the courageous people who have forwarded them.
I view the founding of the United States of America as a huge contribution to the world being a better place than it might have been in an alternate history in which King George III got what he considered his American colonies back. The framers of the US Constitution, with all of their flaws, put together something marvelous. I agree with Benjamin Franklin, who said this toward the end of the Constitutional Convention:
I confess that there are several parts of this constitution which I do not at present approve, but I am not sure I shall never approve them: For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged by better information, or fuller consideration, to change opinions even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise. It is therefore that the older I grow, the more apt I am to doubt my own judgment, and to pay more respect to the judgment of others. Most men indeed as well as most sects in Religion, think themselves in possession of all truth, and that wherever others differ from them it is so far error. Steele a Protestant in a Dedication tells the Pope, that the only difference between our Churches in their opinions of the certainty of their doctrines is, the Church of Rome is infallible and the Church of England is never in the wrong. But though many private persons think almost as highly of their own infallibility as of that of their sect, few express it so naturally as a certain french lady, who in a dispute with her sister, said “I don’t know how it happens, Sister but I meet with no body but myself, that’s always in the right — Il n’y a que moi qui a toujours raison.”
In these sentiments, Sir, I agree to this Constitution with all its faults, if they are such; because I think a general Government necessary for us, and there is no form of Government but what may be a blessing to the people if well administered, and believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in Despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other. I doubt too whether any other Convention we can obtain, may be able to make a better Constitution. For when you assemble a number of men to have the advantage of their joint wisdom, you inevitably assemble with those men, all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests, and their selfish views. From such an assembly can a perfect production be expected? It therefore astonishes me, Sir, to find this system approaching so near to perfection as it does; and I think it will astonish our enemies, who are waiting with confidence to hear that our councils are confounded like those of the Builders of Babel; and that our States are on the point of separation, only to meet hereafter for the purpose of cutting one another’s throats. Thus I consent, Sir, to this Constitution because I expect no better, and because I am not sure, that it is not the best. The opinions I have had of its errors, I sacrifice to the public good. I have never whispered a syllable of them abroad. Within these walls they were born, and here they shall die. If every one of us in returning to our Constituents were to report the objections he has had to it, and endeavor to gain partizans in support of them, we might prevent its being generally received, and thereby lose all the salutary effects & great advantages resulting naturally in our favor among foreign Nations as well as among ourselves, from our real or apparent unanimity. Much of the strength & efficiency of any Government in procuring and securing happiness to the people, depends, on opinion, on the general opinion of the goodness of the Government, as well as of the wisdom and integrity of its Governors. I hope therefore that for our own sakes as a part of the people, and for the sake of posterity, we shall act heartily and unanimously in recommending this Constitution (if approved by Congress & confirmed by the Conventions) wherever our influence may extend, and turn our future thoughts & endeavors to the means of having it well administred.
On the whole, Sir, I can not help expressing a wish that every member of the Convention who may still have objections to it, would with me, on this occasion doubt a little of his own infallibility, and to make manifest our unanimity, put his name to this instrument.