New Hampshire’s constitution has an amendment which mandates that “no money raised by taxation shall ever be granted or applied for the use of the schools or institutions of any religious sect or denomination.”
On the surface, this looks like an affirmation of the First Amendment principle that the government shouldn’t fund religion. However, its history shows its roots in religious bigotry, and and the courts’ interpretation of it has stood in the way of school choice.
Amendments like this are found in many state constitutions. They’re collectively known as “Blaine Amendments,” after James G. Blaine, a prominent 19th-century politician. New Hampshire added its version to the constitution in 1877.
King George III had banned the export of powder and arms to the American colonists. Paul Revere went riding to warn the local people. A crowd gathered, fearing Redcoat troops would soon be coming. Taking up arms, they faced the king’s men in the first armed uprising of the American Revolution and won. They captured Fort William and Mary in New Castle and seized its stores.
Wait ... New Castle? New Castle, New Hampshire?
The basic question of politics is “What should the government do?” Some people say that it should command and direct the population. They don’t usually put it quite that directly, but that’s what it amounts to. If the government thinks something is a good idea, they say, it should make people do it. If it thinks it’s a bad idea, it should forbid it.
The Declaration of Independence presents a very different answer. It says we have “certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men.” The government, says the Declaration, should protect our rights, not dictate our actions.
Lately there’s been a lot of noise about trade deficits, but not everyone understands what they are. Here’s a simple illustration. Let’s say you buy food at a nearby supermarket. You probably don’t sell much to them, unless you’re a food producer. You pay more money to the supermarket than it pays to you. You have a trade deficit with the supermarket!
Now you might be asking, “But why is that a problem?” It isn’t. A trade deficit as such isn’t a problem. The United States, as an aggregate, buys more stuff from Japan than Japan buys from us. That means we have a trade deficit with Japan. It also means that we have a lot of goods from there. We buy them because they’re unique or because they’re better or cheaper than the alternatives. Without that option, we’d be paying more or getting things that we didn’t like quite as much.
Protectionists tell us this is a bad thing. Why? Well, people in Japan are getting jobs to make these things instead of people in the United States. They claim this means buying from Japan puts Americans out of work. That’s nonsense for several reasons.
The “alt-right” is a strange movement, defined more by hostility than ideas. It’s the latest version of the hostility that has faced every immigrant group in the US, from the Chinese in California to the Irish and Italians in Boston. Some members of the alt-right try to hitch their sinking ship to libertarianism. We have nothing to do with them. We don’t want them.
Their views are the old, ugly doctrine of white supremacism, wrapped in identity politics. Libertarianism values the individual, but identity politics says that your ancestry or skin color says what you are. White supremacism says that some people are better, not because of anything they’ve done but because of their skin. Both ways, it’s collectivist thinking, pitting “us” against “them.” To maintain its dominance over “them,” the alt-right supports ICE raids, border walls, and registries of who’s allowed to work for a living. Richard Spencer, one of its top leaders, has called for “peaceful ethnic cleansing.” That’s not libertarian by any stretch.
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