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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

Maybe we should start emailing each other copies of the Constitution, so we can know that the government has read it.

– seen on Facebook by Instapundit

15 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • RickC

    Too sad and true to be funny. A few years back the Intercollegiate Studies Institute gave civics exams to incoming freshman and outgoing seniors at colleges across the U.S. and IIRC the average scores hovered in the low 50s. They gave the same test to a selection of the general public with much the same results. They also gave the test to willing politicians and aspiring politicians. They scored worse than both the other groups. The test is still available at ISI’s website. It’s stunning how easy it is when you look at the collective scores for all these groups.

    For some reason I’m also reminded of the time I watched an interview with Sen. Harry Reid in which he tried to argue that income taxes were voluntary.

  • Alsadius

    Rick: Got a link? I want to see that.

  • Bryce

    The video with Reid is on youtube

  • In any case, and following up on RickC’s comment, I’d rephrase the quote, even though it would make it less clever-sounding:

    Maybe we should start emailing each other copies of the Constitution, so all of us know what’s actually in it.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    Also strings of random numbers, just to keep the codebreakers busy.

  • Paul Marks

    Majority Leader Harry Reid is a good example of the NON Marxist wing of the Democrats – but only because he is too stupid to have any philosophy at all.

    “But he must be intelligent he is such senior position and has so much money” no the world does not work like that, sometimes not even in the private sector (let alone the government). Sometimes the security guard or toilet cleaner will be both more intelligent and more knowledgeable than the CEO. The CEO may run the company into the ground – but he (or she) will be unlikely to suffer for that. They may indeed be given other nice jobs – check out what happened to the top people who ran the British version of General Electric into the ground, by wasting all its cash reserves and then borrowing money on top of that.

    As for the Constitution of the United States……

    Never fully applied.

    After all Section Four of Article Four of the Constitution of the United States clearly states that the Feds may only intervene against “domestic violence” (as opposed to foreign invasion) on the application of the State Legislature of the State involved or (if they can not meet) the Executive (the State Governor) of the State involved.

    So President Washington was impeached after he led an army against the “Whiskey Rebellion” of 1794?

    No he was not – what the Constitution says and what actually happens being two different things. And yes I know that many of the “Whiskey Rebels” were actually nasty people – that is not the point, the State Legislature and Governor of Pennsylvania had NOT requested armed intervention (period).

    “But in general Paul”.

    I stand with the famous (or should be famous) dissent after the “gold cases” of 1935.

    The Federal government (at the order of the Roosevelt creature) had ripped up all government and private contracts (thus turning the Constitutional protection of contracts on its head) that were defined in gold – and had even physically stolen (by threats of violence – ten years of false imprisonment) privately owned gold.

    The Supreme Court ruled (by five votes to four) that this was Constitutional.

    As the dissent said if this is Constitutional then ……

    “the Constitution is dead”.

  • Paul Marks

    “But Paul if people search out a conservative history”.

    First they are unlikely to be shown one in school or university.

    But even if they are shown one it is likely to be something such as a work by N. Ferguson of Harvard (that Frederick the Great lover – Edmund Burke would have had nothing to do with such a man) or Andrew Roberts.

    A couple of days ago I came upon Andrew Roberts’ “History of the English Speaking Peoples” in “The Works” (a local bookshop) – it was on sale (about five Pounds for the hardback – but I did not buy it, for reasons that will become obvious).

    How does this work (which, by the way, manages to cover the First World War without examining the differences between the tactics favoured by Haig and those favoured by Plumer on the Western Front) deal with the little matter of the destruction of the United States Constitution of the United States by the Roosevelt creature?

    Well Mr Roberts does mention that some people are critical of the economic policies of the “New Deal” – only to declare (a couple of lines later, and without evidence) that the thing “worked” economically (in reality it prevented any real recovery in both the American and world economies – nor does he mention the fundamental fact that the “New Deal” really started under Herbert Hoover with the vast increase in the higher rates of income tax and the attempts to PREVENT wages and prices adjusting to the credit bubble bust of 1929 – we even get the old Milton Friedman absurdity that the real problem was that the Fed “allowed the money supply to fall” i.e. that the credit bubble did not just carry on for ever….).

    And the gold theft and destruction of private contracts?

    President Roosevelt “undertook measures to ensure that gold flowed into banks rather than out of them”.

    So reading this 2007 conservative work would leave someone none the wiser about basic civics.

  • RickC

    Paul Marks, out of curiosity, could you suggest a reading list of what you deem credible history? Serious question. I agree with a great deal of what you write here.

  • Richard Thomas

    My local state rep was on TV a couple of years back being asked to name the three branches of government and he only got two of the three right. I don’t want to rag on the guy cause he’s pretty OK and gets a lot right for a Democrat but it just goes to show.

  • Paul Marks


    Oddly enough there is a mainstream work that is not too bad.

    “Modern Times” by Paul Johnson.

    Better (on the interwar period) than his later history of America.

    There are also specialist attacks on the New Deal (one of them mentioned in passing by Mr Roberts himself), that would be recommended by the Ludwig Von Mises Institute – although beware thei recommendations on general American history (some good some a lot less good).

    By the way the “Patriot’s History of the United States” (which conservative radio people point to) makes terrible mistakes about banking and monetary policy. Not just in the 1930s – but even in relation to the 1830s.

    There seems to be a widespread delusion considering lending out more money than you actually have. There is nothing wrong with fractional reserve banking – unless the “fraction” is actually greater than the full amount (say not nine tenths – but 30 tenths [the original Mr J.P. Morgan used to lend out 30 Dollars, via a complex shell game involving various banks interacting, for every 10 Dollars of cash. at that time gold, he actually had] or a 100 tenths, or a 1000 tenths – to be fair to the original Mr Morgan the present situation would drive him into a frenzy of rage and despair)sadly in practice (whatever may be true in theory) the “fraction” always turns out to be larger than the total amount of cash (i.e. it is a credit bubble).

  • RickC

    Thanks, Paul Marks.

  • Tanuki

    I think we should all start encrypting our documents using the US Fifth Amendment as keytext: then if challenged we can quote the fifth and _still_ not be guilty of failing to decrypt the docs.

  • Julie near Chicago

    I have searched and searched, but can’t find the place where he said it — but Mr. Johnson did say on the Internet somewhere (In an interview, I think, such as C-Span), in response to a question, that his favorite Presidents were T. Roosevelt and W. Wilson.