February 20, 2006

A few more ideas in the ring

Outside Story has added a few more ideas into the ring, and an important point about the nature of any constitution.
It comes down to how you view sovereignty. In a democracy the people are sovereign. However "the people" can mean two things - either the collectivist meaning that is usually used today or the original meaning used in the US constitution, that the people are individually sovereign. In the former, a constitution is part of the social contract which simply states what rights we are willing to collectively respect. In the latter case it is an empowering document that "loans" power from the people to the state.
Which is also my view on things, but even if it where not I would go for the smallest state possible so that it would not be interfering with individuals as they maximise utility. And it can only properly be up to individuals to make the trade offs that will generate the greatest happiness for the greatest number, since it is only individuals what will make them happy plus they have the best viewpoint for analyzing all the factors in any given trade off. A state agent can never look inside any individuals head and know exactly what will make them happy. A state agent can never look at all the factors in a given trade off to see which way is best since they have to act in the abstract on a general category rather than the specific instance.

Unity of TalkPolitics (and soon Liberty Central) comments on the blog as to the limits of what should be in the constitution itself
I should note that up to last year I spent six years drafting constitutions for NGOs and am very clear what they are and aren't for - unlike the EU. The constitution should concern itself with the governance of the country, the separation of powers and the accountability of government, not with tax or economic policy, which is what democratically elected and accountable governments are for


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