photo credit: christianrh7When our Constitution was ratified, there was no debate about the purpose of government. The words of the Declaration of Independence are clear:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with 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 purpose of government was to secure liberty; the founders did not argue about that point. Rather, they argued about the best way to do that.

Our first government was a confederation, and the mission of the men in Philadelphia was not to end that confederation, but to fix it. What were the problems with the Articles of Confederation? The standard litany runs thus: Congress had no power to raise taxes; a supermajority was required for Congress to pass laws; the national government had no method of enforcing those laws; each state had a single vote. America could never have been great if it had remained a confederation.

But is this true? Canada and Australia were both, in practical terms, confederations. Switzerland, the most successful nation in Europe, has been a confederation for centuries. The United Provinces of Netherlands, which were really a loose confederation of seven little nations (Holland, for example, was simply the largest of the seven provinces), were wildly successful.

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