Paul Jacob

Not all knowledge is created equal. Some facts, some theories, are more important than others. And in America, there are few things more important to know than the Constitution.

As my readers can attest, I've believed this for some time. Friends who have received from me that elegant little pocketbook Constitution that the Cato Institute puts out know this too.

There are a lot of very practical people who scorn that kind of knowledge, though. The Constitution? What does that have to do with getting things done?

The only reason some study it is to find ways to get around it.

No surprise there. The Constitution was designed to prevent some things from happening in certain ways. But politicians are clever people, and more than two centuries of relentless power lust masquerading as "get 'er done" practicality has largely eroded the Constitution's power to stop much of anything.

That's how the Constitution became more theoretical than practical, historical than "relevant."

I'd like to bring the practicality of it back.

Now, practical knowledge doesn't exist cordoned off, secure and alone. Some theoretical knowledge is very relevant. For example, knowing the Constitution doesn't help much if you also believe that human beings are better off slaves to a managerial state, rolled over like so many sausages on an outdoor grill until well done. With this top-down orientation, treating people as little more than things to be rolled for the common good (and "for their own good," hot dog!), the Constitution can't help but seem stodgy, even foolish.

The Man As Sausage Theory ain't my philosophy, and the Charcoal Grill Theory of the State doesn't qualify as political science. I know, that's not how their adherents name their notions, but I can catch a whiff of the barbecue even when I'm not invited.

You guessed: I'm not at all certain our colleges' burgeoning sociology and poly-sci departments have done us a great deal of good. Still, I'm not anti-science. Every time I come across something interesting, I try to take note of it.

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.