Don’t say James Madison didn’t warn us.
“A landed interest, a manufacturing interest, a mercantile interest, a moneyed interest, with many lesser interests, grow up of necessity in civilized nations, and divide them into different classes, actuated by different sentiments and views,” he wrote in Federalist #10.
Simply, those who own property, run businesses or work in finance are going to earn more money than those who work for them. These two classes are going to have different interests and vote accordingly.
Madison explains that’s why the Framers drafted the Constitution to create a republic. Under true democracy, it would be easy for the majority (workers) to vote to take property from the minority (owners). A republic helps diffuse such passions.
“The last thing you would want to do in any kind of sensible society is to have a set of rules in which one man/one vote dictates over every issue,” is how law professor Richard Epstein put it on PBS. “And the last thing we need is a popular democracy in which one man/one vote and which you can have select taxes on people, because once you can have selected taxes on certain people, why not go along and say, you know, this is a wonderful mansion that Mr. Gates owns, what we ought to do is just take it and sell it off to some foreign sheik, and take the money and divide it amongst ourselves?”
Further, Madison warned: “Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society. Those who are creditors, and those who are debtors, fall under a like discrimination.”
Which brings one to the Occupy Wall Street movement.
“Student-loan debt has continued to grow despite a financial crisis that constrained credit elsewhere, and the increasing burden amid high unemployment is driving at least part of the protests among the Occupy Wall Street movement,” writes Mary Pilon in the Wall Street Journal.
MSNBC’s Petra Cahill adds that recently, “New York University professor Andrew Ross led a discussion about the burden of student loan debt — now estimated to be between $550 billion and $829 billion — and proposed a radical solution: ‘A Pledge of Refusal.’ The idea is that protesters would sign a pledge to stop making payments on their student loans as soon as 1 million had joined in making the pledge.”
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