Two more articles, one I read late in the week and one I read this morning, are too good to pass up.

The Dark Side of Alexander Hamilton

by Jeffrey Rogers Hummel, Reason, July 2024.

This is Jeff Hummel’s review of William Hogeland, The Hamilton Scheme: An Epic Tale of Money and Power in the American Founding.

Excerpt:

Hamilton was one of the prime architects of the Constitutional Convention, held in secret. There he revealed himself as a closet monarchist: Expressing his admiration for the British system of government as the world’s best, he declared that he preferred a lifetime president with an absolute veto over all legislation. He was appalled that senators would be chosen by the states; indeed, he wished to see the states and their militias virtually obliterated. Yet some increase in central power was better than none, so Hamilton was willing to disguise his actual views when contributing to the Federalist Papers. Many historians have dismissed Hamilton’s convention remarks as a mere aberration, but Hogeland reveals that these extremely oligarchic inclinations informed Hamilton’s efforts throughout his career.

And:

By the time Washington had called out 12,000 militia [to end the Whiskey Rebellion], which would march under Hamilton’s effective command, overt resistance had subsided, mainly due to the calming influence of Gallatin, Findley, and even Husband. To buy time, the government had sent commissioners to negotiate and promise amnesty to any who signed a loyalty oath. Much of the area’s population did so—but when the militia arrived, that didn’t matter. Hamilton presided over a reign of terror in which the government’s men broke into houses and many Americans were arrested without charges and held for long periods under degrading conditions. Hamilton was attempting to gather evidence to drag perpetrators back to Philadelphia for trial, in violation of the Bill of Rights’ guarantee that all criminal trials be conducted in the district in which the crime had been committed. Hamilton hoped to find enough evidence to hang Gallatin, Findley, and Husband.

By the way, when I used to walk by the front of the Treasury Building on Pennsylvania Avenue, when I was a summer intern at the Council of Economic Advisers in 1973, I noticed a statue and finally asked someone who it was of. It was of Albert Gallatin, a Treasury Secretary after Hamilton. Jeff Hummel has told me in private conversations that Gallatin was a financial genius who put his talents to noble ends, something that comes across in Jeff’s review.

 

Biden Keeps Blaming Others for His Economic Mistakes

by Veronique de Rugy, Reason, June 13, 2024.

Excerpt:

Government overspending, an activity the Biden administration has taken to a new level, has sent the country into an inflationary spiral. Through trillions of dollars in COVID-19 relief programs, infrastructure spending, vote-buying student loan forgiveness programs, and a political “Build Back Better Agenda,” the White House has flooded the economy and decimated consumers’ purchasing power. We’re paying more and getting less for everything from energy to food.

According to the House Budget Committee, the average family of four is paying around $1,143 more each month than it was in early 2021 for the same goods and services; this includes increased gasoline costs. Rather than reversing course, President Joe Biden is telling voters the private sector is to blame and that he has the answers. He’s doubling down by proposing more stifling, job-killing regulations to “fix” the problem—regulations which will inevitably send inflation to new heights.

And:

Once again, however, the Biden administration found a convenient and private sector scapegoat. It has unleashed the power of the Department of Justice on RealPage, a U.S. software provider that helps landlords determine market pricing for their rental properties.

The existence of a company like this shouldn’t be controversial. Almost every industry today uses a similar tool, from grocery stores to airlines, to make better decisions about pricing their inventory based on supply and demand. But the administration needs someone to blame, and there are not many other viable targets for it to shoot at.