Long ago scholars identified the arches and loops of John Locke’s fingerprints on the writings of James Madison. Evidence of this influence is often noted in Madison’s espousal of Lockean liberalism in the arguments set forth in the Federalist, particularly Federalist, No. 51. That Madison benefited from Locke’s analysis of the machine of government and its relationship to the virtue of a people is indisputable, but to describe all Madisonian philosophy as some sort of diluted mimicry of Lockean principles is lazy and incorrect. Madison, it has been said, was a “profoundly original thinker” and “no mere follower of the philosophers.” The design of this article, however, is not to expose the originality of Madison’s thinking; rather it is to note how in regard to his view of religious toleration (a term Madison despised as being, as Thomas Paine said, “not the opposite of intolerance, but the counterfeit of it. Both are despotisms. The one assumes to itself the right of withholding liberty of conscience, the other of granting it.”)
Is it merely a coincidence that Election Day comes so soon after Halloween? The voting is always in early November, perhaps in consideration of farmers who may be busy harvesting crops through October. Whatever the reason, the campaigns are at or near their climax as witches, ghosts, and goblins appear on the scene and horror movies are on the TV and movie screens to try to scare the populace more than the politicians do. It's a tough challenge for the ghoulish creatures, since the candidates tend to run for high office on the principle that fright makes right.
As a requirement of modern life, we contract others to do things for us that naturally lie within our own power. Someone builds our house, for example. We cede that bit of our natural right to a contractor over whom we exercise some level of ongoing oversight.
With the reckless activities of the Federal Reserve and the United States Treasury over the past several years, some among the punditry are starting to fret that America may soon find herself engulfed by high inflation or even hyperinflation. The former has been a scourge since time immemorial wherever improvident governments chose to debase the value of their own currency. The latter — the catastrophic decline in a currency’s value, manifested by consumer price increases by hundreds or thousands of percent or more over a brief interval — has wreaked financial and social havoc on empires large and small for millennia, bringing post-World War I Germany to its knees in the 1920s, overthrowing the government of Argentina in the 1980s, and driving once-prosperous Zimbabwe into utter ruin in the current decade.