In her first formal appearance as head of the United States Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen obliquely suggested the Fed might not raise its mighty “federal funds” rate to tighten the economy until months after its Quantitative Easing bond purchasing ended completely, coyly portending cheap money indefinitely. The market shuddered but soon calmed at the soothing voice of its controller.
This edition of Liberty Law Talk is with Yuval Levin, author of The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Right and Left. A 2013 Bradley Prize recipient, Levin connects us with the actual contest between Burke and Paine as they debated the central claims of the French Revolution and much of modern political thought with its focus on rights, individualism, the social contract vs. Burke’s more expansive notions of social liberty, the contract among the dead, the living, and those yet to be born, and his belief in prescription or the notion that change should be guided within the broad lived experience of the nation. Levin and I discuss the terms of the Burke-Paine debate while considering how it continues to shape the contours of current political conversation.
What is American Government?
A recent Democratic Party campaign commercial suggests that “the government is the only thing that we all belong to.”
At first glance, the commercial seems to be suggesting that we the people are servants of the government–and belong to it the way my pen belongs to me. A more fair construction would be to read it as saying that we all are part of the government. We belong to it the way we belong to a church congregation, or a sports club. The language implies that the American people and the American government are inseparable and indistinguishable.