Constitution 201: The Transformation of America’s Political Institutions

This lesson is taught by Dr. Kevin Portteus, Associate Professor of Politics at Hillsdale College, and faculty advisor for Washington-Hillsdale Internship Program.  Dr. Portteus teaches courses in American political thought, and American political institutions.  He is also a visiting graduate faculty member at Ashland University.  Dr. Portteus’ book, Executive Details:  Public Administration and American Constitutionalism, is under review for publication.  He received his BA from Ashland University, his MA and PhD in Politics from the University of Dallas.  Those interested in seeing and hearing this lecture, or any of the others in the series, may register at constitution.hillsdale.edu.  There is no fee. Progressives divide government into two essential parts:  Politics, which is representation of the will of the people; and Administration, which is the development and implementation of civic policies and programs.  When we are taught about the Progressive Era of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century in our high school history classes, there is focus on Progressive reforms that made government more directly representative:  direct election of senators; initiatives and referendums; and party primaries.  This brought politics closer to the people and improved their ability to express their will for change—especially progressive changes beyond Constitutional limitations.  Yet, Progressives’ more important contribution to American government was the concept of the administrative state, where bureaucrats, relatively free from political control, would ply their specialized expertise in the implementation of that popular will.  The Progressive vision was a politics of broad social policy (“We want clean water and air!”), resulting in declarations of objectives from representative government (a Clean Air and Clean Water Act specifying the broad objectives and not much...

As 2012 Comes To An End, The World Has Never Been Better

There’s an urban legend besetting the urbane that capitalism is a system of privilege designed for the Ebenezer Scrooges of the world.  Not so.  Capitalism works at least as well for us Bob Cratchits as it does for misers, probably better.  Capitalism is the only proven mechanism by which the workers of the world may unite to lose their chains. The big picture is set out in a recent article in the UK’s The Spectator, a magazine that bills itself, modestly yet with a sterling claim, as “the best-written and most entertaining magazine in the English language.”  (Exception: apparently these blokes haven’t been reading Forbes but let us not quibble.)  Its Why 2012 was the best year ever observes: “It may not feel like it, but 2012 has been the greatest year in the history of the world. That sounds like an extravagant claim, but it is borne out by evidence. Never has there been less hunger, less disease or more prosperity. The West remains in the economic doldrums, but most developing countries are charging ahead, and people are being lifted out of poverty at the fastest rate ever recorded. The death toll inflicted by war and natural disasters is also mercifully low. We are living in a golden age.” This world scoop lays out paragraph after paragraph of impressive evidence for its thesis.  One of the most compelling points: In 1990, the UN announced Millennium Development Goals, the first of which was to halve the number of people in extreme poverty by 2015. It emerged this year that the target was met in 2008. Yet the achievement did not merit an official announcement, presumably because it was...

Constitution 201 – Total Regulation: LBJ’s Great Society

This lesson is taught by Dr. Kevin Portteus, Associate Professor of Politics at Hillsdale College, and faculty advisor for Washington Hillsdale Internship Program.  Dr. Portteus teaches courses in American political thought, and American political institutions.  He is also a visiting graduate faculty member at Ashland University.  Dr. Portteus’s book, Executive Details:  Public Administration and American Constitutionalism, is under review for publication.  He received his BA from Ashland University, his MA and PhD in Politics from the University of Dallas.  Those interested in seeing and hearing this lecture, or any of the others in the series may register at constitution.hillsdale.edu.  There is no fee. LBJ’s Great Society was the culmination of Progressive thought.  Wilson had argued that federal bureaucratic experts could address and solve modern problems faced by our citizens.  FDR had enacted programs of social justice, including federal regulation of the economy and money transfers to make economic outcomes more equal.  President Johnson had an even more ambitious goal for the administrative state. In 1964, President Johnson delivered the Commencement Address at the University of Michigan.  He introduced the Great Society to the assembled students and to the nation:  “The Great Society is…a place where the city of man serves not only the needs of the body and the demands of commerce but the desire for beauty and the hunger for community.”  He meant it.  Government bureaucrats would not merely be ad hoc problem solvers.  In the tradition of Progressives like John Dewey, he believed that through state action we could remake our whole society by creating a perfect world in which humans would be transformed by designed uplift programs. ...

Grassroot Perspective: The Continuing PLDC Saga, Hirono on Judiciary and Susan Rice Withdraws From Nomination

A weekly liberty briefing and news guide to keep you informed and prepared on what’s UP to more freedom or DOWN to bigger, more intrusive government. Quote of the Week: “Small business is the gateway to opportunity for those who want a piece of the American dream … that’s where miracles are made, not in Washington, D.C.” –Ronald Reagan   LOCAL NEWS Money, power and moral hazard: Is Hawaii’s Public Land Development Corporation above the law? (TWTC, 12/11) Many people in Hawaii are wondering just how an organization with such broad sweeping powers as the Public Land Development Corporation (PLDC) was able to clear the Legislature in 2011. Exempt from taxes and regulations and even able to issue revenue bonds all on its own authority, the PLDC is perhaps one of the most controversial organizations to ever be created in the State of Hawaii. I was very fortunate to interview with Hawaii State Representative Jessica Wooley – a legislator who was one of only nine who voted against the PLDC – to get a better understanding of just what happened behind the scenes and where the system failed on Act 55. Rep. Wooley mentions in our interview that “When this bill passed, the legislative hearing process itself was rife with abuse and public input was bypassed. The irony could not be worse. There was no public input on the elimination of public input. Major new language appeared in the House amendment of the bill. There was only one opportunity for the public to comment on many substantial changes, including the county zoning, subdivision, and permitting exemptions. Notice to the public of that single...