Relearning an old lesson

George W. Bush and ship-money.

In the debate over ship-money (a form of unParliamentary taxation claimed by Charles I as an emergency wartime measure encompassed by the royal prerogative) at the beginning of the Long Parliament, Lord Falkland made a simple argument. If, said Falkland, the king is the sole judge in necessity (i.e., has unlimited emergency powers) and at the same time the sole judge of necessity (with unreviewable discretion to decide what constitutes an emergency) then the monarchy is absolute.

Sound familiar?

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

4 thoughts on “Relearning an old lesson”

  1. Thanks for the reference, Mark.
    Ever since the pattern of this administration emerged, my contention has been that ours is the most perilous time for constitutional government in the English-speaking world since the 17th century.
    I also think that now, as then, an ungodly amount of pressure will focus on a few judges. May they be equal to the times.

  2. What a great quote!
    We are already at that point. Bush has arrogated to himself the power to decide both in and of necessity, as with phone logs and torture.
    The only thing he has to fear, is if we, the peasants, might revolt.
    I think our only potential safety may lie in the powers of the states. The current debate seems to center on the presidential powers. Since he owns the army, congress and the courts can complain, but not enforce, and given the effectiveness of the spin machines, and short attention spans, these complaints dwindle and die.
    Right now I see a determined assault on states rights. Originally, I thought let the commercial christians have their marriage amendment. Get it off the table, and not let it dominate and crowd out real news. But then I realized, it could be like the commerce clause, used as a club to dictate to the states, what the rules of marriage, divorce, community property etc. would be.
    I would like to see the democrats have states rights as one of their major planks. The Oregon law re assisted suicide, the medical marijuana laws, the fact that some taxes (State income tax) levied by a state are deductible from adjusted gross income but sales taxes are not. Why should how a state decides to raise the money to run the state be decided by the federal government.

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