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Constitution Day

Today is Constitution Day in the United States.  On this date in 1787, 39 delegates to the constitutional convention in Philadelphia signed the document that was soon to be ratified by the states as the U.S. Constitution.  (It replaced, of course, the Articles of Confederation.)

It’s impossible, I suspect, to find anyone who regards the Constitution as perfect, either in what it says and doesn’t say, or in the ways it’s been interpreted and applied through the years.  But this much I am confident of: the 1787 Constitution succeeded in the framers’ goal of creating a huge free-trade zone.  For all of the courts’ (and the Court’s) questionable interpretations of this document, and for all of its abuse at the hands of Congresses and Presidents, efforts by state and local governments to protect producers from competition outside of their jurisdictions have largely failed.  Sure there are exceptions.  But the fact that Floridians can buy oranges from California, Californians can buy wine from Washington state, residents of Washington state can buy apples from North Carolina, North Carolinians can buy seafood from Louisiana, and on and on, is a happy testament to the success of the Constitution’s commerce clause in creating a huge duty-free (and now transcontinental) market that encouraged the division of labor to deepen and, hence, promoted incredible, widespread prosperity.