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Madison on Regime Uncertainty

What would James Madison, were he still alive, think of Uncle Sam today?  Judging from this passage from Federalist #44, not much:

Bills of attainder, ex-post-facto laws, and laws impairing the
obligation of contracts, are contrary to the first principles
of the social compact, and to every principle of sound legislation.
The two former are expressly prohibited by the declarations prefixed
to some of the State constitutions, and all of them are prohibited
by the spirit and scope of these fundamental charters. Our own
experience has taught us, nevertheless, that additional fences
against these dangers ought not to be omitted. Very properly,
therefore, have the convention added this constitutional bulwark
in favor of personal security and private rights; and I am much
deceived if they have not, in so doing, as faithfully consulted
the genuine sentiments as the undoubted interests of their constituents.
The sober people of America are weary of the fluctuating policy
which has directed the public councils. They have seen with regret
and indignation that sudden changes and legislative interferences,
in cases affecting personal rights, become jobs in the hands of
enterprising and influential speculators, and snares to the more-industrious
and lessinformed part of the community. They have seen, too, that
one legislative interference is but the first link of a long chain
of repetitions, every subsequent interference being naturally
produced by the effects of the preceding. They very rightly infer,
therefore, that some thorough reform is wanting, which will banish
speculations on public measures, inspire a general prudence and
industry, and give a regular course to the business of society.

(HT my dear friend Lyle.)


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