Thomas Jefferson, the Constitution and Slavery

It was William Faulkner who wrote, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” How we understand the origins of our institutions and the men and women who shaped them shapes what we value about them now. It informs what we keep and what we change and what we build that’s new.

Last month, on 4th of July weekend, I found myself thinking about Thomas Jefferson and slavery. You know the derision directed at the author of the Declaration of Independence on this topic — and, in some quarters, at the legitimacy of the entire American project in light of his and the other Founders’ failure to abolish slavery at the country’s start.

I have a different view.

Read the entire piece here.

Europe’s energy policy strengthens Putin’s hand

The Ukraine crisis is generating a lot of tough talk about Russia’s expansionist agenda into its former Soviet territory. Since the downing of a Malaysia Airlines flight by pro-Russia separatists in the war-torn region last week, the United States and Europe have tightened sanctions against some Russian industries and threatened more.

But the threat may mostly be bluster. On Tuesday, European foreign ministers backed away from imposing the toughest sanctions to continue with their strategy of pinprick sanctions and threats of toughness. The reason is simple: Europe desperately needs a steady supply of Russian natural gas, a tight spot that Europe’s policies have only made tighter despite years of warning.

Read the entire piece here.

Income Inequality in America: Is It Rising and Is It Bad

For anyone following the media just now, it is hard to get through a week without hearing about income inequality in America. In case you missed it, it’s gone up in the last few decades and this, we are told, is a bad thing. On both accounts, I wonder.

The recent flurry of interest follows the publication of Capital in the 21st Century, by French economist Thomas Piketty. After laying out his data, Piketty calls for a cure of, yes, higher taxes and a variety of familiar left-wing policy elixirs. Paul Krugman loves him.

Maybe Mr. Krugman shouldn’t have chortled so quickly.

Read the entire piece here.