On Wednesday, Georgetown Law School Professor Randy Barnett started with a lecture on the two traditional visions of the Constitution. Proponents of the well-known democratic Constitution contend rights are derived from government, believe popular sovereignty is found in the group as a while, and support majoritarian rule. Supporters of the republican Constitution believe popular sovereignty points to individual rights and uphold the primacy of natural rights and limited government. Barnett defended the latter vision and maintained these visions are incompatible with each other.
Four-time New York Times bestselling author and libertarian
columnist Amity Shlaes then presented on the Great Depression, a crisis which influenced policymakers’ decisions in the 2008 recession. A short but severe economic downturn in the early 1920s was truncated when President Calvin Coolidge cut government and hiked interest rates. President Herbert Hoover used Keynesian policies in the late 1920s when the economy was overheating, raising taxes and minimum wages and imposing tariffs. Shlaes called President Franklin Roosevelt’s response to the subsequent depression adding “an Affordable Care Act in every sector of the economy.” Roosevelt heavily regulated businesses and rewarded labor, farming, and other special interest groups to gain their support. After World War II began, Roosevelt loosened the reins on businesses and the U.S. economy finally began to rebound.
During a dinner at one of the U.S. Senate office buildings later that day, we had the honor to hear a speech from Senator Jeff Flake (R-Arizona). Senator Flake discussed the United States’ warming relations with Cuba, the persistent problem of high earmark spending in Congress, and the recent surge in federal spending on entitlement programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. He called for an immigration system that makes it easier to become an American citizen and prioritizes legal immigrants over illegal ones in gaining citizenship.