Fascinating article today by Samuel Gregg on why it would be a bad idea to enshrine stronger protections for property rights and a sound money supply in the U.S. Constitution, as some are proposing. Short version: constitutions are important and some constitutional protection of economic rigths is necessary, but the recent experience of Europe (both in the Euro and in some domestic developments within EU nations) shows how these kinds of constitutional and treaty obligations can actually be counterproductive if it’s too far at odds with the prevailing cultural winds. Example: the treaties creating the Euro required European nations to get their fiscal houses in order, but those nations faced countervailing cultural imperatives that were stronger; in order to obey their cultural imperatives in favor of ever-expanding welfare and debt without openly violating their treaty obligations, they began engaging in all kinds of fudging and ledgerdemain. This has now greatly compounded the problem of fiscal irresponsibility by removing most of it from easy view; it has also opened many more doors for graft and injustice as compared to the old “honest” irresponsible finances.
Fascinating history in the article as well about a movement in late 19th and early 20th century Germany, the “ordoliberals,” that advocated similar constitutional reforms to fight cartelization of the economy, but insisted constitutional reforms could only be effective insofar as they tacked with rather than against prevailing cultural winds.