Creatures of Society

[T]he accumulation therefore of Property … and its Security to Individuals in every Society, must be an Effect of the Protection afforded to it by the joint Strength of the Society, in the Execution of its Laws. Private Property therefore is a Creature of Society, and is subject to the Calls of that Society, whenever its Necessities shall require it, even to its last Farthing; its Contributions therefore to the public Exigencies are not to be considered as conferring a Benefit on the Publick, entitling the Contributors to the Distinctions of Honour and Power, but as the Return of an Obligation previously received, or the Payment of a just Debt.

— Benjamin Franklin,
Queries and Remarks respecting Alterations in the Constitution of Pennsylvania” (1789)

In this week’s sift:

  • Where are we on Citizens United? Financing campaigns with unlimited corporate money has never been popular, and the battle for the Republican nomination shows why. Legislation, constitutional amendments, new court cases — is anything going to fix this?
  • Answering the rhetoric of the rich and other short notes. Cracked magazine is a surprising source of common sense. Limbaugh follow-up. Abused workers pack the products you order online. Are women really people? A judge blocks Wisconsin’s voter-ID law. An orbital view of the Nile at night. Turning greenhouse gases to stone. Why I like Cenk Uygur. And lots, lots more.
  • Book recommendation of the weekI got the Ben Franklin quote above from Common as Air by Lewis Hyde. The history and philosophy of intellectual property in America is more complicated than the entertainment industry would have you believe. The subject launches Hyde into a re-examination of property in general, an issue that’s been on my mind for a while.
  • Last week’s most popular post. The Sift had a slow week. Rush’s Apology and other short notes got 167 views, the first time a short notes post has been the most popular. (Something like 200-300 people get the Sift in ways that don’t show up in those stats.) I know I’m prejudiced, but I think The Republic of Babel deserved more attention than it got.
  • This week’s challenge. I’ve been trying to think of a way for feminism to go on offense, rather than just try to mitigate all the horrible proposals that are out there and respond to clowns like Rush Limbaugh. If women’s-rights issues that seemed settled are debatable again, doesn’t that demonstrate the need to have an Equal Rights Amendment in the Constitution? The 27th Amendment got ratified 203 years after it passed Congress. So why not try to get those last three states the ERA needs? Check out what the National Organization for Women is trying to do.
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