Again from the Good Professor, we are linked to a Reason piece by Damon Root reviewing The Right to Earn A Living: Economic Freedom and the Law by Timothy Sandefur (recommended, by the way). About the matter, Glenn says, in part,

…there’s considerable reason to believe that [economic freedom is] an important constitutional right…

Rubbish, sir. Economic freedom is nowhere addressed in the Constitution. The closest it comes is Amendment V:

No person shall […] be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law…

It’s said that Jefferson originally cited “life, liberty, and property” as among the Rights of Man, but was dissuaded by his own (correct) conviction that “property” is a social construct rather than a right. The Declaration of Independence cites “the pursuit of happiness” instead.

The reason the Constitution doesn’t address property or economic liberty is that it never entered the heads of the Framers that either would be questioned in good faith. Karl Marx’s birth was two decades in the future; Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a decade in the worm farm, and good riddance to bad rubbish; the Fabian Society would not be founded for another century. It was a time when a perfectly acceptable way to make money was to get yourself a battleship and a Letter of Marque and Reprisal, and go rob the merchant shipping of political and economic opponents.

Certainly the Framers were concerned with the issue, and the Reason article linked above quotes several expositions of that concern; the book has more. But they considered it in the context of greedy Kings and Princes trying to aggrandize themselves with a view to profit, and imagined that the people would resist such intrusions. They never dreamed that the envy, jealousy, and greed of the populace could be harnessed by demagogues so as to make denial of economic liberty not just possible, but a high social good.

Perhaps we, the People of a later generation, need to incorporate the concepts of economic liberty in the Constitution, but don’t claim that it’s there already. The Framers didn’t see the need.

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