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Posts Tagged ‘FDR’

Hitler Mussolini FDR and Obama

Many people today feel as if President Obama has been leading America covertly into the Socialism Bernie is overtly proclaiming.  Many feel that they are no longer living in the America of their youth.  To understand how we got here it is necessary to understand how we got here.

History not only allows us the opportunity to learn from the mistakes of others it also provides us with a mirror to show us how we are continuing the mistakes of others.  The present does not appear like a virgin birth in a vacuum it is the child of the past.  The America of today was born in the progressivism of the 1890.

Teddy Roosevelt started the progressive ball rolling.  His place holder William Howard Taft kicked the can down the road a little further.  Woodrow Wilson trampled over the Constitution to create the framework of tyranny.  Then after Silent Cal Coolidge and the interlude of the 1920s, the Crash of 29 provided the golden opportunity for Progressives to capture the government and impose upon a willing America its regimented dream of central planning at home and intervention abroad: the welfare/warfare state.

On May 7, 1933, just two months after the inauguration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the New York Times reporter Anne O’Hare McCormick wrote that the atmosphere in Washington was “strangely reminiscent of Rome in the first weeks after the march of the Black Shirts and of Moscow at the beginning of the Five-Year Plan.  America today literally asks for orders.” The Roosevelt administration, she added, “envisages a federation of industry, labor and government after the fashion of the corporative State as it exists in Italy.”

The broad-ranging powers granted to Roosevelt by Congress, before that body went into recess, were unprecedented in times of peace. Through this “delegation of powers,” Congress had, in effect, temporarily done away with itself as the legislative branch of government. The only remaining check on the executive was the Supreme Court. In Germany, a similar process allowed Hitler to assume legislative power after the Reichstag burned down in a suspected case of arson on February 28, 1933.

In the North American Review in 1934, the progressive writer Roger Shaw described the New Deal as “Fascist means to gain liberal ends.” He wasn’t hallucinating. FDR’s adviser Rexford Tugwell wrote in his diary that Mussolini had done “many of the things which seem to me necessary.” Lorena Hickok, a close confidante of Eleanor Roosevelt who lived in the White House for a spell, wrote approvingly of a local official who said, “If [President] Roosevelt were actually a dictator, we might get somewhere.” She added that if she were younger, she’d like to lead “the Fascist Movement in the United States.” At the National Recovery Administration (NRA), the cartel-creating agency at the heart of the early New Deal, one report declared forthrightly, “The Fascist Principles are very similar to those we have been evolving here in America.”

Roosevelt himself called Mussolini “admirable” and professed that he was “deeply impressed by what he has accomplished.” The admiration was mutual. In a laudatory review of Roosevelt’s 1933 book Looking Forward, Mussolini wrote, “Reminiscent of Fascism is the principle that the state no longer leaves the economy to its own devices.… Without question, the mood accompanying this sea change resembles that of Fascism.” The chief Nazi newspaper, Volkischer Beobachter, repeatedly praised “Roosevelt’s adoption of National Socialist strains of thought in his economic and social policies” and “the development toward an authoritarian state” based on the “demand that collective good be put before individual self-interest.”

Soon after having taken his second Oath of Office in January 1937, President Roosevelt, in a conversation with a speechwriter, articulated his belief that the limits on governmental power that were enshrined in the U.S. Constitution were impediments to the transformative social and economic policies he wished to implement:

“When the chief justice read me the oath and came to the words ‘support the Constitution of the United States,’ I felt like saying: ‘Yes, but it’s the Constitution as I understand it, flexible enough to meet any new problem of democracy — not the kind of Constitution your court has raised up as a barrier to progress and democracy.'”

FDR chose to attack the depression with his so-called New Deal: a series of economic programs passed during his first term in office. These programs greatly expanded the size, scope, and power of the federal government, giving the President and his Brain Trust near-dictatorial status. “I want to assure you,” Roosevelt’s aide Harry Hopkins told an audience of New Deal activists in New York, “that we are not afraid of exploring anything within the law, and we have a lawyer who will declare anything you want to do legal.”

Personally Roosevelt never had much use for Hitler, but Mussolini was another matter. “I don’t mind telling you in confidence,’ FDR remarked to a White House correspondent, ‘that I am keeping in fairly close touch with that admirable Italian gentleman.” Rexford Tugwell, a leading adviser to the president, had difficulty containing his enthusiasm for Mussolini’s program to modernize Italy: “It’s the cleanest … most efficiently operating piece of social machinery I’ve ever seen. It makes me envious”

Why did contemporaries see an affinity between Roosevelt and the two leading European dictators while most people today view them as polar opposites? We all suffer from Presentism which means that people read history backwards: they project the fierce antagonisms of World War II, when America battled the Axis, to an earlier period, the 1930s. At the time, what impressed many observers, including as we have seen the principal actors themselves, was a new style of leadership common to America, Germany, and Italy.

Many of Roosevelt’s ideas and policies were entirely indistinguishable from the fascism of Mussolini. In fact, Jonah Goldberg writes in Liberal Fascism, there were “many common features among New Deal liberalism, Italian Fascism, and German National Socialism, all of which shared many of the same historical and intellectual forebears.” Like American progressives, many Italian Fascist and German Nazi intellectuals championed a “middle” or “Third Way” between capitalism and socialism. Goldberg further explains:

“The ‘middle way’ sounds moderate and un-radical. Its appeal is that it sounds unideological and freethinking. But philosophically the Third Way is not mere difference splitting; it is utopian and authoritarian. Its utopian aspect becomes manifest in its antagonism to the idea that politics is about trade-offs. The Third Wayer says that there are no false choices—’I refuse to accept that X should come at the expense of Y.’ The Third Way holds that we can have capitalism and socialism, individual liberty and absolute unity.”

I don’t know about anyone else but I was taught in grade school and high school that America no longer had a capitalist economy.  Instead America had combined capitalism and socialism into what we were taught was now a mixed economy.  And that was back in the 1950s and 1960s.

In Three New Deals the German cultural historian Wolfgang Schivelbusch states “To compare is not the same as to equate. America during Roosevelt’s New Deal did not become a one-party state; it had no secret police; the Constitution remained in force, and there were no concentration camps; the New Deal preserved the institutions of the liberal-democratic system that National Socialism abolished.” But throughout the ’30s, intellectuals and journalists noted “areas of convergence among the New Deal, Fascism, and National Socialism.” All three were seen as transcending “classic Anglo-French liberalism”—individualism, free markets, decentralized power.

Since 1776 liberalism had transformed the Western world. As The Nation editorialized in 1900, before it too abandoned the old liberalism, “Freed from the vexatious meddling of governments, men devoted themselves to their natural task, the bettering of their condition, with the wonderful results which surround us”—industry, transportation, telephones and telegraphs, sanitation, abundant food, electricity. But the editor worried that “its material comfort has blinded the eyes of the present generation to the cause which made it possible.” Old liberals died, and younger liberals began to wonder if government couldn’t be a positive force, something to be used rather than constrained.

Others, meanwhile, began to reject liberalism itself. In his 1930s novel The Man Without Qualities, Robert Musil wrote, “Misfortune had decreed that…the mood of the times would shift away from the old guidelines of liberalism that had favored the great guiding ideals of tolerance, the dignity of man, and free trade—and reason and progress in the Western world would be displaced by racial theories and street slogans.”

The dream of a planned society infected both right and left. Ernst Jünger, an influential right-wing militarist in Germany, reported his reaction to the Soviet Union: “I told myself: granted, they have no constitution, but they do have a plan. This may be an excellent thing.” As early as 1912, FDR himself praised the Prussian-German model: “They passed beyond the liberty of the individual to do as he pleased with his own property and found it necessary to check this liberty for the benefit of the freedom of the whole people,” he said in an address to the People’s Forum of Troy, New York.

American Progressives studied at German universities. Schivelbusch writes, and “came to appreciate the Hegelian theory of a strong state and Prussian militarism as the most efficient way of organizing modern societies that could no longer be ruled by anarchic liberal principles.” The pragmatist philosopher William James’ influential 1910 essay “The Moral Equivalent of War” stressed the importance of order, discipline, and planning.

Schivelbusch finds parallels in the ideas, style, and programs of the disparate regimes even their architecture. “Neoclassical monumentalism,” he writes, is “the architectural style in which the state visually manifests power and authority.” In Berlin, Moscow, and Rome, “the enemy that was to be eradicated was the laissez-faire architectural legacy of nineteenth-century liberalism, an unplanned jumble of styles and structures.” Washington erected plenty of neoclassical monuments in the ’30s, though with less destruction than in the European capitals. Think of the “Man Controlling Trade” sculptures in front of the Federal Trade Commission, with a muscular man restraining an enormous horse. They would have been right at home in Il Duce’s Italy.

Intellectuals worried about inequality, the poverty of the working class, and the commercial culture created by mass production. They didn’t seem to notice the tension between the last complaint and the first two. Liberalism seemed inadequate to deal with such problems. When economic crisis hit, in Italy and Germany after World War I and in the United States with the Great Depression, the anti-liberals seized the opportunity arguing that the market had failed and that the time for bold experimentation had arrived.

Trace all that to today.   We have a president who entered office comparing himself to FDR, a president who said he aspired to be a transformative leader, a president who has promised to fundamentally transform America, and we can see that the New Deal is alive and well even if the Republic is not.

Fifty years of reading History on a daily basis has taught me one thing: we do not learn the lessons of History.  Look about us and find the great examples of socialism.  Mostly you will have to look in the dustbin of History although Venezuela provides a perfect example of where economies go when robbing Peter to pay Paul becomes national policy.

A soviet dictator, Nikita Khrushchev told us:

“We will take America without firing a shot … we will bury you!”

“We can’t expect the American people to jump from capitalism to communism, but we can assist their elected leaders in giving them small doses of socialism, until they awaken one day to find that they have communism.”

“I once said, ‘We will bury you,’ and I got into trouble with it. Of course we will not bury you with a shovel. Your own working class will bury you.”

“We do not have to invade the United States, we will destroy you from within.”

No one gets to live in the world they grew up in — time moves too fast.  We could however preserve and pass on the country we grew up in — unless of course we don’t.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion. He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2016 Contact Dr. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens. Dr. Owens’ first novel will be out soon.

 

Why Empires Fall

Although the generalization is usually applied to republics, according to Sir John Glubb, a British author and lecturer, most empires don’t last longer than 250 years.

Or as Sir John said in summation:

As numerous points of interest have arisen in the course of this essay, I close with a brief summary, to refresh the reader’s mind.

  • We do not learn from history because
    our studies are brief and prejudiced.
    (b) In a surprising manner, 250 years
    emerges as the average length of national

    (c) This average has not varied for 3,000 years.
    Does it represent ten generations?
    (d) The stages of the rise and fall of great
    nations seem to be:
    The Age of Pioneers (outburst)
    The Age of Conquests
    The Age of Commerce
    The Age of Affluence
    The Age of Intellect
    The Age of Decadence.
    (e) Decadence is marked by:
    Defensiveness
    Pessimism
    Materialism
    Frivolity
    An influx of foreigners
    The Welfare State
    A weakening of religion.
    (f) Decadence is due to:
    Too long a period of wealth and power
    Selfishness
    Love of money
    The loss of a sense of duty. (Sir John Glubb)

Does any of this sound familiar? In other words all empires rise and all empires fall. It is the luck of the draw or the happenstance of birth that situates us as spectators of the fall.

I know from experience as the Author of The Constitution Failed that if you question the viability of the American experiment even the most humble participant in that experiment becomes indignant. As I have been asked repeatedly, “How can you say, the Constitution failed don’t you mean, we failed the Constitution?” This always elicits my response, “Is that a distinction without a difference?”

Since the declared and understood purpose to the writing and ratification of the Constitution was to create and sustain a limited government and since We the People now face an unlimited government I maintain we must face the painful reality that the Constitution has failed. With that failure the experiment in individual liberty, personal freedom, and economic opportunity is hurtling towards a destination with destiny as we become like all the other nations of the earth: a command economy with a permanent political class.

When did we start our slide from a limited government to a centrally-planned Leviathan masquerading as a utopian paradise?

The experiment jumped the tracks under the second president. John Adams signed the Alien and sedition Act and then used that act to arrest anyone who disagreed with him. This was not the beginning of our present slide into totalitarianism.

Abraham Lincoln waged total war against eleven States that sought to secede when the right to secede was not withheld from the states and the right to wage war against the States was not afforded to the Federal Government by the Constitution. He did however allow West Virginia to secede from Virginia without the approval of the Virginia government which is explicitly contrary to the Constitution. This was not the beginning of our present slide into totalitarianism.

In the midst of the banking crisis of 1932-33 FDR told America, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” He should have told us that we had him and his Progressive agenda to fear, at least as far as the fundamental nature of the American Experiment was concerned.

Despite the fact that by 1932 the recovery from the crash of 1929 was well under way as evidenced by freight loadings that rose 20 percent, industrial production 21 percent, construction contract awards gained 30 percent, unemployment dropped by nearly one million, wholesale prices rebounded by 20 percent, and the battered stock market was up by 40 percent. David Stockman goes so far as to say, “the Hoover recovery would be celebrated in the history books even today if it had not been interrupted in the winter of 1932-1933 by a faux banking crisis which was entirely the doing of President-elect Roosevelt and the loose-talking economic statist at the core of his transition team.”

At that time the banking crisis, as it was loudly and universally called, had Americans fearing that the economy was about to collapse. This has been called the failure of capitalism. However as David Stockman points out,

The truth of the so-called banking crisis is that the artificial economic boom of 1914-1929 had generated a drastic proliferation of banks in the farm country and in the booming new industrial centers like Chicago, Detroit, Youngtown and Toledo, along with vast amounts of poorly underwritten debt on real estate and businesses.

When the bubble burst in 1929, the financial system experienced the time-honored capitalist cure — a sweeping liquidation of bad debts and under-capitalized banks. Not only was this an unavoidable and healthy purge of economic rot, but also reflected the fact that the legions of banks which failed were flat-out insolvent and should have been closed.

How great was this meltdown? How many people lost everything in the bank failures? Was this a massive slide into a financial morass? As David Stockman summed it up, “Indeed, a single startling statistic puts paid to the whole New Deal mythology that FDR rescued the banking system after a veritable heart attack: to wit, losses at failed US banks during the entire 12-year period ending in 1932 amounted to only 2-3 percent of deposits. There never was a sweeping contagion of failure in the banking system.”

Foreshadowing President Obama’s first Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel who said, “You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before,” FDR used this crisis to forever change the very structure of American government.

FDR didn’t introduce his sweeping changes in the dead of night. He campaigned on them. He said he would bring in a New Deal for all Americans and he did. As his first inaugural speech ended he laid his cards on the table, “It is to be hoped that the normal balance of executive and legislative authority may be wholly adequate to meet the unprecedented task before us. But it may be that an unprecedented demand and need for undelayed (sic) action may call for temporary departure from that normal balance of public procedure.”

In these two sentences the new president announced that if he deemed it necessary to upend the balance of powers he would do so. He then threatened to do whatever he thought necessary in the 1933 version of President Obama’s “We can’t wait” proclamation. Instead of saying “I have a pen and I have a phone,” FDR said, “But in the event that the Congress shall fail to take one of these two courses, and in the event that the national emergency is still critical, I shall not evade the clear course of duty that will then confront me. I shall ask the Congress for the one remaining instrument to meet the crisis—broad Executive power to wage a war against the emergency, as great as the power that would be given to me if we were in fact invaded by a foreign foe.”

Congress did not fight. They did not stand on their prerogatives as a co-equal branch. Instead they knuckled under and in 100 days created an alphabet soup of federal agencies to control everything from soup to nuts. America began its dramatic descent from freedom and liberty to servitude and regulation. With FDR’s imagery of a war against an emergency America found itself at war with a recession which had already ended successfully turning it into the Great Depression which wouldn’t end for eight more years.

Since that time we have declared war on poverty. Fifty years and several trillion dollars later and we have just as much poverty as before. We have declared war on drugs and hundreds of thousands of incarcerations and trillions of dollars later and the drug problem is worse than before. We have of course also been in either a hot or a cold war since 1941 and hundreds of thousands of lives and many trillions of dollars later we have less security than we had before.

All of this has led to an erosion of our individual liberty, personal freedom, and economic opportunity. The balance of power has all but dissolved as Congress ceded its power to the executive and the bureaucracy while nine Supreme Justices make all the final decisions.

The Constitution was written to set the foundations for how our nation should be ruled. The First Article of the Constitution established the Legislature and most of the document deals with the Legislature, obviously the most important part of our national government. The part that is closest to the people. Today that body has transferred its power and we are faced with an imperial presidency and a Supreme Court that has decreed itself to be the source and the summit of legitimacy.

John Locke, the inspiration of much that became our Constitution said in his Second Treatise of Civil Government, “The Legislative cannot transfer the Power of Making Laws to any other hands. For it being but a delegated Power from the People, they, who have it, cannot pass it over to others.”

Yet this is what has happened and this is why we are no longer forging ahead at the vanguard of humanity. We are instead rapidly becoming the source of raw materials and a market place for the goods of others: a colony in all but name. Or as the saying goes, the borrower is slave to the lender.

Everywhere I go and everyone I speak with knows America is losing its edge, sliding down a Progressive rat hole into an over-regulated shabby future in the dustbin of History. At the same time everywhere I go and everyone I speak to says, “At least it won’t happen in my day but I feel sorry for the generations coming after me.”

Why do empires fall? Because they think they won’t.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion. He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2015 Contact Dr. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

 

FDR Knew Collective Bargaining Didn’t Work for Public Employees

Posted on June 17, 2011 by Conservative Byte

I think FDR was right, and a number of other Democrats from way back. You simply cannot have state or federal workers unionized. Who do they collectively bargain against? They’re bargaining against the people. Who is it that pays the state workers? It’s not the fat cat in a corporate suite smoking a cigar flying around in his jet. The person who pays the federal or state government worker is his neighbor or a total composition of his neighbors. And to go into collective bargaining against those people, what FDR knew, he was a smart Democrat, what he knew was the last thing that he wanted to happen was for the people to hate government. As a liberal he wanted people to love government.

FDR, if he were alive today he would be ecstatic that people are calling 911 because the Chinese restaurant screwed up. He would be ecstatic people are calling 911 because they’re outta Chicken McNuggets. He would be ecstatic they’re calling 911 cause the guy got the wrong change in a drug deal. You know why? Because guys like FDR have devoted their careers to creating total dependence of government on people. This is a home run. This is what’s sad. This is what really sickens me and infuriates me. We sit here and laugh about the stupidity, but, folks, there’s a reason. There’s a reason that it happens now and it used to not happen. There’s a reason that poor people, when they don’t get their Chicken McNuggets or when the wrong recipe is delivered from the Chinese restaurant, call 911 because they’re told the government’s where they go to get everything fixed. And 911 is an emergency number. They know somebody’s gonna answer that.

 

FDR on Public Unions

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xycy1aNZBzc&feature=related[/youtube]

How FDR got us out of the Great Depression: Lessons for today

Doug Wead is a presidential historian, New York Times bestselling author and adviser to two presidents. He served as special assistant to the president in the George Herbert Walker Bush White House. In 1979 he co-founded Mercy Corps and the International Charity Awards.

Conservatives and Liberals still argue about government’s role in ending the Great Depression and many people see the discussion more relevant today than ever before.  Conservatives point to a compelling 2004 study by two UCLA economics professors showing that Roosevelt’s New Deal policies actually prolonged the recovery.  Written four years before the recent crisis the report concludes that “ill conceived stimulus policies” prolonged the Depression.  But the conventional wisdom of history flows with such force that in 2008 George W. Bush dare not risk laissez faire.

The real story of how America came out of the Great Depression, and FDR’s role in the process, may be less about liberal and conservative government policies and more about good business sense than most modern ideologues might suspect.  The real story is about gold.  And FDR’s frugal, exacting, yes even “conservative,” management style.

What unfolding historic records now show is that FDR picked the British clean, that is, he rearmed Britain in her hour of need, giving her the weapons to stand up against Hitler, but only in exchange for “real wealth.”  First it was gold bullion.  At one point, when Britain dallied, claiming difficulty in getting the gold safely transported, a helpful FDR dispatched an American Battleship to Cape Town, South Africa to complete the task.  We not only took Britain’s gold, we took much of the French gold that had been smuggled out before the collapse of France and much of the Czech gold that had been smuggled out before the collapse of Czechoslovakia.

When the gold bullion was gone, we picked up military bases on British soil around the world.  At one point, Churchill offered the American president entire islands but FDR was too shrewd for that.  It would mean caring for the natives, providing food and employment.  No, FDR just took naval bases, thank you.  And when those were all strategically selected, he took intellectual property, such as radar and the beginnings of our atomic research, a story that until now, has been conveniently ignored by history.  To hear our version, it all happened under the bleachers at the University of Chicago.  Any work of British scientists is downplayed.  The Maud Committee, which operated in Great Britain in 1940, and developed the concepts of uranium enrichment and fission bomb design, is almost never mentioned.

To give you an idea of how all of this put America to work and not only primed the pump and brought us out of the Great Depression but launched us into Super Power status, consider a communiqué from British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill to Harry Hopkins, Franklin Roosevelt’s personal envoy.  The time is June, 1941, when Hitler is launching Barbarossa, his invasion of the Soviet Union.  On the 26th Churchill writes that Britain will need seven months, maybe even nine months, of all available American tank production.  Imagine, no show rooms, no salesmen, no newspaper advertising needed.  Everything being manufactured is already sold in advance.  You get a bit of the picture of how American rocketed out of the Great Depression.

Before the war was over workers at General Motors and Ford in Detroit, Michigan, Nash-Kelvinator in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Studebaker in South Bend, Indiana, were all working in shifts around the clock, manufacturing armed vehicles for the USA, Britain and the Soviet Union.  This was not government stimulus.  This was American work, productivity.  We were manufacturing something that others were willing to buy.

Many times FDR’s emissaries would return from visits to Churchill’s weekend retreat, completely convinced that the cupboard’s were empty, that there was nothing left in Britain to pay for more American production, that the British Empire had been stripped clean.  We now had a moral imperative to defend Britain freely, they would say, to save Western Civilization.  But the wily Roosevelt was always dubious.  There had to be something more, natural resources from the colonies, perhaps something more from Canada or elsewhere that can be bartered and sent our way.  Only when Great Britain was absolutely threadbare, and the Commonwealth reasonably raided as well, and FDR’s many envoys and spies assured him that there was nothing left, did he generously announce “Lend Lease,” which meant we would now finally “loan” Britain the money to buy even more from us.  That was 18 months after the beginning of World War Two.

This is not to say that we Americans were not generous.  At the end of the war, under Harry Truman we offered magnificent loans of product and equipment to Great Britain, with minimal interest.  Our Marshall Plan saved France and Germany and the rest of Europe from descending into poverty.  It alone represented a subsidy of $13 billion at a time when our national GDP was $258 billion. But rather this is to show how American production, not American deficit spending, brought us out of the Great Depression.  And how our initial management of that production created the wealth we could later shower upon the world. It was the biggest transfer of wealth in the shortest period of time in modern history.  It dwarfs what the oil cartel has done since the 1970’s.  The British finally paid back their debts to the United States in December, 2006.

Well, you might say, “Why haven’t I heard about all of this before?” And the answer is that only now are historians beginning to catch up with the truth of those years for much of it was buried as “classified” by the Anglo-American governments.  And then, interested parties had their own political reasons for crafting alternative versions.  Churchill, for example, had no desire to go down in history as the man who lost the British Empire.  Indeed as politicians often do, he successfully portrayed himself as the very opposite, the man who tried to hold it together, wrapping himself in the Union Jack and openly mourning the ongoing loss of British colonies.

Keep in mind.  Wealth is basically what people want.  It may be oil to run automobiles, or timber to build houses and schools.  In the middle ages, timber was so scarce in Great Britain that stealing wood was a hanging offense.  Just as stealing a horse was in the American West.  So wealth may be a horse, or timber, iron, oil, diamonds or gold.  And while man can often create his own wealth, such as mixing cooper with iron to create the more malleable bronze for fashioning new weapons or tools, or today building computers or automobiles in a manufacturing plant, much of the wealth of the world is natural, God given, taken from the land and then transformed by man.

The British Empire had virtually ruled the world for a hundred of its three hundred years of existence.  The sun never set on their Empire.  So for years this natural wealth flowed in ships to the British Isles or was traded with neighboring nations for something else and that resource or luxury was then brought home.  It was extracted from the earth by colonial labor, a more politically acceptable form of serfdom.  And all those years those tiny British Isles were defended by the world’s greatest navy.

Now, all of this begs the following questions.  If FDR would not accept paper notes as repayment for American loans to our English speaking brothers, if he demanded gold bullion, iron ore, oil, diamonds, timber, intellectual property, military bases, all at a time when Hitler threatened western civilization, then why would the communist regime in the People’s Republic of China accept anything less?  Why would China subsidize and finance a trillion dollar American war in Iraq and accept printed paper money, diluted in value by inflation, as its repayment?

In 1940-41, Great Britain used her wealth to buy product from the United States, the greatest manufacturer on earth.  And when she had no wealth, we loaned her the money to buy even more and indebt future generations.  Today, the United States has used its wealth to buy product from the People’s Republic of China, the greatest manufacturer on earth.  And now that we have no wealth, she is loaning us the money to buy more.

So what will China now demand in repayment?  Will she demand intellectual property?  Weapon research? Military bases? Natural resources? The British repaid us in 2006, when will we repay China?

America’s economic and political future depends on your view of history.  If you still believe that she emerged from the great depression through government deficit spending and stimulus programs, our future will be bright indeed.  For our spending today in relation to GDP is staggering and is not far off from our spending of 1941-45.  But if you believe that America worked or produced her way out of the Great Depression in exchange for “wealth.”  If you believe that the bulging gold reserves of Fort Knox made us the world’s richest nation, then we may soon find ourselves in the position of Great Britain and Europe at the end of World War Two.  They were then at the mercy of the generosity of the United States.  We will be at the mercy of the People’s Republic of China.

Finally We All Agree

Progressive policies don’t work.  Everyone, even Progressives agree that their vast array of policies and the programs they always birth don’t work. 

That the provocateurs of these endless policy schemes agree that they don’t work is proven by the fact that these same Progressives constantly seek to revise, revamp, and expand every program they ever impose.  If they were working why is there a need for continuous upgrades?

That Conservatives agree must be deduced by their rhetoric since they do little else except talk. That talk always sounds merely like tinkering with the system since the repeal of these failed policies seldom if ever escapes their lips, unless there is an election on the horizon.

If we now add the recently awakened, no longer silent majority, to the mix we come across a constituency that gets it: these programs don’t work.  Yes, they may accomplish some worthwhile things in the short run, but are they sustainable?  Do these building blocks of the corporate state build a monument to the freedom of humanity or do they instead build a prison for the human spirit?

Yes, everyone agrees the cradle-to-grave nanny-state programs of the Progressive corporate state don’t work. What we disagree on is the motive for their imposition and the remedy for their failure.

In the social sciences it’s impossible to run controlled experiments.  Since the mice can talk they’re always asking, “Who moved my cheese?”  And since they have a nasty habit of jumping over the walls of the maze they confound the best laid plans and preconceived results of the social engineers.  For example, though the widely accepted social engineer Karl Marx assured us that the implementation of his programs would create a worker’s paradise the pesky workers from East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Romania and all the other beautiful places his disciples managed to turn into hell holes kept jumping off the treadmill to nowhere.  They kept voting with their feet and choosing freedom with every opportunity. 

Consult the dustbin of History for the results.  Compare the economies and lifestyles of East and West Germany, Mao’s China and Hong Kong, the USSR and the USA.  Look at the stark contrast between the economy and lifestyle of North and South Korea.  Bring it closer to home and compare California and Texas.  There is no more fitting monument to several generations of Progressive leadership than the once proud motor-city of Detroit.  The policies and programs of the Progressive social engineers have caused more misery, injustice, poverty, and destruction than Attila ever dreamed of or Genghis Khan ever accomplished.  The Progressive secular saints have left a trail of broken dreams littering their path to paradise.

Margret Thatcher told us the problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money, and I will add that the problem with our homegrown Progressive policies is that no one spends other people’s money as carefully as they spend their own.  If the government confiscates ten dollars from citizen A, then takes a fifty percent administration fee to redistribute it to citizen B, how can that five dollars returned to the economy be a net plus?  To say we’ll lose a little on each transaction and make it up in volume makes no more sense when it’s government policy than when it’s an example of poor logic.

In addition, in any system dedicated to the redistribution of wealth those who do the redistribution always seem to skim a little more than a little off the top.  And while all this selfless redistribution is going on our freedoms fall through the cracks.  Progressives talk much about freedom.  They want freedom from traditions, and freedom from decorum.  They want freedom of speech if that speech agrees with them.  They want freedom to practice any religion anywhere at any time, a masque at ground zero for example, but no nativities in public squares or prayers at high school graduations. Check that dustbin of history again; the only Presidents in modern American History who ever rounded up citizens for who they were, what they said, or what they wrote were the Progressives Wilson and FDR.

So if we agree the policies of Progressives don’t work what is the dispute that keeps us from completely agreeing?  Our disagreement centers on two things: motives and remedies.

As to motives the Progressives contend they want to help their fellow man.  No one is stopping them from doing so. They could give of their own resources or volunteer at a soup kitchen any time they feel the need to create a just society.  Instead, they want to force others to pay the freight for their ideas as to what causes and what people are worthy of assistance.  This is usually accomplished by them keeping their own money in their pockets while receiving the administrator’s redistribution skim/bonus.  Here’s the disagreement.  It’s transparently obvious the motive is not to help but to re-order, not to augment the system but to change it.

Looking at remedies, the Progressive’s answer to the fact that their Plan A always fails is to try Plan A again except this time make it bigger.  The remedy seen as purely commonsense to everyone else is Plan B.  Take the current mad rush to insolvency as an example.  We recently had a watershed election shouting as loud as possible, “STOP THE SPENDING!”  And what does the Progressive leadership of the twin parties give us, more spending, more spending, and just for good measure more spending.

It doesn’t take a genius to realize that when you are trapped in a hole the first thing you should do is stop digging.  When you’re bleeding to death the first thing to do is stop the bleeding.  Just look at the trial balloons floated by even the most fiscally responsible pragmatists the media call conservatives: return spending to what it was under George II.  That was unsustainable.  It was merely a slower ride to the poor house.

What we need is real change: balanced budgets, policies that will re-industrialize America, an end to wars we won’t win, open borders, and an end to inflationary monetary policy that will eventually collapse our economy.  Can we finally all agree on that?

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion for Southside Virginia Community College.  He is the author of the History of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com View the trailer for Dr. Owens’ latest book @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ypkoS0gGn8 © 2010 Robert R. Owens dr.owens@comcast.net  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook.

Guess Who?

By Thomas Sowell
November 2, 2010

Guess who said the following: “We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work.” Was it Sarah Palin? Rush Limbaugh? Karl Rove?

Not even close. It was Henry Morgenthau, Secretary of the Treasury under Franklin D. Roosevelt and one of FDR’s closest advisers. He added, “after eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started. . . And an enormous debt to boot!”

This is just one of the remarkable and eye-opening facts in a must-read book titled “New Deal or Raw Deal?” by Professor Burton W. Folsom, Jr., of Hillsdale College.

Ordinarily, what happened in the 1930s might be something to be left for historians to be concerned about. But the very same kinds of policies that were tried– and failed– during the 1930s are being carried out in Washington today, with the advocates of such policies often invoking FDR’s New Deal as a model.

Franklin D. Roosevelt blamed the country’s woes on the problems he inherited from his predecessor, much as Barack Obama does today. But unemployment was 20 percent in the spring of 1939, six long years after Herbert Hoover had left the White House.

Whole generations have been “educated” to believe that the Roosevelt administration is what got this country out of the Great Depression. History text books by famous scholars like Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., of Harvard and Henry Steele Commager of Columbia have enshrined FDR as a historic savior of this country, and lesser lights in the media and elsewhere have perpetuated the legend.

Although Professor Schlesinger admitted that he had little interest in economics, that did not stop him from making sweeping statements about what a great economic achievement the New Deal was.

Professors Commager and Morris of Columbia likewise declared: “The character of the Republican ascendancy of the twenties had been pervasively negative; the character of the New Deal was overwhelmingly positive.” Anyone unfamiliar with the history of that era might never suspect from such statements that the 1920s were a decade of unprecedented prosperity and the 1930s were a decade of the deepest and longest-lasting depression in American history. But facts have taken a back seat to rhetoric.

In more recent years, there have been both academic studies and popular books debunking some of the myths about the New Deal. Nevertheless, Professor Folsom’s book “New Deal or Raw Deal?” breaks new ground. Although written by an academic scholar and based on years of documented research, it is as readable as a newspaper– and a lot more informative than most.

There are few historic events whose legends are more grossly different from the reality than the New Deal administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt. And there are few men whose image has been more radically different from the man himself.

Some of the most devastating things that were said about FDR were not said by his political enemies but by people who worked closely with him for years– Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau being just one. Morgenthau saw not only the utter failure of Roosevelt’s policies, but also the failure of Roosevelt himself, who didn’t even know enough economics to realize how little he knew.

Far from pulling the country out of the Great Depression by following Keynesian policies, FDR created policies that prolonged the depression until it was more than twice as long as any other depression in American history. Moreover, Roosevelt’s ad hoc improvisations followed nothing as coherent as Keynesian economics. To the extent that FDR followed the ideas of any economist, it was an obscure economist at the University of Wisconsin, who was disdained by other economists and who was regarded with contempt by John Maynard Keynes.

President Roosevelt’s strong suit was politics, not economics. He played the political game both cleverly and ruthlessly, including using both the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service to harass and intimidate his critics and opponents.

It is not a pretty story. But we need to understand it if we want to avoid the ugly consequences of very similar policies today.

Echoes of the Great Depression

As in the 1930s, policy uncertainty and hostility to business have retarded recovery. At least this time around the political price for economic failure promises to be swift.

The Wall Street Journal
OCTOBER 1, 2010

By PHIL GRAMM
This may not be your grandfather’s Great Depression, but many aspects of today’s situation would remind him of the 1930s. If the recession that officially ended a year ago feels uncomfortably surreal to you yet familiar to him, it’s probably because the recovery went missing.
During the average recovery since World War II, gross domestic product (GDP) surpassed the pre-recession high five quarters after the recession began. It has never taken longer than seven quarters. Yet today, after 11 quarters, GDP is still below what it was in the fourth quarter of 2007. The economy is growing at only about a third of the rate of previous postwar recoveries from major recessions.
Obama administration officials such as Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner have argued that without their policies the economy would be worse, and we might have fallen “off a cliff.” While this assertion cannot be tested, we can compare the recent experience of other countries to our own.
The chart nearby compares total 2007 employment levels in the United States, the United Kingdom, the 16 euro zone countries, the G-7 countries and all OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries with those of the second quarter of 2010. There are 4.6% fewer people employed in the U.S. today than at the start of the recession. Euro zone countries have lost 1.7% of their jobs. Total employment in the U.K. is down 0.6%, G-7 average employment is down 2.4%, and OECD employment has fallen 1.9%.


This simple comparison suggests two things. First, that American economic policy has been less effective in increasing employment than the policies of other developed nations. Second, that if there was a cliff out there, no country fell off. Those that suffered the most were the most profligate, such as Greece, and their problems can’t be blamed on the financial crisis. While the most recent quarterly growth figures are just a snapshot in time, it is hardly encouraging that economic growth in the U.S. (1.7%) is lower than in the euro zone (4%), U.K. (4.8%), G-7 (2.8%) and OECD (2%).

Most striking about these comparisons is their similarity to the U.S. experience in the Great Depression. Using data from the League of Nations’ World Economic Survey, we can look at unemployment in developed nations between 1929 and the end of 1938. Ten years after the stock market crash, total employment in the U.S. was still almost 20% below the pre-Depression level. The decline in France was similar. But in the U.K. and Italy, total employment was up 10% and 12%, respectively. Industrial production on average in the six most developed countries was almost 16% above their 1929 levels by the end of 1938, but industrial production had declined by 20% in the U.S.
Today’s lagging growth and persistent high unemployment are reminiscent of the 1930s, perhaps because in no other period of American history has our government followed policies as similar to those of the Great Depression era
. Federal debt by the end of 1938 was almost 150% above the 1929 level. Federal spending grew by 77% from 1932 to 1934 as the New Deal was implemented—unprecedented for peacetime.
Still the economy did not take off. Winston Churchill gave a contemporary evaluation of the Roosevelt policy by observing, in the April 24, 1935, Daily Mail, “Nearly two thousand millions Sterling have been poured out to prime the pump of prosperity; but prosperity has not begun to flow.”
The top individual income tax rate rose from 24% to 63% to 79% during the Hoover and Roosevelt administrations. Corporate rates were increased to 15% from 11%, and when private businesses did not invest, Congress imposed a 27% undistributed profits tax.
In 1929, the U.S. government collected $1.1 billion in total income taxes; by 1935 collections had fallen to $527 million. In 1929, individual income taxes accounted for 38% of government revenues, corporate taxes accounted for 43%, and excise taxes for 19%. By 1939, individual income taxes made up only 26% of federal revenues, corporate income taxes made up 29%, and excise taxes made up 45%.
When Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau suggested to President Roosevelt that the administration cut income tax rates in 1939, Roosevelt, apparently concerned about the possible effect of deficit-financed tax cuts on interest rates, asked, “You are willing to pay usury in order to get recovery?” Morgenthau said that he responded, “Yes sir.” The president disagreed.
The Roosevelt administration also conducted a seven-year populist tirade against private business, which FDR denounced as the province of “economic royalists” and “malefactors of great wealth.” The war on business and wealth was so traumatic that the League of Nations’ 1939 World Economic Survey attributed part of the poor U.S. economic performance to it: “The relations between the leaders of business and the Administration were uneasy, and this uneasiness accentuated the unwillingness of private enterprise to embark on further projects of capital expenditure which might have helped to sustain the economy.”
Churchill, who was generally guarded when criticizing New Deal policies, could not hold back. “The disposition to hunt down rich men as if they were noxious beasts,” he noted in “Great Contemporaries” (1939), is “a very attractive sport.” But “confidence is shaken and enterprise chilled, and the unemployed queue up at the soup kitchens or march out to the public works with ever growing expense to the taxpayer and nothing more appetizing to take home to their families than the leg or wing of what was once a millionaire. . . It is indispensable to the wealth of nations and to the wage and life standards of labour, that capital and credit should be honoured and cherished partners in the economic system. . . .”
The regulatory burden exploded during the Roosevelt administration, not just through the creation of new government agencies but through an extraordinary barrage of executive orders—more than all subsequent presidents through Bill Clinton combined. Then, as now, uncertainty reigned. As the textile innovator Lammot du Pont complained in 1937, “Uncertainty rules the tax situation, the labor situation, the monetary situation, and practically every legal condition under which industry must operate.”
Henry Morgenthau
summarized the policy failure to the House Ways and Means Committee in April 1939: “Now, gentleman, we have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work . . . I say after eight years of this administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started . . . and an enormous debt, to boot.”
Despite the striking similarities between then and now, there is one major difference: Roosevelt’s policies remained popular even as the economy faltered. The magnitude of the Depression, with its lack of stabilizers and safety nets, traumatized Americans and undermined their confidence in the economic system. This induced voters, as historians would later do, to judge Roosevelt not on his results but on his intentions.
Today, however, the Obama program appears to be failing politically as well as in the marketplace. The trauma of the financial crisis did not approach that of the Great Depression, and Americans do not appear to have lost faith in our economic system or come to see government as the savior. While progressivism gave the New Deal its intellectual foundations, history today is driven by the freedom tide that produced our economic revival in the 1980s and ’90s and still drives economic liberalization in China and India.
Finally, we should not underestimate that this administration faces stronger and more united congressional opposition than FDR ever faced. The House and Senate Republican leadership has far surpassed all expectations of a minority party.
Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and John Boehner of Ohio have led a loyal opposition that, through its unity, has exposed the radical underbelly of the Obama program. Young guns like Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Jeb Hensarling of Texas have provided vision and energy.
FDR rode the tide of history while President Obama strives mightily against it.
The progressive vision that resonated in the 1930s foundered on the hard experience of the 20th century, and it has no broad appeal in the 21st. The recovery from the Great Depression did not occur until World War II was underway, but it appears, as of today, that voters will bring the latest experiment in American collectivism to an end on Nov. 2. A real economic recovery won’t be far behind.
Mr. Gramm is a former U.S. senator from Texas and former professor of economics at Texas A&M University.

Obama, Warren and The Imperial Presidency

The Wall Street journal
OPINION
SEPTEMBER 22, 2010
The Senate should vote on all senior appointments within 60 days. But the president should give it a chance to vote.


By BRUCE ACKERMAN
President Obama’s appointment of Elizabeth Warren late last week is another milestone down the path toward an imperial presidency. During America’s first 150 years, Ms. Warren’s appointment as a special adviser to the White House would have been unthinkable. Today, it’s par for the course.
Only in 1939 did Franklin Roosevelt win the right to appoint six “special assistants.” To gain congressional approval, he pledged that his assistants would act strictly as advisers. Thus they did not require Senate confirmation.
Since Roosevelt’s initiative, presidents of both parties have consistently expanded the size and power of the White House establishment. There are now more than 500 super-loyalists intervening in the affairs of Cabinet departments. But until now, presidents have maintained the legal fiction that they were merely advisers without decision-making powers.
No longer. As White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs explained, Ms. Warren has been appointed “to lead” a team of “about 30 or 40 people at the Department of Treasury working” in “standing up” the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

This burst of candor punctures the legal fiction that has exempted White House appointees from the Constitution’s requirement of “advice and consent” from the Senate. Since Ms. Warren will be a key executive in Treasury, earning the salary of an undersecretary, shouldn’t she be treated as an undersecretary and be required to run the gauntlet of Senate approval?
To deflect this question, the president’s lawyers have cobbled together yet another legal fiction. The trick is to give her a second appointment. In addition to serving as President Obama’s special assistant, she will also serve as a special adviser to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. This allows her to pretend she is Mr. Geithner’s humble consultant when she and her staff come up with an action plan for the new agency.
This legalistic gambit serves as a fig leaf for a very different reality: Mr. Geithner will never reject any of Ms. Warren’s “advice.” The simple truth is that the Treasury secretary is being transformed into a rubber stamp for a White House staffer.
In his great book on 19th-century British government, “The English Constitution,” Walter Bagehot emphasized the importance of distinguishing the “efficient” from the “dignified” aspects of the constitution. Britain’s “dignified” constitution then focused on the Queen, diverting attention from the “efficient” power wielded by the Cabinet.
A similar but opposite transformation is happening in today’s America. The dignified Constitution emphasizes Senate confirmation of cabinet officers, but effective power is increasingly exercised by presidential assistants. Despite Mr. Obama’s campaign against the excesses of the Bush White House, he is now making his own contribution to the ongoing construction of an imperial presidency.
Maybe so, say the president’s defenders, but the Senate has only itself to blame. John Kennedy had to wait two months for the Senate to confirm his initial round of nominees. It took six months for Ronald Reagan, and nine for George W. Bush, and even longer for Mr. Obama. Given the Senate’s increasing intransigence, the president has no choice but to engage in legal fictions that will allow him to govern effectively. Although Republicans are condemning Mr. Obama for creating another White House czar, they will change their tune if their party regains control of the presidency and confronts a Democratic roadblock in the Senate.
Americans can break through this impasse if both sides negotiate a “grand bargain.” Here is the deal: The Senate should change its rules to require an up-or-down vote on all executive branch appointments within 60 days. In exchange, the president should sign legislation to require Senate approval of all senior White House appointments. By reaching this agreement, the president regains the powers to govern effectively and the Senate regains its authority to approve all major appointments—regardless of their location in the executive branch.
This grand bargain requires both sides to give up the petty privileges of the existing system. Senators will lose their power to hold up nominations to blackmail the administration into approving their pet projects. Presidents will lose their ability to appoint super-loyalists who can’t convince 51 senators that they merit powerful White House positions. But the rest of us will profit greatly from the reinvigoration of the founding principle of checks-and-balances for a new century.
Mr. Ackerman is a professor at Yale and the author of “The Decline and Fall of the American Republic,” forthcoming from Harvard University Press.

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