Is America turning to a different path? (2)
Posted on May 13, 2009
An ancient socialist on a molding basement wall; photo by crackhouse
Is America turning to a different path?
Part 2) “A Much Better America we can easily achieve ”
(Utopia, here we come!)
There is, of course, a much better America we can easily achieve.
I can safely say that we all want that.
All we need… is ‘a little more’ planning. That much is pretty obvious. And for the planning to work, it has to have some teeth. It need not be called coercive planning. That does not sound nice. So we shall just pass some laws, and that makes it into ‘democratic planning’. Because after all, the government was democratically elected. Yes, democratic planning it shall be,with the force of law, and we shall surely achieve a much better America.
Wait a minute. There is a pesky dissenter present, some kind of Irish anarchist, who is loudly complaining that more enforced central planning -by definition- represents a retreat from individual freedom. And that a retreat from individual freedom, in return for promises of economic security, renders those who retreat powerless if the economic promises of bounty are not kept. How annoying. Such people just don’t get it. We are trying to make a much better America.
This is an important task, and why do we have these doubters?
They are holding things up. Highly unpatriotic. Borderline treason. Maybe we need some more laws. Maybe it needs to be illegal to criticize President Obama by telling blatant lies. Okay, let’s make a law that says obstruction of the progress towards our much better America is an act of treason. Now, we have another dissenter? What!? Well, what we’ll do this time is this…..
You’ll see I’m poking some fun here. But the underlying modus operandi described is accurate.
Benito Mussolini had a clear picture of the Italian Fascist Paradise. Vast crowds cheered him on. People went delirious with delight when he appeared in public. Women wept, threw flowers, and men had tears in their eyes. Emotion, emotion, emotion. High, high expectations. A golden new age. Where have I recently seen that same sort of hysteria? And the high expectations? I can’t think… There is a lot of evidence that our very own President Franklin D.Roosevelt was heavily influenced by the Italian model. And what was this model? In a word: heavy state control over the means of production, strong central authority. A powerful, authoritarian, collectivist state. A lot of power over ordinary people’s lives, which, get this, was concentrated in very few hands. And lots of loud cheers. Hard to believe that they lynched poor Benito not many years afterwards…
Hmmm.. but what about freedom under Italian fascism? There is a famous quote from “Il Duce ” Mussolini, in which he comes right out with it, no punches pulled. He says:
“We were the first to assert that the more complicated the forms assumed by civilization, the more restricted the freedom of the individual must become. “
Duh. What!? More restricted…?
And there we have an important issue: the relationship between individual freedom and strong central planning.
Is it right for Americans to forgo, in dribs and drabs, more and more of their individual freedoms, for the sake of the alleged common good? When strong Central government reaches out, into your wallet, and takes more and more, for the common good of course, do you have any right to feel resentful? When strong central government makes decisions that cannot be reversed for decades, because those hundreds of billions already ‘have been borrowed’ and already ‘have been spent’, and will ‘have to be’ paid back over a period of decades, do you have any right to protest against a democratically elected government? Let’s be straight about this: a Federal Elite, in a one hundred day Blitzkrieg, spending $12 Billion dollars a day, has committed you and me and our descendants for DECADES to chump up a substantial portion of our earnings. The fruits of our labor are being CONFISCATED. And this action, for which we will pay for decades, was rammed through in a very short period, in a most non-transparent manner. Stacks and stacks of paper work, yards thick, deliberately designed to be as opaque as possible. And remember, EVERYBODY pays. Direct taxes, or indirect taxes, or costs passed on to the consumer, or other creative ways to milk the cow (inflation), EVERYBODY PAYS. It elevates naivety to truly Olympian Gold medal proportions for intelligent people to still believe that only those earning more than $200,000 per year will pay for this clatter-bang orgy of fiscal extravagance…
The Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville, a nineteenth century political thinker and statesman, put it this way:
“Democracy extends the sphere of individual freedom, socialism restricts it. Democracy attaches all possible value to each man; socialism makes each man a mere agent, a mere number. Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word: equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude. ”
Oh, what nonsense! Somebody might say. What have Mussolini and present day America in common?
Adolf Hitler came to power, many Historians attest, not with a majority. Nowhere near it, in fact. He was seen by many as the only man powerful enough to ‘get things sorted out’. He was living proof, if such proof was needed, that a relatively small, well organized and dedicated minority can assume vast powers, when a political vacuum exists. All sorts of varied segments of German society supported him. Or,to be more precise, they supported their perception of him. Industrialists and capitalists supported him, and most of the unemployed did so too. Idealistic students supported him, housewives did, and many clergy did as well, such as Professor Eduard Heiman, one of the leaders of, get this, “German religious socialism “. Hitler proclaimed himself to be the defender of democracy. And the defender of true socialism.
He even claimed to be the protector of Christianity. Crowds cheered wildly, and the adulation was palpable. Anybody who has ever watched those old newsreels can sense the electricity. Hitler was about as far removed from old style classic nineteenth century liberalism (not today’s pseudo version) as can possibly be imagined. He most certainly never claimed to be the defender of individual freedom, and a proponent of small central government. “Laissez faire ” ( “let the markets sort themselves out, and let a free people do their thing “) was not part of his thinking. It is easy to assume therefore that Hitler killed classic old style German liberalism. Wrong. He did not. Old style liberalism, the sacred freedom of the individual, was already dead. It was not Hitler who killed it off. It was socialism.
That very same, well meaning socialist thinking, espoused by many sincere and warm hearted people, that we see very much in evidence in the great USA of today, 2009.
Oh, what nonsense! Somebody might say. What could Hitler and Nazism possibly have in common with America today?
I really recommend a book called “The Forgotten Man – A new History of the Great Depression ” by Amity Schlaes. You can read one of my reviews of it on www.Amazon.com. The book is worth it just for Chapter Two alone. Titled “The Junket “, it describes in fascinating detail the 1927 pilgrimage of a group of young, eager, sincere, intellectuals to Russia. They were academics, magazine writers and union men. They sailed off on a steam ship to visit the Socialist workers’ paradise. They actually personally met Stalin in the Kremlin. They returned, aglow with enthusiasm, and many of them rose later to great prominence on the American political stage. Fired up they were, and determined to impose their benign wisdom on the simple American plebs. The Ordinary Folk, not to be trusted, poor dears, with decisions that required too much thinking. History was -eventually- to prove that they were misled, naive, cloud cuckoo land minded Utopian idealists. With an uncertain grasp of the realities of human nature, and the workings of a free market. And with little comprehension at all of Stalin’s cruelty and mass extermination policies. But meanwhile, the harm they did was incalculable. They massively misled American public opinion about Stalin, albeit with the sincerest of motives, pure as the driven snow. Their ‘rose tinted spectacles’ way of thinking had a massive impact on a later weak thinking president. This gentleman, surrounded by sycophants and admirers, and personally poorly read on matters of Economics and History, unfortunately regarded himself as a wise statesman and a deep thinker. And unfortunately he managed, allied with a pliable gaggle of equally well meaning newspaper columnists, to convince most -not all- of the American people of this. The initial impetus of this ‘voyage of the dreamers’ to Stalin in 1927, backed up after 1932 by an intellectual core of elitists, who were so clever that they simply ‘knew’ what was best for every common American grunt, was to fundamentally change the direction of World History. Very much for the worst…
Oh what nonsense! Somebody might say. What have Stalin and America today in common?
Mussolini, Hitler and Stalin are long dead! Ancient history! This is America in 2009! What possible lessons can we learn from a bunch of old fogies?
The answer, I would respectfully suggest, to all of the questions posed above, is: human nature.
Stalin, in 1927, had a lot on his mind. The Soviet revolution, for all its bally-hoopla and its appeal to starry eyed, left leaning socialist dreamers, was failing. Communism needed cash, lots of it. Only the West, possessed such resources. Stalin needed to be legitimized, approved, formerly recognized, so he could qualify for Western loans and economic support. And cement his cruel, despotic, and secretly bloody power base in Russia. He also very much wanted to win over the American labor movement. Communism’s ‘inevitable’ eventual world wide domination might have been -diplomatically- shoved aside in favor of “Socialism in One Country “, but Stalin’s real colors were yet to erupt forth. They would later do so at the conferences of Casablanca, Cairo and Yalta. And sweep away the pitiful, token objections of a weak, sick, tired, and grievously naive US President.
The points that are really, screamingly relevant to America in 2009, flow forth from these historical tragedies like a never ending, bound-to-be-repeated requiem for idealistic, well meaning innocence. Plentifully present today!
1) Socialism undermines the freedom of the individual
2) Any intellectual elitists who imagine that “they know best “, and that important decisions, such as how to spend money cannot be left to little people, is well on the way towards hubris and a dangerous, dictatorial, totalitarian outlook
3) the bigger and more powerful ANY central regime becomes, and the more power is concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, the more the risk factor screams up to the point where cataclysmic mistakes can -and will- be made.
And whatever lofty sounding new tags and catchphrases these intellectuals come up with, to distract the attention of the “Historically illiterate Ones “, terms like “individualist socialism ” and “democratic socialism “, you can rest assured that this wonderful and perfect America they promise us, courtesy of their unique wisdom and insight, is simply not achievable. And worse, the attempt to reach it by force through a powerful Elite, WILL result in an unrecognizable America we would not like.
I would like to chuck in a revealing anecdote about Mrs Clinton. Her of the Dickensian begging bowl performance in China ( “Please, Sir, can I have some more? “). I.e.: “Please buy our Treasury Bonds, because we need to borrow lots and lots of your money so we can build a stronger America. Oh, and please be nice to everybody. ” (I’m tempted to add: “Because if you are not nice to Tibet, or Taiwan, or our Navy ships in international water, or anybody, we might be forced to borrow more money off you so we can teach you a lesson “)
Notice above,whilst talking about Alexis de Toqueville, this phrase I quoted:
“Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word: equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude. “
Back to Mrs Clinton. There is a very interesting book out called “The End of Prosperity – how higher taxes will doom the economy – if we let it happen. ” By Laffer, Moore and Tanous. (For my Amazon review on this book, go to www.amazon.com, select ‘books ” and dial in the title.) On page 288 there is described a small, but telling incident involving the current Secretary of State. Quote:
“Some politicians, and we would put Barack Obama in this camp, will vote for these economy killers because they are first and foremost obsessed with creating a ‘fair society’, with equality of income. They are willing to sacrifice growth… ”
If that does not sound like a REgressive flashback to early nineteenth century socialism, then I’ll eat my headsets.
Remember the French revolution? The catchphrase?
Equalite, liberte, fraternite!
Equality, liberty, brotherhood!
The author continues:
“Dick Morris, a Bill Clinton political consultant, recently told us a story about being in the Clinton White House and getting a complaint from then First Lady Hillary Clinton about the bipartisan tax plan that her husband was about to sign into law even though it included a capital gains tax cut. Mrs Clinton thought that this would be a giveaway to the rich and she opposed the policy. After Morris explained to her that ‘all of the evidence indicates that this tax cut will raise revenue for the government and will help the economy, she responded by saying,
‘Dick, that may be so, but I still think it’s unfair.’
Her ideology has trumped common sense… “
I agree with the author, and I might add: her ideology resonates with old, discredited, and poorly thought out themes.
It’s a puzzle to many of us that more of the electorate don’t pick up on these points:
First: the resurgence of extreme socialism.
Of the old, old school. A centuries old school. (Yawn….) Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Trotsky, Lenin…. hundreds of visionaries. They all took a wander down that cozy dream road…. until reality set in. Equality is not possible. Life is not fair. Even if by a magic stroke all men were equal for one moment in time, within days some -the hard working ones, the brilliant ones, the lucky ones- would soon soar ahead of the pack.
I hate to say it, but when I read Hillary anecdotes like that, I feel that “Rainbow Dream Number Eighteen-oh-Five ” is still going strong, it seems…
Far from being fair, this political dogma is Massively Unfair.
You can research these figures yourself, it fluctuates, but roughly:
The top 1 per cent of income-tax payers now shoulder 40 per cent of all income tax collections
The top 5 per cent of income tax payers now shoulder 60 per cent of all income tax collections.
Am I missing something here? What is fair about that?
Ahem. Mrs Clinton is one of many Democrats who are staggeringly wealthy. Indeed, many were born with a silver spoon in their mouths. She can make twenty five thousand dollars in a couple of hours just by speaking engagements. Bumping her gums to crowds of fervent admirers, rabid groupies who will thump the tables and cheer whatever she says. The rules of fairness and equality don’t -of course- apply to Mrs Clinton and co. Note this fact. They are special. They are the Great Elite. The Enlightened Ones. What possible comparison could anybody make between the inestimable value of their brilliant talents and the tens of thousands of pesky, annoying, parasitic employers and capital investors who actually put millions and millions of people to work on a daily basis? Those economic royalists? The persecutors of the proletariat?
I would respectfully suggest that if it’s good enough for Mrs Clinton and her compadres to be so wealthy -because of their purported unique talent, insight and wisdom- then it’s good enough for those pesky “economic royalists “, the business and professional elite, to aspire to wealth and reward as well…
Fourth: crude voter appeal
Class warfare begets the votes. As old, as tarnished, as worn as that old record is, there is still always that seductive element. Unscrupulous politicians can still count on piling in the votes if they appeal to primitive emotions: green eyed jealousy and class envy. Never mind the obvious contradiction they serve us up every day: on the one hand they express their noble concern for the unemployed. Their compassion. “We feel your pain “. But on the other side, the employers, the capital venturists, the professional classes, are treated as pariahs… Excuse me, but if you really care about the unemployed, should you not also care about the potential employers? Or do you really think “The Government, Inc ” can employ everybody in a gainful manner? That has been tried before – many, many times. Are we really going to go down that cul-de-sac again? Do we have to drag up and expose -once again- the wasteful nonsense of FDR’s multiple shovel leaning make-work boondoggles?
Fifth: lack of economic training and reading
Consider Mrs Clinton’s statement, quoted above: ‘Dick, that may be so, but I still think it’s unfair.’
Ma’am: it is so. And, I might add, if you did some serious reading on the twin subject of Economics and History, you would know that it is so. This is a well documented principle that goes back to at least as far as Andrew Mellon, Hoover’s Secretary of the Treasury. A man crudely persecuted and defamed later by FDR’s faithful lackeys, the IRS investigative department.
Mrs Clinton’s statement of course may ring some bells with those who remember another famous pronouncement on the subject, this time by Mr Obama, exposing his lack of depth and knowledge in the field of economics. And his ideological obsession with fairness. And of course equality.
My source for this, once again, is “The End of Prosperity ” Chapter 1, “The Gathering Economic Storm “, pages 9 and 10.
In an interview with Charlie Gibson of ABC news, the following exchange took place:
Gibson: Senator, you have said you would favor an increase in the capital gains tax. You said on CNBC, and I quote: “I certainly would not go above what existed under Bill Clinton, ” which was 28 per cent. It’s now 15 per cent. That’s almost a doubling, if you went to 28 per cent.
Gibson: And George Bush has taken it down to 15 per cent. And in each instance, when the rate dropped, revenue from the tax increased: the government took in more money. And in the 1980’s, when the tax was increased to 28 per cent, the revenues went down. So why raise it at all, especially given the fact that 100 million people in this country own stock and would be affected?
Obama: Well, Charlie, what I’ve said is that I would look at raising the capital gains tax for purpose of fairness.
We saw an article today which showed that the top fifty hedge fund managers made $29 billion last year – $28 billion for fifty individuals. And part of what has happened is that those who are able to work the stock market and amass huge fortunes on capital gains are paying a lower tax rate than their secretaries. That’s not fair
Gibson: . But history shows that when you drop the capital gains tax, the revenues go up.
Obama: Well, that might happen, or it might not.
It might happen, or it might not? Sir, it’s a matter of doing some basic research. Small wonder that the authors summed it up in this scathing paragraph on page 10:
“This amazing exchange left us scratching our heads and wondering whether this gifted orator who can fill stadiums with 70,000 or more adoring fans and followers and says that he is promoting the “Audacity of Hope ” has even the slightest clue about how economics works in the real world. How jobs are created. How entrepreneurs and risk takers create wealth. “
In chapter 14, ominously entitled “The Death of economic sanity “, there is this statement:
“One gets the feeling that for some politicians the main purpose of tax increase plans is to punish the rich, not to help the poor – or the economy.. We would have hoped that policymakers learned from the 1970’s and 1980’s what works and what doesn’t. But they haven’t and are intent on giving the policy failures of the 1930s and 1970s one more chance… “
The chances are high that this government will lead the United States into a head on collision with the “twin evils of high inflation and equally high unemployment ” (see p ix)
I label Mr Obama, Mrs Clinton, and the whole orchestra as classic ‘closet socialists’.
Big government, big spending, higher and higher taxes, big plans, big egos, frighteningly limited knowledge and a great big mess waiting to erupt.
Fasten your seat belts. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.
Last edited by Francis Meyrick on September 2, 2010, 11:04 am