Thursday, April 30, 2015

Grover Cleveland: the last classical liberal

Grover Cleveland (1837-1908)
President (1885-1889 & 1893-1897)
Grover Cleveland was the last classical liberal, which means that he believed in securing liberties by limiting the size and scope of government.* He was the last president to truly respect the Constitution by not pushing forth legislation for political gain.

Stephen Grover Cleveland was born in Caldwell, New Jersey, 1837, to Reverend Richard Cleveland and his wife.  He and his four brothers grew up in a well-disciplined household, although there was always time to play at the end of each day.  His disciplined and Christian upbringing would later play an integral role during his political career.

Called "Big Steve" when he was little, he would take a job at a law firm in Buffalo, New York, that he would use as a launching platform for a brilliant career.  He spent many hours reading books and studying law.  He also worked hard at the age of 19 to help Democrat James Buchanan become president.  Little did he know at the time that the next democrat president to be elected would be 28 years later, and it would be him.

He entered politics in an era where many politicians tried to use natural disasters and charities for political gain, and where politicians used their positions to advance their own careers and the careers of their friends.  In 1870 he was asked to run for Sheriff in Erie County, and on January 1, 1871, he became Sheriff at the young age of 33.  He used his free time in this position to study law, but he also took his position very seriously.

His secretary would put papers on his desk and he was expected to sign them.  Instead of just signing them as his predecessors would, he read them all over carefully.As noted by Betsy Ochester, "Grover Cleveland: Encyclopedia of Presidents:"
He began examining th record of past sheriffs.  He learned that the companies that supplied food, firewood, and other supplies to the jail were connected to political leaders and that they were cheating on their deliveries.  They billed the county for a large quantity, but delivered only a fraction of that amount.  Cleveland began counting each load of wood and each bag of coats in a delivery to make sure he received as much as he paid for.  If he got shortchanged, he complained publicly, whether the supplier was a Republican or Democrat.  
After a year on this job, the hard working and honest lawyer and politician returned to practice law until he was asked to run for Mayor of Buffalo, New York.  He was nominated on January 1, 1882, at the still young age of 44.  He immediately set out to clean up the city of Buffalo.  Many bills crossed his desk, and when he thought a bill was unfair to the populace, or if he thought it infringed on their natural rights, he vetoed it, thus earning him the nickname "veto mayor."

According to Robert Higgs of the Independent, Cleveland was "A lawyer who lacked a philosophical temperament or education.. (and) derived his devotion to the limited government from his reverence for the U.S. Constitution. An honest man—an extraordinarily honest man for a politician—he took seriously his oath to 'preserve, protect, and defend' that document."

While many people today believe that something must be done to solve problems, Cleveland believed the opposite was true.  And his efforts as an honest, hard-working, natural rights protecting, the mayor made him the ideal candidate to run against the republican candidate for governor of New York in 1882.  He won a landslide election and was nominated on New Year's Day 1883.

As with the city of Buffalo, there was a lot of corruption in the New York City government, and it was hoped that an honest and hard working politician would clean up the mess.  That is exactly what Grover Cleveland did.  He immediately detailed a plan for reform, cutting useless government positions, and cutting unfair taxes.

One story has it, as told by Rochester, that Cleveland opened his office to all...
...People streamed through the door steadily.  Faithful Democrats came expecting government jobs, but Cleveland was determined to fill jobs on the basis of merit, not to reward past service to the party.  If a person suggested he wanted a political reward for a contribution to the campaign, Cleveland would narrow his eyes to slits and say in an icy voice, "I don't know that I understand you."
As when he was mayor of Buffalo, whenever a bill came to him that he believed infringed on personal liberties, he vetoed it, earning him the name "veto governor."

His success as governor earned him national attention, and he was asked to run against republican presidential candidate James G. Blaine in 1884.  Cleveland was thought to be the ideal candidate to run against Blaine because Blaine was suspected of being involved in corrupt dealings during his long career.

In the end, Cleveland won in one of the closest elections in history, gaining only 200,000 more votes than Blaine, although he won the electoral college by a score of 219-182.  He was inaugurated president in March 1885, becoming the first democrat president to be nominated since James Buchanan 28 years earlier.

Higgs said that Cleveland believed "governmental expenditure should be kept at a minimum, and only to carry out essential constitutional functions,  He cut tariffs that had been raised by republicans, and he scaled back 'phony pensions' that had been created for political gains.  He said, 'When a man in office lays out a dollar in extravagance, he acts immorally by the people.'"

During the late 1870s, minors in western states were digging up excess amounts of silver.  Certain members of Congress wanted to allow the U.S. Treasury to purchase some of this surplus.  At the time money was backed only by gold, but the idea was that if they could also back it with silver the supply of money would increase, thus making it easier for individuals and businesses to borrow money.

In 1878 the Bland-Allison Act, which required the U.S. Treasury to buy between $2 million and $4 million of silver each month, passed Congress and was signed by then president Rutherford B. Hayes. Rutherford opposed this action tooth and nail, although, once president, he didn't think it was his role to become involved in such matters, so he stayed out of the debate.

What he did get involved in was trying to fix problems with the pension program for veterans who fought in the Civil War.  Many congressmen were presenting thousands of private bills to Congress asking that the pension is granted, and most were signed based on emotion for political gain without ever having been read.

Cleveland believed this was wrong.  In fact, rather than just sign, he made sure to read each pension closely, refusing to sign any that he thought were dishonest.  In fact, one pension was for a person who broke an ankle prior to the Civil War, and so he vetoed it without question.

He once again became famous for vetoing many bills that he believed violated constitutional restraint, therefore earning him the nickname 'veto president.'  He would end up vetoing 584 bills, and only seven were overridden by Congress.

What he did do, however, was become the first president to acknowledge his respect for the labor force, noting that Congress should have respect for "the welfare of the laboring man."  He would later sign a bill into law making trade unions legal.

His respect for the labor force was made clear in his opposition to high tariffs, or a tax on imported goods. Republicans believed high tariffs were essential to protecting American businesses from foreign competition. They argued that high tariffs were "protective," meaning that they raised the prices of foreign goods to encourage the purchase of American goods.

Democrats such as Cleveland, on the other hand, believed high tariffs only encouraged foreign nations to raise their tariffs, and they also increased the cost of goods for Americans, making it so they couldn't afford to purchase essential items, such as sugar.  So they preferred tariffs to be lower in order to reduce the cost of goods in order to benefit consumers.

This issue was not resolved prior to the election of 1888, and this failure was partly to blame for his loss to Benjamin Harrison in 1888. While he won the popular vote by 100,000, he lost the electoral vote by a score of 233-168.

During the next four years Cleveland enjoyed life in the private sector, but he continued to pay attention to what was going on in Washington.  He was paying attention when Harrison signed the McKinley Tariff Act of 1890, which raised tariffs.  And he was also paying attention when the president signed the Sherman Silver Purchase Act that same year, which required the Treasury to purchase $4.5 million in silver each month.

Also concerning Cleveland was that Congress was trying to pass a bill authorizing unlimited coinage of silver.  Cleveland was advised not to complain publicly about this for fear that it might negatively influence is future political ambitions.  But Cleveland was a man of principle, and instead of staying silent, he dismissed the warnings saying, "I am supposed to be a leader of my party.  If any word of mine can check these dangerous fallacies, it is my duty to give that word, whatever the cost may be to me."

He would send an article that was published in newspapers across the land and became known as the "Silver Letter."  In it, he predicted disaster if "we enter upon the dangerous and reckless experiment of free, unlimited, and independent silver coinage."  Cleveland was happy to hear that the bill failed.

So in 1892 Cleveland was primed for another run against Harrison, thus making the presidential election of 1892 the only time in history between two candidates who had both served as president.

Cleveland would once again win the popular vote, this time by a margin of 500,000.  He won the electorate by 277-145, thus making him the only president to be elected to two non-consecutive terms, and also making him the only president counted twice when the presidents are listed in order.  The victory also allowed democrats to regain control of both chambers of Congress.

Almost as soon as he was nominated for a second term, the Panic of 1893 occurred, leading to the depression of 1893-95.  Despite pressure on Cleveland to take federal action to fix the economy, President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, at a Senate Committee in 1893, said:
I believe in general that the government is best which governs least, and that interference with trade or manufactures is very undesirable. Yet I recognize the fact that evils may and do exist which require correction by the force of law.
Almost everyone believed the cause of the panic, and ensuing depression was the Sherman Silver Purchase Act.  While it initially created an economic boom, it resulted in an economic downturn and the Panic of 1893.  Also blamed for the economic recession was the McKinley Tariff Act.  Since Cleveland was opposed to both of these from the beginning, he had no problem repealing them.

Despite public pressure to sign legislature that would help the unemployed and reboot the economy, he took no further executive action.  Regarding this inaction, historian Joy Hakim, in her series "A History of Us," said:
President Cleveland didn’t believe it was his job to do anything about the unemployed. Most leaders agreed with him. Employment and working conditions were thought to be the responsibility of business.
In 1894, Ohio Businessman Jacob Coxey arranged an "Industrial Army" that marched into Washington to protest Cleveland's inaction.  He championed for laws protecting the labor force and even recommended a program that would create government jobs for the unemployed.

During the Civil War, Lincoln signed a bill imposing an income tax on individuals to help pay for the war. In 1872, Ulysses S. Grant allowed this tax to expire. By 1894, that national debt had grown so high that Cleveland worked with Congressman William Wilson on a Revenue Act that would reduce tariffs by 15%. The bill made it through Congress.

However, he had trouble getting this bill through the Senate, where democrats held only a slight majority. Arthur Pue Gorman, a Democrat Senator from Maryland, would end up working with James Jones, a Democrat Senator from Arkansas, and introduced a version of the Bill that became known as the Wilson-Gorman Act.

This bill would end up having over 600 amendments. It made it so that only wool and copper were on the free list, meaning there was a tariff on all other imports. It did, however, reduce the McCinley Tariff to 42%, although this was only a 6% reduction. The bill also called for a flat income tax rate of 2% on income greater than $4,000.

Cleveland was an ardent champion of lower tariffs. In fact, this was his campaign pledge, and one of the reasons he was elected by the people to a second term. He was disgusted by changes made in the Senate and read a letter to Congress hoping to get them to reconsider. He said that such opposition was "party perfidy and party dishonor."

Still, Gorman stubbornly resisted making any further changes. Cleveland refused to sign the bill. However, he did not veto it either, because he considered it better than the McKinley Tariff Act that it replaced.

This was considered a triumph for Gorman. It was considered a huge defeat for Cleveland.

However, the bill would ultimately be challenged in a case that was called the Pollock -vs- Farmer's Loan And Trust Company. It made it all the way to the Supreme Court and was ruled unconstitutional in 1895 (which is good, because it was.). At this time, the Federal government did not have the Constitutional right to impose taxes to increase revenue. The only way it could raise revenues was through tariffs.

Even while he was a pro-consumer president, Cleveland believed it was the role of government to help the unemployed and not the government.  And he was not alone, as this was the common perception at the time.  It was mainly for this reason that most of Jacob Coxey's ideas were essentially ignored until FDR was elected president in 1933.

It was also for this reason that the Cleveland depression lingered on, and by 1896 public opinion of Cleveland had soured.  This caused a public riff within the democratic party,  leading to a rejection of Cleveland and the nomination of William Jennings Bryan (at age 36, he was the youngest presidential nominee in history), a leading voice in the populist movement.

While Cleveland left office an unpopular president, history vindicated him somewhat as his popularity rose after his death in 1908, but the overwhelming consensus by most historians is that he was not one of the best presidents.

Yet considering the evidence presented here, historians are not always right. Grover Cleveland was a "veto president" who championed for protecting personal liberties (natural rights) by ardently respecting the Constitution.  For this, we ought to respect Grover Cleveland as one of the great presidents of all time.

Oh, and I must add one more thing. Grover Cleveland's lai zzz-fair approach to government worked. Shortly after William McKinley's inauguration, the economy started to come around again. Yet it was too late to save the classical liberal approach.  No longer did presidents sacrifice their political ambitions for the good of the nation and the protection of personal liberties.

*The term classical liberal is a modern term to describe the movement that championed for securing liberties by limiting the power and scope of government from colonial times until the 1930s.  By the 1930s the term "liberal" remained popular, although the movement (or faction) had ceased to gain hold of any political party, moving aside in favor of the populist and progressive movements.  After the progressive movement started to lose popularity in the 1940s, leaders of the movement adapted the more popular term liberal.  Since the term "liberal" had been absconded, modern "liberal" or "classical liberal" factions were forced to use terms like "conservative" "Tea Party" and "libertarian."So while liberal traditionally means defending freedom through limited government, it now means pretty much the opposite.  

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Obtaining a colorblind society for everyone

I live in a colorblind society. That means that where I live you don't notice people's race. It doesn't matter. It doesn't trigger things. There is no automatic bias or prejudice. When people are hired, it's "assumed" they were hired on merit, and are treated as just another peer.

In a colorblind society, people are treated according to how they treat you, or how good they perform their work. They are treated accordingly, with race not even being a factor.

That's not to say racism doesn't exist in the minds of some of my peers, although if it exists I do not see it.  If any of my peers are racist, they do not let it show.  And that's also not to say racism doesn't exist to a greater extend in other areas of the world, because Lord knows it does.

That said, there are some who just assume people are racist without just cause.  For instance, I have been called a racist just because of my conservative views, and because I'm a Christian.  Some say I'm a racist on the grounds that I usually vote republican.

To them I say that it is conservatism that has championed for a colorblind society, while liberals have championed for treating different groups of people differently.  Republicans want to create an environment where every person has an opportunity to rise up, while democrats only want certain groups to rise up.  Democrats have created entitlements that have trapped many black people in poverty (and trapped them in a political party), and 30 years of democrat control of Detroit, New York, California, and Baltimore has pretty much proved this.

You have groups of people sitting around and waiting for any excuse to riot. They broke out in Ferguson based on the myth of "Stop!  Don't Shoot!"  Now they started a riot in Baltimore because a black man died under police custody, although we still don't know why he died.

Yet these groups of people just assume it was racism, while most of the reasons for the riots are written off as mere myths.  For instance, half of the city council in Baltimore consists of blacks, and half of the police force consists of blacks, and the Mayor of Baltimore is black and so too is the Baltimore police chief.

Speaking of the Mayor of Baltimore, her name is Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.  In response to the race riots she said:
I've made it very clear that I, um, work with the police and instructed them to do everything that they could to make sure that the protesters were able to exercise their, uh, right to free speech. It's a very delicate balancing act because while we, uh, try to make that they were protected from the cars and the other, y'know, things that were going on. We also gave those who wished to destroy, space to do that as well.
She did call a state of emergency and did call in the national guard, yet why in the world would she give rioters space to destroy things?  That's just crazy.  She didn't make effort to try to stop them, just gave them space to destroy.

Obama has blamed the riots on a republican Congress not willing to invest in urban cities, although Obama's party had complete control of Congress for more than a few years and he didn't solve the problems of urban cities.  Likewise, every single member of the Baltimore Council is a democrat, so there is plenty of government involvement.  This proves that government is not the solution.  In fact, it proves that government is the antithesis of the solution.

You see, you have to realize that it was republicans who worked hard to free the slaves, while democrats opposed it. It was republicans who worked hard to get the Civil Rights Act passed in 1962, while democrats opposed it.  It was republicans by opposed affirmative action so that black people could be hired based on the merit of their knowledge, and the content of their skills, and not by the color of their skin, while democrats opposed it.

While the people on the left say they want a colorblind society, they don't want it.  What they want is for people to see people by the color of their skin, to trap them in poverty, and to use them as pawns in their efforts to get elected over and over again. And their strategy has worked, as a stunning majority of blacks continue to vote democrat.

Yet has this solved any of their problems.  Democrats started the war on poverty in the 1960s, and after 50 years of spending money to help end poverty, there are more people in poverty today as there were then.
If you add all the money spend on the War on Poverty, Great Society, and food stamps, $22 trillion worth of tax dollars* have been spend on ending poverty, and yet it still exists.  African-Americans are stuck in inner cities like Baltimore and Detroit, and they see no way out.

So then Obama was elected, and they started salivating. There must have been so much hope among the African-American community when Obama was elected.  Yet now that Obama has had six years to work his magic, nothing has improved for African-Americans, unless you consider more on food stamps, and more on welfare, as progress.  And many of these African-Americans are not working, and it's for this reason they have time for peaceful protests that turn into riots.  People who are working have better things to do that loot and riot.

Yet conservatives don't measure progress by how how many people are on the government dole, they measure it by how many are able to get off the government dole and find success on their own. Conservatives measure success by how many African-Americans are able to get jobs that pay well so they can choose where they want to live, and choose the schools their kids go to, and so on and so forth.

So now African-Americans have an African American president who was supposed to end racism in America, he was supposed to make things better for them, and he's made it worse. Yet rather than blaming him and his political views, they blame republicans.  Rather than blaming failed government programs, they blame capitalism.

These groups of people waiting for excuses to riot are angrier than ever, and they have everything they ever wanted.  They have complete democrat control of their city, and they have Obama.  Yet they are angrier than ever.  This is more proof that government is not the solution.

It's time for African-Americans to stop voting for people who say they have empathy for them, and create programs that the hard working people in this country are forced to pay for even though they know they won't work.  It's time to stop voting for people who take from the rich to give to the needy.  Instead of calling the rich greedy and punishing them with high taxes, we need to teach people to become rich.  Instead of creating programs to trap people in poverty, we need to get them out of the way so that there are no obstacles in the road to succeeding in life.

The time is now for blacks to start voting for republican solutions to establish the colorblind society I live in for everyone.  It's time to elect people who yearn to create an economic environment where everyone can rise into a better economic status. It's time to elect people who offer better solutions that the same ones that keep failing.

*That $22 trillion is three times more than all the wars in this country, and yet democrats continue to say we need to cut the defense budget to gain control of the out of control national debt.

Further reading:

FDR's policies prolong the great depression

FDR was Time man of the year in 1933
In 1932 Franklin Deleno Roosevelt was elected in a Landslide. While he was never able to end the Great Depression, he, via his great speaking ability, managed to restore confidence in the American people.

A theory by a great economist and thinker by the name of Maynard Keynes was growing in popularity at this time, and it was termed Keynesian Economics. He believed an economy becomes depressed because people stop spending money. Thus, there is no demand for the goods and services.

Since people stop spending, businesses and industries don’t make a profit. Many of them will lay off workers, many others will close their doors altogether.

To solve this problem, Keynes proposed that it was the role of government to increase demand for these goods and services. It was in this spirit that he believed it was acceptable to return to pre-Roaring 20s tax and spend policies (he created many government programs, and raised the top marginal tax rate back up to 90 percent during his term in office).

FDR, desperate to end the Great Depression, adapted Keynes economic policy. Thus, with the New Deal, he proposed several government programs that would increase government spending. In essence, FDR created Big Government. (He did not, however, intend on it becoming the beast it is today.)

The Great Depression dragged on for years until it ran out its course by the end of WWII. Some experts say it was FDRs policies, coupled with increased spending during WWII, that caused it to come to an end.  But others argue with this theory, noting that, had WWII ended it, then why did the government resort to rations and forcing people to sell their gold to the government.

A better argument is that the depression continued through WWII, only to come to an end as later presidents reduced taxes to encourage savings and investment.  Those who support this argument believe that Roosevelt's tax and spend policies are what turned a regular depression into the Great Depression.

Consider, for a moment, that there were many recessions and depressions prior to the one FDR inherited, and all of those lasted only a few years.  The reason they were short lived was because presidents prior to FDR believed it was the role of government to make minor tweaks to create a stable economic environment, but it was the role of individual businesses to fix the unemployment rate.

Two examples here are Grover Cleveland and the depression of 1893-95, and Warren G. Harding and the depression of 1920-21.  Grover Cleveland believed his role was to stay out of the way, and Warren G. Harding cut spending and taxes to get government out of the way.  In both these instances the depressions were short lived.

Despite this evidence, FDR (along with Herbert Hoover) chose to do the opposite.  He increased the scope and size of government, and to pay for these programs he raised tripled taxes.  While his programs may have helped the poor, they did little to spur economic growth.  By doing so, the argument is that FDR did nothing to end the depression, instead he prolonged it.

So, while Herbert Hoover's policies may have caused the Great Depression, FDR's policies prolonged it.  Yet considering the people were so desperate, and believed (or felt) that doing something (even something stupid) was better than doing nothing, FDR as a hero, and Time Magazine even named him Man of the Year in 1933.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Hoover leads decline of economy

There are many people who continue to blame the stock market crash of 1929, and the Great Depression that followed, on the economic policies set forth by Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge (supply-side economics). Yet a better place to find blame would be in the economic policies of Herbert Hoover. 

It is true that the economic miracle that took place during the 1920s was a direct result of Warren G. Harding cutting federal spending by 40 percent, and the tax cuts of both Harding and Calvin Coolidge. 

These events in and of  themselves resulted in good economic times, and when similar events have occurred in later years -- John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush all cut taxes, although never reined in spending -- similar results were observed, where federal revenue increased and the economy grew. It is quite clear that federal spending and taxes must be kept below a certain level for optimal economic prosperity, as the Laffer Curve suggests.

So, then, what caused the events leading up to the Great Depression?

One theory is that Americans were so indulged in their own happiness during the 1920s that they failed to notice inflation and unemployment were increasing.  There were also not enough regulations in place to monitor business activity, meaning that no one was monitoring to assure workers were getting fair pay and treatment.  There was also little insurance on invested monies to assure it would not become lost in the case of an economic collapse.

To go along with this, you also have to consider beliefs that were prevalent at this time.  During WWI Woodrow Wilson proclaimed that it was the war to end all wars. So there weren't supposed to be any more wars, meaning the world was in a state of world peace.

It was also believed that alcohol was the cause of all crime, so when prohibition was passed there was supposed to be no more crime.  Since there was no crime and no more wars, that meant no more bad people, and therefore there was no pressing need for rules and regulations.  So this also could explain the self absorption without monitors. 

In other words, with the Roaring 20s in full bloom, people believed they had created a euphoric nation, and they figured it would last forever. Evidently they were wrong, but this is what they believed.  So to blame the collapse of the economy solely on the economic policies of Harding and Coolidge is poppycock. 

But something did go wrong, obviously.  Only seven months into his term of Herbert Hoover as president the stock market crashed on Thursday, October 24, 1929.  This resulted in an immediate economic downturn, or recession. Despite what some claim, the economy did not immediately fall into a depression.  Yet poor decisions that followed the crash would lead it into one.

Before the recession people readily invested their money in banks and the stock market, both for safe keeping and to make more money off interest and capital gains.  This system had worked so well during the 1920s that people had no reason to suspect it would ever end.  

Due to the euphoric state of the nation prior to the collapse, Americans were completely caught off guard. Their utter despair at what happened caused them to lose all confidence in the American economic system, particularly the stock market and banking system.  The general consensus now was that these were no places to put your hard earned dollars.  

Now, in lieu of taking risks and investing, people starting tucking their hard earned dollars under their beds, or inside their pillow cases.  The last thing they wanted to do was put it in banks that were not insured, or businesses that were not regulated.  Such lack of trust, and lack of confidence, is what lead to the recession.

What transpired next would have an immediate impact on whether the economy would turn around, whether it would remain in a recession, or whether it would turn into a depression. Since so many people blamed tax and spending cuts on the recession, it only made senses (or so it was suspected) that exactly the opposite was necessary to pull the country out of recession.  

So Hoover did have an opportunity to pull the country out of this downward economic spiral, he just didn't know that all he had to do was create insurance programs to protect invested money, and regulations to assure that people did not cheat, in order to regain the trust of the people. 

Either Hoover was unaware of this, or he simply refused to heed the advice of economic experts who advised such.  However, in Hoover's defense, this was, after all, the first recession of a new kind of economy  -- post 16th amendment, and in a modern, global world.  

Hoover sided with the experts who championed for tax increases, and so instead of cutting taxes, he raised the top marginal income tax from 24 percent to 63 percent by signing the Revenue Act of 1932. 

This was coupled with a rise in tariffs that resulted when Hoover agreed to sign into law the Smoot-Hawley Tariff in 1930.  This "throttled trade."

The combination of these two, the rise in tariffs and tax hikes, meant that he was, in effect, taking more money out of the pockets of people and corporations that were already hurting for money. Employers had less money for hiring, and consumers had less money for spending.  It was this, more so than anything, that caused the economy to spiral into the Great Recession.

So the closest our nation ever came to complete euphoria came during the Roaring 20s, and it was all thanks to Harding and Coolidge.  Yet, perhaps due to lack of experience, neither Harding nor Coolidge had the foresight to create minimal regulations for guiding the economy, and insurance programs for protecting against loss of personal investments. 

Yet Hoover had the opportunity, if not prior to the crash, after it, to return the economy to prosperity. 

But he chose to cave in to the raise taxes and increase spending crowd.  He chose big government solutions as opposed to free market solutions.  And for that reason, he, perhaps justly so, is often blamed for turning the recession into what would become known as the Great Depression. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Conservative -vs- Liberal: Which one is best?

The liberal said: "It's terrible that we live in a country where so many people have to live paycheck to paycheck."

The conservative said, "I see it turning around soon."

Liberal: "Really."  

Conservative: "Sure.  I believe in American Exceptionalism.  We are Americans.  We can make anything happen."

Liberal: "There are countries where new mothers get to take a year off after they have a baby.  There are countries where everyone has healthcare and is taken care of.  That's what we need here. I think we have too many greedy people"

Conservative:  "I agree."

Liberal: "You do?"  

Conservative: "That's why I think we should hire a conservative to be our next president to get government out of the way so that both businesses and individuals could prospers.  Then everyone who wanted one would have a job, and they could choose the healthcare program of their choice."

Liberal: "I think there are too many greedy people in this country, and that's why it doesn't work."

Conservative: "How do you define greed? 

Liberal: "People making more money than they deserve."

Conservative: "How do you define how much money they deserve?"

Liberal: "If people weren't so greedy we would have enough money so that everyone would have a job, and everyone would have healthcare, and everyone would have food on the table."

Conservative, "Isn't that what caused our current situation in the first place, thinking we could provide all this free stuff for people and solve all their problems?  It hasn't worked.  It has never worked.  It never will work.  Yet they keep trying, and they keep failing."  

The liberal looked at the conservative dumbfounded, got all mad, and trumped off.  I mean, the conservative didn't intend on getting his liberal friend upset. After all, they were just having a friendly discussion.

I keep rolling this discussion over and over in my mind.  Each time I watch it play out it causes the voices in my mind to go into a discussion of conservatism versus liberalism.  

What is conservatism? Conservatism is all about everybody's life getting better. Conservatism is all about everybody being respected. Conservatism is colorblind. Conservatism has nothing to do with identity politics. Conservatism is rooted in love of people and high expectations of everyone. Conservatism believes that everybody, if things are moved out of their way, can be much better, can accomplish more than they think they can. 

Conservatism believes people are smart, and when given the opportunity, when all obstacles are out of the way (regulations, taxes, what have you), people make the most of it, maybe even exceed theirs and our expectations.  Surely there might be a few choices that result in chaos, but that's just the nature of the world we live in.  That's what a justice system is for.

Conservatism doesn't divide people based color, creed, nationality, or sex.  Conservatism don't take someone else's money and spend it on things they don't want to spend money on.  Conservatives don't need to do this, because, under full fledged conservatism, people make plenty of money to buy whatever they need and want.  This was best proven in the 1920s under the Calvin Coolidge economic system.  

Conservatives believe in creating a strong national defense to keep people safe, and getting government out of the way to create a good economic environment that will allow every American -- regardless of nationality, color, sex, or creed -- to move up and make as much money as they are motivated to make.  

Conservatives believe there is plenty of money in this world whereby everyone who is motivated have have a piece of the pie.  And they believe the fact that some people in this country make more money than others assures other people of the greatness that can be achieved because of our Constitution.  The fact that some people are rich is an incentive; it creates a "I can do that too" attitude.

The left is the exact opposite. The left doesn't believe any of this about people. The left believes the worst of people. They believe people are stupid, and left to their own devices will make poor choices.  That's why they like to hire experts in Washington (preferably fellow liberals) who make decisions for people. That's why we end up with a one-size-fits-all healthcare system and educational systems that fail year after year regardless of how much money is thrown their way.  

And therefore they put themselves in this equation where they are needed to in order to help people even survive.  They lump people in groups, and instead of lifting everyone up like conservatives do, they cater to groups of people.  They put minorities, gays, and women before white Americans.  They put the poor before the middle class, and the middle class before the rich.  

And they hate the rich, and think they are greedy. That is what my friend meant when he said we have too many greedy people.  They believe there is only so much money to go around, and so they think it is "unfair" when one person makes more than another.  They think the money you spend on luxury items is money that could have put food on the table of the poor, or put Obama phones in the hands of the people who only have enough money to purchase cigarettes and $80 a month cable and phone service bills.  

So what happens when liberals get their "Utopian" world where everyone has a job, and everyone has healthcare, and everyone has an Obama phone, and everyone can take a year off every time a baby is born. If there are no rich people, that will mean that everyone will be poor.  Since everyone has healthcare, there will be no incentive to find anything better.  People will be having babies left and right, and no one will be motivated to do the work.

This has already been proven.  Liberalism has been tried and failed so many times in our history that I cannot even start to count.  Liberalism is the cowardly solution.  All you have to do to be a liberal is is to say you care for someone or something and come up with a solution that someone else pays for.  This often results in forcing people to do things they don't want to do, and just creates more chaos.  Then when their solution fails, they call the critics hate mongers, Nazis, idiots, and doom and gloomers.  

Conservatives believe people will thrive on their own if obstacles are cleared out of the way and they are motivated and inspired with high expectations. And it's all rooted in love of people.  They believe people are smart and will thrive under the ideal conditions that have been achieved only in this country.  It's called American exceptionalism; the American dream.

Further reading:

USDA wants us to eat stale food

The Obama Administration's United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has now started an initiative to encourage people to stop wasting food.  The goal is to get people toughen up, even if it requires holding their noses, and eat expired and stale food.  In other words, they want us to be just like cows and horses who are often forced to eat months-old bales of hay.

The initiative was started because the USDA claims that as much as 36 pounds of food is wasted per month. While we are wasting food, there are people who are starving in the world.  While we are wasting food, there are entire nations -- like Ethiopia -- that are starving.  So the solution to this, rather than teaching these people how to get food, is to tell us that we are spoiled, rich, greedy people who eat more than our fair share and waste too much.

Have you ever made macaroni and cheese for kids?  That stuff tastes good, and so that's what kids want to eat.  So you make a box, and then your kids eat two bites and decide they are done.  When I was a kid my parents would make me sit at the table until my food was eaten.  But I don't do this, because I think all that does is encourage poor eating habits.

So then you have leftovers.  But have you ever eaten leftover macaroni and cheese?  My kids hardly ever do, and I never do. Why? Because it tastes terrible.  So now you have this new Obama initiative that wants us to grin and bear the nasty taste of food, regardless of the expiration date; regardless of taste.

What good does this do anyway?  What does it accomplish?  How many starving kids are going to be fed by me not wasting food?  How many degrees of global temperatures are going to be cut by me eating yucky food that I don't want to eat?

Look, there is plenty of food in this world for every person to eat twice over. The problem isn't that there isn't enough food, it's that people don't know how to access the food.  For instance, in the United States, where capitalism exists, people have an incentive to grow and produce foods. The incentive is they can make a profit helping others.

Then you take a country like Ethiopia that is run by a totalitarian dictatorship, and most of the people are starving.  It's not that there isn't enough food in that country, it's because they don't know how to gain access to it, or they can't afford to grow it.

Liberals like Obama see the solution to this kind of problem as blaming the spoiled rich people of the world who eat more than their fair share and waste it.  But if I eat all my food, what good does that do the people of Ethiopia?  What good does it do for the hungry anywhere?

The real solution is to teach capitalism.  Where capitalism exists people don't go hungry.  Where capitalism exists people have an incentive to grow and manufacture food, and they can afford to gain access to it and to get it to the people.  Where capitalism exists people can afford to buy food.

The real solution is to get rid of Michelle Obama's school lunch program, which feeds kids food that looks and tastes terrible, causing kids to just toss it in the trash and go hungry.

Surely, even in the world's richest nations, people are still going to be poor and go hungry.  There is never going to be this euphoric world where poverty and hunger are all conquered.  That kind of stuff only happens in progressive dreams.

Still, where capitalism exists, when government removes obstacles -- such as high taxes and regulations -- from their paths, the greatness of people shows.  Right here in Ludington, Michigan, food is collected every day from good people to help feed the hungry at food shelters.  So no one should go hungry in Ludington.

But that's not good enough for the Obama Administration.  They saw a problem of hunger, said they had empathy for the hungry, and then came up with a solution that involved their experts telling average Americans how to run their lives.

The truth is that it is not a solution.  This is just another way for them to micromanage people's lives.  It is just another way for them to feel good about themselves while accomplishing absolutely nothing.

You see, this is the kind of stuff that just makes people mad.  We don't want to be told what to do.  But you have people in Washington, mostly progressives, whether they be republicans or democrats, who think they know what's best for us.

So they come up with these ideas whereby we are told what we have to do because we are too stupid, or to insensitive, or too greedy.  They say we are profligate wasters, and so we need to be told by the government to eat all our food, even if it is expired, stale, tasteless and gross.

So, what comes next?  I mean, this is the nanny state who decides they know what's best for us.  In California they are telling people already how long they can take showers.  The goal is to do this for all of us. The goal is to force us to live the way they want us to live, whether we believe in their theories or not.

It's already started.  They want to ration healthcare, ration medicine, ration water, ration food, ration gas, and force you to eat stale food (mush).  This goes right along with forcing people to comply with rules and regulations in the name of man made climate change because we're too stupid to see it as a fact.

And you wonder why kids in this country are sad and depressed.  They are told what to believe, and how to act.  They are forced to eat food they don't want.  And told if they don't do as they are told, they too will be contributing to the destruction of the planet.

They've even created an app that helps people better calculate how long after the expiration date food can still be safely eaten.  I mean, this is all fine and dandy if it's something you want to do.  If you want to save money on food by making your food last longer, so be it.  I'm a free choice guy.

Other than that, there is no benefit to eating mush.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Calvin Coolidge leads the Roaring 20s

Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933)
U.S. President (1923-1929)
Silent Calvin Coolidge became president in 1921 after the untimely death of Warren G. Harding. Calvin would see to it that the economic policies of his predecessor moved forward.  By doing so, he helped move the nation through the greatest period of economic prosperity in the history of the United States. 

John Calvin Coolidge was born in Plymouth Notch, Vermont, on July 4, to John and Victoria Coolidge.  He was painfully shy as a child, so much so that he had difficulty making friends. He was also afraid to talk to his teachers, and for this reason he struggled somewhat with his schooling.

While this was true, he proved to be a great public speaker, and perhaps for this reason he made a great lawyer and politician.  He learned about law by reading for a Northampton law firm, and in 1897 he earned a license to practice law.  He began his political career a year later when he was elected as Northampton city councilman.

In 1906 he was elected as a representative to the Massachusetts legislature, of which he served two terms.  While other republicans opposed the women's suffrage movement, Coolidge supported it. After taking a couple years off to spend time with his young family, in 1911 he was elected to the senate.  

As occurs many times in world history, what sets one person above another is being in the right place at the right time.  During his second year as senator, Coolidge was faced with the difficult task of dealing with the strike of textile workers from the mills in Lawrence, Massachusetts. 

The strikers marched toward the mills in 1912 claiming that they were underpaid. It became so concerning that law officials of Lawrence called in the state militia to protect the mills and keep the peace. 

Coolidge was able to convince the mill to give a wage increase instead of a cut, and the strike was thereby called off.  This was a huge success for the young politician, as it would help set up the stage for his future success as a politician.

The Massachusetts Militia tries to keep order in Boston, 1918.
A similar event occurred in 1918 after Coolidge had been elected governor of Massachusetts.  The war had left many workers in the U.S. with low wages, and the police force of Boston was no different. They formed a union and went on strike.

Coolidge sided with the police officers, saying they deserved fair wages.  On the other hand, he thought it was dangerous for them to be on strike, because no one was defending the people.  So he called in 4,800 National Guard troops to police the city. With Coolidge's approval, the commissioner refused to rehire the striking workers and trained new officers were hired and trained to replace them.

When Samuel Gompers, leader of the Federal Labor Union, complained to Coolidge about the harsh treatment of striking police officers, Coolidge said, "There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, anytime."

The city of Boston agreed to provide its police force with large salary increases and improved working conditions.  Yet Coolidge's successful handling of the Boston Police Strike, and especially those 15 words to Gompers, gave Coolidge national recognition. 

Also setting the stage for his future success as a politician was the work of other politicians.  During the Great War the highest marginal income tax rate was increased to 74 percent in order to pay off the debt.  Although, after the country became embittered in a depression, there were calls by the public, media, nearly every republican, and some democrats to cut taxes in order to spur economic growth. 

Amid the depression of 1920-1921, republicans won both houses of Congress, and the executive -- Warren G. Harding was elected president -- in a landslide election. Cutting income taxes was at the top of the agenda.

Harding's secretary of the treasury, Andrew Mellon, was a strong proponent of cutting taxes, even going as far to say that taxes had become so high that many people found ways to get around paying, resulting in loss of revenue. Plus he believed the high tax rate was a burden to economic recovery and growth.

In April 11, 1921, Harding called for an extraordinary session of Congress to revise the federal revenue and tariff laws. There were some who called for significant tax cuts, although others noted the ongoing expenses of paying off debt accrued during WW1. 

Ultimately, the bill that was signed by Harding cut the top marginal tax rate from 74 to 58 percent.

After Harding died, Silent Calvin Coolidge saw to it that the economic policies of Harding were continued.  He would sign the Revenue Act of 1924 that reduced the top marginal rate to 46 percent, and the Revenue Act of 1928 that reduced this rate to 25 percent.

On top of this, Harding, before he died, was able to cut federal spending by 40 percent, making him, and Coolidge, the only presidents ever to reign in both spending and taxes after passages of the 16th amendment allowing Congress to levy taxes on individuals and corporations.  

As a result of the Harding/ Coolidge spending and tax cuts, what occurred over the next several years was nothing short of amazing, and a quintessential example of what would ultimately be referred to as Supply-Side economics. 

Between 1921 and 1928 , revenue to the government rose from $719 million to $1164 million, or a whopping 61 percent.   So, through the hard work of both Harding and Coolidge, the 1920s was the greatest period of economic expansion in the history of the United States.  

The economy during the 1920s grew faster than any time in American history up to that time, and America became the richest country in the world. The stock market and land values soared, and there were more rich people than ever before.

Yet while the rich got richer, the middle class got richer and so to did the poor. The great part about this all was that it happened not by pushing forth progressive tax and spend programs, and not by robbing Peter to pay Paul, but by reducing the size and scope of the government, thus creating opportunities for all.  

People were happy during the 1920s, and this is best shown by songs such as "Happy Days are Here Again," by Richard Alger and Jack Yellen.

Without the burdens of government regulations and taxes, businesses had abundant resources to invent, create and produce. They were able to expand their inventories, build new buildings, and hire new workers.  The result was the lowest unemployment rate in the history of the United States.

Many corporations and individuals were raking in money like never before, and they obtained this money as a bi-product of the soaring economy. 

These excellent free market conditions lead to the Industrial Revolution, where entrepreneurs like Henry Ford were able to mass produce goods and services and make them abundantly available to the public at a decent price.  Skyscrapers were rising. Factories were becoming a common site,  and were hiring unskilled workers at a record pace. 

Electric appliances were making their way into homes, such as the dishwasher and washing machines, thus allowing women to finally get out of the homes and into the workplace.  This helped spawn the woman's movement which lead to women's suffrage.

It was during this time that luxuries such as the radio and telephone became common household objects, and vehicles such as the Model T were being purchased by people who never thought they'd ever be able to afford such a luxury.

In essence, this was the first time in American history where average Americans, even those who just a few years earlier were not very well off, were making enough money to not just to afford food and clothing, but material and luxury items to help them fully enjoy life (selfish things for selfish reasons).

Overall, there were plenty of jobs for everyone.  The rich got richer.  The middle class got richer.  The poor got richer.  And not only that, with the superfluous flow of money, people were happy too, hence the song: Happy Days Are Here Again.

Never before had there been a period of economic growth as what occurred during the Roaring 20s.  The gain in overall standard of living was unmatched by any historical period ever. 

This was called the roaring 20s. People were having fun, and it was the result of freeing society from the burdens of federal regulations and taxes.  It was an idea conceived by great men like Andrew Mellon and signed into law by great men such as Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Grover Cleveland: 12 facts about the last classical liberal president

History hasn't been too kind to the 22nd president of the United States, Stephen Grover Cleveland, although I think he was one of the best presidents ever due to his desire to be true to the Constitution and veto laws that violated personal liberties. That aside, there are ten other facts about him that are pretty neat. 
  1. He was the only president to serve two non consecutive terms as president, or to win the presidency, lose it, and win again.
  2. He won the popular vote all three times he ran for president (1884, 1888, 1892)
  3. He is the only president to be counted twice in the numbering of presidents
  4. The 1892 election between Cleveland and Benjamin Harrison was the only race in U.S. history between two major candidates who had both served as president.
  5. He was the first president to have major surgery while in office, and the only one (that we know of) who did it secretly. He was secretly aboard the yacht Oneida off the shore of New York. The truth about the surgery wasn't released for another 25 years. 
  6. He was known as the 'veto sheriff when mayor of Buffalo, the 'veto governor' when governor of New York, and 'veto president' when president of the U.S. He refused to sign any bill, even one he agreed with, that he thought violated the Constitution and natural rights.
  7. He was one of only two democratic presidents (Woodrow Wilson was the other) to be elected president between 1861 and 1933, a time of republican dominance.
  8. In the 1892 election he defeated James G. Blaine by only 22,000 votes, winning New York by only 150 votes to win the electoral college by a score of 219-182. This also made him the first democratic president in 28 years (the last was James Buchanan in 1856)
  9. On May 29, 1856, he was the first president to be married in the White House. He married Francis Folsom.
  10. Francis and Grover Cleveland gave birth to Ruth on October 3, 1891, and during his second term in office she became known as "Baby Ruth." Despite contrary myth, the candy bar was not named after her, instead it was named so in order to cash in on Babe Ruth fame.  However, in order to get around litigation, the company claimed it was named after "Baby Ruth." . 
  11. On April 22, 1887, he became the first president to address Congress on the issue of labor, declaring that the value of laborers to the country's prosperity should be recognized and that "the welfare of the laboring man" should be a concern of the government. He later signed a bill into law that made national trade unions legal. 
  12. In 1887 he refused to sign a bill appropriating $10,000 in federal aid to farmers in Texas who suffered from drought. He championed that the public could do way better than the government, and he was right: private donors donated over $100,000.
So you can see that there are a lot of interesting facts about president Grover Cleveland, a man who should go down in history as one of the interesting, or great, presidents.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Warren G. Harding creates the roaring 20s

Warren G. Harding (1865-1923)
U.S. President (1921-1923)
In 1920 Warren Gamaliel. Harding was elected President amid a sharp depression. To fire up the economy, he signed into law a big tax cut, and became almost instantly popular.

He appeared to be the perfect fit to be president, as he was very good at making friends, keeping the peace, and speaking in public.  He was a very successful newspaper man and senator, and so it was only fitting that he would be an equally successful president.

He was a conservative, meaning he was a proponent of preserving traditional American values, and limiting the size and scope of government in order to allow businesses the freedom to grow and prosper. Nominated in an era where voters were tired of progressives who kept passing bills in an effort to perfect the world, Harding seemed the perfect fit to be president.

Prior to the progressive movement presidents admired and respected the Constitution, and believed it did not give the executive the power to solve the problems of individuals and businesses.  Yet this changed with the Woodrow Wilson administration when he signed into law regulations to improve conditions for laborers, to make sure products sold were safe for consumers, and to assure fair market conditions.

Such regulations were needed for a long time.  The problem was that once the dam broke, once Congressmen realized they could impede upon constitutional restraint in order to move forth their agenda, they went overboard by creating a bunch of laws that impeded upon personal liberties, such as the 16th amendment  that allowed Congress to levy taxes on individuals and corporations, and the 18th amendment prohibiting the sale of alcohol in 1920.

These amendments now made it possible for a progressive Congress to push forth their, which was to create a complete euphoric society where there were no poor, no war, no crime. Yet there was a price to pay for all these new regulations, and it was that they had to pay fore them.  S

So nearly as as soon as the 16th amendment was signed in 1913 by Woodrow Wilson Congress swiftly acted by passing the Revenue Act of 1913, which lowered the basic tariff from 40-25%, and, to make up for lost revenue, re-instated the federal income tax.

By 1920 the top marginal income tax had risen 73 percent, and this was done mainly to pay off the war debt.  Following the Great War the economy spun into a sharp decline, resulting in the depression of 1920 and 1921.  During this time the gross domestic product plunged 24 percent, from $91.5 billion in 1920 to $69.6 billion in 1921.  Unemployment jumped from 2.1 percent in 1920 to 4.9 percent in 1921.

Yet this depression is often forgotten mainly because it was so short lived, and because of the Great Depression.  It was short lived because Warren G. Harding, lead by his brilliant secretary of treasury, former banker Andrew Mellon, had a vision that the tax rate was so high, and spending so out of control, that it was preventing the economy from growing.

Mellon and Harding wanted to return America to pre-progressive times when the president did not impede upon individual and business freedom.  They believed doing so greatly benefit the American economic system and American morale. 

The first thing they succeeded at doing was cutting spending by 50 percent. This made it so that government did not need to take as much money from individuals and corporations to pay for government run programs.  The next task for Harding and Mellon was to get a significant tax cut through Congress.  

On April 11, 1921, Harding called for an extraordinary session of Congress to revise the federal revenue and tariff laws. There were some who called for significant tax cuts, although others noted the ongoing expenses of paying off debt accrued during WW1. Ultimately, a bill was signed by Harding to cut the top marginal tax rate from 74 to 58 percent.

Unfortunately for Harding, he had hired some of his best friends to posts in his administration, and, as it turned out, they were wheeling and dealing behind his back. One of the great scandals that brought down the Harding Administration was the Teapot Dome Scandal, where his “friends” got rich selling oil that was supposed to be set aside for public use.

Half way through his second year in office he died of what was initially recorded as a stroke, although historians later determined that he probably had a heart attack.  He had been suffering from high blood pressure and chest pain for quite some time, and he failed to heed the advice of his physicians. However, there were also rumors swirling that he killed himself  because he couldn't face the fact that he had let the public down. There were also rumors that he may have been murdered.  Yet no evidence of foul play ever appears. 

Either way, he was still a very popular president at the time of his death.  Yet once word got out about all the scandals the populace became angered and his popularity plummeted.   Most historians, therefore, judge Harding as one of the worst presidents because he failed to hire good enough people to posts in his administration.  

Still, because of his economic vision to reboot the American economy, as he lay dying on August 2, 1923, voters were very happy with him.  In fact, the people loved Warren G. Harding. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Here's how to be the best at everything you do in life... and also how to get to Heaven

If you want to be a better person....

If you want to be the best person you can be.... Id you want to be seen by others in a positive light... If you want to give yourself the best chance of being observed by the bosses, and the best chance of moving up the latter... if you want to get to Heaventhere are basically 2 things you need to do:
  1. Love God with all your mind, heart and soul
  2. Love your neighbor with all your mind heart and soul.
Basically, you can take every self help book ever made and you can sum it down to these two things. You can even consider the 10 commandments, and they are all basically these two things. Don't kill, don't lie, don't covet thy neighbor's wife, don't covet thy neighbor's property, and the rest all tie into love thy neighbor.

So now we must define love. What is love?

Love is not an emotion or a feeling. Love is a choice. You have to choose to make sacrifices to put other people before yourself.

Examples of this include:

1. A doctor writes a stupid order.  Instead of complaining, you treat the doctor with love and respect.

2. So you and your wife go to a baseball game and it's 90 degrees. It's the best game you've ever watched, and you want to stay. Yet your wife wants to leave in the 5th inning. So you sacrifice the game to make your wife happy. You choose your wife over your game.

3. It's 90 degrees out and you want to sit inside in the air conditioning, yet in order to put food on the table you decide not to purchase air conditioning. You are frugal for love of your family. You choose your family over your own comfort.

4. It's 90 degrees out and you want to blog or gossip online, yet your son wants to play catch with you. Even though you're sweating your butt off, you play catch with a smile on your face.

Bottom line: It's important you keep your priorities in the right order, and God and other people are right up there at the top.

If you love God and other people before all else, you should have to make no further effort at improving your image, the way people view you historically (note to politicians), and your ability to view your own life as a success.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Grover Cleveland vetoes Texas Seed Bill

President Grover Cleveland became known as the 'veto president' as he had vetoed 584 bills passed by Congress. Among the most significant vetoes was that of the Texas Seed Bill that sat on his desk on February 16, 1887.

In 1883 a serious drought ravaged through the state of Texas causing suffering for many Texan farmers. Members of the house wanted to help, so they created House bill number 10203, which was "An Act to enable the Commissioner of Agriculture to make a special distribution of seeds in drought-stricken counties of Texas, and making an appropriation therefor."

The bill would allocate $10,000 in federal funds for the purpose. It was passed by members of the Senate who also wanted to help. Grover Cleveland wanted to help, but he was an ardent proponent of following the Constitution, and vetoed any bill that violated it, even when it was a bill he thought noble.

After vetoing it, he sent the following letter to Congress explaining his inaction:
I return without my approval House bill number ten thousand two hundred and three, entitled "An Act to enable the Commissioner of Agriculture to make a special distribution of seeds in drought-stricken counties of Texas, and making an appropriation therefor."

It is represented that a long-continued and extensive drought has existed in certain portions of the State of Texas, resulting in a failure of crops and consequent distress and destitution.
Though there has been some difference in statements concerning the extent of the people's needs in the localities thus affected, there seems to be no doubt that there has existed a condition calling for relief; and I am willing to believe that, notwithstanding the aid already furnished, a donation of seed-grain to the farmers located in this region, to enable them to put in new crops, would serve to avert a continuance or return of an unfortunate blight.
And yet I feel obliged to withhold my approval of the plan as proposed by this bill, to indulge a benevolent and charitable sentiment through the appropriation of public funds for that purpose.
I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution, and I do not believe that the power and duty of the general government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering which is in no manner properly related to the public service or benefit. A prevalent tendency to disregard the limited mission of this power and duty should, I think, be steadfastly resisted, to the end that the lesson should be constantly enforced that, though the people support the government, the government should not support the people.
The friendliness and charity of our countrymen can always be relied upon to relieve their fellow-citizens in misfortune. This has been repeatedly and quite lately demonstrated. Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character, while it prevents the indulgence among our people of that kindly sentiment and conduct which strengthens the bonds of a common brotherhood.
It is within my personal knowledge that individual aid has, to some extent, already been extended to the sufferers mentioned in this bill. The failure of the proposed appropriation of ten thousand dollars additional, to meet their remaining wants, will not necessarily result in continued distress if the emergency is fully made known to the people of the country.
It is here suggested that the Commissioner of Agriculture is annually directed to expend a large sum of money for the purchase, propagation, and distribution of seeds and other things of this description, two-thirds of which are, upon the request of senators, representatives, and delegates in Congress, supplied to them for distribution among their constituents.
The appropriation of the current year for this purpose is one hundred thousand dollars, and it will probably be no less in the appropriation for the ensuing year. I understand that a large quantity of grain is furnished for such distribution, and it is supposed that this free apportionment among their neighbors is a privilege which may be waived by our senators and representatives.
If sufficient of them should request the Commissioner of Agriculture to send their shares of the grain thus allowed them, to the suffering farmers of Texas, they might be enabled to sow their crops; the constituents, for whom in theory this grain is intended, could well bear the temporary deprivation, and the donors would experience the satisfaction attending deeds of charity
In other words, Grover Cleveland was perhaps the last president to refuse to use the bully pulpit for his own personal gain. Had he signed such a bill, perhaps his popularity would have benefited. But because he was an ardent supporter of the Constitution, he did not sign laws based on emotion nor for personal gain.

So while Congress wanted to allocate $10,000 to the cause, Grover Cleveland believed the people could do far better than any governmental offering, and he was right: $100,000 in private funds were donated to the cause.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Speaking in platitudes

The following is a column published by Economist Donald Boundreaux in the August 12, 2014, issue of Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.  This one is worth publishing in its entirety.

This post is about platitudes.  To understand it better it's a good idea to have a clear understanding of what platitudes are.

According to, a platitude is a "statement that expresses an idea that is not new." defines it as "a flat, dull, or trite remark, especially one uttered as if it were fresh or profound."

So, basically it's a statement that expresses an idea that is not new, although it's used as though it were.  Some examples of platitudes are:
  • Our party is for world peace
  • I just want you to be happy
  • It's God's will
  • Just be yourself
  • You look good.
  • I want to end world hunger
  • I'm for helping the poor 
  • I want everyone to have healthcare (who doesn't?)
  • Well, here' we are (where else would we be?
  • Only the good die young (then I don't want to be good)
  • For a greater list of platitudes you can click here.  Or, better yet, click here
That said, here is our column of the day.  

Unsustainable Platitudes

Platitudes are a poor basis for policy. The reason is that, no matter how melodious they sound, platitudes are practically meaningless. People who utter platitudes often seem to be saying something meaningful when in fact they're merely stating the obvious.

A good way to test if someone is speaking in platitudes is to ask yourself if you can imagine a normal human adult believing the opposite.

Suppose someone informs you that he favors policies that promote human happiness. Can you imagine, say, your neighbor responding, “I disagree. I favor policies that promote human misery”? Probably not.

If you cannot imagine any normal person disagreeing with some proclamation, then that proclamation is a platitude. It tells you nothing of substance.

Consider today's fashionable calls for “sustainability.” The academy, media, cyberspace are full of people proclaiming support for policies that promote economic and environmental “sustainability.” So whenever you hear such proclamations, ask if you can envision a sane adult sincerely disagreeing.

You'll discover, of course, that you can't imagine anyone seriously supporting “unsustainability.” Therefore, you should conclude that mere expressions of support for “sustainability” are empty. And they can be downright harmful if they mislead people into supporting counterproductive government policies.

Substantive issues involving sustainability invoke questions that have non-obvious answers. For example: At what rate must the supply of a resource fall before we conclude that continued use of that resource is unsustainable? Fifty percent annually? Ten percent? One percent?

Because the correct answer to this question depends (among other factors) on how much humans care about the future — and because there's no good reason why we humans should care about the world as it might be many years from now as much as we care about the world as it might be a few days from now — policies and activities that will eventually result in the depletion of some resource are not necessarily unsustainable in any sense that really matters to humans today. If the appropriate human time horizon is, say, 500 years, then activities that will cause petroleum supplies to be exhausted in 550 years are “sustainable” within our relevant time horizon.

Economically sophisticated readers will respond, “Not so fast! Even if we won't completely run out of petroleum until well past the time that is relevant for human beings alive today, falling supplies of petroleum will start to raise the price of petroleum long before 500 years from now.” This claim is true — but it's a reason to worry less, not more, about “sustainability.”

A rising price of petroleum serves as a spur to sustainable practices. First, the rising price prompts consumers voluntarily to cut back on the use of petroleum. Second, this rising price creates incentives for entrepreneurs to find or create petroleum substitutes. And the steeper the price rise, the stronger are these incentives.

Nearly every resource commonly used today likely has potential substitutes — recall that newly discovered petroleum in the 19th century quickly substituted for wood, coal and whale oil. So to focus only on “sustainability” of resources commonly used today is to lose sight of the fact that these resources likely have substitutes that will become available if supplies of today's resources fall below critical levels.