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Burt Folsom History Thread
Today's latest article:
Quote: Who Turns Down a Federal Subsidy?

Posted: 21 Aug 2013

Three cheers for the Abilene and Smoky Valley Railroad. I thank Glen, one of our readers, for calling my attention to the Abilene and Smoky Mountain Railroad, which recently turned down a $500,000 federal grant to fix a bridge on its route from Abilene to Enterprise, Kansas.

Mary Jane Oard, the general manager of the railroad, said the government was too slow and had too many strings attached to the federal aid. So the small railroad is raising the fix-it cash to do the job privately. “If the railroad is its own contractor,” Oard said, “we can probably get it done for around $115,000.” The railroad’s co-pay, if it took the federal loot, would have been $148,000, Oard noted.

The ingenuity of this railroad brings back memories of James J. Hill, who built the Great Northern Railroad from St. Paul to Seattle in the late 1800s with no federal subsidy. The “experts” told Hill that no transcontinental railroad could possibly be built across the Rocky Mountains and through the American Northwest without abundant federal aid.

But Hill, an American hero, built what many believed to be the best railroad in the country without a federal dollar. When the other transcontinental railroads fell on hard times (the Union Pacific went bankrupt, for example), Hill observed, “our own line in the North . . . was built without any government aid, even the right of way, through hundreds of miles of public lands, being paid for in cash.”

Federal aid, Hill explained, was a curse–not a blessing. First, federal aid encouraged railroads to build too quickly (to load up on government money). Second, federal aid encouraged railroads to avoid straight flat lines to their destination because crooked roads generated more miles, and the government paid by the mile. Third, federal money created corruption in railroad building because the railroad owners often used the government money to buy high priced supplies from companies operated by the railroad owners. They sold to themselves and made money on the railroad and on the supplies. The head of the Union Pacific Railroad was censured by Congress for his corrupt behavior.

James J. Hill showed us the right way to build infrastructure. He built slowly and chose the best routes. When Hill learned that the best route west probably lay through the Marias Pass in Montana, he was determined to build his railroad there. The explorers Lewis and Clark had traveled through the Marias Pass and discussed it in their diaries. But in the 1880s, no one knew where it was. Hill’s chief engineer, John Frank Stevens, trekked through the Rockies in Montana with a Blackfoot Indian guide named Coonsah. The pair located the Marias Pass, and Hill used that shorter route to save many miles of construction.

Today, let’s commend the Abilene and Smoky Railroad for refusing federal aid, and building a better and more honest railroad in the process.

Kudos to A&S
Folsom's response to Putin's attack on American Exceptionalism:

Burt Folsom Wrote:Why America is an Exceptional Nation

Posted: 17 Sep 2013 05:59 AM PDT

Last week, President Putin of Russia told Americans, it is “extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional.” But we Americans have often viewed ourselves as an exceptional nation because our history is different from that of everyone else.

Typical nations are formed in warfare by conquering neighboring tribes and expanding. The Franks conquered many of the Germans in the time of King Charlemagne, and the Franks soon became France. Likewise, President Putin’s Russia expanded into a large nation purely through conquest. The way that one got to be known as “The Great” in Russian history was by conquering nearby land and absorbing it into the Russian empire—Peter the Great and Catherine the Great are examples.

America has always been different. Our nation received immigrants from many nations, and they came here not to conquer, but to enjoy freedom. We are a nation built on an idea—the idea that with God’s help we can govern ourselves and “secure the blessings of liberty” to ourselves and our children.

We fought a war for independence to preserve the liberty we were enjoying. Robert Morris, the man George Washington called “the financier of the Revolution”, was from England. He migrated to America, fell in love with his adopted country, and fought to see it emerge as a new nation.

Years later, at the Alamo, several Mexicans died with the Texans because liberty brought them there, and they were willing to die for freedom and Texas rather than live under a dictator in Mexico. So it has been with millions of immigrants who have come to this exceptional nation. We were not built on conquest, on power, or on domination, but on the idea that a free people, under God, can govern themselves and enjoy the blessings of liberty.

John Winthrop, the Puritan governor who came to Massachusetts, said, “We shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us.” We were in an experiment in liberty and in obedience to God, which would make us an exception to what was happening everywhere else in the world.

Abigail Adams, wife of one president and the mother of another, wrote to young John Quincy Adams when he was resisting the work his family was doing to secure independence from the British. “These are the times in which genius would wish to live,” she wrote. “It is not in the still calm of life or the repose of pacific station that great characters are formed. The habits of a vigorous mind are formed in contending with difficulties. Great necessities call out great virtues.”

Abigail Adams recognized the uniqueness of the American experiment in liberty, and she concluded with these words: “When a mind is raised and animated by scenes that engage the heart, then those qualities which would otherwise lay dormant wake into life and form the character of the hero and the statesman.”

My job as a teacher is, in part, to show students at Hillsdale College that “the habits of a vigorous mind are formed in contending with difficulties. Great necessities call out great virtues.” Preserving the liberty we have inherited as an exceptional nation is the difficulty we are contending with now. Great necessities are calling out great virtues in our students, who must master the history of our country in order to maintain our liberty and hand it down to their children. That task, as Abigail Adams would remind us, is worthy of raising our mind and engaging our heart to prepare the heroes and statesmen for the next generation.
Latest eMail on Obama and FDR:

Burt Folsom Wrote:Courting Stalin Didn’t Work Either

Liberals don’t seem to negotiate well with despots. Jimmy Carter didn’t fare well in his negotiations with the USSR in the late 70s. Now we have Barack Obama dealing clumsily with both Syria and Iran. But this tendency has also occurred in previous decades of American history.

In 1941, when Adolf Hitler invaded Soviet Russia, politicians had to re-think their relationship with Josef Stalin, leader of the USSR. Russia had signed a pact with Hitler in 1939, allowing the Germans to attack Poland, because Hitler agreed to allow Russian occupation of eastern Poland once the Poles were defeated. Stalin’s agreement to such a pact showed a great deal about his evil character.

But when Hitler turned on Russia and sent four million Axis soldiers pouring into Russian territory, Stalin suddenly needed friends in the West, and quickly. Both Great Britain and the United States were willing to aid the Soviets as long as they would fight the Nazis. Winston Churchill, Britain’s great wartime prime minister, did everything possible to keep the Russians in the fight against Germany, but Churchill never trusted Stalin.

By contrast, President Franklin Roosevelt completely misjudged Stalin’s character, telling one of his ambassadors: “I think if I give him everything I possibly can, and ask nothing from him in return, noblesse oblige, he won’t try to annex anything and will work with me for a world of peace and democracy.” (FDR Goes to War, p. 232) FDR “courted” Stalin throughout World War II and unfortunately didn’t live to see the damage done to millions of citizens of eastern Europe–by Josef Stalin.

Why? FDR believed his powers of persuasion were limitless. He suffered from a hyper-inflated ego by 1941, after winning election to an unprecedented third term in the White House. His unbounded confidence led to many problems in foreign policy, but his misjudgement of Stalin ranks highest among those mistakes.

Likewise, President Obama has found that foreign policy differs from American politics in many ways. First, the world press doesn’t give Obama a pass on mistakes, which the U.S. press has done so many times when it ignores White House scandals or problems with domestic policy. Second, the American public is leery of being cajoled into another war. Third, the language of diplomacy must be precise and based on the best information possible. Too often Obama and his advisors have engaged in statements on foreign policy that have come back to haunt them, as when Obama “drew a red line” about the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

A big ego, lack of experience, and opinions not based on facts make for bad foreign policy. This was true in FDR’s day, and President Obama is learning that nothing has changed since FDR.
Today's eMail:

Burt Folsom Wrote:Why Did President Obama Shut Down the Government?

by Burt on October 7, 2013

The odd thing about the current shutdown of our government is that reporters, Senators, and even the president seem to be confused about the separation of powers into three branches of government. The Constitution explains this separation clearly: The President has power to be commander–in-chief of the armed forces, and to veto bills. The Senate has power to confirm treaties. The House has power to control the money by granting or withholding it. All spending bills originate in the House.

Thus, the House, by appropriating funds to run all of the government except for Obamacare is well within its rights. The president could choose to run the government (except for funds connected with Obamacare), but he is choosing to shut down parts of the government by taking funding from many other parts of government, not just Obamacare. That is his choice, but he must also take the responsibility for doing this.

The Founders gave the House of Representatives control over the nation’s purse because the House is most directly connected with the voters. They have the most to lose and, if wrong, they will lose it quickly because all of them must either resign or run for re-election every two years. They can’t afford to be wrong on big money issues, so House members take their financial responsibilities perhaps more seriously than do Senators.

True, Obamacare is law of the land because it passed through all three branches of government. But after it passed, many of its critics ran for office against those congressmen who voted for it. The result was a voter tsunami against Obamacare that resulted in Democrat defeats not seen since FDR overreached his authority and tried to pack the Supreme Court back in 1937-38. Voters said, “No!” to FDR in 1938, just as they said “No!” to Obamacare in 2010. Those have been the two most spectacular midterm election victories in the history of the Republican party.

The current members of the House, in challenging Obamacare, are representing the ideas they expressed to the voters during the 2010 and 2012 elections. The voters re-elected President Obama, but they also re-elected a Republican House, and that is why we have the current dispute. The Founders knew we would have these kinds of challenges, and they constructed a wonderful Constitution that could deal with the difficulties of politics.

The House, in a sense, is doing now exactly what it was elected to do: First, slow down federal spending, which currently runs a deficit of almost $40,000 per second every second of every day; and second, halt, or slow down, the implementation of Obamacare. The House will be held accountable for its actions in the forthcoming 2014 midterm elections. If the president chooses to shut down other parts of the government, he and his party must be held accountable as well for the results of those actions.
Today's insight by Folsom:
Quote: Two Observations about the Obamacare Debacle

Posted: 24 Oct 2013

First, the president’s crusade for starting Obamacare at the first of October–even with a defective website–parallels President Woodrow Wilson’s crusade for the League of Nations after World War I. Both presidents invested their futures in a single, ill-conceived crusade to “save” the country and to show the world that real progress in the history of mankind was at hand. It wasn’t.

President Wilson actually believed that World War I would be the “war to end all wars” if only a League of Nations would be created afterward: Nations would solve problems by talk and world peace would result. Wilson would accept no compromise from the Senate, which wanted to add a reservation that the Constitution would still be our nation’s guiding document.

President Wilson made hundreds of speeches around the country preaching salvation by membership in the new League of Nations, and he would accept no compromises or delays. The U.S. never joined, but we watched with horror from the sidelines as League members insulted one another (some attacked each other), and the remaining League members did nothing. The result: World War II.

President Obama believed something almost as utopian as Wilson’s League of Nations. Obama believed, and said often in his 2008 campaign, that the U.S. could cut the costs of medical care and improve its quality by providing discounted or free coverage to thirty million new people. The current website meltdown may be only the beginning of the president’s problems.

Progressive presidents believe that human nature can be changed, that more power in the executive branch of government can help make those changes possible, that negotiation with opponents should be avoided, and that merely signing a new law can change people’s hearts and a nation’s future.

My second observation is a practical one. The IRS is incompetent to do any of its required financial oversight of Obamacare. Either Obamacare will not work at all, or its costs will skyrocket out of control. Byron York at the Washington Examiner made this clear indirectly with his recent report that the IRS has mishandled $130 billion in the last ten years through the earned income tax credit. The IRS routinely overpays some 20% of those people eligible for an earned income tax credit. Those overpayments could be stopped, York says, but the IRS is reluctant to do that because doing so would discourage some of those eligible from applying for and receiving their full federal benefits.

The takeaway here is that the IRS would rather overpay than scrutinize applications more carefully. Think how this will play out with tens of millions of Americans applying for healthcare discounts and subsidies under Obamacare.

How many of you can think of bad laws that were repealed? How many can think of bad laws that lingered on with more funding added to them? Let’s work to have Obamacare fit the small first category rather than the very large second category.
Folsom hits the nail on the head, once again. Progressives have this belief that human nature can be changed with the flick of a pen and government taking charge, order to make those utopian changes.

One of the things I like about Folsom is the parallel he draws between Obama and Woodrow Wilson.
Folsom's view on Global Warming:

Quote:Heal the Planet or Follow the Money? Posted: 04 Nov 2013 01:00 AM PST

“We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.” Thus spoke President Obama in his first inaugural. He promised to be the greatest green energy president ever.

During the 2008 campaign, he best captured the spirit of the green energy movement when he said, “I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that . . . this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.”

In his five years in office, President Obama has refused to consider the data pouring into the academic community from scientists worldwide. Last Friday, November 1, 2013, he issued an executive order “directing a government-wide effort to boost preparation in states and local communities for the impact of global warming.” According to the Washington Times, “The action orders federal agencies to work with states to build ‘resilience’ against major storms and other weather extremes. For example, the president’s order directs that infrastructure projects like bridges and flood control take into consideration climate conditions of the future, which might require building structures larger or stronger — and likely at a higher price tag.”

On the other hand, what data has been collected in the five years since Obama’s first inauguration?

(1) Ocean levels have changed very little, if at all. Dire predictions from environmentalists that lower Manhattan would be under water from melting polar ice caps just haven’t proven to be valid.

(2) Average temperatures around the world have risen very little, if at all. In fact, many scientists now insist that the earth is going through a cooling period.

(3) The polar bear, once thought to be endangered because the ice pack in northern waters was melting, is flourishing.

Even Nobel Prize-winning physicist Ivar Giaever recently resigned from the American Physical Society. Giaever supported Obama in 2012, but in a letter to APS earlier this year, he resigned from that society, stating that he couldn’t support the APS statement that global warming was “incontrovertible.” Giaever said that global warming is a theory not supported by scientific data.

Likewise, in an interview with Forbes on May 26, 2013, meteorologist Joe Bastardi stated:

Right now we’re seeing the same kind of major events on a regional scale that occurred the last time the Pacific Ocean shifted its temperature phase from warm to cold when the Atlantic was in a warm phase, and globally, the Earth’s temps have fallen about .05C in the last four years. . The European winters also look very similar now to those in the early 1950s. People familiar with circumstances during the Korean War can note that cold conditions that existed in the Far East were also comparable. Alaska has once again turned much colder, just as it did then when the Pacific temperatures cooled and sea ice expanded.

Why, then, does President Obama cling so tenaciously to the myth of global warming? One explanation is simple: “Never let a good emergency go to waste, even when it is manufactured by misuse of data.”

Politicians know that threats to national security provide a quick and easy means to rally public support. The energy crisis and global warming have served as such an emergency, but many concerned thinkers are coming forward to debunk this manufactured crisis. In the words of Bjorn Lomborg, Danish author and analyst of political policies, ”We must ask whether a ‘climate-industrial complex’ is emerging, pressing taxpayers to fork over money to please those who stand to gain.”

In other words, in order to explain the “global warming emergency” just follow the money.
Interesting ranking a lá Folsom:

Quote:Who Are The Greatest American Entrepreneurs Ever? Posted: 07 Nov 2013 02:17 AM PST

By Blaine McCormick and Burton Folsom, Jr.

Originally published by and can be found Here.

Henry ford 1919
[Image: 188px-Henry_ford_1919.jpg]
Portrait of Henry Ford (ca. 1919) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If U.S. presidents are studied, evaluated, and ranked, shouldn’t we do the same for our entrepreneurs and businesspeople? After all, they built the U.S. from the ground up into a great economic power. The state of business affects our quality of life as much, if not more, than whomever sits in the Oval Office. We need to know where to give the credit for American achievement and how to rank its value.

Ten years ago, we asked 58 historians, economists, and management experts to rank their top ten American entrepreneurs. This poll was among the first attempts to assess greatness among American entrepreneurs, and we have repeated it again this year with surveys from 41 business experts from history, economics, and management.

[Image: Forbes-JPEG.jpg]

In both polls, our experts gave Henry Ford first place. His assembly-line production transformed American life when he put a car in almost every garage. Also, his $5.00 day innovated in labor relations, and put high value on stable and productive workers. Ford’s competitor, Alfred Sloan of General Motors, ranked in eighth place in our first poll, but fell out this year—perhaps in the wake of the GM bankruptcy and government bailout. Ford Motor Company was recently the only one of the Big Three to shun federal aid—which repeats Henry Ford’s refusal to follow FDR’s National Recovery Act in the 1930s.

Most of the top ten entrepreneurs, like Ford, started great American companies. Bill Gates at Microsoft, John D. Rockefeller at Standard Oil, and Andrew Carnegie at Carnegie Steel (later U.S. Steel) lead the way. All three of these men kept American business in the forefront by dominating the world with their products. Thomas Edison and Steve Jobs championed multiple industries: Edison with recorded sound, electric lights, and motion pictures; Jobs with personal computers, computer animation, digital music, and more. Ray Kroc leveraged contributions from meatpackers (Gustavus Swift), soda bottlers (Asa Candler), and condiment makers (H. J. Heinz) into something bigger.

The emergence of Steve Jobs at number five shows that this is a living poll. Both Jobs and Michael Dell were among our top 25 ten years ago, but Jobs rose and Dell faded during the last decade. The decline of J. P. Morgan suggests that fewer experts appreciate his (and perhaps other people’s) financial wizardry. Also, despite Walmart stock trading around an all-time high, Sam Walton slipped slightly with Amazon’s Jeff Bezos closing in at #11.

What else can we learn from these expert polls? First, that greatness is more than amassing wealth. Warren Buffett and John Paul Getty were among the richest Americans of their generations, but almost none of our experts called them great. Second, the mantle of greatness is not bestowed upon traditional “vice” industries like tobacco, alcohol, gambling, and pornography. Each of those industries has prominent figureheads: Duke, Busch, and Hefner for example. Our experts ignored them, but did choose Walt Disney, upon whose Magic Kingdom the sun never sets. Third, no minorities or women have cracked the top ten yet (although Oprah Winfrey is gaining). Fourth, only two of our top ten finished college (Sam Walton and J. P. Morgan). The other entrepreneurs did value knowledge very highly, but, like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, they wanted to create something, not sit in classrooms.

Finally, those entrepreneurs and businesspeople labeled great had very little to do with the federal government—whether wartime or peacetime they received almost no federal aid, and sometimes had to overcome regulations and political intervention. Instead, these entrepreneurs tried to improve American lives by making a quality product at a competitive price. They did indeed build that.

Blaine McCormick is professor of business at Baylor University; Burton Folsom, Jr. is professor of history at Hillsdale College and co-author, with Anita Folsom, of FDR Goes to War (Simon & Schuster, 2011).

Note that Steve Jobs leaped past Edison. Of course, inventors are not listed here per se, or else Tesla would head the list.
Abraham Lincoln's proclamation for a national day of thanksgiving:

Quote:A Civil War Thanksgiving Posted: 14 Nov 2013 12:25 AM PST

In 1863, Abraham Lincoln asked the American people to set aside the last Thursday in November as a day of Thanksgiving and a day of prayer that God would heal the nation’s wounds. Two weeks from today is our Thanksgiving Day for 2013. Let us remember to pray for our nation as we prepare for that celebration.

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln
On JFK's 50th anniversary:

Quote:President Kennedy's Best Accomplishment?

Not the Vietnam War, where he eased us into sending more troops. Not civil rights, which he did not accomplish and only supported reluctantly. The answer: Cutting tax rates!

Kennedy did support tax cuts, and those cuts improved the prosperity of the 1960s. Here is the story.

In the late 1950s, under President Eisenhower, and in the early 1960s, the U.S. had slow economic growth and high unemployment. President Kennedy, facing almost 7% unemployment in 1961—his first year in office—decided to support cutting income tax rates across the board, from the richest to poorest taxpayers. The wealthiest Americans, for example, who had been paying 91% on all income over $200,000, were refusing to invest in the U.S. economy. That was stopping growth and shutting down the chance to work for millions of Americans who wanted to get jobs, support their families, and climb the ladder of success.

“Our true choice,” Kennedy said, “is not between tax reduction, on the one hand, and the avoidance of large federal deficits on the other.” He believed that cutting tax rates would actually increase federal revenue as well as spark new employment. Kennedy proposed cutting the top rate to 70% and the bottom rate from 20 to 14% in order to “boost the economy, produce revenues, and achieve a future budget surplus.” Kennedy’s idea that cutting tax rates would increase revenue as well as jobs—which is called “supply-side economics” today—was counterintuitive, but, when his plan was enacted after his death, the results Kennedy predicted came to pass.

Kennedy’s tax rate cuts gave businessmen incentives to invest, and gave their workers more money to keep and spend on their own. The annual economic growth rate rose from 4.3 to 6.6% four years after the tax cuts. Unemployment steadily dropped year after year during the 1960s from 6.7% in 1961 to 3.6% in 1968. Two million more Americans had jobs in 1968 than had them in 1961. Those newly employed Americans now had the chance, as the Declaration of Independence said, to “pursue happiness.” The right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—in Kennedy’s view—meant that government had no business confiscating 91% of a rich person’s income, and thus depriving workers of a chance to find jobs in the rich man’s factory.

Finally, after the Kennedy tax rate cuts, revenue to the U.S. government from income taxes climbed from $49 billion in 1964 to $69 billion in 1968, a big jump from what the government had received in revenue in the years before the tax cuts. In other words, the U.S. was cutting its annual deficit as well as creating jobs for its people.

President Kennedy, whose death fifty years ago we commemorate, showed the nation that when people are free to keep much of what they earn, their creative energy will generate wealth, products, and jobs that will help keep America the land of the free. We salute President Kennedy.
Today's musings on Obama overreach:

Quote:Presidential Overreach

Posted: 21 Nov 2013 12:37 AM PST

Is there a similarity between the Court-packing scheme of President Roosevelt in the 1930s and Obamacare today? Yes there is. In both cases, we see the fatal consequences of presidential overreach.

In 1937, FDR was angry that the Supreme Court had struck down two of his pet New Deal programs, the NRA and AAA. (The NRA tried to set prices nationwide for the costs of everything from pressing a pair of pants to repairing a watch to selling kosher chickens. With the AAA, Roosevelt tried to restructure the entire American farm program; for example, some farmers were told how much land they had to remove from production, the government targeted commodities prices, and the government paid farmers not to produce.)

By February, 1937, Roosevelt had a plan to deal with the pesky Supreme Court. He would “pack” the court with up to six new justices, making a total of fifteen. FDR then called six key Democrat leaders of Congress to the White House for a conference. When he explained his new plan to the congressmen, some listened in dismay and others were horrified. FDR presented his “reform” as a plea for judicial efficiency, but in reality he simply wanted to appoint six justices who would support his big government ideas and give him the votes on the Court that he needed to implement his New Deal.

As the six startled men, instructions in hand, left the White House, Rep. Hatton Sumners of Texas reportedly said, “Well, boys, here is where I cash in my chips.” Over the next few months, members of Congress agreed with Sumners, and Congress refused to back FDR’s court packing scheme.

Fast forward to today. In Mark Steyn’s recent column for National Review Online: Thus Spake Obama: The Incompetency of Our Neo-Monarchy, Steyn points out that President Obama shows such disregard for the U.S. Constitution that he often reacts more like a ruling monarch than an American president:

“On November 14th, [Obama] passed a new law at a press conference. George III never did that. But, having ordered America’s insurance companies to comply with Obamacare, the president announced that he is now ordering them not to comply with Obamacare. The legislative branch (as it’s still quaintly known) passed a law purporting to grandfather your existing health plan. The regulatory bureaucracy then interpreted the law so as to un-grandfather your health plan. So His Most Excellent Majesty has commanded that your health plan be de-un-grandfathered. That seems likely to work. The insurance industry had three years to prepare for the introduction of Obamacare. Now the King has given them six weeks to de-introduce Obamacare.

“I wonder if he has the legal authority to do this,” mused former Vermont governor Howard Dean. But [Dean is] obviously some kind of right-wing wacko. Later that day, anxious to help him out, Congress offered to “pass” a “law” allowing people to keep their health plans. The same president who had unilaterally commanded that people be allowed to keep their health plans indignantly threatened to veto any such law to that effect: It only counts if he does it — geddit? As his court eunuchs at the Associated Press obligingly put it: “Obama Will Allow Old Plans.” It’s Barry’s world; we just live in it.”

Well said, Mark Steyn. And history teaches us that when presidents overreach to pack the Supreme Court (or take control of the whole healthcare industry), failure lurks just around the corner.

Doncha love it! ...Howard Dean as a right-wing wacko?
Another timely comment.
Quote: “A Six Months’ War” Posted: 04 Dec 2013

On a cold Thursday evening in Washington, DC, in 1941, leaders in the nation’s capital met for dinner and discussion of the problems facing them.

One attendee was Frank Knox, Secretary of the Navy. Knox told his dinner companions, ” I feel that I can speak very frankly, within these four walls. . . .We are very close to war. War may begin in the Pacific at any moment. . . .But I want you to know that no matter what happens, the United States Navy is ready!”

Knox added, “We’ve had our plans worked out for twenty years. Once it starts, our submarines will go in to blockade them, and sooner or later our battle fleet will be able to force an action. It won’t take too long. Say about a six months’ war.”

What was the date? December 4, 1941. Three days before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Needless to say, the United States was not ready for the coming war, one which would last for three years and eight months and take the lives of more than 400,000 Americans. (Chapter 4, FDR Goes to War)

Fast forward to today. When our leaders tell us that a national healthcare program is going to work well and benefit all Americans, we should remember the track record of the government on past projects. If the nation’s defense can be as vulnerable and unprepared as was the case in 1941, what does this say about a government-run healthcare system?

(1) Past history tells us that government officials always talk about the positive aspects of any program.

(2) Leaders tend to follow old habits and ways of doing things, such as Knox’s statement: “We’ve had our plans worked out for twenty years.”

(3) Bureaucracy, whether in Washington or in Hawaii or any other state, tends to be slow and cumbersome when it comes to providing a final product. The quality of the product or the service is not important; in bureaucracy, only following procedures is the common mindset. This tendency does not auger well for government-run healthcare.

History is a great teacher. And if we study history, we can more accurately analyze current events and our current leadership. As we remember the tragedy of Pearl Harbor, let’s learn from it and be more prepared for the challenges which face us now as a nation.
Today's latest truism by Folsom:

The Importance of Real Equality (Posted: 21 Jan 2014)

Burt Folsom Wrote:The subject of “equality” is the source of much political debate these days. Ever since the founding era, free-market thinkers have argued for equality of opportunity in the economic order. Equality, in other words, is a framework, not a result. In modern terms the goal is a level playing field. Government should be a referee that enforces property rights, laws, and contracts equally for all individuals.

What the free-market view means in policy terms is no (or few) tariffs for business, no subsidies for farmers, and no racism written into law. Also, successful businessmen will not be subject to special taxes or the seizure of property.

In America this view of equality is enshrined in the Declaration of Independence (“all men are created equal and are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights”) and the Constitution (“imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States” and “equal protection of the laws”).

Much of America’s first century as a nation was devoted to ending slavery, extending voting rights, and securing property and inheritance rights for women–fulfilling the Founders’ goal of equal opportunity for all citizens.

Progressives and modern critics of equality of opportunity have launched two significant criticisms against the Founders’ view. First, that equality of opportunity is impossible to achieve. Second, to the extent that equality of opportunity has been tried, it has resulted in a gigantic inequality of outcomes. Equality of outcome, in the Progressive view, is desirable and can only be achieved by massive government intervention.

To some extent, of course, the Progressives have a valid point–equality of opportunity is, at an individual level (as opposed to an institutional level) hard to achieve. We are all born with different family advantages (or disadvantages), with different abilities, and in different neighborhoods with varying levels of opportunity. As socialist playwright George Bernard Shaw said, “Give your son a fountain pen and a ream of paper and tell him that he now has an equal opportunity with me of writing plays and see what he says to you.”

What the Progressives miss is that their cure is worse than the illness. When government, for example, tries to correct imbalances in family, ability, and neighborhood, government intervention produces other inequalities that maybe worse than the original ones.

Thomas Sowell writes, “Attempts to equalize economic results lead to greater — and more dangerous–inequality in political power.” Or, as Milton Friedman concluded, “A society that puts equality–in the sense of equality of outcome–ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality nor freedom. The use of force to achieve equality will destroy freedom, and the force, introduced for good purposes, will end up in the hands of people who use it to promote their own interests.”

Doesn't this sound like Benjamin Franklin's reply to the woman who asked what kind of system did you give us? "A Republic, Ma'am, if you can keep it!"
One of the single biggest lies put forward by Socialists and Progressives is the idea of economic inequality hurting the little guy. Squishy-hearted Leftists ooze concern over minimum wage and evil Walmart - but those entrepreneurs they love to hate are really the good guys.

How to Fight Income Inequality? Save the Billionaires
by Burt on January 28, 2014

Quote:Steve Jobs became a billionaire by providing millions of Americans with iPods, iPhones, and iPads, which in turn made it easier for those Americans to run their lives and, in many cases, work more effectively, and escape poverty. In other words, Steve Jobs becoming a billionaire was the rising tide that lifted millions of boats. If he had not invented and marketed iPhones and his other products, most of us would have more limited opportunities. To gain wealth he had to help others.

Is the Steve Jobs example typical? Yes, it is. Most billionaires got that way by making others richer and happier. Sam Walton founded Wal-Mart and the savings in his stores stretch the dollars for millions of poor families throughout the world.

What about the first two billionaires in U.S. history? Were they like Steve Jobs and Sam Walton in their positive impact on the poor? You be the judge.

John D. Rockefeller was America’s first billionaire, and he got that way by providing cheap oil–kerosene–for lighting homes. At last, Americans could work and play at night using kerosene lamps. Rockefeller’s oil cost only one cent an hour to illuminate one room. As Rockefeller said, “We must ever remember we are refining oil for the poor man and he must have it cheap and good.”

The second billionaire in U.S. history was Henry Ford, who had the dream of putting a car in every garage in America. With a car, Americans–rich and poor alike–had new possibilities for improving their lives. Getting to work more quickly gave Americans new opportunities. Only by improving millions of lives could Ford earn his billion dollars. As Ford perfected the assembly line, he cut the price of cars to the point that even poor Americans could buy one. They could exploit new opportunities to drive their cars to shop and work miles from their homes.

No government program in U.S. history has ever helped impoverished Americans as much as Ford’s Model T. Come to think of it no government program has ever brought more comfort or prosperity to Americans than many of the ideas developed by entrepreneurs: Willis Carrier invented air conditioning, for example, and what a blessing it has been for the nation.

“Save the billionaires!” That should be our battle cry. By protecting free markets, inventors and entrepreneurs have the freedom to give all of us more opportunities, and for poor people to become much richer.
(11-07-2013, 09:45 PM)WmLambert Wrote: Interesting ranking a lá Folsom:

Quote:Who Are The Greatest American Entrepreneurs Ever? The emergence of Steve Jobs at number five shows that this is a living poll.
Note that Steve Jobs leaped past Edison. Of course, inventors are not listed here per se, or else Tesla would head the list.

I find it difficult to see a parallel when comparing the business & industrial utility that both Edison & Gates provided and monopolized in the great growth of so many other direct and ancillary industries when I look at the genius and success of Tesla & Jobs.
Genius and success are not the same. Tesla died penniless, but was the greatest inventor ever. Edison and Marconi made money - but largely stood on the shoulders of others. Many of the "Robber Barons", so despised by the Left, were very charitable and reduced the price of government sanctioned monopolies - so the common man could improve his life greatly.
(01-28-2014, 04:49 PM)WmLambert Wrote: Genius and success are not the same. Tesla died penniless, but was the greatest inventor ever. Edison and Marconi made money - but largely stood on the shoulders of others. Many of the "Robber Barons", so despised by the Left, were very charitable and reduced the price of government sanctioned monopolies - so the common man could improve his life greatly.

There are many geniuses and great ideas but unless an idea or a plan is put into action it is only a great idea and a great plan on paper.
Your kind thoughts and prayers were greatly appreciated but if you simply dumped the bucket of water over my burning body....

...actions speak louder than words, thoughts and inspiration.
Paul, unlike Bill, I don't believe Tesla was the best inventor in history. I'll still go with Di Vinci, but Tesla is a close second perhaps. Di Vinci was not swindled as was Tesla, so they differ there. Also, Di Vinci was much better business minded, just much earlier in time.


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