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Andy Stern: Authoritarian Obama's Freeloader Economy

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"Liberal History" from Osawatomie Bam

by Christopher Chantrill
December 27, 2011 at 12:10 am


IT IS STILL a couple of months until Groundhog Day but in Kansas, Osawatomie Bam recently popped up to take a look at the economic weather. Folks say that if he sees his shadow, it means another two years of economic headwinds.

But the Bamster didn’t look for his shadow. He just gave the assembled students a professorial lesson in “liberal history.” You know what I mean: heroic liberal activists pass liberal social programs saving working stiffs (or more recently, women and minorities) from a fate worse than death. Here’s Professor Obama with today’s Moment in Liberal History:

At the turn of the last century, when a nation of farmers was transitioning to become the world’s industrial giant, we had to decide: Would we settle for a country where most of the new railroads and factories were being controlled by a few giant monopolies that kept prices high and wages low?

Mr. President: Are we talking about Standard Oil that cut illuminating oil from $0.80 to $0.08 per gallon and invented the corporate pension? Or US Steel that cut steel prices by two-thirds?

Because there were people who thought massive inequality and exploitation of people was just the price you pay for progress.

Mr. President: Here’s a tip. The only people that think about “inequality” are lefties and academics. But I repeat myself.

Theodore Roosevelt disagreed...

And so he busted up monopolies, forcing those companies to compete for consumers with better services and better prices. And today, they still must. He fought to make sure businesses couldn’t profit by exploiting children or selling food or medicine that wasn’t safe. And today, they still can’t.

Agreed. No child is left behind today. Today we confine all children in child-custodial facilities with no time off for good behavior. They are so unexploited that half of them need remedial courses when they get to college.

The learned professor continues:

Remember in those years, in 2001 and 2003, Congress passed two of the most expensive tax cuts for the wealthy in history.

You mean the tax cuts that had the rich paying the biggest share of income tax in recent years? Your lesson-planners could look it up.

Of course, these days the postmodernists have de-legitimized history as a mere “narrative,” a naked apology for power. I can see their point. Send us more money, says the president after his history lesson, so his administration can inflate the higher-ed bubble just like Fannie and Freddie and the housing bubble.

In the interest of balance, I think we need some “conservative history” for a change. It is different from liberal history, because it doesn’t make heroes out of politicians, but ordinary men with ideas. So here goes.

Back in the Dark Ages, the best and the brightest all agreed that the government had to control the economy and pile up gold as a store of national wealth. But then along came Adam Smith. He reckoned that the economy could run itself, under law, because an Invisible Hand prodded producers to serve the interest of the consumers. But the best and the brightest of the 1840s said the new manufacturies were just exploitation.

Then we entered the Age of the Nobodies. There were the nobodies that invented power textile looms, steam engines, railways. There was the store clerk who got his engineers to invent safe, chemistry-based oil-refining, the telegraph clerk that turned steel-making from a craft (samurai swordmaking) into a global industry that mass-produced steel for railways, ships, and skyscrapers.

Then just as the best and brightest got their copies of Karl Marx’s Kapital hot off the presses, three different economists ground his labor theory of value into hamburger with marginal economics. The best and the brightest lost interest in economics.

Never mind. The new action was all in jumped-up nobodies inventing airplanes. There was the nasty Crash of 1907, but an ageing banker bailed out the nation with the help of the richest men in America. Then a nobody invented the assembly line for mass-producing automobiles for the masses.

After the Crash of 1929, the best and the brightest directed a failed government bailout in the 1930s and won a world war in the 1940s. And the economy grew briskly in the 1950s and 1960s. But then the best and the brightest of the 1960s decided on a war in Asia and a War on Poverty at the same time. The result was stagflation until a B-movie actor got elected president. America promptly vaulted into a Reaganomical 20-year boom until the best and the brightest of the 1990s, carefully shielded from dangerous ideas by denialist government-sponsored universities (GSUs), decided that they could allocate housing mortgage credit better than the market; then they got to elect one of their own in 2008.

To be continued. And how does the economy look to you today, Osawatomie Bam?

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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Faith & Purpose

“When we began first to preach these things, the people appeared as awakened from the sleep of ages—they seemed to see for the first time that they were responsible beings, and that a refusal to use the means appointed was a damning sin.”
Finke, Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990

Mutual Aid

In 1911... at least nine million of the 12 million covered by national insurance were already members of voluntary sick pay schemes. A similar proportion were also eligible for medical care.
Green, Reinventing Civil Society


“We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.”
E. G. West, Education and the State

Living Under Law

Law being too tenuous to rely upon in [Ulster and the Scottish borderlands], people developed patterns of settling differences by personal fighting and family feuds.
Thomas Sowell, Conquests and Cultures

German Philosophy

The primary thing to keep in mind about German and Russian thought since 1800 is that it takes for granted that the Cartesian, Lockean or Humean scientific and philosophical conception of man and nature... has been shown by indisputable evidence to be inadequate. 
F.S.C. Northrop, The Meeting of East and West


Inquiry does not start unless there is a problem... It is the problem and its characteristics revealed by analysis which guides one first to the relevant facts and then, once the relevant facts are known, to the relevant hypotheses.
F.S.C. Northrop, The Logic of the Sciences and the Humanities


“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison

Democratic Capitalism

I mean three systems in one: a predominantly market economy; a polity respectful of the rights of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and a system of cultural institutions moved by ideals of liberty and justice for all. In short, three dynamic and converging systems functioning as one: a democratic polity, an economy based on markets and incentives, and a moral-cultural system which is plural and, in the largest sense, liberal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


The incentive that impels a man to act is always some uneasiness... But to make a man act [he must have] the expectation that purposeful behavior has the power to remove or at least to alleviate the felt uneasiness.
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action


[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm


“When we received Christ,” Phil added, “all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.”
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh

Living Law

The recognition and integration of extralegal property rights [in the Homestead Act] was a key element in the United States becoming the most important market economy and producer of capital in the world.
Hernando de Soto, The Mystery of Capital

presented by Christopher Chantrill

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