The Founders of the American Constitution did not use taxpayer dollars to stimulate private businesses. In the beginning, the entrepreneur was on his own, free to fail or succeed according to his vision, the strength of his character, the measure of his intelligence and the sweat of his brow.
The American entrepreneur did well. He invented the airplane, telegraph, telephone, light bulb and computer. He built a railroad that spanned the United States from the east to the “Left” coast. He gave us California—Well, no one’s perfect.
But then, times began to change. In the 1840s Congress fell finally to the smooth tongue of one Edward K. Collins. Eddy Collins was a hearty man of charm and style, of bold plans, big appetites, and a proudly witless mind. He was a word merchant could build out of the fabric of hot air castles suspended in the labyrinth of heaven—well, almost.
Larry Schweikart, author of What Would the Founders Say? writes that Eddy Collins approached a Congress concerned with British domination of passenger and mail service across the Atlantic. Eddy struck a pose, hand held sacredly upon his heart, and promised Congress that should it “invest” in the shipping line he had in mind; and if he were sufficiently stimulated—that is, if Congress were to pony up $3 million in cold cash and say, $385,000 or so per year, he would upon his oath drive the British competition “off the seas.”
[Remember, that in 1840 Congress had not yet discovered the miracle of “quantitative easing,” and so we are talking real American dollars here].
Well, the American Congress certainly stimulated Eddy Collins. First,
he built ‘luxurious ships’ and each of his four enormous vessels had an elegant saloon, ladies’ drawing rooms, and wedding berths. He covered the ships with plush carpet and brought aboard exotic rose, satin and olivewood furniture, marble tables, exotic mirrors, flexible barber chairs, and French chefs. He even had electric bells installed in the state rooms to summon the stewards.”
In all Eddy Collins had a great time—for a while. He dazzled the ladies in their silk gowns. He impressed ambitious government gentlemen bejeweled and too well dressed. He stiffed Congress and the American people who paid the bills. Although a grand time was had by nearly all, he simply could not deliver passengers or mail cheaply enough to compete with the British line. As certain failure beckoned, Collins, pioneered a process that twenty-first century Americans know too well.
Eddy Collins became a professional lobbyist: “…he spent an inordinate amount of time wining and dining Washington big wigs.” The big wigs, once replete with port, their surfeit of vintage Scottish whiskey, English Stout and marbled steak continued Eddy’s stimulation with truckloads of the peoples’ cash.
But then appeared the serpent in the garden. The businessman Cornelius Vanderbilt told Congress, “that he would build and run an Atlantic mail service for $15,000 per trip,” much cheaper than the British or Eddy Collins. Congress in its wisdom immediately refused the offer and promptly increased Eddy’s subsidy from, $385,000 to $858,00 per year. After all, the big wigs figured: They had invested big bucks in Eddy. Why then should they suffer the consequences of their primordial brainlessness simply because they had given millions of dollars to a half-wit whose daft adventure was from the get-go doomed to fail. Let him who is without guilt cast the first stone!
Vanderbilt, however, without government subsidies built his own line and produced a service far superior, efficient and cheaper than Big Eddy’s still floating love boats. That Big Eddy started going broke in a big way did not at all stay the good senators and representatives from their stimulus plan. After all, it wasn’t like it was their money.
President Obama seeks to impose on Americans, finally, unalterably, and expansively the full force of that socialist state conceived in the administration of President Franklin Roosevelt. Americans do not like to think of America as a socialist state. And it is true that technically a socialist state is defined as one in which the state alone owns all property and the means of production. This definition, however, does not begin to reflect the reality of socialism. Socialism is dictatorship, plain and simple, however eloquent its ruling class proclaims its affection for the people and however many two-party elections it provides to preserve the illusion of Republican government.
Modern socialists realize, as did the twentieth century German National Socialists, that the ownership of property and the means of production are not necessary so long as the state through the exercise of its police power owns the citizen. When the state owns the citizen, it matters nothing that the citizen believes that he “owns” his property. Actually, the fiction of ownership keeps things running quietly and smoothly. Let Americans think what they want. So long as they know who really is in charge what harm can come of it?
In the Roosevelt Administration, progressive taxation, a confiscatory technique invented by Karl Marx, vested in the state the power to take from the wealthy citizen more than 90 percent of his income. When a state takes such power, debates seeking to distinguish socialism from constitutional republics are irrelevant and frivolous.
While presumably Roosevelt realized that he was President of a Republic. he defied the restraints imposed by the American Constitution, threatened Supreme Court Justices with “court packing,” (increasing the number of friendly Supreme Court Justices), interned thousands of innocent Japanese during the Second World War, looked only to the ends he desired and cared nothing about the means by which he might impose them.
Roosevelt came to power in an age when, then as now, an American and British “Intelligencia” were enamored of the totalitarian state. The “Intelligencia” well entrenched in academia, media and government engaged in extraordinary efforts to censor socialist failures and atrocities from the American and European public. They censored by silence, and if silence failed then by deceit; and if deceit failed then by libels, defamation, intimidation and banishment.
For example, despite a New York Times “committed” to printing all the news that’s fit to print few people in England or America, know about the Holodomor, The Great Hunger wherein, in a time of peace, Stalin intentionally starved to death 8 to 10 million Ukrainians. The New York Times’ Walter Duranty, having seen first hand the dead and dying in the streets and in the silent, denuded kulak farms, wrote shameful soliloquies to Stalin in the New York Times. He told Americans that the Soviet famine was an anti socialist myth, that Russian farms were flowing with milk and honey and Stalin with the milk of human kindness. Duranty won a Pulitzer Prize for this lie, and today, of course, the New York Times still claims to print all the news that’s fit to print. Author J. R. Dunn writes that,
American Socialism began with the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Rexford G. Tugwell and Adolph Berle were part of the brain trust charged with the new economic policy. They “…were open admirers of the US.S.R. and Fascist Italy. ‘It’s the cleanest…most efficient operating piece of social machinery I’ve ever seen,” Tugwell said of Mussolini’s fascist utopia.’ It makes me envious.’ This attitude was fully reflected in the Brain Trust’s policy objectives. The New Deal involved a wholesale adaptation of European ideology, emphasizing centralization, government control, and collectivization.”
The National Recovery Administration, another stimulus program, was perhaps the most invasive of Roosevelt’s creations. The U.S. Supreme Court finally declared it unconstitutional as an “attempted delegation of legislative power” by Congress to the President.” Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States.
Roosevelt also created the bailout known as the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933. He taxed American people struggling in the throes of a severe depression and paid that money to American farmers. In return, American farmers agreed to limit farm production so as to maintain profitable food prices.
“… in a country where hunger was a serious problem and starvation an actual possibility the federal government at a cost to taxpayers of over $700 million plowed under fields of grain, slaughtered and condemned over 6 million pigs, and burned the entire Southern cotton crop sending masses of destitute blacks fleeing north in search of simple survival.”
The mass flight of destitute African Americans must have been one of those “unintended consequences” by which perpetrators of outrage deftly seek to get themselves off the hook. The U.S. Supreme Court also declared the Agricultural Adjustment Act unconstitutional.
Well then, whatever was the fate of Eddy Collins? Did Congress finally recant his yearly stimulus payment? Did Congress, then as now, manifest that prudence by which its members claim to honor their oath of office, protect America’s common wealth, and insure that American children are born unburdened into a vibrant nation free of debt?
Alas, no! “Congress poured money into Collin’s line right up to the time he went under, figuratively and literally when one of his mammoth ships sank, accounting for one-half of his fleet and killing five hundred passengers.” A tragedy for those caught up in Big Eddie’s avarice, a small mercy for the American taxpayer.
And so it goes.
Well then, what do you think? It would be great to read your comments.
Larry Schweikart, What Would the Founders Say? A Patriots Answers to America’s Most Pressing Problems,(Sentinel, 2011).