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Sen. Bernie Sanders calls for Taxpayer bailout of Greece

 

Various conservative and progressive sites are reporting that Sen. Bernie Sanders (Ind.-Vermont) has written to Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen, urging that the U.S. central bank provide funding for the anti-austerity policies of the new left-wing government in Greece. Real Clear Politics has posted the contents of Sen. Sanders’ letter:

 The party that came in third place in the recent elections is a Nazi party, and if the new government is unable to implement the anti-austerity policies that it campaigned on, it is going to make a sham of Greek democracy, and you’re going to have a Nazi party there, saying to the people Democracy doesn’t matter, certain powers…

In 2008, during the world financial crisis, did you know the Fed, in short term loans, made trillions of dollars available to the ECB — the European Central Bank. The Fed could have said hey guys you’re on your own, but the Fed correctly did not. It understood the significance of what a worldwide financial collapse would be about.

I think it is absolutely imperative that the ECB, the Troika in Europe, work with the Greek government, not in an austerity program which punishes people who are already suffering. But a pro-growth policy which enables them to create jobs, expand their economy, and pay off their debts…

Full text of his letter, along with a video of Senator Sanders  @ http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2015/02/10/sen_bernie_sanders_in_midst_of_great_depression_needs_federal_reserve_bailout.html

Senator Sanders is in his second term in the U.S. Senate, elected as an Independent with support from the Vermont Progressive Party. He is mulling a run for President, most likely in the Democratic primaries.

 

 

About Post Author

Gene Berkman

Owner of Renaissance Books in Riverside, CA. Longtime activist in The Libertarian Movement

120 Comments

  1. Mark Axinn Mark Axinn February 10, 2015

    I’m a taxpayer and Greece has a lot more money than I do.

    Sorry Seator Sanders. It’s a No!

  2. Bondurant Bondurant February 11, 2015

    If anyone needed proof that Bernie Sanders is a loon…

  3. langa langa February 11, 2015

    The party that came in third place in the recent elections is a Nazi party, and if the new government is unable to implement the anti-austerity policies that it campaigned on, it is going to make a sham of Greek democracy…

    If a Nazi party came in third in the recent election, doesn’t that mean that Greek democracy has already made a sham of itself?

  4. paulie paulie February 11, 2015

    With the pinkos taking first place and the fascists in turd would it be fair to refer to Greek politics as “two in the pink and one in the stink”?

  5. langa langa February 11, 2015

    LOL, Paulie! The look on the mother’s face in that picture is absolutely priceless.

  6. AndyCraig AndyCraig February 11, 2015

    The quotes aren’t actually from the letter, that’s the written transcript of his spoken comments during the interview talking about the letter. Here’s the letter itself:

    http://www.budget.senate.gov/democratic/public/_cache/files/5426b0e7-d54c-45b6-965e-baac6f3fdeee/letter-to-yellen—-2-8-15—–greece.pdf

    All he actually calls for is the Fed telling the ECB it disapproves of the ECB not bailing Greece out, not a direct Fed bailout of Greece, even though he implicitly hints at that possibility. But I agree this is about as half-baked as it gets and reflects very poorly on Sanders. I’m kind of shocked- he usually has marginally better political sense than this. I can’t imagine that anybody would like this, and for a sitting member of Congress to be intervening- and advocating the US government intervene- in foreign partisan politics is, at the very least, very unseemly and improper. What’s next- Treasury bonds issued to the UK Labour Party so they can beat the Tories? The US subsidizing the Socialists in France to keep out the National Front? What happens if the new Greek government falls in sixteen months and is replaced by a center-right coalition?

    This is just ridiculously, astonishingly stupid.

  7. Darcy G Richardson Darcy G Richardson February 12, 2015

    I realize that this is a predominantly Libertarian website, but most of the comments here are completely beyond the pale. Seriously. They’re way, way beyond any sense of reality. What Sen. Sanders has courageously stated regarding Greece makes complete sense.

    God forbid the ruling elite — the European Central Bank, headed by Italy’s small-minded and mean-spirited Mario Draghi, an extremely wealthy former Goldman Sachs managing director, and the Christine LaGarde-led International Monetary Fund (IMF), which is now on the verge of committing $17.5 billion to war-torn Ukraine precisely because of that country’s conflict with Russia (there’s nobody the ruling class hates more than Vladimir Putin), both of which have inflicted almost unimaginable austerity measures on Greece and other poor European countries since the 2008 financial meltdown largely of Wall Street’s making — should give any assistance to the austerity-weary Greeks.

    Things could have been worse, say the insatiably ravenous bankers. The Greeks could have been treated like another country’s poorest citizens — say, for example, the millions of homeless Americans roaming our streets, the countless children and adults lacking basic health care and often going hungry at night.

    “See, we’re not so bad,” the Wall Street bankers say. “We’ve been kinder to the Europeans than many of our own citizens.” Besides, they add, we’re not going to treat Greece any worse than the way we intend to handle Spain, Portugal, Italy and other European countries on the verge of financial collapse.

    Austerity for everybody! Except, of course, for the “investor class.”

    Assistance for the world’s millionaires and billionaires and misery for everybody else. That’s been the game plan all along. That’s precisely what the world’s leading bankers — the crème de la crème of the parasites — have been doing since 2007, if not earlier.

    I guess it’s okay to spend trillions — and I mean many trillions — of dollars on bailing out the world’s “investor class” and the financial global markets over the past seven years, a sickeningly one-sided program that until very recently saw our own Federal Reserve, which had already subsidized the wealthy to the tune of $29.6 trillion as of late 2011, commit $85 billion a month to helping the rich, but let’s draw the line when it comes to Europeans struggling for their mere survival. That subsidy to the wealthy was known as QE3. Most Americans were only vaguely aware of it since it really didn’t affect their pocketbooks. Only the rich benefited from it.

    Trillions and trillions of dollars have been spent on artificially propping up the world economy during the past decade. Almost none of that largesse for the wealthy, incidentally, “trickled down” to working people across the globe over the past seven or eight years. It’s was almost like the super-wealthy suddenly suffered from a urinary infection or blockage. That’s a fact.

    Get a clue, folks. The financial oligarchy — and, yes, an oligarchy really exists — has been laughing all the way to the bank. Thanks largely to Wall Street and the financial center in London, the world’s rich are much better off now than before they destroyed the world’s economy. Their financial recklessness, treating the global economy as if it was some sort of slot-machine only to be bailed out by central banks throughout the world when their compulsive gambling habits turned sour, literally destroying millions of lives in the process — should have been unforgiveable. Yet there have been virtually no consequences for their actions.

    We’re living in an era of risk-free capitalism — if you’re extremely wealthy, that is.

    It’s too bad most Libertarians don’t recognize that.

    Thank God for people like Bernie Sanders.

  8. langa langa February 12, 2015

    I guess it’s okay to spend trillions — and I mean many trillions — of dollars on bailing out the world’s “investor class” and the financial global markets over the past seven years, a sickeningly one-sided program that until very recently saw our own Federal Reserve, which had already subsidized the wealthy to the tune of $29.6 trillion as of late 2011, commit $85 billion a month to helping the rich, but let’s draw the line when it comes to Europeans struggling for their mere survival. Trillions and trillions of dollars have been spent on artificially propping up the world economy. None of that largesse for the wealthy, incidentally, “trickled down” to working people across the globe over the past seven or eight years. That’s a fact.

    This is one of the most blatant examples of straw man argumentation I have ever seen. I don’t know of a single libertarian that supports government-financed bailouts of any sort. The idea that libertarians support bailing out the rich, but “draw the line” at bailing out the poor is one that is apparently a pure figment of your imagination.

  9. Darcy G. Richardson Darcy G. Richardson February 12, 2015

    Fair enough, but please show me where a Libertarian Party leader spoke out against QE3 — or any of the previous subsidies to the affluent.

  10. Darcy G. Richardson Darcy G. Richardson February 12, 2015

    There have been many since 2007.

  11. Darcy G. Richardson Darcy G. Richardson February 12, 2015

    Or did issuing such statements get in the way of Gary Johnson’s mountain climbing? Maybe he didn’t have time to address it…

  12. Darcy G. Richardson Darcy G. Richardson February 12, 2015

    I’m serious, langa. I would like to see what the LP and its presidential candidate had to say about QE3, the most recent Federal Reserve subsidy to the rich.

    Please post it here.

  13. Darcy G. Richardson Darcy G. Richardson February 12, 2015

    By the way, I’ve never liked to pick a fight with a “straw man.” I have too much respect for that kind of stem or stalk. Straw, as a Farmer-Labor Party candidate for President before the Great Depression once said, is the only thing most farmers ever get for their efforts. America’s farmers, he said while running against the financial oligarchy’s Warren G. Harding in 1920, only get the straw blown on their land after the golden wheat — their most precious commodity — went through the recently-invented threshing machine.

    “You see,” he lamented in a letter to J. P. Morgan, Jr., “the farmer gets the straw, Wall Street gets the wheat and the public gets the chaff.”

    That’s kind of the way it’s always been in America’s “free-enterprise” system.

    The financial oligarchy has always ruled. It always has the last word.

  14. Darcy G. Richardson Darcy G. Richardson February 12, 2015

    Thanks, Bondurant, but these appear to be statements and press releases against the original Wall Street bailout. Left and Right, virtually everybody opposed that. Most of your attachments, unfortunately, were from 2008 and 2011 — long before the latest Fed policies were enacted. I’m looking for something more recent, specifically LP criticism of the later bailouts or subsidies, particularly relating to QE3 — a generous handout to the rich if there ever was one. Didn’t the LP or Gary Johnson issue any statements regarding an $85 billion per month subsidy to Wall Street?

    One would think a $1.2 trillion annual subsidy would be worthy of at least one comment from somebody eyeing the nation’s highest office.

    Just how engaged is he, anyway?

    And you guys really want to run him for President again? Give me a break.

  15. langa langa February 12, 2015

    Darcy, I’m personally not a big fan of Gary Johnson. He’s almost certainly better than whoever the D’s/R’s will trot out, but compared to most previous LP candidates, I think he leaves a lot to be desired.

    As for specific libertarian critiques of QE3, I’m sure I could probably find some, but most libertarians didn’t have much to say about it, not because they supported it, but because they presumably didn’t see the need to repeat themselves, given that their arguments against earlier bailouts applied just as well to QE3.

  16. langa langa February 12, 2015

    By the way, as for Warren Harding, I’m very reluctant to say anything positive about any politician, let alone one with the requisite dishonesty to actually get elected to a federal office, but Harding’s handling of the Depression of 1920 was as good, if not better, than that of any president in history, and certainly far better than any president since.

    http://mises.org/library/forgotten-depression-1920

  17. Darcy G. Richardson Darcy G. Richardson February 12, 2015

    That’s a pretty sad commentary, langa. You ought to broaden your horizons and read a little more history beyond what the miniscule Mises library has to offer. Warren G. Harding was indisputably the most corrupt president in American history, selected for the nation’s highest office in a smoke-filled, Wall Street-dominated room at the Blackstone Hotel in Chicago. Moreover, he was arguably the worst President in American history. Richard Nixon was a saint by comparison. At least Nixon gave a damn about ordinary citizens. Harding could have cared less about them….

    In addition to the Teapot Dome scandal, Harding’s administration screwed America’s small farmers royally by allowing railroad rates to be hiked at Wall Street’s insistence — at that point financiers J. P. Morgan, E. H. Harriman and John D. Rockefeller owned most of the major railways — and by refusing to intervene when the Federal Reserve instituted a deflationary policy after World War I, policies that bankrupted no fewer than 600,000 of the nation’s small family farmers in the early 1920s… Farm foreclosures were rampant. Wall Street wanted their land and their property and eventually got most of it, thanks to President Harding’s aloof presidency.

    The plight of the nation’s farmers was a motivating factor in “Fighting Bob” La Follette’s decision to wage his insurgent candidacy in 1924.

    It was a very shameful and sad period in American history.

  18. Darcy G. Richardson Darcy G. Richardson February 12, 2015

    It’s also worth pointing out that Harding’s laissez faire policies — or more specifically, the draconian and deflationary policies pursued by Wall Street and the Federal Reserve — led to the depression of 1920-21, an economic downturn that proved brutally difficult for those who made their living off the land. The investment bankers at the corner of Wall and Broad Streets in New York City, in control of the country’s banks, railroads and meat-packing plants, knew exactly what they were doing.

    Have you ever read about J. P. Morgan & Company’s interlocking corporate directorates? They owned everything in which the farmer was dependent…

    The farmers, many of whom lost everything that had been handed down from one generation to the next, had it particularly tough, but urban, working-class Americans weren’t much better off. Deprived of everything, especially the only livelihood they ever knew, many older farmers committed suicide. They didn’t have any other skills. Do the “scholars” at the Ludwig von Mises Institute, most of whom probably never had a real job, or anything resembling a blue-collar job where one actually works up a sweat, talk about those poor souls?

    Please keep in mind that all of this happened while Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon — one of the most affluent guys in the country and the financial oligarchy’s greatest champion — was pushing for massive tax cuts for the wealthy, including the elimination of inheritance taxes for the super-rich.

  19. langa langa February 12, 2015

    [Harding] was arguably the worst President in American history.

    With all due respect, after reading that, I find it hard to take anything else you said seriously. The worst president of all time is open for debate, but the only three reasonable candidates are Lincoln (Civil War), Wilson (World War I) and FDR (World War II).

    I can overlook your poor grasp of economics, but if you don’t recognize that war is by far the greatest evil that the world has ever known, I doubt we can have a rational conversation.

  20. Darcy G. Richardson Darcy G. Richardson February 12, 2015

    I majored in economics, my friend. Just not fictional “Austrian economics.”

  21. Darcy G. Richardson Darcy G. Richardson February 12, 2015

    Lincoln and FDR were probably our two greatest Presidents, followed closely by JFK — the last chief executive who boldly took on Wall Street.

  22. langa langa February 12, 2015

    I majored in economics…

    Congratulations. You certainly appear to have been well indoctrinated.

  23. Darcy G. Richardson Darcy G. Richardson February 12, 2015

    If Warren G. Harding was really one of the better presidents in American history, as you suggest, then history is now completely upside down. If Harding is now revered as one of the country’s best chief executives since the early 1920s, I suppose “Silent Cal” was the second coming… One couldn’t imagine two presidents who were more compliant with the demands of the plutocracy than those two sad sacks.

  24. Robert Capozzi Robert Capozzi February 12, 2015

    dgr: Wall Street wanted their land and their property and eventually got most of it, thanks to President Harding’s aloof presidency.

    me: This is interesting, mostly because I’ve never heard this before. I didn’t realize that Wall Street owned farmland. I don’t believe they own much if any now. Do they?

    My guess is you are conflating a lot of facts here, but perhaps you can be a bit more specific with your charge.

    The shift from a family-farm nation to a diversified industrial one was wrenching for some, no doubt. My understanding is that agriculture in the US has become far more efficient as the scale and capital applied to that business created more food for more people with less labor.

    As a general matter, that sounds like progress to me.

    I’m not sure how a top-down government in DC could have regulated rail prices would have stopped the progress away from small farms to large ones.

    I wish Obama was MORE aloof. Declaring wars (sometimes like an emperor, as with Libya), maintaining the domestic surveillance state, subsidizing the insurance and pharmaceutical industries with Obamacare…I’d prefer he played more golf over these unpeaceful endeavors.

  25. Darcy G. Richardson Darcy G. Richardson February 12, 2015

    “Congratulations. You certainly appear to have been well indoctrinated.”

    There are worse fates, I suppose. I could have relied exclusively on the Mises Institute — or some other libertarian think-tank — for my education in economics. Then again, fiction has its merits. One can always find some interesting stuff in a fairy tale.

  26. Bondurant Bondurant February 12, 2015

    “Lincoln and FDR were probably our two greatest Presidents, followed closely by JFK — the last chief executive who boldly took on Wall Street.”

    What is your excuse for the Japanese-American internment camps?

    You have just revealed yourself as a joke.

  27. Robert Capozzi Robert Capozzi February 12, 2015

    dgr: The financial oligarchy has always ruled. It always has the last word.

    me: I recognize this assertion, but it lacks proof. The “oligarchy” seems to change all the time, as creative destruction has re-made the Street and the financial industry.

    Think back to the bank bail-out. Read the accounts of when Paulson imposed it on the largest bank holding companies. Read what Kovacevich, then head of Wells Fargo, has to say about it all.

    Did Kovacevich get the “last word”?

  28. Gene Berkman Gene Berkman February 12, 2015

    World War I created an increased demand for the products of Midwest farmers. The end of the war naturally lead to a decrease in demand, and therefore prices. Farmers had borrowed during the war, expecting demand and prices to remain high; naturally farmers in debt were hurt when farm prices went down, but that was a natural result of the end of the war. Creating an artificial demand, or artificial price supports for farm products would have provided a temporary benefit for farmers, but would have been unsustainable in the long run, as later New Deal farm policies proved unsustainable.

    Anyway, it is clear that “worst President” nominees include FDR, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and George W Bush; of these, only Nixon did not enter America into a war. Harding became President as the country was recovering from the war that Wilson did not “keep us out of.”

  29. Gene Berkman Gene Berkman February 12, 2015

    As for the issue of this post, Greek government policies created the disaster in Greece, and the European Central bank has bailed out the Greek government in the past, but put conditions on it. If the Greek government does not like the conditions, they do not have to accept the bailout.

    Making American and European taxpayers responsible for paying for the irresponsible promises of the recently elected Greek government is unfair to the taxpayers outside Greece, and unsustainable, particularly since the new government advocates policies similar to the policies that created the current situation.

  30. Darcy G. Richardson Darcy G. Richardson February 12, 2015

    Fair question, Robert.

    Please read what “Fighting Bob” La Follette had to say about the nation’s farmers during his 1924 presidential campaign. He spoke specifically about 600,000 farm foreclosures between 1921-1924. Those farms were then in the possession of the banks — meaning the financial oligarchy, or Wall Street. Though many of those farms might have been in the family for years, the foreclosed farmers no longer possessed that property. It belonged to the banks and mortgage companies, not the small family farmer who had worked the land, often for generations. There was a tremendous amount of anger in the agricultural community during that election.

    Wall Street really put the squeeze on farmers following the First World War, jacking up interest rates on credit — many, if not most, small farmers relied heavily on that funding from one planting season to the next — and by raising railroad rates, in some cases exorbitantly. Simultaneously, the Federal Reserve’s deflationary policies also created havoc for the nation’s farmers, providing them only a fraction of what they had received for their crops and livestock only a few years earlier. In many instances, it was simply too expensive to transport their products. There are quite a few examples of that… The cost of shipping their products during that particular period would have produced a net loss for the farmers.

    The ailing, 69-year-old La Follette gave several speeches about the plight of the nation’s farmers during his 1924 campaign against “Silent Cal” Coolidge — the beneficiary of a Wall Street “slush fund” — and Democrat John W. Davis, counsel to J. P. Morgan. I don’t think he was exaggerating. I published one of those speeches in my recent book, “Battling Bob: Fighting the Financial Oligarchy.”

  31. Darcy G. Richardson Darcy G. Richardson February 12, 2015

    “What is your excuse for the Japanese-American internment camps?”

    I don’t have one. I would have been a Norman Thomas guy.

  32. Darcy G. Richardson Darcy G. Richardson February 12, 2015

    I’ve never really understood the Roosevelt haters, the modern-day Liberty League folks who believe he was some sort of evil incarnate. Or those who despise Lincoln and Kennedy. We’ll leave it at that.

  33. Darcy G. Richardson Darcy G. Richardson February 12, 2015

    As always, I’ve enjoyed the exchanges with langa, Bondurant, Robert Capozzi and my friend Gene Berkman. We’ll never see eye-to-eye, but that’s okay. That’s what makes life interesting…

  34. Darcy G. Richardson Darcy G. Richardson February 12, 2015

    By the way, Robert. I wholeheartedly agree with you about President Obama.

  35. Robert Capozzi Robert Capozzi February 12, 2015

    DGR, I’d have to confirm this, but my recollection is that banking in the 20s was more dispersed in those days. Lots of community banks back then, some that catered to farmers. Could be wrong, but I suspect it was less “oligarchical” back then.

    You make it sound like it was a grand conspiracy against family farms. My skepticism tends to rise when the conspiracy talk begins.

    I did see the La Follette opposed WWI.

    Wars very often trigger dislocations. Correcting those dislocations with government micro-management tends to make bad things worse.

    Witness the times we live in now!

    Which is one of the many reasons I’m a dove.

  36. Robert Capozzi Robert Capozzi February 12, 2015

    Worst President “award” has to go the Truman. One word:

    Nagasaki.

    The most hateful act in human history, in my book.

  37. Green_w_o_Adjectives Green_w_o_Adjectives February 12, 2015

    “As for the issue of this post, Greek government policies created the disaster in Greece, and the European Central bank has bailed out the Greek government in the past, but put conditions on it. If the Greek government does not like the conditions, they do not have to accept the bailout.”

    From what I understand, those policies were written and outlined by Goldman Sachs affiliated employees.

    Now that the Greeks have a government that is not completely in the pocket of financial elites, perhaps they will assert their sovereignity and not “accept the bailout”.

    I’m not going to defend Sanders’ proposal. But it’s pretty similiar in intent to the Marshall Plan. He’s saying it’s in the national interest of the USA to shore up the Greek economcy because doing so will help prevent a fascist or communist takeover there. In that respect, he’s acting in the interests of the left-wing of capital.
    =======================================================================
    Libertarian ideology generally fails to comprehend that the “investor class”, that is, financial elites, control the policies of all western liberal democratic governments. While Libertarians, like other radicals, correctly oppose bailouts, they fail to criticize the injustice inherent in a system where ownership of land, currency, and assets are concentrated in the hands of the few. It is impossible for owners to hold on to these assets without ‘government’, yet Libertarians are always steadfast supporters of so-called ‘property rights’–that is, the unregulated right of the owner of property to extract value from non-owners via rent-seeking activities (a right that can only be enforced via government force). The producer’s right to self-ownership of his//her labor value is dismissed, while the absolute authority of the owner over the worker within the enterprise is affirmed.

    In this respect, Libertarians are faithful supporters of the interests of this investor class–the same class that is steadily increasing its power, privilege, and ownership of assets in the wake of the globalist imperialist process. The so-called “Non-Aggression” principle is, in this context, a royalism for the 21st century, where the right of owners to control their ‘property’ is framed in an aura of holy deontology, and must be asserted at all costs, even if the consequences for the rest of us are dire and manifest themselves in visible ways such as war, poverty, and ecological degradation.

    More and more, I suspect that a sustainable answer to our (mounting) problems might be socializing the investment process. This means socializing the ownership and management of the means of production, and putting investment decisions in the hands of democratically accountable localized credit unions. .This would lead to investment decisions that benefit local communities in sustainable ways, rather than investment decisions geared towards capital accumulation that may or may not have fearful externalities attached to them.

  38. Robert Capozzi Robert Capozzi February 12, 2015

    Green, “investor class” in no way = “financial elites.” Very large percentages of the pop are in the investor class.

    Many/most Ls would say that concentration of wealth is a function of concentration of power. With less government comes more ability for more to rise to their highest and best “use.” Government prefers large corporations to small, for ex., as a large corporation can comply with government regulations.

    That’s why small business start-ups are moving toward extinction!

    Totally agree with you that L deontological NAPsolutism puts them in the clouds of irrelevance. Pity, from my perspective.

  39. Green_w_o_Adjectives Green_w_o_Adjectives February 12, 2015

    “Green, “investor class” in no way = “financial elites.” Very large percentages of the pop are in the investor class.”

    Sure, anyone who owns a bank account is an investor in some respect. But what I mean by “investor class” are people with enough assets that they can and do live off the rent/interest/usury generated by those assets. If you look at it empirically, these capital assets have become more and more concentrated in the hands of the few, particularly with the onset of neo-liberalism since the mid-70s.

    “Many/most Ls would say that concentration of wealth is a function of concentration of power. With less government comes more ability for more to rise to their highest and best “use.” Government prefers large corporations to small, for ex., as a large corporation can comply with government regulations.”

    Well, it’s more or less universally accepted across the political spectrum (except by some doctrinaire libertarians) that large inequalities of wealth go hand in hand with large inequalities of (government) power. So a society with massive inequality in terms of ownership assets will also feature a government characterized by tyrannical policies (mostly to keep those assets in place, either through direct force or by pacifying potential revolutionary forces). One (widespread inequality) could hardly exist without the other (tyranny). It is well within the perceived self-interest of the wealthy (in our case, the corporate elite) to use government to extend and defend its privileges.

    It’s here that Libertarian critique tends to fail. Libertarians blame society’s ills on government and thereby ignore the perverse inequities and irrationalities that led to that sort of government in the first place. They also defend the property rights of billionaires (eg, they defend the legal subordination of labor power to capital power) and ignore how these property rights conflict with the right of the producer to own the fruit of their labor.

    If we want lasting reforms that achieve real decentralization of power and get rid of the corporate monstrosities that keep tyrannical government afloat, then we need to think hard about how property and assets are owned and how we finance investment. I think most Libertarians, like leftists, agree that a free society would be a society where every hard-working and/or creditworthy person has access to land and capital. That is, 0% interest loans and rent-free marginal land. But to accomplish that, we have to reconsider how land and assets are owned and whether this ownership structure has net positive aggregrate effects for real-life communities.

  40. Robert Capozzi Robert Capozzi February 12, 2015

    Green: That is, 0% interest loans and rent-free marginal land.

    me: Hmm, big time news to me!

  41. langa langa February 13, 2015

    I realize non-libertarians have different criteria, but when it comes to libertarians, I’m honestly flabbergasted that there isn’t 100% agreement that Lincoln, Wilson and FDR are the 3 worst presidents (although there is room for plenty of debate over which of them deserves to be at the “top” of that dubious list).

    Not only did they preside over the three bloodiest wars (by far) in American history, they were also unmatched in terms of authorizing massive expansions of state power, and even worse, setting precedents that paved the road for even more massive increases. And none of them had any respect whatsoever for the notion of the free market, or even the Constitution.

    The others mentioned (Truman, LBJ, Nixon, GWB) were all really bad, and they all probably rank among the ten worst. But they all pale in comparison to the “Terrible Trio” I listed above.

  42. langa langa February 13, 2015

    …financial elites…control the policies of all western liberal democratic governments.

    …ownership of land, currency, and assets are concentrated in the hands of the few. It is impossible for owners to hold on to these assets without ‘government’…

    If you recognize those two facts, then why on Earth do you want to make government bigger and more powerful? Why don’t you join us in trying to shrink it, or better yet, eliminate it?

    The rest of your comments rely on economic fallacies that are so numerous and so deeply flawed I would have to write an entire textbook to correct them all.

  43. langa langa February 13, 2015

    I think most Libertarians, like leftists, agree that a free society would be a society where every hard-working and/or creditworthy person has access to land and capital. That is, 0% interest loans and rent-free marginal land.

    I don’t know of a single libertarian who would support either of those things, with the possible exception of some Georgists (who may or may not be libertarians, depending on who you ask).

  44. paulie paulie February 13, 2015

    langa,

    Your ranking of the bottom presidents is pretty well in line with Eland’s. I highly recommend his work for anyone who hasn’t read it.

  45. paulie paulie February 13, 2015

    …financial elites…control the policies of all western liberal democratic governments.

    …ownership of land, currency, and assets are concentrated in the hands of the few. It is impossible for owners to hold on to these assets without ‘government’…

    If you recognize those two facts, then why on Earth do you want to make government bigger and more powerful? Why don’t you join us in trying to shrink it, or better yet, eliminate it?

    Bingo!

  46. paulie paulie February 13, 2015

    Well, it’s more or less universally accepted across the political spectrum (except by some doctrinaire libertarians) that large inequalities of wealth go hand in hand with large inequalities of (government) power.

    I can’t speak for all doctrinaire libertarians, but I agree with this part. The reverse is also true: concentration of government power leads to concentration of wealth. The two go hand in hand.

    So a society with massive inequality in terms of ownership assets will also feature a government characterized by tyrannical policies (mostly to keep those assets in place, either through direct force or by pacifying potential revolutionary forces). One (widespread inequality) could hardly exist without the other (tyranny). It is well within the perceived self-interest of the wealthy (in our case, the corporate elite) to use government to extend and defend its privileges.

    Yes, so we should oppose big government. I agree.

    right of the producer to own the fruit of their labor.

    If the labor is made more productive through capital, then the fruits have to be divided, by mutual agreement, between those who provide the labor and those who provide the capital. And as you correctly point out above, without big government in place to prop up concentrations of wealth and power, big capital doesn’t have an unfair advantage in this equation (neither does big labor).

    I think most Libertarians, like leftists, agree that a free society would be a society where every hard-working and/or creditworthy person has access to land and capital.

    I think the natural result of a freed market would move us greatly in that direction, but any big government decree or fiat to mandate such things by force would backfire in tremendously massive ways (and that is understating it vastly).

    But to accomplish that, we have to reconsider how land and assets are owned and whether this ownership structure has net positive aggregrate effects for real-life communities.

    Different communities can work out different ways of addressing that. If some people prefer a greater amount of mutual ownership there is no reason they shouldn’t be able to get together with like minded people to form various types of cooperative enterprises, communes, intentional communities, etc.

  47. paulie paulie February 13, 2015

    Many/most Ls would say that concentration of wealth is a function of concentration of power. With less government comes more ability for more to rise to their highest and best “use.” Government prefers large corporations to small, for ex., as a large corporation can comply with government regulations.

    Yes, just like big corporations actually prefer big government, the better to kneecap their small business and upstart competition.

    What I don’t understand is why anyone who is on the side of the small business owner, independent worker, independent cooperative or independent (non-government-inertwined) labor union should see big government as anything but an enemy and a tool of concentrated and concentrating power.

    Big government can function as a fascist system where big business retains nominal ownership while being closely entangled with its big government partners to control competition, or it can take the Marxist form where ownership is nominally public but the practical reality is that there is a monopoly ownership class consisting of the leadership of the state and its bureaucracy. In neither case is the worker or entrepreneur empowered.

  48. paulie paulie February 13, 2015

    More and more, I suspect that a sustainable answer to our (mounting) problems might be socializing the investment process. This means socializing the ownership and management of the means of production, and putting investment decisions in the hands of democratically accountable localized credit unions. .This would lead to investment decisions that benefit local communities in sustainable ways, rather than investment decisions geared towards capital accumulation that may or may not have fearful externalities attached to them.

    Sounds good in theory, if you ignore human nature and history. In reality, this type of central planning always leads to more war, poverty, and ecological degradation than even the partially socialized marketplace of corporatism does.

    injustice inherent in a system where ownership of land, currency, and assets are concentrated in the hands of the few. It is impossible for owners to hold on to these assets without ‘government’,

    My point exactly. Take monopoly government out of the equation, problem is solved.

    unregulated right of the owner of property to extract value from non-owners via rent-seeking activities (a right that can only be enforced via government force).

    So we agree that eliminating government force would solve this problem, correct?

  49. paulie paulie February 13, 2015

    I’ve never really understood the Roosevelt haters, the modern-day Liberty League folks who believe he was some sort of evil incarnate. Or those who despise Lincoln

    Warmongering, destruction of civil liberties, rounding up dissenters, wartime propaganda and censorship, nationalization of the economy – what’s not to love?

  50. paulie paulie February 13, 2015

    As for the issue of this post, Greek government policies created the disaster in Greece, and the European Central bank has bailed out the Greek government in the past, but put conditions on it. If the Greek government does not like the conditions, they do not have to accept the bailout.

    Making American and European taxpayers responsible for paying for the irresponsible promises of the recently elected Greek government is unfair to the taxpayers outside Greece, and unsustainable, particularly since the new government advocates policies similar to the policies that created the current situation.

    Exactly!

  51. paulie paulie February 13, 2015

    World War I created an increased demand for the products of Midwest farmers. The end of the war naturally lead to a decrease in demand, and therefore prices. Farmers had borrowed during the war, expecting demand and prices to remain high; naturally farmers in debt were hurt when farm prices went down, but that was a natural result of the end of the war. Creating an artificial demand, or artificial price supports for farm products would have provided a temporary benefit for farmers, but would have been unsustainable in the long run, as later New Deal farm policies proved unsustainable.

    Good points.

  52. paulie paulie February 13, 2015

    I wish Obama was MORE aloof. Declaring wars (sometimes like an emperor, as with Libya), maintaining the domestic surveillance state, subsidizing the insurance and pharmaceutical industries with Obamacare…I’d prefer he played more golf over these unpeaceful endeavors.

    Hell, I’d save up to buy him a brand new set of golf clubs!

  53. langa langa February 13, 2015

    Your ranking of the bottom presidents is pretty well in line with Eland’s. I highly recommend his work for anyone who hasn’t read it.

    I have actually thought about buying his book a couple of times before. The only problem is I already have a huge stack of books I’ve been meaning to read for ages.

  54. Green_w_o_Adjectives Green_w_o_Adjectives February 13, 2015

    “Sounds good in theory, if you ignore human nature and history. In reality, this type of central planning always leads to more war, poverty, and ecological degradation than even the partially socialized marketplace of corporatism does.”

    I was listening to a Chomsky interview the other night and he brought up a funny point. That is, both the Western and Eastern (Soviet) propaganda systems agreed that what was happening in the Eastern Bloc was “socialism”. This tells u something lol…

    What I have in mind is a far more decentralized, democratic, and particapatory society. Capitalism requires mobile wage labor and the enforcement of absentee owner property rights, a state of affairs that requires a great deal of centralization of power, centralization (gleichschaltung) of culture, and plenty of (gasp) government. Socialism, properly understood, is mainly about realizing democractic and autonomous ideals in the workplace as well as in government. It is about gradually giving ordinary people more control over their lives, and is far more consistent with authentic decentralization of power.

    “injustice inherent in a system where ownership of land, currency, and assets are concentrated in the hands of the few. It is impossible for owners to hold on to these assets without ‘government’,”

    “My point exactly. Take monopoly government out of the equation, problem is solved. ”

    But are not Libertarians steadfast supporters of the primary role of government–the enforcement of property rights? Do they not envision a future state where such rights will be enforced by unaccountable private mercenary armies? From what I can tell, Libertarians only reject taxation and government spending, If they went futher and proclaimed the current property monopolies, patent laws, and finanical monopolies invalid, then they’d be revolutionary, but as you well know this isn’t going to happen. There would still be taxation and government spending in the private government Libertarians envision. Only the people would now have no power (even formally) to control over what these governments do–at best they would be able to vote with their dollars…. Yet as we all know, services like government and dispute resolution have a tendency to coalesece into monopolies, so whatever choice people have is likely to be nominal at best.

    Personally, I’m not an anarchist, and don’t see the removal of government and government services as a realistice goal. But it is useful, from a moral perspective, to try to approximate the anarchist ideal of statelessness (that is, a society where people rule themselves, without rulership). However, libertarianism and/or anarcho-capitalism fall well short, even in its ideal constructions, of the ideal of statelessness. A Georgist market socialism, on the other hand, comes alot closer. There would be far more liberty, autonomy, and decentralization of power in such a society then could ever be possible under a capitalist mode of production and the accompanying (unjust) legal and economic norms.

  55. Darcy G Richardson Darcy G Richardson February 14, 2015

    “You make it sound like it was a grand conspiracy against family farms. My skepticism tends to rise when the conspiracy talk begins.” – Robert Capozzi

    Well, I’m generally skeptical of conspiracy theories, too, but I was merely reporting precisely what Senator Bob La Follette — the last presidential candidate to truly throw a genuine scare into the financial oligarchy and the two Wall Street-dominated major parties — repeatedly alleged before, during, and after the 1924 presidential campaign. There’s quite a bit of evidence, moreover, substantiating La Follette’s claim.

    In any case, here’s an excerpt from his final speech of that campaign, a widely-reported address in which he described the plight of the country’s farmers in the early 1920s:

    “They had seen the prices of their produce arbitrarily and fraudulently fixed in the wheat pits and produce exchanges. They had been enslaved by the power of usury, which imposed heavier and heavier burdens of exorbitant interest, until they broke under the intolerable strain.

    “They had seen their little farms — their only property as a result of a lifetime of grinding toil and hard living — sold out under the sheriff’s hammer, because of a great conspiracy conceived and directed by Wall Street through the instrumentalities of the Federal Reserve System.”

    Robert M. La Follette, Cleveland, Ohio, Nov. 1, 1924.

    (Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer, Nov. 2, 1924)

  56. Joshua Katz Joshua Katz February 14, 2015

    > From what I can tell, Libertarians only reject taxation and government spending, If they went >futher and proclaimed the current property monopolies, patent laws, and finanical monopolies >invalid, then they’d be revolutionary, but as you well know this isn’t going to happen.

    Call me a revolutionary then.

  57. AndyCraig AndyCraig February 14, 2015

    I’m a qualified fan of La Follette (I ran against one of his distant relatives last year). He won Wisconsin running against Prohibition, WWI and the ongoing interventions in Latin America, and bashing the Federal Reserve. His more progressive/left-leaning economics I might not be a huge fan of, but he’s a great precedent to cite, particularly here in Wisconsin. Putting a Fighting Bob quote on something (and he’s endlessly quotable) is like having it straight from George Washington.

    But, I don’t think anybody in the establishment was every worried about him winning in 1924. He didn’t come close. He won his home state Wisconsin and came in 2nd in a handful of other low-population states. 16% of the vote certainly shook things up and had an impact, but in the absence of modern polling there wasn’t much concern before the election that La Follette might win. And it wasn’t a close two-party race: Coolidge still won with 54% of the vote, and an electoral landslide, as he was widely expected to do.

    La Follette was also terminally ill when he ran in 1924- he ended up passing away just six months into the term he was running for. Which, for those curious, would have put this guy in the Oval Office:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burton_K._Wheeler

  58. paulie paulie February 14, 2015

    Ah, this is the thread I could not find earlier. Something I came across today on FB:

    That could almost be the Mt. Rushmore of crappy presidents.

    WRT Wilson, a few things they forgot (or didn’t have room to mention) include WWI, alcohol prohibition, the Harrison Narcotics Act, and his extreme racism, even for the times he lived in. That’s not an exhaustive list either, by any stretch.

  59. Darcy G Richardson Darcy G Richardson February 15, 2015

    “But, I don’t think anybody in the establishment was ever worried about him winning in 1924.”

    Among other things, you should read the minutes from the American Bankers Association national convention from September of that year. The banking establishment was scared to death of La Follette’s candidacy. In fact, they devoted the first full-day of their two-day convention in Chicago to the dangers of a potential La Follette presidency. Wall Street investment banks even organized their own fundraising committee to help thwart his candidacy. It was headed by George K. Murnane, a vice president of the New York Trust Company and later a partner at Lazard Frères. The investment bankers alone raised five times as much just in New York as La Follette raised in the entire campaign. All of that is a matter of public record, courtesy of Sen. William E. Borah’s Senate Campaign Investigating Committee.

    Many in the business and banking communities believed La Follette could win, or at the very least, throw the election into the House of Representatives, and were determined to prevent that from happening, unleashing a breathtakingly shameful campaign of intimidation against blue-collar workers, small businessmen and farmers who were thinking about supporting the Wisconsin insurgent.

    Unfortunately, most of La Follette’s biographers skipped over some of these important details from his 1924 effort. Not a single one of his biographers mentioned the role of the banking community in that election, all of which was — surprisingly, and much to their credit — covered extensively by the New York Times and several other major publicatons, including the intrepid Scripps-Howard newspaper chain, the latter of which endorsed “Fighting Bob” that year. La Follette’s biographers probably just looked at the election results and figured he wasn’t much of a factor in that race. But he most certainly was. Final election tallies only tell part of the story — and that’s true of any election.

    Alarmed by La Follette’s candidacy, the Republicans ran full-page ads in newspapers and magazines across the country warning of such a possibility while vigorously denouncing “Fighting Bob” as a Bolshevik. The RNC’s fundraising appeals that year, incidentally, specifically targeted La Follette’s independent candidacy. Curiously, they never even mentioned President Coolidge’s Democratic rival in their fundraising letters. It was so blatantly one-sided that at one point in the autumn campaign, Democratic candidate John W. Davis — J. P. Morgan’s lawyer — complained that he was being virtually ignored by the GOP.

    “I am not even honored with mention in this letter,” Davis lamented in a speech condemning the GOP’s massive campaign fund in late October. “I do not suppose you can libel a man by leaving his name out, can you?” he asked sardonically.

    Only a few weeks before the election, Davis publicly predicted that La Follette would probably carry at least six to eight states, possibly a few more.

    Late in the campaign, Mark Sullivan, one of the country’s most astute and insightful political writers, also observed that there was a strong probability that La Follette could carry or place second in no fewer than ten states: California, Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington and Wisconsin. Those ten states represented 79 votes in the Electoral College. The veteran reporter also believed that it wasn’t entirely outside the realm of possibility that the Wisconsin lawmaker, peaking in the campaign’s closing days, could finish first or second in Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming, worth an additional twenty electoral votes. He also predicted La Follette would get 20 percent of the popular vote nationally.

    Moreover, the Literary Digest Poll in late October showed “Battling Bob” running a distant second in the popular vote behind Coolidge, but narrowly ahead of Democrat John W. Davis nationally. Granted, it wasn’t particularly scientific, but it was a measure of La Follette’s popularity throughout the country.

    So, it did appear that La Follette was running much stronger in the final weeks of the campaign than the official results would indicate.

    As you mentioned, the Wisconsin insurgent only carried his home state, but he came very close in a few others, particularly North Dakota, Minnesota, Montana and Nevada. Moreover, he garnered over thirty percent of the vote in no fewer than ten states. In the end, La Follette finished second in no fewer than eleven states, including California, where he polled four times as many votes as Davis while running exclusively on the Socialist Party line.

  60. paulie paulie February 15, 2015

    I was listening to a Chomsky interview the other night and he brought up a funny point. That is, both the Western and Eastern (Soviet) propaganda systems agreed that what was happening in the Eastern Bloc was “socialism”. This tells u something lol…

    I agree that it wasn’t socialism – that is, the state, not the workers, owned the means of production, and the workers were ruthlessly crushed. In practice, the state took on the role of monopoly capital, and never voluntarily dissolved into peaceful anarcho-socialism as in Marxist fantasy.

    What I have in mind is a far more decentralized, democratic, and particapatory society.

    We may be more of like mind than you realize.

    Capitalism requires mobile wage labor and the enforcement of absentee owner property rights

    Capitalism is an intentionally confusing concept which conflates two very different and essentially opposite things – free markets and corporatism. I don’t see the problem that you do with mobile wage labor, and I’m not a huge fan of absentee ownership.

    a state of affairs that requires a great deal of centralization of power, centralization (gleichschaltung) of culture, and plenty of (gasp) government.

    So if that is the case, why would getting rid of or even massively cutting government not solve the problem? Your replies seem self-contradictory.

    …autonomous ideals in the workplace as well as in government. It is about gradually giving ordinary people more control over their lives, and is far more consistent with authentic decentralization of power.

    Sounds like my idea of libertarianism.

    But are not Libertarians steadfast supporters of the primary role of government–the enforcement of property rights?

    It depends on which ones. Anarcho-libertarians don’t support a monopoly government at all, geo-libertarians don’t agree with the concept of land ownership, even voluntary socialists can be libertarians.

    Do they not envision a future state where such rights will be enforced by unaccountable private mercenary armies?

    Different libertarians hold different views of the future.

    From what I can tell, Libertarians only reject taxation and government spending, If they went futher and proclaimed the current property monopolies, patent laws, and finanical monopolies invalid, then they’d be revolutionary, but as you well know this isn’t going to happen.

    I’m not sure where you get your information about what we believe. Many libertarians reject the idea of intellectual property, absentee land ownership, or even land ownership in general. I think we pretty much all oppose financial monopolies.

    There would still be taxation and government spending in the private government Libertarians envision.

    Please explain how non-monopoly voluntary contracts amount to taxation and government spending?

    . Yet as we all know, services like government and dispute resolution have a tendency to coalesece into monopolies

    I don’t know that they do any such thing absent monopoly force.

    Personally, I’m not an anarchist, and don’t see the removal of government and government services as a realistice goal.

    I am, but many libertarians are minimal-statists.

    But it is useful, from a moral perspective, to try to approximate the anarchist ideal of statelessness (that is, a society where people rule themselves, without rulership).

    So that would be minarchist libertarianism. Or anarchist libertarianism depending how far you take it.

    However, libertarianism and/or anarcho-capitalism fall well short, even in its ideal constructions, of the ideal of statelessness.

    I disagree, although I don’t consider myself an anarcho-capitalist (but will cop to anarchist).

  61. AndyCraig AndyCraig February 15, 2015

    That’s all interesting history, and I don’t really doubt that there was an organized anti-LF campaign. But this all took place in the context of a Coolidge-GOP landslide and a Democratic candidate whose campaign had totally collapsed into hopelessness. Even if he had won every state he placed second in, or had a hope of placing second in, he still would have been well short of an EC majority. La Follette himself didn’t have expectations of winning, he had to be talked into running in his old age. I think him throwing it to the House, or his message having an impact, was the real concern more than him potentially winning outright. I don’t know what the partisan breakdown of that House would have been, but it’s hard to imagine they would have picked hypothetical third-place Al Smith in the teens or twenties of the popular vote, over hypothetical first-place Coolidge in the mid forties to mid fifties of the popular vote. There was certainly no chance of the House electing La Follette.

  62. Darcy G. Richardson Darcy G. Richardson February 15, 2015

    John W. Davis, a former congressman and ex-ambassador to Great Britain, was the Democratic candidate in 1924. He was originally from West Virginia, but was working as a Wall Street attorney in NYC at the time. Al Smith was the Democratic nominee in 1928.

  63. AndyCraig AndyCraig February 15, 2015

    Correct, my bad. I had them mixed up, obviously. That’s what I get for not fact-checking myself. 😉

    It was Davis who had the even more hopeless campaign of the two, though. Smith got 40%, Davis was down at 28%, the worst Democratic popular vote result post-Civil War, even though not the worst EV result thanks to still sweeping the South. Coolidge beat La Follette and Davis combined very comfortably, by 2.5 million votes. I don’t think there’s a very plausible path whereby La Follette beats Coolidge.

  64. Darcy G. Richardson Darcy G. Richardson February 15, 2015

    Andy,

    I’m not saying there was necessarily a path to victory for La Follette, but at the time the Republican National Committee and the business and banking communities certainly treated his insurgent candidacy as though it represented a genuine threat — a threat to predatory wealth and privilege, that is.

    That’s not a role your party is likely to ever play given its basic philosophy and the country’s increasingly government dependence-driven economy — a situation, incidentally, that causes the financial oligarchy little, if any, heartburn as long as they’re prospering to their heart’s content.

    If we’re really lucky, Vermont’s Bernie Sanders might pose that kind of threat to the ruling elite in 2016.

    There was no such thing as a “welfare state” when La Follette ran for President. He certainly wasn’t advocating a bigger or more intrusive government. His Senate office, after all, had been ransacked by government officials looking for dirt on him as a result of his opposition to World War I. He certainly didn’t want to give the bureaucracy any more power.

    He just didn’t want Wall Street to dominate the government that we had at the time, in terms of both domestic and foreign policy. Like many others of his era, he was convinced that J. P. Morgan & Company and Kuhn, Loeb & Co. had dragged a reluctant U.S. into World War I precisely to guarantee that their loans to Great Britain and France wouldn’t go sour. The prewar loans and loan guarantees negotiated by Morgan partner Henry P. Davison, working closely with British officials, and senior partner Henry Harjes of the Morgan, Harjes & Company in Paris, had positioned the House of Morgan to become the world’s leading international financial institution in the months leading up to that deadly worldwide conflict. (The late libertarian economist and writer Murray N. Rothbard — a man I’ve long admired — understood that dynamic as well as anybody, and articulated it arguably better than most.)

    It was no coincidence, I might add, that the influential Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) — a foreign-policy group closely connected to the Morgan interests — was founded in 1921, shortly after that war. Wall Street, as Sen. Gerald P. Nye’s investigative committee later discovered, had made a fortune on that war and now understood that international conflicts could be quite lucrative investments. The timing of the CFR’s founding was hardly some sort of inexplicable coincidence.

    Wall Street had discovered a new income stream.

    La Follette spoke briefly about that potentially troubling development during his 1924 campaign, but largely focused on domestic issues. In the final months of his life, the battle-scarred progressive was far more interested in providing a fair shake for the country’s farmers and blue-collar workers, those who actually worked for a living — those who were at the mercy of those very same Lords of Finance described above.

    Guess who the House of Morgan and Kuhn, Loeb backed in 1924?

    It wasn’t Battling Bob, that’s for sure.

    As an insurance policy in the unlikely event of President Coolidge’s defeat, J. P. Morgan’s partners managed to persuade the Democrats — in the longest national convention in American history — to nominate their own lawyer. It only took 103 ballots.

    The 1924 campaign, moreover, was unique in that the GOP, a party obsequious to Wall Street’s wants and desires since the days immediately following Lincoln’s assassination more than a half-century earlier, aimed almost all of its firepower at an independent or third-party candidate — one of the only times in American history when something like that happened in a presidential contest — rather than at its traditional major-party opposition. Charles G. Dawes, Coolidge’s vice-presidential running mate, for example, attacked La Follette in almost every campaign speech while virtually ignoring Democrat John W. Davis. Other Republican speakers — Cabinet members and other high-ranking Republican officials — did the same thing.

    Pummeling La Follette became something of a sport in the final days of that campaign. The Democrats, fearing that they might finish an embarrassing third in that election, also began attacking “Fighting Bob,” sending their aging warhorse William Jennings Bryan on a speaking tour in which he denounced the Wisconsin insurgent as “a menace to the country.”

    That ought to tell you something about the level of seriousness in which both major parties viewed La Follette’s candidacy that year, which is all the remarkable given the fact that the 69-year-old La Follette — God Bless his soul — didn’t officially enter the race until early July.

    Libertarians should admire La Follette’s 1924 candidacy, but more importantly they should also understand the lengths to which the plutocracy went to make sure it wouldn’t threaten their control of the U.S. government and the American and global economy.

    Government, most libertarians would argue, is the enemy, but an even greater foe — if one truly understands U.S. history — has always been those predatory forces that have dominated our government. La Follette, a populist to the bone, knew instinctively who they were. From J. P. Morgan to Goldman Sachs, it’s always been Wall Street.

    Unless you’re seriously willing to challenge Wall Street’s immense power and its control over our country’s politics and government — a kind of prepotency reinforced by the 2010 Citizens United decision — as “Fighting Bob” did almost a century ago and hopefully Bernie Sanders will do again next year, you’re just whistling past the graveyard.

    It’s highly unlikely that any insurgent candidate for the presidency will ever end the financial oligarchy’s control of the U.S. government, but La Follette’s headstone certainly stands out proudly in the cemetery of those who tried.

  65. AndyCraig AndyCraig February 15, 2015

    I certainly appreciate your passion and expertise for Fighting Bob. 😉 Though, on principle, I can’t let a comment against Citizens United go unchallenged. Government literally tried to ban a movie because it illegally criticized a presidential candidate. If the 1st Amendment means anything, it means the government should have lost that case.

    I do admire La Follette’s 1924 candidacy, though, even if I’m nowhere near as left-leaning or populist on economics. I did the following promo image for /LPWIS, even:

    https://www.facebook.com/LPWIS/photos/a.116016065112424.7778.115265661854131/769266723120685/?type=1&permPage=1

  66. Darcy G Richardson Darcy G Richardson February 16, 2015

    Nice graphic, Andy — and good luck in your congressional campaign.

    Though the district’s boundaries and demographics have changed considerably over the years, Wisconsin’s fourth congressional district has been the site of several spirited third-party House races throughout our history, including the hard fought campaign of Socialist Leo Krzycki, a popular former Milwaukee alderman and longtime official in the Amalgamated Clothing Workers union who finished a strong second — capturing nearly 32 percent of the vote — in 1924, a year the Socialist Party was officially supporting Bob La Follette’s independent presidential candidacy.

    Of course, that was back in the days when the United States still produced things and blue-collar workers, in sharp contrast to the millions of idle citizens today, a disproportionate number of whom are now collecting SSI “disability” benefits largely because there’s no alternative if they want to survive without living on the streets, treated their livelihoods seriously.

    Those were the good old days, long before “free trade imperialism” — and I know most Libertarians hate to hear this — completely destroyed our country’s manufacturing base, leaving us with a paper-shuffling economy designed to appease the overpaid and under-worked investment bankers on Wall Street, the least productive members of our society. The City of London, of course, was blushing with pride when the U.S. finally adopted their longstanding and entirely perverted and shamelessly exploitative trade policies, a pursuit that virtually destroyed that country’s own working-class population.

    Then again, Great Britain’s ruling elite weren’t about to let their own citizens spoil the fun. Their jobs — like the livelihoods of millions of Americans since the 1970s — weren’t important. Centuries of exploiting backward, third world countries — many of which they had brutally controlled by way of colonialism — was simply too profitable. The oligarchy, in fact, couldn’t survive without it.

    Nothing was too brutal for the British. Does anyone here at IPR remember reading about the infamous 1919 Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, also known as the Amritsar Massacre, an act of stunning brutality in which British soldiers fired indiscriminately into a large crowd of unarmed, nonviolent protestors in Punjab, killing as many as 1,499 and wounding more than 1,100 others? Pretending to conduct an official investigation into the indiscriminate mass killing, UK authorities downplayed the actual death toll, but the people of India knew differently.

    In any case, the bankers in Britain finally had their way with their counterparts at 23 Wall Street, the relatively new kids on the block who were always more than eager to please the financial oligarchy. (I only mention this in passing, but didn’t we have some sort of tiff with that haughty country at one point, a few hundred years ago? I seem to recall a couple of our Founding Fathers saying something about it…)

    That’s the short and not-so-sweet of it… Wall Street betrayed America’s working and middle classes, beginning in the 1970s. The 2008 financial meltdown of their own making was merely a reminder to the American people that they were still in charge.

    They were reckless, but knew that Washington would bail them out. After all, they have owned the damn city since shortly after Lincoln’s tenure there — something La Follette stated repeatedly during the 1924 campaign.

    The Lords of Finance knew there wouldn’t be a reaction in the autumn of 2008. The American people were too passive. A few people raised their ire in meaningless hand gestures in public parks and elsewhere as part of something called “Occupy” — a movement that didn’t make any economic or political demands whatsoever — and Wall Street continued on its merry way.

    They’ve been laughing at those naïve fools — and profiting enormously — ever since.

    It’s really tragic. Milwaukee, like Pittsburgh (my favorite city) and a few other American cities, was arguably our greatest working-class city at one time. They were proud, hard-working people.

    I’m not sure what Milwaukee is like today…

    If you ever get a chance, you should read Donald Gibson’s Wealth, Power, and the Crisis of Laissez Faire Capitalism. He’s a University of Pittsburgh sociology professor. It’s a real eye opener.

    By the way, do you have a campaign website yet? I know it’s really early in the campaign, but I’d like to send along a small contribution. Best of luck!

  67. NewFederalist NewFederalist February 16, 2015

    I SO enjoy reading your posts, Darcy! You are truly a class act!

  68. Andy Craig Andy Craig February 16, 2015

    Thanks very much for the offer. I’m afraid I don’t have a website, nor my FEC registration, up and running yet. Just a facebook page at fb.com/AndyCraig2016 and my state-level declaration of candidacy. A functional website with online contribution capability is definitely at the top of the list though, if you follow the fb page you’ll see it announced there, as well as probably here at some point. You can also reach me at andy.craig (at) lpwi.org.

    The third-party history of Milwaukee is something I’ve toyed with trying to play into, even though they were all socialists of some strip or another and I’m obviously not. Alas the last Socialist Mayor left office a long time ago (in 1960, making Milwaukee still the most recent major city to have a third-party mayor), and Teddy Roosevelt getting shot is well beyond living memory. Milwaukee today is much more firmly under the control of the regular urban Democratic machine.

    -Andy Craig

  69. Gene Berkman Gene Berkman February 16, 2015

    Libertarians involved in third party politics certainly see inspiration in the remarkably successful independent campaign that Sen. Robert Lafollette waged in 1924. A big part of his success – 16.7% of the vote, carrying Wisconsin and beating the Democrat candidate in 11 more states – was the result of German-Americans voting for a Senator who had opposed American entry into World War I.

    The repudiation of the Democrats – 28% for John W Davis – was also a result of Woodrow Wilson’s war, which tarred the Democrats the same way that Bush’s war hangs over the current crop of Republican candidates for President. The Democrat campaign was so hopeless that in the Midwest and the West, voting for Lafollette was not considered a wasted vote. Even Governor Pierce of Oregon, a Democrat allied with the Ku Klux Klan, endorsed Lafollette over Davis.

    But libertarians who admire Lafollette admire him for his antiwar views, and his defense of civil liberties. His call for a more active government role in the economy helped lay the groundwork for the New Deal, which incorporated Lafollette progressive ideas alongside ideas being implemented in Italy at the time – compulsory cartelization of the economy through the National Recovery Act being a prime example of the latter.

    The big issue that Lafollette avoided was Prohibition. As he stated in his memoirs, he had no trouble acquiring spirits, and he felt that a stand on prohibition would divide the Progressive forces. Governor John Blaine of Wisconsin and Rep. LaGuardia of New York were both outspoken opponents of Prohibition, and supporters of Lafollette, but Sen. Brookhart of Iowa backed Lafollette and was an ardent supporter of Prohibition. A strong stand against Prohibition would have endeared Lafollette to libertarians then, and now, and he avoided taking such a stand.

  70. Gene Berkman Gene Berkman February 16, 2015

    It is a mystery why people continue to defend “socialism” by claiming that the Soviet Union did not practice socialism. Yet every other state that has proclaimed itself to be socialist has implemented a centrally planned Soviet-type economy, curbed personal liberties, including the right to emigrate, and has almost always been operated under a one-party state.

    The social democratic parties in the west that have created “welfare states” are not as repressive as the outright socialist regimes, but still curb personal and economic freedom. But the real issue is that socialism in practice has in every single case meant state control of the economy, and suppression of opposition. What about an impossible dream is so beautiful that you want to retrieve the word socialism from the nightmare it has so invariably been the title for?

  71. Gene Berkman Gene Berkman February 16, 2015

    Just an aside to Darcy – Sen. Lafollette came to support free trade as a means of providing competition to domestic manufacturers which often acted like monopolies. As a Republican he had started out as a protectionist (and ally of William McKinley) but later came to see free trade as an important component of a competitive market economy.

  72. paulie paulie February 16, 2015

    Thanks very much for the offer. I’m afraid I don’t have a website, nor my FEC registration, up and running yet. Just a facebook page at fb.com/AndyCraig2016 and my state-level declaration of candidacy. A functional website with online contribution capability is definitely at the top of the list though, if you follow the fb page you’ll see it announced there, as well as probably here at some point. You can also reach me at andy.craig (at) lpwi.org.

    Unless I am mistaken, you don’t have to file with the FEC until you reach a certain threshold of contributions, nor do you need a website to set up a paypal contribution method, piryx, gofundme, or some way to donate while you work on the FEC papers and website, for anyone who wants to donate to your campaign. Even if you aren’t proactively fundraising yet, you should at least be set up to take donations when people ask you to make them.

  73. Andy Craig Andy Craig February 16, 2015

    I do have a treasurer who I’m working on that with, he knows the FEC side better than I do, and you’re correct there’s a $5k threshold. I was uncertain about taking anything without having filed anything other than my state-gov’t declaration of candidacy, but I suppose that is how it’s supposed to go. That’s not how it worked when I ran for secretary of state under state campaign finance law, you had to be filed and reporting and all the rest of it from the first dollar accepted.

    In lieu of a more professional website later on, I might toss up another democracy.com page. That seemed to work fairly well for my last campaign, has a built-in fundraising mechanism, etc.

  74. paulie paulie February 16, 2015

    I’m 99%+ sure you do not have to worry about the FEC for contributions until you hit the threshold. Check with your treasurer though.

  75. Green_w_o_Adjectives Green_w_o_Adjectives February 16, 2015

    “It is a mystery why people continue to defend “socialism” by claiming that the Soviet Union did not practice socialism. Yet every other state that has proclaimed itself to be socialist has implemented a centrally planned Soviet-type economy, curbed personal liberties, including the right to emigrate, and has almost always been operated under a one-party state.

    The social democratic parties in the west that have created “welfare states” are not as repressive as the outright socialist regimes, but still curb personal and economic freedom. But the real issue is that socialism in practice has in every single case meant state control of the economy, and suppression of opposition. What about an impossible dream is so beautiful that you want to retrieve the word socialism from the nightmare it has so invariably been the title for?”

    Admittedly there was a time I would have completely agreed with the above. Yet after having grown up and experienced the world as it is, as well as much additional soul-searching and humble inquiry, I can’t help but reject pretty much all of the above as historically naive, idealist fluff. Yes, the Soviet regimes were horrible on civil liberties. But the cause of that (in addition to being on constant war footing) was their undemocratic and non-participatory nature, not because they claimed inspiration from socialist traditions. To really understand the Soviet Union, we have to see that the era of 1919-1970s or so, before the rise of neo-liberalism, was an era where economics was dominated by planning and bureaucracy, and where very few governments had authentic democratic institutions. All of these governments (whether Keynesian, communist, or fascist) were obsessed with Fordism and the large-scale planning of economic activity. And Libertarian propaganda aside, the neo-liberalism hegemonic since then has not create a more efficient or affluent society. quite the contrary…. Empirically, it has delivered increases in capital accumulation (at the expense of the interests of rest of us), but most of that has gone to the asset owners, exacerbating the drastic inequality we experience today. Carroll Quigley was correct, in my view, to see a correlation between the improvements in military technology and the expanding control of the state/oligarchical power (and by that I don’t just mean government, I mean the power of owners to control us, where government is simply one means among many). Since 1880 or so, we have become progressively less free, not more free. And to quibble with your characterization, “social democratic” nations tend to do alot better on just about any kind of honest liberty scoring than a neo-liberal model like the USA.

    Contemporary capitalism has led to very serious problems including sustained war and imperialism, ecological plundering and degradation, and now the looming semi-permanent tyranny posed by institutionalized oligarchy and spying technologies. There’s pretty much no way we can continue down the road we are on. If you look at the issues with humility, it’s clear that contemporary America is just as perverse a society as Soviet Russia ever was.

    The socialism we are talking about is people about ordinary people owning/controlling the means of production where they work. It does not rule out the use of markets. The primary demands are 1) authentic democratic institutions 2) democratic management of workplaces and 3) equity in the ownership of capital assets. If you’re going to criticize socialism, criticize that version of socialism, not some one-party dictatorship where a party nationalizes everything via force and claims socialism has been achieved.

  76. Green_w_o_Adjectives Green_w_o_Adjectives February 16, 2015

    Paulie,

    Obviously there are all kinds of libertarians, and if you yourself are an anarchist, we no doubt have many common values. I often describe my views as “libertarian socialist”, in conversation but rarely online because I don’t want to be confused with a doctrinaire anarchist view. It is indeed a fact that the vast majority of people who call themselves “libertarian” abroad are also socialists.

    I’m sure it’s brought up here often that those people abroad who call themselves “libertarian” are virtually all anti-capitalists and/or socialists of some kind. So why are the “Libertarians” in the USA such fervent supporters of capitalism? Basically, they don’t understand the ways capitalism limits freedom and coerces individuals and communities. They don’t see how the capitalist mode of production could never function without a government that guarantees property rights and which educates and trains wage workers. They don’t understand that in places like the USA, capital ownership is more concentrated in fewer hands than the media says. In other words, American libertarians are pro-capitalist because they are brainwashed by the media and they don’t have a clear understanding of the link between capitalism and American imperialism abroad. They don’t understand how things like “free trade” and “privatized militaries” help concentrate more and more resources, more and more services, and more and more power, into the hands of the billionaires. They don’t understand how investment processes oriented towards the capital accumulation of private individuals will not necessarily maximize social utility, since private profit and social utility do not always correspond. There are myriad instances in capitalism where innovation and/or rationality are disincentivized because they lead to less capital accumulation than alternative methods. Yet if labor had solid rights and was paid its full value, many of these disincentives would go away.

    In the end, I don’t see how it is possible to oppose capitalist monopolies in land, finance, and patents and not also acknowledge that the “property rights” of the billionaires who built their fortunes upon these monopolies are not (morally) legitimate. For me, the key question for determining whether a “Libertarian” is a potential ally is to ask that Libertarian whether he/she supports defending a billionaire’s claimed property rights with force. You might be surprised how many Libertarians in the USA would answer this question with an unequivocal yes. However, virtually no “libertarian” outside of the USA is likely to say yes.

  77. Green_w_o_Adjectives Green_w_o_Adjectives February 16, 2015

    GWOA said “I think most Libertarians, like leftists, agree that a free society would be a society where every hard-working and/or creditworthy person has access to land and capital. That is, 0% interest loans and rent-free marginal land.”

    Langa said: I don’t know of a single libertarian who would support either of those things, with the possible exception of some Georgists (who may or may not be libertarians, depending on who you ask).

    This is one of the ways in which (party-line) Libertarians are opponents of small business empowerment and autonomy as well as free markets in general.

    If a society could be said to have an authentic free market (eg a market where there are no entry barriers), then it would have to be able to offer 0% interest loans to qualified applicants. Otherwise, those who cannot get 0% interest loans are always at a competitive disadvantage compared to those who can (that is, compared to those who already possess access to land and capital), so there is no free market and freedom of opportunity is a mere myth.. 19th century anarchist theorists believed that the reason 0% loans weren’t available were government-enforced monopolies in land, capital, patents, etc. That is, the monopolies that capitalism needs and depends on.

    This is one of the many ways market socialism (basically, democratic management of firms and democratic management of investment) offers the potential for far more freedom and autonomy for ordinary people then you could get in a society where ownership of land and capital are monopolized, and where (consequently) political power and decision-making authority are also monopolized.

  78. Darcy G Richardson Darcy G Richardson February 16, 2015

    “Just an aside to Darcy – Sen. Lafollette came to support free trade as a means of providing competition to domestic manufacturers which often acted like monopolies. As a Republican he had started out as a protectionist (and ally of William McKinley) but later came to see free trade as an important component of a competitive market economy.”

    That’s a great point, Gene. You’re absolutely correct. Thanks for mentioning that. La Follette, in fact, opposed the higher emergency tariffs adopted by Congress in 1921, as well as the Fordney-McCumber Tariff Act of 1922. Believing that higher tariffs on imports unfairly benefited big business and Wall Street while generally hurting consumers, La Follette was the lone Republican who voted consistently with a bloc of thirty Democratic Senators on almost every one of the more than 300 separate roll call votes related to the Fordney-McCumber tariff.

    During his 1924 campaign, moreover, La Follette accused President Coolidge of dragging his feet in lowering the Sugar Tariff as recommended by the Tariff Commission — a delay, argued the Wisconsin insurgent, that was costing U.S. households approximately $1,000,000 a week in unnecessarily higher prices.

    Toward the tail end of the campaign, Samuel Untermyer — the famous New York attorney who had served as chief counsel during the eight-month Pujo Committee investigation of Wall Street more than a decade earlier — released a report showing how beneficiaries of the nation’s higher tariffs adopted after World War I were among the largest contributors to Coolidge’s campaign. They weren’t alone, of course. Untermyer’s report was filled with the names of the spectacularly wealthy who had contributed to Silent Cal’s campaign and who stood to benefit immensely from Secretary of Treasury Andrew W. Mellon’s proposed tax cuts for the rich — a proposal the Republican president promised to resubmit to Congress following the election.

  79. Mark Herd Mark Herd February 16, 2015

    Sure lets bail out Greece. Boneheads in Washington can fix my schools, roads and infrastructure when Im dead, Its cheaper that way and you can pass the buck onto the next generation and still build nothing. Google: California Bullet Train

  80. paulie paulie February 17, 2015

    Interesting chart from the Examiner. While the correlation is not perfect, the relatively better presidents generally left less debt:

    null

  81. langa langa February 17, 2015

    Since 1880 or so, we have become progressively less free, not more free.

    And that period of time has also seen steady and massive growth in the size of government. Why is it that, even though the country has been relentlessly moving in exactly the opposite direction that libertarians recommend, all of today’s problems are nevertheless laid at our feet by progressives, who are largely responsible for this huge growth of government? Or, to put it another way, if you look at the platforms advocated by progressive parties 100 years ago, almost everything they were calling for has been adopted, and yet somehow, all of today’s problems are the fault of libertarians?

    Oh, and as for these ideas about zero interest loans and rent-free land, the fact that such things are taken seriously demonstrates that virtually no one on the Left knows even the least bit about the way that markets operate. Such policies would encourage malinvestment on such a gigantic scale that it would make the housing bubble appear absolutely trivial in comparison.

  82. paulie paulie February 17, 2015

    Since 1880 or so, we have become progressively less free, not more free.

    I don’t believe that. In some ways we are more free, in other ways less. Women, LGBT folks, atheists and agnostics, those generally not perceived as white, Jews – all were more openly and legally discriminated against back then. There are other ways in which we are more free now as well.

  83. langa langa February 17, 2015

    Women, LGBT folks, atheists and agnostics, those generally not perceived as white, Jews – all were more openly and legally discriminated against back then.

    True, although not all discrimination constitutes a loss of freedom. For example, most people discriminate on the basis of gender when choosing their sexual partners, but that doesn’t make the people they reject any less free.

    Having said that, I agree that it’s debatable whether we are more or less free (on balance) than we were then. To some extent, it’s subjective, based on how one weighs the value of different types of freedom.

    But none of that denies my basic point, which is that it’s silly for progressives to blame libertarians for things getting worse, when they have managed to get far more of their recommendations implemented than we have.

  84. paulie paulie February 17, 2015

    I’m tempted to respond point by point to a lot of things in this thread, but it would take a much bigger time commitment than I am willing to make, and then with the chain of replies that is sure to follow, well… I have a hard time controlling myself in that regard but this needs to be one of those cases.

  85. Andy Craig Andy Craig February 17, 2015

    I wouldn’t even concede that my male, Scots-Irish, presumably straight ancestors were “more free” in 1880 than I am today.

    Was government smaller and markets relatively freer? By many important measures, yes, and that is worth something for sure. Was government (at all levels) less authoritarian, less violent, less intrusive, less corrupt, and restricting fewer choices? I’m not so sure about that.

  86. langa langa February 17, 2015

    I wouldn’t even concede that my male, Scots-Irish, presumably straight ancestors were “more free” in 1880 than I am today.

    I never said they were. GwoA said that, and further claimed that the reason we are less free today is somehow the fault of libertarians. It is that latter contention that I dispute. The first question is less interesting to me, since, as I said, the answer is largely subjective in nature.

  87. Darcy G Richardson Darcy G Richardson February 17, 2015

    “Milwaukee today is much more firmly under the control of the regular urban Democratic machine.”

    True. Be careful when attending campaign events and forums. Make sure the congresswoman’s son isn’t watching where you park…

  88. paulie paulie February 17, 2015

    Local government was more authoritarian in many regards. Women were held in, basically, slavery. Their property rights were close to none, they could be beaten and raped legally by their husbands, and forced to return to them if they fled. Church and state were mixed heavily at the local level, from the schools to the courthouses and more. Sharecroppers existed in conditions that were not much different than slavery, as did people in company towns. Factory workers in the US existed in the kinds of conditions more associated with Chinese factory workers these days. Alcohol prohibition was already starting to spread to various states. The southern white power structure was in the midst of reasserting control with Jim Crow laws and lynching.

  89. langa langa February 23, 2015

    Here’s an interesting video where Ron Paul and Daniel McAdams discuss the topic of the best and worst Presidents. They talk quite a bit about Grover Cleveland (who is Paul’s choice for best President ever — and probably mine too, although I’d prefer to say “least bad ever”), and they even spend a little time promoting the Ivan Eland book that was mentioned on this thread.

    The discussion of Presidents occurs near the beginning of the show:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tiOzPXDaIHA

  90. paulie paulie February 23, 2015

    Good selection – thanks!

    I keep being tempted to answer some of the more substantive points Darcy and GWOA made earlier on, but it would get far too time consuming, especially with back and forth that would be sure to result.

  91. langa langa February 24, 2015

    I keep being tempted to answer some of the more substantive points Darcy and GWOA made earlier on, but it would get far too time consuming, especially with back and forth that would be sure to result.

    Yeah, I think you’re probably right, especially given that this thread is already pretty long as it is. Besides, I’m sure these sorts of issues will pop up again, probably sooner than later.

  92. Darcy G Richardson Darcy G Richardson February 24, 2015

    You’re right, langa. We’ll probably never see eye to eye when it comes to economics, at least as viewed from Ron Paul’s perspective, yet I think in many ways we’re fighting for the same things. We might not agree on much, but it’s better than surrendering to the financial oligarchy.

    The former congressman’s supporters have an important, if not pivotal, role to play if we’re ever going to lessen Wall Street’s undisputed grip on our body politic — a dominating influence over the U.S. government since World War I. Many historians, of course, trace that undue influence back even further, believing that it started shortly after James A. Garfield’s assassination in 1881, if not all the way back to the days immediately following Lincoln’s presidency.

    In any case, I would be more than eager to hear Paulie’s point-by-point responses to some of issues raised here, as well as your own. I really enjoyed this particular thread.

    I’m more than willing to continue the conversation if you guys are…

  93. Darcy G. Richardson Darcy G. Richardson February 24, 2015

    Insofar as the “back and forth” is concerned, isn’t that sort of the point of IPR comments? Dialogue can be a good thing. Then again, maybe I’m wrong…

  94. Darcy G. Richardson Darcy G. Richardson February 24, 2015

    The “back and forth” comment was actually a little off-putting, but that’s alright. I get it.

  95. langa langa February 24, 2015

    Actually, Darcy, I would suggest that the subordination of the government by powerful and wealthy elite economic interests goes back even further, as Lincoln, along with his mentor Henry Clay, and even Clay’s ideological predecessor, Alexander Hamilton, were all unabashed mercantilists, and were driven primarily by the desire to promote certain commercial interests, usually at the expense of the common man.

    As for a point-by-point debate, as I said, this thread has already gotten a bit unwieldy, but I certainly wouldn’t mind revisiting these issues at some point in the future.

  96. Darcy G. Richardson Darcy G. Richardson February 24, 2015

    Clay and Lincoln were followers of brilliant Philadelphia economist Henry Carey, the country’s foremost economist before the American System of Political Economy — an economic program designed to protect U.S. manufacturers and industry, as well as ordinary working-class Americans, in the face of brutal British “free trade imperialism” — was completely airbrushed from our country’s textbooks. The biographically-neglected Carey, in fact, served as Lincoln’s chief economic advisor and was arguably more concerned with the “common man” than any presidential advisor in the 150 years following Lincoln’s sadly-abbreviated presidency.

    Compliant Wall Street toadies like Grover Cleveland, Harding, Coolidge, Hoover, Reagan, Clinton and Obama, not to mention both Bushes with another possibly slightly overweight one to follow — the mindless errand boys of the oligarchy, one containing more intellectual poison ivy than the next — probably never even heard of him.

    In any event, Carey’s legendary Sunday evening “Vespers” in Philadelphia drew some of the greatest minds in the country. Poets, writers, philosophers, leading scientists, other economists, and even former presidents always made a point of attending his Sunday gatherings whenever they were in the City of Brotherly Love. It was the place to be for anybody interested in the intellectual life of the country.

    I spent a couple of months last autumn, incidentally, researching the little-remembered Henry Carey at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. His papers are fascinating…

    The Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania, moreover, was founded on the principles advocated by Hamilton and Carey. It was also taught at Johns Hopkins, Cornell, New York University and several other leading institutions of higher education before the British took over almost the entire U.S. publishing industry… Carey’s family, in fact, had been the country’s leading publisher before the U.K. — still hoping to defeat those pesky, rebellious colonists more than a century after the American Revolution — decided to dominate that most critical of all industries. Control the textbooks used in public and private schools alike and you’re almost sure to influence future generations. The Brits were pretty smart.

    That’s real history.

  97. paulie paulie February 24, 2015

    Yeah, I think you’re probably right, especially given that this thread is already pretty long as it is. Besides, I’m sure these sorts of issues will pop up again, probably sooner than later.

    Thread length is not a problem for me, time management is. I would actually love to get into it in detail, but I’d be vastly overcommitting myself given that I am way behind on numerous existing projects as it is.

  98. paulie paulie February 24, 2015

    Insofar as the “back and forth” is concerned, isn’t that sort of the point of IPR comments? Dialogue can be a good thing. Then again, maybe I’m wrong…

    No, you are absolutely right. It’s just that writing up even a single round of response to all the interesting points you made would overcommit me, and trying to hash them out with back and forth would put me in way over my head. Not because I couldn’t sustain my end of the argument, but because I just would not even come close to having the time to do it justice. I’m sorely tempted though.

  99. Darcy G. Richardson Darcy G. Richardson February 24, 2015

    That’s okay, Paulie.

  100. paulie paulie February 24, 2015

    Actually, Darcy, I would suggest that the subordination of the government by powerful and wealthy elite economic interests goes back even further

    It goes all the way to the beginning of monopoly government. Nor does Marxism solve this problem; in practice, the workers don’t own the means of production, the state does – and the bureaucrats who administer the state become the de facto monopoly capitalist owners of everything, with any attempts at true worker democracy being ruthlessly squashed and falsely branded as counter-revolutionary.

  101. paulie paulie February 24, 2015

    If that’s also too long, I can put up a new one at the start of the month.

  102. Darcy G. Richardson Darcy G. Richardson February 24, 2015

    I still think the world of you — and I hope you know that.

  103. paulie paulie February 24, 2015

    The feeling is mutual. I’ll need to buy your books some day.

  104. langa langa February 24, 2015

    Clay and Lincoln were followers of brilliant Philadelphia economist Henry Carey, the country’s foremost economist before the American System of Political Economy — an economic program designed to protect U.S. manufacturers and industry, as well as ordinary working-class Americans, in the face of brutal British “free trade imperialism” — was completely airbrushed from our country’s textbooks.

    The “system” you speak so glowingly of was pure, unvarnished mercantilism, no different in substance than the corporatism and crony capitalism we see today. It was an economic program based on high protective tariffs, “internal improvement subsidies” and other forms of what we now refer to as “corporate welfare” — and far from being designed to benefit “ordinary working-class Americans”, its purpose was to further enrich Northern industrial interests and other plutocrats, such as the railroad tycoons that Lincoln had represented as a lawyer.

    Since you bring up the subject of poets, here’s what Edgar Lee Masters, a poet and former law partner of Clarence Darrow, with whom he had helped defend the poor, had to say about the Whigs in his biography of Lincoln:

    “Clay was the champion of that political system which doles favors to the strong in order to win and to keep their adherence to the government. His system offered shelter to devious schemes and corrupt enterprises . . . . He was the beloved son [figuratively speaking] of Alexander Hamilton with his corrupt funding schemes, his superstitions concerning the advantage of a public debt, and a people taxed to make profits for enterprises that cannot stand alone. His example and doctrines led to the creation of a party that had no platform to announce, because its principles were plunder and nothing else.”

    The biographically-neglected Carey, in fact, served as Lincoln’s chief economic advisor and was arguably more concerned with the “common man” than any presidential advisor in the 150 years following Lincoln’s sadly-abbreviated presidency.

    I find it bizarre that someone who talks so much about the importance of civil liberties would lament the demise of Lincoln, who is responsible for more violations of civil liberties than arguably any President ever. He suspended Habeas Corpus, he authorized the mass arrests of tens of thousands of political dissenters, he shut down hundreds of opposition newspapers and had their owners and editors thrown into prison, and on and on. In fact, even today, his tyrannical behavior is still cited as precedent by the Bushes and Obamas of the world. In short, he was hardly what I would call a champion of civil liberties.

  105. Darcy G. Richardson Darcy G. Richardson February 24, 2015

    I would take Lincoln over almost any modern-day Libertarian activist I can possibly think of… You’ve been reading way too much revisionist Confederate literature. Did you read that in one of Ron Paul’s old racist newsletters? You know, the ones apparently authored by an apparition? Insofar as “biographer” Edgar Lee Masters is concerned, he’s been totally discredited.

    Blessed with a half decent book advance during a period when more established authors couldn’t land one, Masters supposedly spent fewer than seven weeks on his book from start to finish and — as numerous reviewers and historians later suggested — probably made most of it up, spawning a kind of dishonest and intellectually perverted cottage industry based on an irrational hatred of Lincoln that persists in right-wing circles to this day. Give me a break.

  106. langa langa February 24, 2015

    Darcy, I’d be happy to debate you, but if your “arguments” consist of ad hominem attacks in lieu of actual facts, then I’ll have to pass. I’m interested in the truth, not establishment propaganda.

  107. Martin Passoli Martin Passoli February 24, 2015

    So which of these statements are you saying are inaccurate:

    He suspended Habeas Corpus, he authorized the mass arrests of tens of thousands of political dissenters, he shut down hundreds of opposition newspapers and had their owners and editors thrown into prison…

  108. Darcy G. Richardson Darcy G. Richardson February 24, 2015

    Okay, Then let’s discuss the American System of Political Economy. Sure, it protected American industry through high tariffs, but was that necessarily a bad thing?

    Shouldn’t a relatively young nation have the ability to protect its infant industries? The Hamilton-inspired American System also provided for a national bank — not a private banking cartel later cobbled together by Wall Street in establishing the Federal Reserve in 1913 — to provide public credit for industry, both large and small, and for the financing of “internal improvements,” i.e., funding for infrastructure needs.

    Those are essentially the things that Henry C. Carey, Henry Clay and Abraham Lincoln advocated. The biographically-neglected Carey, by the way, joined the Greenback Party shortly before his death in the fall of 1879. His nephew ran for Pennsylvania Treasurer on the Greenback Party’s ticket the previous autumn.

    It was no coincidence that the Greenback Party, later called the Greenback-Labor Party — long considered a left-wing party in American history and briefly enjoying the support of the Socialist Labor Party, the country’s most doctrinaire Marxist party — nominated 85-year-old Peter Cooper, one of the country’s wealthiest industrialists, for president during its maiden campaign for the White House in 1876. The party stood for both American manufacturers and working-class laborers, each dependent on the other.

    That was the American System in practice.

    It’s kind of interesting that one of America’s greatest economists — arguably the most widely-recognized economist of his time and the man who had personally convinced President Lincoln to issue more than $400 million in greenbacks to finance the war on slavery — bolted to the Greenback Party before his death. By then, of course, the GOP was totally under the control of Wall Street, so the aging Carey really had no other choice if he wanted to remain true to his convictions.

  109. Darcy G. Richardson Darcy G. Richardson February 24, 2015

    “He suspended Habeas Corpus, he authorized the mass arrests of tens of thousands of political dissenters, he shut down hundreds of opposition newspapers and had their owners and editors thrown into prison…”

    All of those things are true, unfortunately, but I thought we were discussing economics, not a President’s response to a treasonous rebellion — funded in part by England — in the name of preserving a horrible and inhumane institution like slavery; a rebellion, incidentally, that eventually cost that chief executive his life.

  110. Darcy G. Richardson Darcy G. Richardson February 24, 2015

    Dependent on its degrading yet lucrative cotton trade and its preposterously cheap labor force, the predatory interests in the South — generations of wealthy southerners who had inherited their profitable plantations and the impoverished servants living on those estates — had long since bought into Great Britain’s “free trade imperialism.” The Brits, more than anybody else in the world, knew precisely how to take advantage of the world’s poorest and most destitute inhabitants. The South merely perfected their model.

    Britain’s colonial trade policies, alive and well at the time — and with many countries yet to exploit — was the scourge of Mankind.

    They still get their way, but they do it in a far more sophisticated fashion, through investment banks on Wall Street — the same folks who have systematically destroyed the once-thriving U.S. economy over the past three or four decades, all in the name of “free trade.”

    In any case, slavery was a blemish that can never be removed from our history.

    Unlike Lincoln, I probably would have been a Radical Republican during the Reconstruction period.

    Britain, meanwhile, never paid a price for its surreptitiously evil involvement in that deadly conflict.

    It ultimately cost him his life, but Abraham Lincoln — God Bless his soul a million times over — ended that horrible stain on our country once and for all.

  111. Darcy G. Richardson Darcy G. Richardson February 24, 2015

    And, yes, Henry Carey — America’s greatest economist during Lincoln’s day — couldn’t stand the British system of laissez faire free trade capitalism, an ideology based almost exclusively on the exploitation of the weak and desperately poor.

  112. Darcy G. Richardson Darcy G. Richardson February 24, 2015

    Uh, oh. It looks like I might be debating myself. I never win those arguments.

  113. Green_w_o_Adjectives Green_w_o_Adjectives February 24, 2015

    “Oh, and as for these ideas about zero interest loans and rent-free land, the fact that such things are taken seriously demonstrates that virtually no one on the Left knows even the least bit about the way that markets operate. Such policies would encourage malinvestment on such a gigantic scale that it would make the housing bubble appear absolutely trivial in comparison.”

    It seems to me that monopoly control of finance capital leads to greater malinvestment than you get with democratically accountable finance capital.

    In a rational world populated by clear-thinking people, Investment capital would not be monopolized in the hands of the few. Instead, communities should have a stake in how investment capital is distributed.

    According to neoliberal propaganda, nothing should ever get done unless it leads to capital accumulation for the investor/owner class.

    Yet there are plenty of things we can invest in that are socially beneficial that do not necessarily yield monetary profits and/or capital accumulation for the capitalist class. But under neoliberal capitalism, socially beneficial investment does not take place unless it can be manipulated in such a way as to produce profits for the owners/investors over time.

    And this is one of the biggest factors driving the ecological crisis. If/when investments in sustainable technology do not yield the same capital rewards as investment in fossil fuels, the structure of capitalist capital markets discourages investment in the sustainable technologies Even when the sustainable technology delivers greater utility with less cost over time,,.. This is one of the many instances where the dynamic of capital accumulation does not match up with utility or net social benefit. War and imperialism are another instance of this phenomenon, considering how profitable war industries are, and how little utility they provide us.

    This is why we desperately need banking reform, public banks, and yes, we need 0% interest loans for (qualified) investments that are beneficial to local communities. To survive climate change, we need democratically accountable investment in sustainable technologies.

  114. Darcy G. Richardson Darcy G. Richardson February 24, 2015

    That’s a great comment from Green_w_o_Adjectives. Zero interest public credit — the same sort of low-interest or interest-free loans routinely provided to the “too big to fail” banks that virtually destroyed the U.S. and global economy seven years ago — is the only way we’re going to begin addressing the more than $3.6 trillion in infrastructure needs identified a couple of years ago by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

    It’s also the only way to end the lingering Great Recession, which is still being felt by almost everyone except the pampered “investor class” — the very folks who caused this seemingly never-ending economic downturn in the first place.

    Let’s start by nationalizing the Federal Reserve — an idea first championed by Maury’s Mavericks, a group of left-leaning Democratic, Farmer-Labor and Progressive House members during the Great Depression.

    It’s time to rebuild America, one community at a time…

  115. langa langa February 25, 2015

    Then let’s discuss the American System of Political Economy. Sure, it protected American industry through high tariffs, but was that necessarily a bad thing?

    Absolutely. Tariffs “protect” industries by insulating them from competition, and everyone else (especially, but not only, consumers) suffer as a result. Marxist propaganda aside, competition (by which I mean real competition, not the government-engineered pseudo-competition that is so prevalent today) benefits everyone. Protectionism, along with the railroad subsidies that the Whigs favored, were just forms of corporate welfare that helped the politically-connected elites, and hurt everyone else.

    The Hamilton-inspired American System also provided for a national bank — not a private banking cartel later cobbled together by Wall Street in establishing the Federal Reserve in 1913 — to provide public credit for industry, both large and small, and for the financing of “internal improvements,” i.e., funding for infrastructure needs.

    Thank you for making my next point for me. The key aspect of the central bank is not whether it is nominally public or private, but rather, that it allows for the use of fiat currency, and thus, can be used as a means of financing the aforementioned subsidies (that is to say, patronage schemes) without directly taxing the American people. If the people had realized that they were being taxed for the benefit of railroad tycoons, road construction companies and so forth, they would not have stood for it. But a central bank would allow the cost to be born not via overt taxation, but rather, through the hidden tax of inflation, not coincidentally the same scheme that has been used countless times throughout American history, and still is used today, for the financing of wars, cronyist government contracts, and other unpopular schemes. This is the real reason why Clay, Lincoln and the other Whigs constantly stumped so hard for a central bank, as it greatly reduced the political obstacles to their corrupt patronage system.

    It was no coincidence that the Greenback Party, later called the Greenback-Labor Party — long considered a left-wing party in American history and briefly enjoying the support of the Socialist Labor Party, the country’s most doctrinaire Marxist party — nominated 85-year-old Peter Cooper, one of the country’s wealthiest industrialists, for president during its maiden campaign for the White House in 1876.

    You’re right; it’s no coincidence that a wealthy plutocrat would strongly support a party devoted to inflation, which everywhere and always benefits the rich at the expense of the poor.

  116. langa langa February 25, 2015

    All of those things are true, unfortunately, but I thought we were discussing economics, not a President’s response to a treasonous rebellion — funded in part by England — in the name of preserving a horrible and inhumane institution like slavery; a rebellion, incidentally, that eventually cost that chief executive his life.

    First, while I reject the simplistic notion that the Civil War was not about slavery, I also reject the equally simplistic notion that it was about nothing but slavery. Furthermore, I would argue that when it came to Lincoln’s personal motivations, ending slavery was very low on the list, as his own statements amply demonstrate.

    However, for the sake of argument, I will assume that your position is correct, and that Lincoln was motivated purely by the noble goal of ending slavery. Is it your contention that he was thus morally justified in committing whatever horrible atrocities and rights violations that he deemed necessary to achieve that goal? In other words, of what value are civil liberties, if they can be summarily ignored at the discretion of our rulers? “The ends justify the means” is the tired refrain of every tyrant in history, and to embrace it is to give each one of them your blessing.

  117. langa langa February 25, 2015

    It seems to me that monopoly control of finance capital leads to greater malinvestment than you get with democratically accountable finance capital.

    In a rational world populated by clear-thinking people, Investment capital would not be monopolized in the hands of the few. Instead, communities should have a stake in how investment capital is distributed.

    Central planning would work no better for capital allocation than it has in any other area where it has been tried. The reason is simple. Without the feedback provided by market signals, there is simply no way to calculate when and where capital should be invested. It was precisely this arrogance on the part of the Fed that lead it to believe that it could determine the correct interest rates to maximize economic growth, and thus lead to the housing bubble and the consequent economic crash from which we are still suffering.

    Instead of nationalizing the Fed, we should simply abolish it, along with all other forms of central banking.

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