Citizenship, Economy

It started with Hoover(?)

© 2013 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

Herbert Hoover was an engineer and a manager. Never before or since has that combination sat in the Oval Office. Hoover liked the idea of a coherent executive budget instead of each agency or faction lobbying for their own turf. In theory this makes good sense—a President with managerial expertise looks over the entirety of the Executive Branch and makes sure everything necessary is covered within the means (funding) provided by the available revenues. It only makes sense—or to use the most misused term in political debate common sense.

A note here. My favorite line from Common Sense, a hot headed tract by Thomas Paine under the pseudonym, An Englishman, begins, “Government at its best is a necessary evil….”

Mr Hoover liked the idea of controlling the elements of the country. As Secretary of Commerce he seized control of the airways with the assistance of Congress and the help of an outlandish broadcaster named John R Brinkley. The Federal Radio Commission (now the FCC) was created at the request of the broadcasters to be less arbitrary than the Secretary of Commerce. Hoover also appointed himself assistant secretary for interference in all other departments. He expanded regulation after the Federal Reserve tanked the Stock Market in 1929, which weakened the economy. He did, however, veto the Smoot-Hawley Tariff which was the proximate cause of the 1931 recession—it was passed over his veto.

Hoover’s successor Franklin D Roosevelt turned his economic relief over to Frances Perkins, Hugh Johnson and other progressives who based their solutions on Woodrow Wilson’s war mobilization tactics and the writings of Max Weber and Benito Mussolini. So instead of attacking the regulations that had caused the downturn and returning to sound money as promised (Barry Goldwater said he could have run on FDR’s 1932 platform) we got the New Deal. The New Deal expanded the scope and powers of the Department of Labor (Perkins’ empire) and began the entitlement state through social security which was designed to get older workers out of the workforce.

With the growth of entitlements under Lyndon Johnson and later presidents the national budget became one in which borrowing became necessary to cover the newly essential functions of government in addition to wars and military adventurism. The Johnson through Carter Administrations vastly expanded the role of the federal government in welfare, medical care, education and public safety/emergency management to the point that states and localities are dependent on federal funds—as an aside, the general taxation authority the feds got in 1913 has increased to the point that the states are limited in what they can tax.

Congress decided in 1917 to limit the Treasury’s borrowing authority. This was in response to Wilson’s public entry into World War I—he already had troops occupying much of Mexico where he intervened in the civil wars as well as many areas of Central America and the Caribbean where United Fruit had interests. Domestic affairs did not generally require borrowing before the second world war.

Increasing the borrowing limit may be necessary for a short term obligation but if it becomes necessary to fund the essentials of government then it is a long term problem and the answer has to be to cut spending, cut programs, cut the interference which depresses the economy. Ultimately we will have to stop borrowing and start paying down or most assuredly we will default. On the other hand, the entitlement spending has become a third rail in politics—DO NOT TOUCH. Neither the rock nor the hard place is safe.

So we will continue to have shutdowns, gridlock and dissension. All are culpable.

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Citizenship, Free Society, Trivia

Death of Parties

© 2013 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

I read of the death of the Republican Party. I have read this many times about both parties. Ross Perot was going to replace both. Political parties come and go and evolve.

A number of Federalists in New York affiliated themselves with the Tammany Hall wing of the Democratic-Republicans sponsoring Aaron Burr in 1804 as their gubernatorial candidate against against Morgan Lewis of the Clintonian (or anti-federalist) Wing. Burr’s program included his support of the secession of the Northern States (New York and New England) to form a confederation more favorable to Britain than to France. Federalists from Massachusetts actually supported Burr for Governor of New York because of his willingness to sign a bill of secession. There were those who feared the Louisiana Purchase would give Jefferson too much power. The Federalists had no candidate so two Democratic-Republican Candidates went head to head.

In steps Alexander Hamilton who wants absolutely nothing of secession because it would be bad for commerce. Hamilton disliked Jefferson and loathed George Clinton politically because they opposed the ratification of the Constitution. He also happened to despise Aaron Burr as a rival in New York Banking. An off-handed insult by Hamilton was perceived by Burr to have given the victory of Lewis and was the “proximate cause” of the oldest sports rivalry in the Ivy League. (Dueling: Princeton 1 – Columbia 0) While some credit the duel as the end of the Federalists, the party had become a northeastern parochial party after 1800.

The Democratic-Republicans, on the other hand were experiencing a similar breakdown. Morgan Lewis, while having some moderate support, was the last of the anti-federalist crowd. A supporter, DeWitt Clinton (George’s nephew who inspired a future governor to build canals) shifted to Tammany to run for Governor and even ran as a Federalist for President in 1812 to oppose Madison’s War.

TRIVIA WATCH

George Clinton was the longest serving governor in American history. He was the first vice-president elected on a party ticket rather than as runnerup for President. He served as vice-president for both Jefferson and Madison. His greatest accomplishment was in chairing the Ratification Convention in New York where New York’s entry into the compact was made contingent on the Bill of Rights. Some scholars believe he was the author of the Anti-federalist Papers attributed to Cato, but others say the authorship is still in doubt—fortunately dueling has been outlawed.

Speaking of dueling: Aaron Burr was the grandson of Jonathan Edwards and a well educated banker. He was involved in a plot to form an empire in Spanish Territory—That had to wait for Pres James Polk who was a cousin to Bishop Leonidas Polk who married a Granddaughter of Jonathan Edwards. The Burr family formed the Manhattan Company (not to be confused with the Manhattan Project) to transport water in Manhattan Island—it also had authority to issue notes and hold deposit. It remains in existence as JP Morgan Chase and owns Alexander Hamilton’s pistols.

DeWitt Clinton had a steam engine named for him. He is best know for the Erie Canal—in opposition campaign literature it was called, “Clinton’s big ditch.”

Modern Republicans are divided and ripping in several directions, but there will always be dissension. The great political philosopher of the 19th Century, Finley Peter Dunne, speaking in the persona of Mr Dooley, said, “if ye’re in a room where a man in one corner is shouting miscreant and in the other corner is one shouting thraitor, you know its only two loyal demmycrats trying to reunite the party.”

Remember: tags are invitations to research.

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