About This Blog

Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) was the greatest economist of my time. His greatest works can be accessed here at no charge.

Mises believed that property, freedom and peace are and should be the hallmarks of a satisfying and prosperous society. I agree. Mises proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the prospect for general and individual prosperity is maximized, indeed, is only possible, if the principle of private property reigns supreme. What's yours is yours. What's mine is mine. When the line between yours and mine is smudged, the door to conflict opens. Without freedom (individual liberty of action) the principle of private property is neutered and the free market, which is the child of property and freedom and the mother of prosperity and satisfaction, cannot exist. Peace is the goal of a prosperous and satisfying society of free individuals, not peace which is purchased by submission to the enemies of property and freedom, but peace which results from the unyielding defense of these principles against all who challenge them.

In this blog I measure American society against the metrics of property, freedom and peace.

Friday, December 9, 2011

I'm Off To See The Wizard: "Just The Facts, Ma'm" -- Part II

On Tuesday in Osawatomie, Kansas, President Obama spoke about what he himself called "the defining issue of our time." The full text and video of his speech is here. In his speech the President implied the Presidential election of 2012 will be a watershed moment in American economic history as it concerns "working people" and "the middle class." He said:
But, Osawatomie, this is not just another political debate. This is the defining issue of our time. This is a make-or-break moment for the middle class, and for all those who are fighting to get into the middle class. Because what’s at stake is whether this will be a country where working people can earn enough to raise a family, build a modest savings, own a home, secure their retirement.
When the President speaks it is crucially important to pay attention to the specific words he chooses. If there is anything we know about this teleprompter President, it is that he doesn't like to go off script. Only those with a particular world view can survey ordinary Americans, divide them into classes and separate the classes into "working people" and, by implication, non-working people.

When America was established, Europe was beset by class struggle. In Europe at the time "class" was not an academic issue. Europe had its landed gentry, the aristocracy, on the one hand, and commoners, the peasants and rabble, on the other. The aristocrats owned the land, grew fat and leisurely off rents charged to the commoners. They had all the political power. The commoners who stayed in Europe fought the aristocracy for land and power in bloody revolutions. In England, they won the right to elect representatives to sit in the government in what was aptly named the House of Commons.

Those commoners who wanted to avoid the fight for representation in Europe fled to America which had land for the taking and unlimited opportunity for all. People of all nationalities and religions emigrated to America, a land which soon gained the reputation of offering true equality of opportunity for all. Of course, America was still a British colony and the regal British aristocrats tried to keep the rebellious colonists in their proper place. However, the American tradition of classless freedom was impossible to uproot. America soon became the United States of America, the land of freedom and opportunity for all.

Given this history, how can a man look at America and divide it into classes of working and non-working people? Obviously, the man would have to either be unaware of the American tradition or steeped in European ideologies, like Marxism, which taught that men were members of a particular class by virtue of their economic circumstance and that the interests of members of one of these particular classes were naturally contrary to the interests of members of the other.

Tuesday President Obama described his family's ties to Kansas. He described his grandparents, native Kansans, as people who "believed in an America where hard work paid off, and responsibility was rewarded, and anyone could make it if they tried." However, the President was careful to say: "I got my accent—and my values—from my mother." Stanley Ann Dunham, Obama's mother, was a troubled woman, a leftist, a Marxist socialist. She met her husband, Obama's father, in a basic Russian language class. Obama Sr. was a Marxist socialist. Growing up in Hawaii, Obama was closely mentored by Frank Marshall Davis, a Marxist, socialist and member of the Communist Party USA.

Given these facts, which are widely known and most confirmed in the President's own writing, it is easy to see how the President might naturally think of America in terms of classes, with the Proletariat "working people" on the one hand struggling against the Bourgeoisie on the other, the factory owners, those "at the very top" who grow wealthy "from their incomes and their investments." Most native Kansans -- for that matter, most Americans -- do not share the President's view, I think. 

I know growing up my beliefs about America were more in concert with the beliefs of the President's grandparents. Not only did I believe that anyone in America "could make it if they tried," I believed and still believe that anyone in America can become rich if they not only try but create, innovate and market a product or service that Americans will buy.

Not only is the President's view of the American people distorted by ideology, but his memory of American history is faulty, as if the only history book the President ever read was "A People's History Of The United States" by Howard Zinn, another Marxist socialist. Obama's most blatant error is one of timing. He said in Kansas: "At the turn of the last century, when a nation of farmers was transitioning to become the world’s industrial giant..." In fact, it can be easily verified that by the turn of the century the United States had already made this transition and was already the world's industrial giant. From Wikipedia:
Most historians agree that the period in which the greatest economic and technological progress occurred was between the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 20th. During this period the nation was transformed from an agricultural economy to the foremost industrial power in the world, with more than a third of the global industrial output. This can be illustrated by the index of total industrial production, which increased from 4.29 in 1790 to 1975.00 in 1913, an increase of 460 times (base year 1850 - 100).[1]
This inconvenient truth undermines the President's entire speech. Roosevelt's "New Nationalism" wasn't an insightful, progressive plan to ease the nation's transition from a nation of farmers to a nation of makers, it was a Machiavellian plan to pillage the vast wealth which had been newly created by the most productive makers and redistribute this wealth among those who didn't own it.

By the turn of the century the United States was producing untold riches and, contrary to Obama's rhetoric, the millions of immigrants who had poured into the United States and who had supplied the manpower for the industrial revolution, were sharing in these riches, raising families, saving for their children's education and building their own future.

Yes, there were bumps in the road along the way. Life was not easy in the 19th century. Often children had to work to help support the family's new lifestyle. But life was a hell of a lot better in America than it was anywhere else. That's why immigrants from the world over continued to flood into the country. That's why Americans rejected Teddy Roosevelt's Bull Moose Party and his "New Nationalism" in 1912. It's why I believe they will reject Obama's mulish party and his New Socialism in 2012.

More to follow.

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