Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thomas Jefferson Quotes

Anyone familiar with the Bloggersen knows of my infatuations with our third president. Here are a few quotes from the man himself:

A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor and bread it has earned - this is the sum of good government.

Dependence begets subservience and venality, suffocates the germ of virtue, and prepares fit tools for the designs of ambition.

Do not bite at the bait of pleasure, till you know there is no hook beneath it.

Educate and inform the whole mass of the people... They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.

Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.

History, in general, only informs us of what bad government is.

I hope our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us, that the less we use our power the greater it will be.

I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them but to inform their discretion.

I own that I am not a friend to a very energetic government. It is always oppressive.

I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.

I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it.

My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Forgotten Man

While the phrase 'The Forgotten Man', is not commonly used in today's political climate, the idea is alive and thriving. The phrase was first cited in an essay by William Graham Sumner's essay 'The Forgotten Man'. Later the phrase was used regularly by Franklin D. Roosevelt as he vowed to fight for 'the forgotten man' in his administration. To FDR the forgotten man was the man or woman in need of charity or help from the 'beneficent hand' of government. This was the exactly the opposite of the meaning intended by Sumner's essay. You can read for yourself here.

Who is the forgotten man? As Sumner described, when a certain man in society feels charitable or takes on a cause (call the man 'A'), the man will discuss the matter with another man (who we'll call 'B'). The two of them then petition the government, or they may be bureaucrats themselves and they will act on the sympathies of certain constituents or government leaders to enact legislation to aid a certain group of beneficiaries (a group we will call 'X'). This group of beneficiaries was the group FDR meant when he used the term 'forgotten man'. These represented any group deemed worthy of government charity by Washington bureaucrats. This group takes on many different forms: endangered animals, the environment, minorities, lower income citizens, elderly, etc. These groups are obviously in need of charity and it is therefore relatively easy to pass legislation benefiting one or more of these groups.

However, it was not 'X' meant as the forgotten man by Sumner. The forgotten man is forgotten for a reason. The forgotten man is neither a powerful bureaucrat, or a person deemed in need of government charity. The forgotten man usually does not speak up in his/her own defense because usually the forgotten man does not realize that he/she is being exploited and harmed. The forgotten man is another group altogether, or a group called 'C'. C does not talk to A or B. C does not petition the government or have any influence on bureaucrats at all. However C is exploited and used mercilessly and without feeling. This because no on ever thinks of C. Just who is 'C'? Sumner explains:

'Such is the Forgotten Man. He works, he votes, generally he prays-- but he always pays--yes, above all, he pays. He does not want an office; his name never gets into the newspaper except when he gets married or dies. He keeps production going on. He contributes to the strength of parties. He is flattered before election. He is strongly patriotic. He is wanted, whenever, in his little circle, there is work to be done or counsel to be given. He may grumble some occasionally to his wife and family, but he does not frequent the grocery or talk politics at the tavern. Consequently, he is forgotten. He is a commonplace man. He gives no trouble. He excites no admiration. He is not in any way a hero (like a popular orator); or a problem (like tramps and outcasts); nor notorious (like criminals); nor an object of sentiment (like the poor and weak); nor a burden (like paupers and loafers); nor an object out of which social capital may be made (like the beneficiaries of church and state charities); nor an object for charitable aid and protection (like animals treated with cruelty); nor the object of a job (like the ignorant and illiterate); nor one over whom sentimental economists and statesmen can parade their fine sentiments (like inefficient workmen and shiftless artisans). Therefore, he is forgotten. All the burdens fall on him, or on her, for it is time to remember that the Forgotten Man is not seldom a woman.'

Chances are, if you are reading this, you are the forgotten man. You are the one's being exploited without your own approval. You are the people who are not dependent on government aid and yet are being called on to provide it. You do not make the laws, or determine the beneficiaries, however it is you and you alone who they effect. You are the forgotten man, the taxpayer, the worker. You are the one who the government relies upon, and who is in turn exploited.

This is the subject for a book I am currently reading called coincidentally 'The Forgotten Man' by Amity Shlaes

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Anatomy of a Crisis

In the wake of the great depression in the 1930's the Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered one of the most remembered lines in American history. "We have nothing to fear but fear itself''. This line is still revered in our current age and the line was delivered by a man who has come to symbolize the coming welfare state that dominated much of the last century. FDR was the man who was credited with bringing us out of the great depression and setting us on the path to renewed prosperity.

What was lost in the 1930's was confidence in the economic philosophy that had dominated America for the first two centuries. Our financial struggles and shortcomings were blamed on capitalism, and the failure of the free market was indicted for bringing on economic collapse. The popular cry was that the free market left unchecked spirals out of control and the market collapse was a symptom of the disease of free market capitalism. The public opinion had swayed toward government control and the welfare state. These have been our inheritance from a generation misinformed.

The biggest misconception of that time was that the great depression was a product of the free market. Milton Friedman, a nobel prize winning economist and the chief economic advisers to Ronald Reagan argued extensively that the depression was caused primarily by the failure of the federal reserve to control the money supply during the economic slow down. He won a nobel prize for his monetary theory and has argued his point to the satisfaction of most economists today. Ben Bernanke, current head of the Federal Reserve, provided the ultimate incrimination on government's role in the great depression when he addressed the subject at a dinner honoring Friedman's 90th birthday:

'Let me end my talk by abusing slightly my status as an official representative of the Federal Reserve. I would like to say to Milton and Anna: Regarding the Great Depression. You're right, we did it. We're very sorry. But thanks to you, we won't do it again.' (read the complete speech here)

The Austrian school of economics holds a very convincing argument that boom and bust cycles are generated by the credit expansion from the central bank. When the federal reserve has a loose monetary policy it results in credit expansion and mal-investment. Resources and capital are over-invested during the boom period and the bust period or depression are the necessary period of readjustment of the marked where bad investments can be liquidated.

Studies among economists as earlier posts have alluded to have also shown that the policies of FDR in price controls, wage controls, rent controls, and instituting the welfare state were actually instrumental in prolonging the great depression by 7 to 15 years. This is not a fringe idea. It is a generally held position among economists today. (For a better understanding of this read this pdf.)

Perception is everything in politics. The public culture of opinion was convinced that capitalism was the culprit, and government the answer in the 1930's and this gave us 70 years of big government and the welfare state. The big government instituted by FDR and the new deal is still growing today. The culture of opinion is vitally important in our current financial crisis also. Government's role in the current meltdown needs to be understood. More to come...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Liberatarian views on defense of marriage?

This blog is not focused on social issues but my beliefs to tend to leak out. Since defence of marriage act is a controversial topic in the news I will throw out my opinion. My initial reaction is government has no role in defining our social morals, but there is an argument to the defining of some moral issues in society. I agree with this article for the most part.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Personal Statement

Having a newly formed zeal for blogging I feel that I must establish my personal statement at the outset.

First of all I believe in freedom and in the free market capitalism, which I believe is the main reason for America's current standing and our one hope for future prosperity and opportunity. What other system has raised the standard of living for even the most common lower class citizen to the high levels that we almost universally enjoy today?

The course of history has shown us that despotism, totalitarianism and forms of socialism have been the rule in the world not the exception. For the most part, ruling class bureaucrats and aristocrats have lived lives of excess while the common person has battled grinding poverty as a coarse of life. When you travel and observe the majestic cathedrals, edifices, pyramids, and works of art consider that these were built almost on the whole by a centralized powerful authority who subjected the common citizens to poverty stricken and inconsequential lives.

America has established itself as different, a 'great experiment'. Our founders fought for freedom from usurpation and unjust taxation. Thomas Jefferson, one of our most influential thinkers, rejected concentrated power. In his words: "I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them." He penned the declaration of our independence and our American philosophy when he wrote that we are all endowed by our creator with inalienable rights, including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, and that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it."

The purpose of government is to secure our inalienable rights. Not to feed us, clothe us, medicate us, control us, lead us in worship, look after our mental health or - perish the thought! - to nibble away at our rights and freedoms and expand its own power. The sole legitimate function of government is to secure our rights. When it fails to do so it ceases to be legitimate and the people have the right to take matters (back) into their own hands.

The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith was written in the same year as the Declaration of Independence in 1776, and has influenced our economic philosophy just as much as Jefferson has influenced our political philosophy. We have, for the most part, let every man seek his own self interest whatever that may be. As Adam Smith explains, when two parties each seeking their own personal self interest undergo a transaction, the invisible hand goes to work making the entire community beneficial.

It is not from government planning that we enjoy our prosperity, wealth, technology, and knowledge that we have acquired over the ages. It is the ambition and self interest of the individual seeking to make his life better, and to benefit from his hard work and sacrifice. It is not because of government and bureaucrats that we succeed but despite them; and the challenges we face today will be overcome by private enterprising individuals working and sacrificing for themselves and their families despite the obstacles of overgrown bureaucracy created by otherwise capable bureaucrats, who have chosen the public life rather than use their talents toward the private economy.

Now, why blog? It is to do my part to help alter the culture of opinion in this country. I would consider myself a conservative, however, I do not wish to 'conserve' the current culture of government largesse. Therefore, as it is our duty to vote and alter public policy to the benefit of our country, I feel the best way to accomplish this is to change the current culture of opinion. In the early history of our country, politicians appealed to the public's distaste for centralized government and love of freedom. Now in our current culture we ask 'what will government do to fix it?'. I only ask that every politician take the oath that I took upon graduating medical school -- that you 'first do no harm'.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Is Obama the next FDR?

Barack Obama is potentially being elected just in time to turn this economic crisis around right?

Could Barack Obama do what FDR did in the 1930's and 40's in 'bringing our country out of the great depression'.

I hope not. A new study from UCLA found that FDR's policies prolonged the great depression for 7 to 15 years.

There is a great book that details this very subject. It is next on my list.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Ecconomics in one lesson

Bloggersen is back and I am back to the basics - book reviews dabbled in editorial posts.

Here is a book
that you should buy and read. After you finish reading it you should re-read it. This book is that good. I just finished it on audio, and it has enlightened my views on many, many subjects. Simply put, it is the most simple and easily understandable books on basic economics that you could come across. This explains clearly basic principles that will change or shape your views on government's role in our economy. The basic premise of the book is that every intervention from the government exacts an equal if not greater price from other segments of the economy. Most of the time in dealing with these interventions whether it be raising minimum wage, creating subsidized housing, or 'saving jobs', proponents of government intervention fail to see the big picture of the toll afforded by the larger segment of society. This book lays it out, I believe, as clearly as is possible. If you don't want to buy it download it here.