One Danger Of Quoting The Founding Fathers

image of John Adams - an original one percenter

The other day a conservative friend of mine posted a John Adams quote that was a rant about letting people who didn’t own property the right to vote. My friend tried to use to support his argument about our current government system. While Adams did write the words that were posted, taking his words out of context to support your fantasy view of the world could be dangerous.

Here is the quote in question:

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New Merchant of Death: The NRA

image of a gun

The NRA may not have pulled the trigger at the elementary school in Connecticut but they can’t avoid any blame since they fight for little or no gun laws and benefit from and promote an irrational public fear that drives gun sales. The press conference they held on Friday 12/21 proves the point that they don’t really care about mass killings accomplished after their hard work. They now join tobacco and alcohol producers who also refuse to accept any blame for killing people and work to get legal protection. They have joined the merchants of death.

Here is the main take away from the NRA press conference:

Continue reading “New Merchant of Death: The NRA

The Real Story of Thanksgiving and Socialism

A friend of mine posted a story of the “A Lost Thanksgiving Lesson” told by FOX “news” talking head John Stossel. He claims that because the colony tried to operate as a commune there was a famine and so to save the colony the Pilgrims ditched socialism. Like most Libertarian fantasies, Stossel’s story is 99.9999999% made up.

Every year around this time, schoolchildren are taught about that wonderful day when Pilgrims and Native Americans shared the fruits of the harvest. But the first Thanksgiving in 1623 almost didn’t happen.

Long before the failure of modern socialism, the earliest European settlers gave us a dramatic demonstration of the fatal flaws of collectivism. Unfortunately, few Americans today know it.

The Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony organized their farm economy along communal lines. The goal was to share the work and produce equally.

That’s why they nearly all starved.

When people can get the same return with less effort, most people make less effort. Plymouth settlers faked illness rather than working the common property. Some even stole, despite their Puritan convictions. Total production was too meager to support the population, and famine resulted. This went on for two years.

A Lost Thanksgiving Lesson

The real history tells a different tale:

Historians say that the settlers in Plymouth, and their supporters in England, did indeed agree to hold their property in common — William Bradford, the governor, referred to it in his writings as the “common course.” But the plan was in the interest of realizing a profit sooner, and was only intended for the short term; historians say the Pilgrims were more like shareholders in an early corporation than subjects of socialism.

“It was directed ultimately to private profit,” said Richard Pickering, a historian of early America and the deputy director of Plimoth Plantation, a museum devoted to keeping the Pilgrims’ story alive.

The arrangement did not produce famine. If it had, Bradford would not have declared the three days of sport and feasting in 1621 that became known as the first Thanksgiving. “The celebration would never have happened if the harvest was going to be less than enough to get them by,” Mr. Pickering said. “They would have saved it and rationed it to get by.”

The Pilgrims Were … Socialists?

The first Thanksgiving or harvest feast was held in 1621 not 1623. The Native Americans were invited because they helped support the colony with food and teaching them how to grow their crops in New England during their first year when half the colonists died.

So socialism did save the colony and the Libertarians/Tea Party/Conservatives are full of stuffing – and not the good kind.

Rand Paul not racist just ignorant

Rand Paul won the right to be on the ballot for the US Senate from Kentucky. He comes from a family known for their libertarianism – his father is Ron Paul. The problem with his libertarianism is what is wrong with libertarianism in general – it ignores reality and so it sounds stupid.

On the Rachel Maddow show on May 19th Rand Paul claimed that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 went too far by forcing integration of private businesses. He believes that private businesses should be allowed to discriminate. He isn’t a racist per se but is ignorant of history.

The common libertarian argument about social issues in a private setting is that people will “vote with their dollars”. They feel that the free market will force out any businesses that do discriminate because it isn’t acceptable behavior.

The problem for that argument is that it makes sense for white men who have never experienced discrimination.

Back in the 1960’s integrated businesses were the exception not the norm. There were business sections for whites and separate area for blacks – even in Columbus Ohio. Mt Vernon Ave was a strong African-American business area.

That type of discrimination lasted more than 100 years after the end of slavery and the 14th amendment. Either the voting with dollars doesn’t work or is very slow.

Today a business that is overt about it – putting up signs or calling the police to remove non-white people – is ridiculous BECAUSE of laws like the Civil Rights Act.

Of course Paul’s beliefs aren’t surprising:

But the idea that the Civil Rights Act overstepped in its pursuit of guaranteeing racial equality in the South is hardly an alien idea to political right. In fact, in certain conservative circles — especially the anti-government, libertarian wing Rand Paul represents — it’s practically an article of faith.

Consider Ronald Reagan, now part of the pantheon of Republican and conservative heroes. Reagan got his start in national politics stumping for Barry Goldwater, whose fierce anti-government views led him to view the Civil Rights Act as an attack on “the Southern way of life.”

When Reagan made his own run for the presidency in 1976, he positioned himself as Goldwater’s heir, picking up his first primary win in North Carolina on a platform stoking resentment of government intrusion in the South. In 1980, the Californian consciously launched his campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi — just miles from where three civil rights activists were killed in the 1960s.

Like Rand, Reagan insisted his views were anti-government and not pro-discrimination — ignoring, of course, that in practical terms, opposing federal civil rights standards would ensure that discrimination persisted.

Why Rand Paul’s views on civil rights are no surprise

Of course some conservative Republicans are trying to use the Paul blow up to try and rewrite they history of the civil rights movement. They want to blame Democrats for fighting the Civil Rights Act back in the 1960’s while white washing the GOP’s racist campaigning since Reagan.

“Everybody knows that in 1964, a proud southern Democratic President, Lyndon Johnson, pushed hard to secure the Civil Rights Bill, with the aid of a coalition of northern Democrats and Republicans,” Wilentz said. “This sent the defeated segregationist Southern Democrats (led by Strom Thurmond) fleeing into the Republican Party, where its remnants, along with a younger generation of extremist conservative white southerners, including Rand Paul, still reside.”

NRSC Calls Dem Condemnation Of Paul Civil Rights Act Statements ‘Ironic’

It’s the real economy stupid

The recent trouble with the subprime mortage lending business showed a problem with the foundations of the US economy. I like it when I find blogs or articles by people able to explain the issues without a lot of jargon.

acerimusdux in a post on Daily Kos explains why 30 years of libertarian influenced laissez-faire fiscal policy has led to a failure to invest in America, and THAT is the most dangerous threat to our way of life.

What [Alan] Greenspan glosses over here, is that for nearly 30 years now, our economic policymakers, of both parties, have operated under the misguided theory that savings would somehow automagically equal investment, by some mysterious operation of the “invisible hand” of the free market. As a result, we now have nearly 30 years of economic data which proves that this just ain’t so. Perhaps Greenspan, having held his influential position throughout parts of all 4 administrations which pursued these policies, and having used his position to aggressively promote these same policies, is incapable of giving a more honest assessment of their failure.

So when you hear or read economists and financial writers today talking about a global “savings glut”, consider that the only difference between a “savings glut” and an “investment deficit” seems to be one of interpretation. And ask, what evidence is there that the private markets have invested at an optimal level?

And likewise for those who say the government only needs to get out of the way for the private sector to invest. I would ask, as we have tried this now for nearly 30 years, where are our modern factories? Where is our modern production equipment? Where is our domestic industry? Why are we falling behind the rest of the developed world even in our transportation, communication, and health care systems?

It Ain’t All “Bubbles” Greenspan’s Fault

Failure to invest in America is about as bad as ignoring external threats. Reaganomics was a failure.