Tag Archives: Teddy Roosevelt

Protesting for the problem they're against

The Occupy Wall Street protesters are voicing a very real and understandable grievance. Corporate America is far too involved in politics. I agree wholeheartedly. What these protesters do not understand is how or why corporations got involved in the government in the first place. In their calls to end capitalism they are showing a basic historical ignorance. We haven’t been a capitalist country in a long time. We started transforming into corporatism during Teddy Roosevelt’s reign and were done with the metamorphosis by the end of FDR’s presidency. Wasn’t Teddy a Trust-Buster? He certainly was. But a close look into US Steel during that time shows that they welcomed government intervention.  Carnegie even wrote an article in the New York Times asking for “Government control” of the steel industry. The collusion is due to the fact that the free-market involves risk, and government control means they do not have to worry about their smaller competitors who were hot on their heels. Third–party intervention into business favors the largest companies and often bankrupts the smaller companies.

This basic idea can be seen in the story of Upton Sinclair and his book “The Jungle.” In the popular narrative, his investigative journalism changed the meat packing industry. What is not known is that the industry itself wanted regulation. A Big Meat, as it would be called today, spokesman said as much to Congress. Government regulation behooved the major packers because the regulation pushed smaller and ironically more sanitary meat packers out of business due to the cost of the regulations, and also provided the commercial benefit of a federal seal by which to further sell their product.

Government meddling in business in fact causes corporatism. The free-market keeps business at a safe distance from the government. In other words, capitalism is what the Wall Street protesters should be begging for, not protesting against. The story of Microsoft is a modern example of this idea. For a long time Bill Gates bragged about the fact that his company, Microsoft, had no interest in government. He was being honest- Microsoft had but a single lobbyist- that is until he was attacked for being a monopolist. Now he has a veritable army on k-street. Wal-Mart is another enlightening example of this. In 2000, the company was ranked 771st in direct contributions to Federal politicians. After being attacked by unions and politicians, Wal-Mart had developed the single largest corporate political action committee by 2004.

The only people that are helped by government intervention are large companies and politicians. Small companies and consumers take the hit: consumers in paying higher prices and small companies by being pushed out of the market. It seems that the protesters are protesting for what they claim to be against. Economics and civics are complicated and the people funding these protests rely on those who join them to be too lazy or ignorant to understand either. For now it looks like they are right.

 

Blood Letting

From Hippocrates to the 19th century, medicine was based on the theory of the four humors. It was believed that all diseases and ailments were caused by in-balances between yellow bile, black bile, blood and phlegm.  For thousands of years all treatments based on this theory did damage, the most well known treatment being blood letting. Despite obvious correlationsbetween treatment and increasing sickness, doctors, philosophers and scientists kept the same beliefs and practices. These quacks, instead of using reason and rationality, placed blame on anything available, including demons, and not because of their own failed policies and practices. This same behavior is evident with the American left and their own policies.

According to our President, our current economic problems are the fault of his predecessor, the tea party, congress, politics as usual, Japan, Europe, ATMs, Corporate Jets and so on and so forth. Never once has he thought that maybe, just maybe, his policies have failed because they simply do not work. It is true, correlation does not causation make, but when a policy produces the opposite intended effect, a reasonable person does not move the goalposts, but adjusts the policy, or finds a new policy. The quacks of our medical past moved the goalposts as well, saying that their patients would have died quicker if they had not let blood to balance the humors.

The general theories the left has pushed on us since Teddy Roosevelt’s Progressive ascendency through the Obama presidency are as wrong as the theory of the four humors. They have indoctrinated the zero-sum fallacy, fallacies of composition, Sequential Fallacies (post hoc ergo propter hoc,) Chess piece fallacies and open-ended fallacies through argumentum ad nauseam and verbosium. This leads to a mind projection fallacy where their theories must be right, regardless of complete failure. You can see this in statements such as, “rich people don’t spend money,” a statement heard often yet lacking any evidence.  This is as ridiculous as it is false.

Despite available empirical evidence, the left, including the President, Paul Krugman and many in the house and senate and the talking heads on MSNBC and CNN choose to hold onto their modus operandi. Europe, since we assisted in its rebuilding, has been spending, regulating and re-regulating and they are now near collapse because their only economically successful country can no longer bailout fellow EU member states. While the EU collapse is used as an excuse for our economy, the reasons for its collapse have been ignored. Although President G.W. Bush’s spending has been cited as an excuse for the economy; the spending of President Obama is not seen as a problem. This was like a recovery, which had nothing to do with the four humors, was touted as proof of its correctness, while in fact; a majority of those treated got worse and died.

This behavior is not new; rather, it is endemic for the left. The left’s programs have constantly failed and made problems worse, yet that has not stopped the left from trumpeting success. The left claims to be the supporter of the poor, downtrodden and minorities, yet economically the programs they boast of have caused significant damage to those they consider their wards. From 1890 to 1950 the African American population had slightly higher rates of workplace participation than whites. From 1940 to 1960 African Americans under the poverty line dropped from 87 to 47 percent, and African Americans in white collar or managerial jobs doubled. These trends slowed and reversed after the creation of Johnson’s “Great Society.” As stated previously, correlation does prove causation, but to consider these occurrences as successes is intellectually dishonest at best. Especially when considering African American unemployment is currently at 16.1 percent while President Obama’s predecessor had it down to 9.1 percent. Yet, the idea that these things might be negative will never cross the minds of the left, where their belief that they are saviors of a race or group may not work, despite the availability of factual information.

There are even more examples of obviously failed policies, “open space” laws, city planning, “smart growth” policy, ethanol, intervention in industries from automobile production to energy. There is no evidence that these policies were successful, yet they remain in the toolbox of the left. Conservative issues are deep and systematic, but the left continues to produce open-ended and undefined ideas that even taken as a whole would not dent their unsustainable course.

The reason is clear and undeniable. Like the quacks of the past , as a result of narcissism and a herd mentality, the left must keep their view of the world. Like the relationship of doctor to the patient, it is not the doctor who is dying. The movers and shakers on the left are insulated to their failures, as is our President, currently vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard; as are leftist fire brands like Paul Krugman or Al Gore, John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi and others too numerous to list. They do not acknowledge their failures and so choose to ignore them, much like the blood letting by quacks in the past.