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- Reagan’s First Inaugural Address January 20, 1981
The recent election loss at a time when every economic indicator over the previous four years should have catapulted Romney to victory, started me to seriously think; not think about Romney’s failures, not about what the conservative movement should have done or about two parties which were once upon a time closer at their furthest distance than they were even in FDR’s time (and that says a lot). In fact other than 1860 we have never been so dissimilar and as a people, so divided. A thought often wonders about its origin as much as what it is about; something must first ignite its awareness. I was stunned that a nation as great as ours could be so philosophically wrong? After all our Founding principles are as basic as Newtonian and Quantum physics. We know they are right and that they work yet so many still believe otherwise. It was a though some universal timeless law had been proven fundamentally wrong. Is the world truly flat when it was thought to be round because so many things work the way they do?
The issue suddenly started to gain clarity as a read an article this past evening by Xavier Lerma in the English version of the Pravda, which describes Putin’s dismay that the communists have won in America, and lost in Russia and that although we should avoid the Soviet mistake that cost the Russians’ seventy-five years of suffering, under the USSR, we (Americans) elected a President, for a second term, with a cultist personality, who promotes the Communist Manifesto without calling it so, by mesmerizing an illiterate society; this is a President that lies about less taxes yet supports more taxes and promotes peace by advocating wars in Egypt, Libya and along the Mexican border. In fact Putin states that Stalin’s fools and Obama’s fools share the same drink of illusion. Obama bailed out those businesses that voted for him by hiking the debt to over 16 trillion while doing nothing for the tragic unemployment rate for blacks and minorities.
But why did this happen? Surely a land founded upon liberty did not need to be told about its value. I then reread the address given by Alfred Smith’s 1936 radio address (two term NY governor) and things became a little clearer. At that time Herbert Hoover had lost the election, not only because he was not a conservative and contributed to a spending folly that led to the despair of the depression but because the Republican platform was long, unreadable and not understandable as opposed to the Democratic platform which was a clear, concise, covenant with the people who entrusted it to be faithfully kept. And since the history of the Republic no President had so faithfully committed himself to the principles upon which he ran; yet four years later Smith describes what was not carried out and how far adrift FDR had gone. Despite being a progressive when it came to public safety nets he (Smith) was far more of a Constitutionalist than most anything we have today.
Smith’s first argument was class against class. He stated: “It has been freely predicted that if we were ever to have civil strife again in this country, it would come from the appeal to passion and prejudices that comes from the demagogues that would incite one class of our people against the other. In my time I have met some good and bad industrialists. I have met some good and bad financiers, but I have also met some good and bad laborers, and this I know, that permanent prosperity is dependent upon both capital and labor alike. And I also know that there can be no permanent prosperity in this country until industry is able to employ labor, and there certainly can be no permanent recovery upon any governmental theory of “soak the rich” or “soak the poor.”
His second argument was government by bureaucrats. He stated: “The next thing that I view as being dangerous to our national well-being is government by bureaucracy instead of what we have been taught to look for, government by law. Just let me quote something from the President’s message to Congress:” “In 34 months we have built up new instruments of public power in the hands of the people’s government. This power is wholesome and proper, but in the hands of political puppets of an economic autocracy, such power would provide shackles for the liberties of our people.” Smith replied: “Now I interpret that to mean, if you are going to have an autocrat, take me; but be very careful about the other fellow. There is a complete answer to that, and it rises in the minds of the great rank and file, and that answer is just this: We will never in this country tolerate any laws that provide shackles for our people. We don’t want any autocrats, either in or out of office. We wouldn’t even take a good one.”
Smith especially drew attention to the first campaign plank which read: “We advocate immediate and drastic reduction of governmental expenditures by abolishing useless commissions and offices, consolidating departments and bureaus, and eliminating extravagance to accomplish a saving of not less than 25 per cent in the cost of the Federal Government.” He stated, “Well, now, what is the fact? No offices were consolidated, no bureaus were eliminated, but on the other hand, the alphabet was exhausted. The creation of new departments — and this is sad news for the taxpayer — the cost, the ordinary cost, what we refer to as housekeeping cost, over and above all emergencies — that ordinary housekeeping cost of government is greater today than it has ever been in any time in the history of the republic.”
Smith went on to disparage an unbalanced budget by reminding the government of another campaign plank which read: “We favor maintenance of the national credit by a Federal budget annually balanced on the basis of accurate Federal estimate within revenue.” He stated: “How can you balance a budget if you insist upon spending more money than you take in? Even the increased revenue won’t go to balance the budget, because it is hocked before you receive it. What is worse than that?”
And Smith knew that taxes are not the answer. He commented: “Now here is something that I want to say to the rank and file. There are three classes of people in this country; there are the poor and the rich, and in between the two is what has often been referred to as the great backbone of America, that is the plain fellow. That is the fellow that makes from one hundred dollars a month up to the man that draws down five or six thousand dollars a year. Now, there is a great big army. Forget the rich; they can’t pay this debt. If you took everything they have away from them, they couldn’t pay it; they ain’t got enough. There is no use talking about the poor; they will never pay it, because they have nothing. This debt is going to be paid by that great big middle class that we refer to as the backbone and the rank and file, and the sin of it is they ain’t going to know that they are paying it. It is going to come to them in the form of indirect and hidden taxation. It will come to them in the cost of living, in the cost of clothing, in the cost of every activity that they enter into, and because it is not a direct tax, they won’t think they’re paying, but, take it from me, they are going to pay it!”
What about States Rights as defined by our 10th Constitutional Amendment? This is where his safety net idea was founded… upon that Constitutional principle and hence he recognized the limited federal Government role. The democrat platform stated: “We advocate the extension of Federal credit to the States to provide unemployment relief where the diminishing resources of the State make it impossible for them to provide for their needs.” This was his response: “That was pretty plain. That was a recognition in the national convention of the rights of the States. But how is it interpreted? The Federal Government took over most of the relief problems, some of them useful and most of them useless. They started out to prime the pump for industry in order to absorb the ranks of the unemployed, and at the end of three years their employment affirmative policy is absolutely nothing better than the negative policy of the Administration that preceded it.”
Again on the 10th Amendment the democratic platform stated: “We favor unemployment and old age insurance under State laws.” He stated: “Now let me make myself perfectly clear so that no demagogue or no crack-pot in the next week or so will be able to say anything about my attitude on this kind of legislation. I am in favor of it. And I take my hat off to no man in the United States on the question of legislation beneficial to the poor, the weak, the sick, or the afflicted, or women and children. Because why? I started out a quarter of a century ago when I had very few followers in my State, and during that period I advocated, fought for, introduced as a legislator and finally as Governor for eight long years, signed more progressive legislation in the interest of the men, women and children than any man in the State of New York.” And although I did not always agree with his policies it was apparent that he embraced the Constitution’s 10th Amendment.
And Smith noted yet another anti-Constitutional practice preached as part of the democratic campaign but ultimately never adhered to. “We promise the removal of Government from all fields of private enterprise except where necessary to develop public works and national resources in the common interest.” Smith remarked: “NRA! A vast octopus set up by government, that wound its arms around all the business of the country, paralyzed big business, and choked little business to death. Did you read in the papers a short time ago where somebody said that business was going to get a breathing spell? What is the meaning of that? And where did that expression arise? I’ll tell you where it comes from. It comes from the prize ring. When the aggressor is punching the head off the other fellow he suddenly takes compassion on him and he gives him a breathing spell before he delivers the knockout wallop.”
Now let us try and understand through Alfred’s Smith’s own words what he thought the Democratic Party had morphed itself into by way of taxes, subsidizes and controls. The Democratic party stated: “We condemn the open and covert resistance of administrative officials to every effort made by congressional committees to curtail the extravagant expenditures of Government and improvident subsidies granted to private interests.” Smith replied: “Now, just between ourselves, do you know any administrative officer that has tried to stop Congress from appropriating money? Do you think there has been any desire on the part of Congress to curtail appropriations? Why, not at all. The fact is that Congress threw them right and left — didn’t even tell what they were for. And the truth, further, is that every administrative officer sought to get all that he possibly could in order to expand the activities of his own office and throw the money of the people right and left. And as to subsidies, why, never at any time in the history of this or any other country were there so many subsidies granted to private groups, and on such a huge scale. The fact of the matter is that most of the cases now pending before the United States Supreme Court revolve around the point whether or not it is proper for Congress to tax all the people to pay subsidies to a particular group.” Again the party stated that: “We condemn the extravagance of the Farm Board, its disastrous action which made the Government a speculator of farm products, and the unsound policy of restricting agricultural products to the demand of domestic markets.” Smith replied: “What about the restriction of our agricultural products and the demands of the market? Why, the fact about that is that we shut out entirely the farm market, and by plowing under corn and wheat and the destruction of foodstuffs, food from foreign countries has been pouring into our American markets — food that should have been purchased by us from our own farmers. In other words, while some of the countries of the Old World were attempting to drive the wolf of hunger from the doormat, the United States flew in the face of God’s bounty and destroyed its own foodstuffs. There can be no question about that. Now I could go on indefinitely with some of the other planks. They are unimportant, and the radio time will not permit it. But just let me sum up this way. Regulation of the Stock Exchange and the repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment, plus one or two minor planks of the platform that in no way touch the daily life of our people, have been carried out, but the balance of the platform was thrown in the wastebasket. About that there can be no question. Let’s see how it was carried out. Make a test for yourself. Just get the platform of the Democratic Party, and get the platform of the Socialist Party, and lay them down on your dining room table, side by side, and get a heavy lead pencil and scratch out the word “Democrat,” and scratch out the word “Socialist,” and let the two platforms lay there. Then study the record of the present Administration up to date. After you have done that, make your mind up to pick up the platform that more nearly squares with the record, and you will put your hand on the Socialist platform. You don’t dare touch the Democratic platform.”
Tomorrow it is about to become far worse!
Tagged with: post-Constitutional America
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