Friday, August 27, 2010

Responding to Olive's Socialists

Our local penny saver, the Olive Press (see pages 32-33 before and after my letter), features two letters this week attacking me, one from Brooklynite Gus Murphy and one from Guido Giuliani who accuses me of being a Klansman and hating Italians.  My response to editor Paul Smart:

Dear Editor:

I appreciate Guido Giuliani's and Gus Murphy's August 26 responses to my Olive Press letter.  Mr. Murphy makes an interesting point with respect to the centralizing parties being urban, and this, if true, would confirm that they were the parties of the wealthy as well. The concentration of wealth associated with the rise of cities also saw advocacy of Federalist, Whig and Republican philosophies.  But Federalists, Whigs and Republicans were not necessarily urban.  The Federalists included wealthy planters, the Whigs included rural leaders like Abraham Lincoln, and after the Civil War the Democrats were the urban party in the North.  But these successive parties did in part reflect the ideas of the urban industrial rich.  The Democrats were associated with the agrarian orientation of southern planters as well as urban workers.  Federalism collapsed when the public realized that the centralizing party was also suppressive, as the Alien and Sedition Acts showed.  Today's Democrats and Republicans with their Patriot Acts and Fairness Doctrines are authoritarian and extremist in the Federalist tradition.  The Whigs elected several presidents, including William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor and arguably John Quincy Adams.   The Republicans subsequently dominated national-level politics even though the urban party was the Democratic, which dominated local politics. 

The Democrats today advocate the Federalist-Whig-Republican philosophy of the rich, of Theodore Roosevelt, George Soros and the teacher of the rich, Paul Krugman (who teaches at Princeton and is paid from its endowment, which depends on subsidy via the Keynesian, pro-bank policies that he and Guido Giuliani support).  The triumph of the Democrats was to convince the public that the pro-banking Keynesian policies they advocate help the poor.  This was done by crippling Americans educationally.  I appreciate that Democrats like Jill Paperno feel that the Republicans are the party of big corporations, but they seem to forget that Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, George Soros, Larry Paige and Paul and Nancy Pelosi are all Democrats.  Moreover, the wealthiest Republicans such as David Rockefeller and Michael Bloomberg have views that are indistinguishable from the Democrats'.  Hence, the claim that Democrats represent the poor is a lie.

As far as Theodore Roosevelt's (TR's) being a socialist (and my point is emphatically that the Democrats and Republicans are both socialist parties of the rich) the best source is Martin J. Sklar's Corporate Reconstruction of American Capitalism. Dave Nalle, head of the Liberty Republican Caucus took issue with my same assertion about TR as Mr. Murphy has.  However, I sent him home to read Sklar and I suggest the same antidote for Mr. Murphy. Sklar provides meticulous detail about TR's adoption of socialism, specifically his advocacy of licensure and control of big business's pricing policy. Sklar, like other of the historians I have been quoting such as Gabriel Kolko and William Appleman WIlliams, have a New Left perspective.  As well, a review of TR's speeches during and after his presidency will convince you that his ideas had certainly by 1912 (when he ran as the Progressive Party presidential candidate) become socialist.

Prior to Taft and Roosevelt the meanings of conservative and liberal were opposite of what they are today.  Liberal meant a believer in freedom from state control.  Conservative meant an advocate of the state control characteristic of Europe.  In marketing their philosophy of the rich to the public, the Progressives developed the tactic of calling socialism "liberal" and liberalism "conservative."  Previously conservatives had been people who believed in monarchy, for instance the kind who all cry out for a monarch to bring "change" in a monolithic voice. "Change!" "Sieg heil!"  "Change!" "Sieg heil!"  The words were not used in their current form until Roosevelt and Taft. Grover Cleveland, president until 1896, was not called "conservative."

The term "Progressive" originated with a group of political writers between 1890 and 1920.  Their magazine, the New Republic, is still published today and remains a bulwark of what is incorrectly called "liberalism," more accurate names being Federalism, Whiggery, Republicanism or national socialism.  The writers were Herbert Croly, Walter Weyl, and Walter Lippmann. Their books are harder to read than Howard Zinn's but you will learn more, Zinn's communism being a rehash of the Onteora Central School district's elementary school curriculum.   The meaning of the word "Progressivism" has changed only slightly since then.  A good follow up book is left-wing Peter Levine's "New Progressive Era" in which he outlines the continuity between the Progressivism of Croly and Roosevelt and today's "progressives".  But the Progressives (who have dominated the Republican Party since Roosevelt) and the progressives (who now dominate the Democratic Party) are both marionettes of big business: David Rockefeller on the Republican side, George Soros on the Democratic side. The left-wing Onteora elementary school curriculum reflects the needs of Rockefeller and Soros.

Part of the problem with Mr. Giuliani's letter is his reliance on ad hominem insults, which do not contribute.  He may be interested to know that my brother-in-law hails from Sicily and perhaps I do hate Italians in this sense.  My nieces and nephew never call, and I just hate that.  Mr. Giuliani shows scant regard for factual evidence in this regard as in his other points, a vice which he attributes to me. Besides being a Jew whose relatives were killed in the holocaust, my last name, Langbert, is a Germanicizataion of the Italian Langobardi, which means long beard.  Hence, I  have little in common with the KKK and do not hate Italians.  If Mr. Giuliani had read what I said, I was describing a firm based in Milan, an Italian-based firm, not a firm run by Italian-Americans.  But the left, like the rest of America, is educationally crippled and lacks reading skills.

Mr. Guiliani questions my ability to teach, which is the kind of suppressive, ignorant insult which indicates that the left's totalitarian nature has not changed one bit. .  When in office, the left will certainly deprive people like me of the ability to earn a living, just as the academic left has excluded conservative and libertarian thinkers. Let me clue you in as to how I got to teach, Mr. Giuliani.  Perhaps you can try it yourself.  Get admitted to the doctoral program at the Columbia Business School; pass the doctoral economics, statistics and field courses; convince a faculty committee that your dissertation makes sense; publish twenty articles in peer reviewed journals; and get tenure. 

As far as Mr. Giuliani's other points, I understand that, like the left in general, Giuliani lacks the education that Tea Partiers have and therefore has trouble with understanding factual evidence, but saying that something is factual because Howard Zinn or Paul Krugman say so does not make it so. We liberals-in- the-19th-century-sense believe in thinking for ourselves, not appealing to half baked experts whose ideas, like Krugman's, fail, fail and then fail again. With respect to Marx, whom Mr. Giuliani superstitiously reveres, you can add a dozen "fails."  With respect to Mr. Giuliani's confusion about taxes, he conflates total (per capita and inflation adjusted) tax receipts with marginal tax rates.  I gave the numbers in an earlier letter and readers can refer to them.  In fact, total per capita, inflation adjusted tax receipts have nearly tripled since 1950.  Marginal tax rates were reduced, but there were many loopholes in the 1950s and earlier.  Marginal rates are on paper.  Real per capita receipts, which the public really pays, have tripled.  As far as unemployment, after Obama's spending upwards of a trillion dollars at Krugman's behest, unemployment as of July was 9.5%.  In March 2009 it was 8.5%.  Paul Krugman and Barack Obama have advocated spending trillions of dollars to bail out their supervisors at Goldman Sachs, another trillion on stimulus, and unemployment has gone from 8.5% to 9.5%. Let's keep taking their advice, give another trillion to GM, Goldman and Morgan Stanley, and watch unemployment go to 10.5%.  Plus, the trillions in debt will further impoverish future generations, just so Obama and Krugman can subsidize Wall Street.  Future generations are looking forward to impoverishment thanks to the pro-banker economics of the Obama, Bush, Krugman and Giuliani and the voters whom the Democrats have duped.

As far as Mr. Giuliani's arguments about Adam Smith and Alan Greenspan, I appreciate that Mr. Giuliani lacks the education to evaluate the role of either, but that is because of the ideological bias of the education system, which fails to discuss the more important and successful of the two thinkers: Smith.  Adam Smith's ideas have not been refuted. Marx's have.  A century of economic and bloody civil failure of Marxist socialism has coated Mr. Giuliani's and his fellow socialists' hands thick with blood, whether the failure be of the Soviet socialism of Stalin and the Soviet gulag, which butchered 65 million people; the Maoist socialism of China which butchered 25 million people; or the Pol Pot socialism of Cambodia which butchered 1.5 million people and which holocaust deniers like Noam Chomsky claim did not occur.  Having butchered more people than the Nazis, one might think that the left might reconsider its religious commitment to Marx, but apparently it hasn't.  One can see the extremism in the Democratic Party when Obama supporters like Mr. Giuliani continue to argue for communism. 

Nor has socialism worked in the "third way" countries.  Riots in Greece; economic breakdown in Spain; the ongoing failure of the "third way" here in America (such as the breakdown in Social Security which will only be cured with the Baby Boomers's being unable to retire) suggest that Hayek and von Mises were right and Croly was wrong. I very much doubt that Mr. Giuliani has ever read Smith, von Mises or Hayek (or Croly for that matter, limiting himself to the cartoons of Zinn and the the sixth grade-level New York Times) and so has nothing of any use to say on the subject.  

As far as Mr. Giuliani's claim that Greenspan's association with Ayn Rand in the early 1960s proves that Adam Smith's ideas don't work, the claim is funny as it is ignorant, and if  Giuliani had learned some Smith in school he would know that Greenspan's policies were completely irrelevant to Smith.  We liberals oppose the existence of the Fed. Hayek has outlined an easily adopted alternative: reintroduce competition into the money supply such as existed in the nineteenth century.  Greenspan jumped ship years before and he is dead to libertarians.  In the 1970s he worked in the same building that I did, One New York Plaza. He once rode up the elevator with me and saw a copy of "Atlas Shrugged" in my hand.  He turned to his colleage at Townsend Greenspan and said to him "he's young, very young."     

There are numerous other issues in the two letters.  Mr. Murphy's points about Social Security, the failed boondoggle (failed for anyone born after 1940, that is), require a lengthy response in themselves and I will respond at some future point. 


Mitchell Langbert, Ph.D.


Doug Plumb said...

Every time I go into a bookstore there is always a copy of Marx sitting there - even if the total shelf space for philosophy or political philosophy has less than fifty books in total.

Marx is destructive and the fact that it is taught tells me this whole mess is being created deliberately. Same as "whole language" and "new math"- the stuff doesn't work.

Doug Plumb said...

I was in a bookstore today and was talking to a young girl who just graduated with a political science minor. She was looking for a good novel to read on the train and I mentioned one of Ken Folletts. Then I saw a copy of Atlas Shrugged and asked if she has read it. She asked "No, whats that one about ? ". I told her it was written by a woman about another woman industrialist but that wasn't enough inspiration for her to buy it.

She studied the German sociologists, mostly Marx and a bit of Weber but not Durkheim (who is French). She said she read a lot of theory and it bored her. The Prussians bore me too.