Monday, May 16, 2011

The Ulster County Republicans in a Can't-Do America

I just submitted this piece to The Lincoln Eagle. 
The Ulster County Republicans in a Can't-Do America
Mitchell Langbert, Ph.D.*
On May 13, Robin Yess resigned from her position of chair of the Ulster County Republican Committee.  In an e-mail that she sent to the county's executive committee, which is comprised of the chairs of the town Republican committees, she wrote that the good 'ol boys' network, the GOB, is the problem with the GOP.  In particular, Yess cited five unnamed GOP county legislators who intend to vote in favor of the $80 to $100 million Golden Hill Health Care facility that will provide senior care to only one percent of Ulster County's seniors, many of whom are related to political officials and the county's wealthiest segment. The facility will cost each Ulster County taxpaying household more than $1,000, not counting interest on the loan, which could cost you another $1,000.  Yess wrote that she believes in limited government and lower taxes.  In her view support for the facility among GOP legislators is inconsistent with the GOP's principles.
Yess's resignation was accompanied by the usual political infighting.  But the principle ought to be of interest to anyone concerned with America's future.   Both Democrats and Republicans in Ulster County are committed to spending $100 million (not counting interest on the loan, which could amount to another $100 million) after twenty years of Ulster County's growth being one third of the national average.  New York is experiencing an exodus of young and hardworking taxpayers because of liberal taxation, and neither party senses a problem. 
The Golden Hill facility is an example of the age-old American phenomenon of special interest politics.  Both parties have pet causes. The Democrats have George Soros, the Trial Lawyers Association, the National Lawyers' Guild, and NYSUT, while the Republicans have Halliburton.  So it is at the county level.  Both parties have friends in the construction industry, in labor unions, and in the grant seeking business.

Both the Ulster County Law Enforcement Center--the county jail--and the Golden Hill facility benefit special interests.  Making matters worse is the absence of a serious press or media (other than The Lincoln Eagle) that employ journalists who are capable of analysis without ideology or being embedded in the special interests concerning which they are supposed to be reporting. 

Back in the day of the Second Bank of the United States, the precursor of today's Federal Reserve Bank, Whig politicians were on the Bank's payroll until Andrew Jackson, the equivalent of today's Ron Paul, abolished the bank and set the stage for the greatest economic expansion in world history.  After the Civil War, Standard Oil captured a number of state legislators, much as Bruce Ratner and The New York Times recently utilized New York State's Empire State Development Corporation to evict law-abiding property owners for Ratner's and The Times's benefit.

In the 19th century the nation's shared belief in limited government restrained lobbying.  Because Americans believed in limited government, corrupt city governments in places like New York and Minneapolis, and the corrupt federal government, could do limited damage. In those days the corruption in New York was due to the Democrats, but the corruption in the federal customs houses was due to Republicans.

The limits on corruption changed with Theodore Roosevelt's election in 1904.  TR, a Republican, strongly believed in expansion of government. Many of his ideas were copied during the 1930s and later.  TR was brighter than his more famous cousin Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  By the 1930s both parties had adopted variants of the Progressivism that TR had adapted from Herbert Croly's Promise of American Life.  The GOP, inspired by President William Howard Taft, whom TR detested after Taft's first term, favored less regulation and opposed welfare; the Democrats, inspired by FDR, favored more regulation and a greater degree of help to the poor.  Both parties favored subsidies to the wealthy. On balance, the Democrats favored greater subsidies to both the very poor and the very rich than did Republicans, but it is difficult to generalize. Both parties changed from their Jacksonian origins to the Progressivism of Roosevelt, Taft and Woodrow Wilson.

Americans who still believe in the ideas that built America--limited government, hard work, innovation and individualism--have no representative in Ulster County, in New York State, or nationally.  The Republicans and Democrats are both Progressive.  That is, Yess is only half right about Republican principles.  The liberty Republicans, led by Ron Paul and former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, are one remnant of the Jacksonian Democrats.  The rest of the GOP is comprised of Progressives and, perhaps more commonly, self-interested hacks.  There is a smaller remnant of Jacksonian Democrats within a Democratic Party which is dominated by left-wing Progressives and, just like the Republicans, self-interested hacks.

Until recently, Americans could afford to be complacent. Politicians are politicians, many have reasoned, and you can't fight city hall. But politics has become intrusive; government is ending the American way of life.  Unless the silent majority begins to take an interest, America as you once knew it will end.

The Constitution does not have a word to say about political parties, but most Americans feel that they need to vote for either Democrats or Republicans.  After all, a third party might be radical and do strange and unexpected, extremist things. For example a third party might:

-Start three wars at a time
-Quintuple the nation's money supply and hand the printed money to commercial banks and stock brokers
-Legalize unconstitutional searches and seizures
-Borrow nearly a trillion dollars and give it out to politically connected friends
-Replace the education system with an ideologically driven, politically correct indoctrination system that does not teach writing
-Propose a cap and trade law (and UN Agenda 21 under George H. Bush) that would force you to move out of your home
-Declare morality to be dead and then claim that on moral grounds they have the right to tell Americans what to eat.

Wait, that's what the Democrats and the Republicans have been doing, most of all Barack H. Obama but also George H. and George W. Bush.  So Yess is wrong. We cannot expect the Republicans to think or act like Americans. The GOP is a big government Progressive Party just like the Democrats.  Do Americans want more government and economic death, or to rise to Yess's call for integrity within both parties or a third party? So far, the results are bleak.  Unlike their ancestors, today's America has declined so much that it is now a can’t-do nation.  

*Mitchell Langbert teaches at Brooklyn College. He blogs at


Anonymous said...

Can't do America? Huh? We just got Bin Laden...right from underneath the nose of the Pakistanis"s. Can't do? You are anti-American.

Mitchell Langbert said...

If you understand what I wrote, you know that it's not anti-American. My guess is that you haven't read my blog any more than you've ever read anything by Jefferson, Hamilton or Madison. Before you post again, please let me know what you've read. I'd like to ask you about it to see if you understood a word, because my guess is that you did not.

It's great that America caught bin Laden, as I blog at After 10 years, though, it hardly suggested that the long term decline has reversed.

A stagnant real hourly wage for the past four decades isn't much to brag about. Nor is increasing government suppression in areas like the Patriot Act and monetary policy. Perhaps you should educate yourself about what this country has ever stood for. Have you ever actually read any Jefferson, or have you relied on the interpretations of Progressives to misinform you as to what America is? Your opinion is that we're no different from a European tyranny. With Progressives like you in America, no wonder America is turning into a militaristic Sweden.

Anonymous said...

You just use big words and remind everyone that you are a very learned person, having attended elite schools. And you teach a few hours a week and claim that you are a regular Joe Schmoe.

What I see is an America that can do anything that it wants to do. It is still the best country in the world. But in the last four decades the corporations, using their financial power have gutted the middle class. Tax breaks for the wealthy, tax breaks and special treatment for corporations, tax breaks for taking our jobs to China, giving money to Wall Street, that is corporatist America at work. They do not care a whit about you and I, they just want profits. The Koch Brothers want environmental regulations to be relaxed they get it; Wall Street wants a tax break they get it; when corporate welfare is to be eliminated for the oil barons they protect it. We have become an oligarchy where oligarchs rule. And Dr. Langbert this is what you support under the guise of the philosophy that you spout.

Mitchell Langbert said...

No, dear. You don't understand the ideas of freedom. Freedom has nothing to do with tax breaks, just the reverse. Like many Americans, you watch TV and read the news. But you don't ask whether the special interests who receive tax breaks own the TV stations and the newspapers, and so paint the issues in a way that leads to the kinds of conclusions that you draw.

I don't see what schools I went to having anything to do with anything. I like to write, and I sometime use big words. If you feel that is problematic, I think that your education has been faulty, not that mine is "elite." I do my best for my students, but ultimately learning is up to the individual. And if you think all I do is teach a few hours a week, you don't know. I can't argue with you because you started with the premise that academics are lazy. But you have no evidence.

Getting back to your analysis of what has gone on here, you might be interested to know that taxes were a problem in Britain in the 16th century and they were a problem in Rome in the 3rd century. The solution that both governments deduced was depreciation of the currency, inflation.

In the 19th century there was a battle between two groups. The first group, representing the wealthy and favoring higher taxes, subsidies to business and the interests of bankers were called the Federalists (cont.)

Mitchell Langbert said...

Those who opposed the high taxes and subsidies to the rich were called Democratic Republicans. The Federalists were led by Hamilton, the Republicans were led by Jefferson. The Federalists won. The country became more centralized. The First and then Second Banks of the United States were established, and benefits provided to the wealthy via loans and monetary expansion, just like now.

In the 1820s, Andrew Jackson founded the Democratic Party in order to kill the bank and end the inflation tax. By then, Jefferson had been largely coopted by the Federalist view. So he along with a group led by Henry Clay, who advocated more or less the same big government position, high taxes, a central bank, public works, government programs, opposed Jackson, who represented the working man. The workingmen opposed inflation because they knew it was a tax on them. (cont.)

Mitchell Langbert said...

Jackson won and in 1836, his last year in office, he rescinded the charter of the Second Bank. America had no "Fed" for nearly 80 years as a result. During that period there was deflation and real (inflation adjusted wages) rose. The average worker was twice as well off in 1890 than he was in 1840. The average worker in 2011 is no better off than the average worker in 1970. (cont.)

Mitchell Langbert said...

During that period of real wage growth you had no income tax, limited government and no Federal Reserve Bank. But three groups were unhappy. First, the owners of businesses and Wall Street were extremely unhappy with laissez faire. They wanted a central bank to create inflation because inflation boosts the stock market. The second group that was unhappy included real estate investors, including farmers, who also wanted inflation because inflation reduces the economic cost of repaying loans and also boosts property values. The third group was immigrant laborers. They did not understand that the jobs that they obtained here in America existed because of freedom or laissez faire. They came to America because of opportunity, but opposed freedom because they believed, like you, that the economic opportunity that freedom creates is irrelevant to the economic results that existed in America and nowhere else, including many countries that had had open frontiers, such as South America and Europe throughout the Middle Ages.

The group that opposed Jackson called themselves the Whigs. They weren't very successful. But there was the issue of slavery, and many of Jackson's supporters lived in the South. The Democratic Party thus became half southern slaveholder and half northern union worker. The Whigs changed their name to Republican, and established themselves as the dominant national party after the Civil War.

Having achieved dominance, it took the Whigs about 40 years to reestablish Henry Clay's philosophy. They called it "Progressivism." Progressivism established government programs supposedly to regulate corporations, the income tax and the central bank, the Fed. The Progressives claimed that these regulated business. But they did the reverse. They did the things that business wanted: they stabilized markets, they limited competition by raising costs, they established easy credit, creating an invisible inflation tax on workers, and they limited capital formation among workers through the income tax. This was not done quickly, but over the ensuring 80 years.

Mitchell Langbert said...

Although the Koch brothers receive tax breaks, what about these Democrats or "liberal" Republicans: George Soros, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Larry Paige, Paul Pelosi, Mike Bloomberg, David Rockefeller? These beneficiaries of the current high tax/high inflation system all advocate higher taxes and more inflation. The Democrats' story is that these people are true altruists. But why is it that someoen like Koch who thinks that workers shouldn't be taxed is selfish, while someone like Buffett who aims to tax his competition is an altruist?

Mitchell Langbert said...

I can' explain all the ways that the fraudulent media and your deficient education in public schools has deluded you into believing in ideas that are detrimental to your own future. But keep reading my blog and you will learn.

Anonymous said...

BTW you forgot that Clinton raised taxes and America created 21 million new jobs. And Bush cut taxes and drove the country into doldrums. These are hard facts. Deal with the hard facts Dr. Langbert.

Mitchell Langbert said...

The facts on unemployment are here:

From 1992 to 2000 the average unemployment rate for the 8 years during Clinton was 6.1%. From 2001 to 2008 the average unemployment rate for the G.W. Bush years was 5.6%, lower than under Clinton. I'm not sure of your claim that Clinton increased taxes either. Funny that you talk about facts but make them up yourself. I guess that goes with being anonymous.

Hard facts are that in the 19th century there was zero income tax and zero corporate tax and the real hourly wage was growing at a 2% annual clip. Since 1970 with a corporate tax and a high income tax cap of 50% (more earlier on) the growth in the real average wage has been zero. The result is that you earn 1/2 of what you would have earned had wages grown as they did prior to 1970. Instead of earning whatever non-elite wage you earn, you could be earning double it if America's were still a laissez faire economy.

Although unemployment ddcreased during the inflationary 1980s and 1990s (during the Reagan, Bush I, and Clinton eras) this was accomplished through monetary expansion and the increased use of the dollar as the world's reserve currency. This has had the effect of depressing the real hourly wage. Sure unemployment fell because when you reduce wages demand for employment increases. That is what the Greenspan Fed did from Reagan through Bush. Note that this was not a Democratic or Republican philosophy. It is a Wall Street policy represented by the Democrats and equally by Rockefeller Republicans, including Reagan.

The effect of monetary expansion and income taxation is income inequality, not unemployment. The reason is that assets increase in value but wages do not under inflation.

The unemployment rate through the George W Bush administration was low if you don't mind working in Home Depot. The good jobs, the blue collar union jobs and the corporate jobs, had been driven away by the very policies that you are bragging about. Clinton produced McJobs, just like Bush

Income taxes do not concern employers. They will pay a given wage, and the employee pays the tax. There is no reason for income taxes to reduce demand for labor. But the effect of income taxes is to eliminate savings by workers. The reason is that they are paying half their income in taxes and so cannot afford to save.

That is the fact, my anonymous correspondent. You are living in a fantasy world concocted by Keynesian ideologues and Wall Street. You are advocating policies that cut your livelihood by 50%. You call me whose earnings have not increased since I left the corporate world in 1986 an elitist, but you parrot the claims of George Soros and Warren Buffett, who count their wealth in the tens of billions.

If there were no Fed and the US dollar did not function as the reserve currency for the world the average hourly wage in America would be double what it is today. Of course, the owner of the New York Times, Democrat Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, and his billionaire Democrat friends at Goldman Sachs, George Soros and Warren Buffett would be much worse off. But the average American who makes under $100,000, like me, would be much better off.