Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Is This the End of the Whigs?

In March 2009, 14 months ago, the Wall Street Journal announced that Obama's popularity had fallen faster than George W. Bush's had fallen in 2001 and that his net presidential approval (strong approval less strong disapproval) had fallen to only six percent.

In April Jesse Walker of Reason Magazine reported that the Rasmussen poll had found that Ron Paul's popularity among likely voters was within one percent of Obama's, 42% to 41%. Since Paul's name recognition is worse (Obama is a sitting president who has been trumpeted by the Wall Street media for the past 2 1/2 years) a run would likely increase Paul's advantage so long as he stays away from conspiracy theories and the like.  Thus, it may be that Paul can beat Obama.

Today, the Rasmussen Tracking Poll (h/t Glenda McGee) finds that only 24% of voters strongly approve of the way that Obama is performing his role, compared to 44% who strongly disapprove. Thus, in 14 months Obama's net approval rating has fallen from the measly six percent in March 2009 to -20%. Moreover, only 42% somewhat approve or better and 56% disapprove.  As well, only 27% of the public has faith in Congress.

Given that Mr. Obama has blown his popularity, and that voters are now closer to my initial reaction to him, can we hope for better?

I fear the answer is no. The United States public does not understand the nation's values, specifically the ideals of freedom, limited government, decentralization and individualism. Nor do any of the Republican frontrunners save Paul understand the word "freedom" the way that Sam Adams and Thomas Jefferson understood it. At best, television announcers, including those on Fox, are Hamiltonian Federalists or Progressives. The Democrats are as authoritarian as any European national socialist.  The public that supports the Democratic Party is so poorly educated (or rather indoctrinated, for American education is little more than Progressive indoctrination) that they do not know how deviant from Jefferson their ideas are.

Nor does the public understand what it would mean to live free of government intervention and welfare. When my great grandparents and grandparents fled monarchical Europe to come to this country, it was still free. Today, I think the countries from which they emigrated, Hungary, Poland and Russia, are almost as free as the United States.  As John Lukacs has claimed, the entire world has become committed to national socialism, the system of Adolph Hitler and the Swedes.
The source of the increasing tyranny here is the two party system.  The founders did not believe in political parties, but two parties, the pro-freedom party of Samuel Adams and the big government party of Hamilton, formed in the debate over the Constitution.  Hamilton, John Adams and their party, the Federalists, won the debate with the libertarians, the anti-Federalists.  But their authoritarian socialism, their suppression of free speech and the financial speculation, high taxes and corruption associated with their central bank led to their banishment. James Madison switched from the Federalists to Jefferson's Democratic Republicans. As well, internecine squabbles between Adams and Hamilton contributed to the end of the Federalists.
There was as a result only one party, the Democratic Republicans, from 1800 to the 1820s.  Thereafter, Andrew Jackson renewed the anti-Federalist mindset,  although he believed in a strong presidency and stopped South Carolina's Ordinance of Nullification. In doing so he established that states' rights did not extend to  nullifying trariffs and by implication to secede.  Nevertheless, he opposed the central bank.

The two parties thus reappeared with the rise of Jackson.  Henry Clay founded the Whigs in response to the libertarianism of Jackson's Democrats.  Abraham Lincoln was Clay's admirer and protege. Henry Clay and the Whigs reinvented the Federalist viewpoint and the party included a number of former Federalists. The Whigs believed in the American System, a big government program consisting of tariffs, road and canal building, a central bank and corporate enterprise.   The Democrats believed in hard money and competition.  The two parties were largely a product of the persistent debate between those who advocate state activism and support for the rich, and those who advocate freedom and small, competitive business.

The Republican Party grew out of the Whigs.  They would have liked to establish a central bank but knew that such a move would have been unpopular. The Democrats had been discredited at the federal level because of their role in the Civil War. But the Democrats' corrupt machines dominated local elections, especially in the cities, and in the South.

By 1896 the Democrats had rejected their belief in hard money in favor of populism. This occurred as big business interests subsidized local Democratic politicians.  Railroads needed local rights of way as did Standard Oil for its pipelines.  The growth of big business was associated with increasing Democratic  corruption in the states.  The Democratic politician most famous for corruption in the Gilded Age, Boss Tweed, was bailed out of jail by Jay Gould, one of the biggest and most corrupt of the "robber barons."

In response to the corruption of government at the state level, and to the ideology of social Darwinism with which late nineteenth century Republican intellectuals like William Graham Sumner were associated, Progressivism became the dominant Republican ideology in the 1890s.  Progressivism based its ideas on the odd belief, still advocated by Democrats and Progressive Republicans today, that if regulation fails, add regulation; if government is corrupt, make it bigger; and if government does not work, spending more on government will work.  Progressive Republicans like Theodore Roosevelt showed that populist views could be combined with elitism.  This idea was pushed further by the Democratic Party via William Jennings Bryan and then Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Thus, the Democrats adopted the Whig perspective, big government, support for the rich and socialism, with a twist.  Instead of saying that their big government policies would rationalize government and the corporatist system and support the rich, they claimed that they opposed corporations and favored the poor while at the same time quietly subsidizing the same corporations that they claimed to oppose.  They could count on the stupidity of the American public and the mild complexity of the banking system to fool the American public into accepting that abolition of the gold standard and putting the money supply into the hands of the banks helped them and not the banks.

Since the 1890s the two party system has evolved into a one party system. This occurred because of the inability of the Americans who still understood the concept of freedom to articulate their vision in response to Keynesian economics and the Democratic Party's propaganda.  Thus, the GOP, with the exception of Barry Goldwater and those like him, gradually became the has-been Whig Party, while the Democrats with their Roman-style bread and circus routine became the new Whig Party.  Today, we have one party, the Whig Party, comprised of moderate Whigs, the Republicans, and extreme Whigs, the Democrats.

The American public understands that life has gotten worse under the Whigs.  There is less freedom and today many Americans are forced to work two or three jobs in order to experience an increasing standard of living, whereas in the past one job was enough.  Yet, despite the failure of the American economy to create sustainable, innovative growth, the public continues to be bamboozled.  Perhaps it is force of habit. Whatever the reason, Americans remain committed to the corrupt, failed two party system that in reality is a single party, the pro-banker Whig Party.
Will Americans wake up to the failure of the two party system in the face of President Obama's failure?  Or will they continue to vote for Whigs and Wall Street stock jobbers who have destroyed the American dream?  Will stupidity continue to prevail as it has over the past 75 years?


Doug Plumb said...

This was very informative- especially on the Whigs, but slightly off topic, what is the fundamental argument against LaRouche (aside from the obvious big government - which I think is necessary in the technological society)?

Do you or anyone know of any good links where he is well criticized ?

Mitchell Langbert said...

I'm not familiar with Lyndon La Rouche. My understanding of his background is that he had been involved with a group called the Socialist Labor Party that moved from the far left to the far right. At one point his publications were asserting conspiracy theories involving the British. Hence, without knowing much about him, I have not pursued further information.

The greatest growth in technology occurred in periods of greatest decentralization and reductions in the power of government. These began in the Middle Ages, when the decentralization that followed the fall of Rome slowly permitted experimentation. The pace of innovation quickened with the rolling back of the power of the state in England during the 17th century and the English Civil War.
Technological progress occurred in that period through the experimentation of entrepreneurs.

The pace quickened further with the discovery of the New World and the establishment of British colonies in North America. In South America, where medieval style feudalism was established there was no innovation, only exploitation of slaves. In North America, where there was decentralization and limited government the pace of innovation was explosive, especially after President Andrew Jackson abolished the Bank of the United States.

The fastest period of innovation was between 1830 and 1913, when there was no central bank. It was during this period that television and radio, the telephone and thousands of inventions took place. The 1889 book Recent Economic Changes by David Ames Wells makes clear that innovation was much faster and more aggressive during the late 19th century than during the post 1913 period of increasing government.

Government has impeded technological innovation by taxing capital gains, through the income tax and through monetary inflation, whereby wealth is distributed to non-innovative economic actors, banks, real estate and Wall Street hedge funds, and away from potentially innovative economic actors such as factory owners.

The Progressives killed entrepreneurship in New York City, for instance, through urban renewal. Robert Moses literally condemned several major factory districts in Brooklyn and the east side of Manhattan. He banished entrepreneurship from the city. The Twin Towers were built through urban development policies on the site where A&P had been founded in the 19th century.

When Howard Schultz, who came from Brooklyn and lived in New York City, decided to build a business, he moved to Seattle.

No city has had a bigger government than New York City. No city has seen a sharper emigration of technology and economic growth than has New York City.

Government is not only not necessary to technological growth, it is a devastating impediment to it.

A good book to learn about this topic is Friedrich von Hayek, "The Road to Serfdom." As well, check out Hayek's article "The Use of Knowledge in Society" available on the web for free. This article shows why government impedes technology and why Americans are much poorer now than they would have been had government remained small.

Doug Plumb said...

You automatically reject conspiracy theories. I'm just an amateur, but there are plenty of scholars who do believe in conspiracies, such as some who attended school with the likes of Brzezinsky (Peter Dale Scott) -many others.

Congress concluded that the Kennedy assassination was a probable conspiracy. I would be my own life against a cold cup of stale coffee in a styrofoam cup that 9/11 was one.

If The Creature From Jekyll Island is correct, certainly the Federal Reserve Act was a conspiracy.

Even The Republic of Plato talks of secret societies.

Mitchell Langbert said...


See my discussion of Occam's razor in the above blog about the movie Zeitgeist. While there obviously have been conspiracies in the history of the world, generally there are far simpler explanations. It is up to the person who claims that there has been a conspiracy to prove it. They rarely can. The Lincoln assassination was a conspiracy. It is conceivable that the Kennedy assassination was too. But there needs to be evidence. Generally, the problem would be to find good evidence. Otherwise, talk of conspiracies is generally nonsensical for the reasons I discuss in the above link.

Doug Plumb said...

I know you probably don't want to hear much about conspiracies but Zeitgeist was a load of BS and propaganda to lead the viewer to Zeitgeist 2 - right into a paradise known as world totalitarian "socialist" dictatorship where everyone rides for free.

I stick to the technical end of conspiracies and can argue my beliefs effectively. I'm more interested in figuring out how we got to where we are in general philosophical terms, particularly philosophy and law around money.

Mitchell Langbert said...

Doug, read through Hayek, von Mises and Murray Rothbard. Then decide for yourself whether conspiracy theories are worth your time.

Doug Plumb said...

I really like Rothbard and have been reading some of his stuff online. I will definitely be getting some of his books.

I'll look up the Hayek article, but I am well aware of the socialist agenda.

Doug Plumb said...

Mitchell, I read the Hayek article you recommended- "The Use of Knowledge in Society". This article explains the complexity of communicating, quantifying and implementing ideas with an end goal of optimization for efficiency in mind as applied to complex economies.

Its kind of scary that someone may actually come up with a new solution or the price solution may be close to the ideal and we can live in a more perfectly rational world. I'm more in favor of paying a little more for toothpaste when it gets to the nitty-gritty of things.

This is the big machine and it isn't all good that people are engaged in this kind of thought, although it is necessary for homo-economus to pay tribute to the new god of efficiency (albeit with missing or bad terms in their equations)

Confusion and complexity are forms of darkness, and conspiracy is similar to mushrooms in that it can only grow in darkness.