This is an ongoing email debate I’ve been waging with a leftist Hollywood pal who seems to enjoy the intellectual tussle.  Round one here, round two here. Round three below.

Round Three – Paul

Tom:

Yes, preventive medicine should start with proper diets.  Affordable grocery stores, however, are not in all communities.   If you’ve  ever been to Watts you know exactly what I mean.  Grocery stores have shied from there since 1965.

Preventive Medicine # 2 are regular physical check-ups.  And regular dental check-ups too.  But without a health care plan, check-ups are not that affordable to the working poor.  What’s more, if a health problem is found, or even a simple cavity, the working poor may not have the cash for treatment nor any credit card.

The point to my last piece is this:  Health care for the masses cannot sustain a for profit health care system.    Because people over 50 and those with preexisting conditions have vastly out-sized needs.  Far out-stripping the premiums paid by younger, healthy people.

I guess these points were lost on you in my last thesis.  Which you interpreted as an attack on capitalism.  A misconception conservatives leap to in this debate.  Drawing on the myth that liberals have no grasp of economics.

But how do Lakefront liberals afford those hi-rise condos?  I mean, if they’re so ignorant of economics you’d think they’d all be failures.  Yet the most fashionable sections of our big cities trend liberal on election days.  And the most fashionable suburbs seem to elect moderate Republicans.  Who are, by and large, educated executives.

The point is: educated people tend to be more liberal.  This is true for both parties.  True throughout the world.  And true throughout world history.  Our founding fathers, for instance, were ‘militant liberals’ by 18th Century standards.  Inspiring the French to guillotine their royals!

Regarding our current politics, educated people aren’t questioning Evolution.  And they aren’t waving signs with aborted fetuses.  Nor demanding ‘open-carry’ laws (guns not beer).  It’s mainly small town yokels agitating these beliefs.

In fact, if you’re doubting Evolution, Global Warming probably sounds like a liberal hoax.

And then there are the Roosevelt Deniers.  Intellectual kin to Holocaust Deniers.

Tom, if you think the Great Depression was only a recession before Roosevelt took office, you have some reading-up to do.

It was Herbert Hoover who first used ‘Depression’ to describe the economy he struggled to contain.  He thought ‘Depression’ sounded better than ‘Panic’ or ‘Crisis’.  Which had actually been historical terms for financial panics.  This I discovered recently studying the Hoover years.

According to U.S. Dept. Of Labor stats, unemployment rose from 3.5% in 1929 to 24.75% at the time Hoover left office in 1933. The economy as a whole shrank 25% during the Hoover years.  Creating a deflation affecting everything.  Business sales and orders kept plunging constantly.  Dragging paychecks down to almost nothing in some cases.  Farmers would find their crop values had plummeted by harvest time.  Teachers around the country (including Chicago) were often expected to work for free!

Cities, counties and states were overwhelmed completely.  Getting no help at all from the Hoover Administration.  No Aid To Dependant Families, Food Stamps, Unemployment Comp, Workers Comp, Social Security benefits, Medicaid, Medicare, or Veteran’s Benefits (hence the ‘Bonus Army’).  In fact, by 1932, 1,000 families nationwide  were losing their homes each day.
Hunger was so real that it became a problem when World War II broke out.  Because so many draftees had been malnourished in their Wonder Years

All along Herbert Hoover believed free market forces would eventually correct the constant downward spirals.  Therefore he insisted on maintaining the Gold Standard.  At a time when gold was hoarded!  Limiting the cash Treasury could print.

The bottom came when Hoover was blown out by a landslide.  That transition period, Nov. 32 to Mar. 33, was the Depression’s absolute nadir.  A period when bank-runs made the nightly news.

It should also be noted that Hoover supported Prohibition which had fallen absurdly out of favor by 1932.  And it certainly made no business sense to have stupid, violent hoodlums making so much money supplying bootleg liquor.  This was just another reason Hoover was hated so much.  Prohibition was repealed by the end of Roosevelt’s first year.

And though the Depression did not end until the start of World War II, unemployment did go down.  From 24.75% in 1933 to 14.18% in 1937.  It then ticked up to 18.91% in 1938 (due to budget cuts) before dropping to 9.66% in 1941.

During the 1930′s, Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration was responsible for 10% of all new roads, 35% of all new hospitals, 65% of all new City Halls and Courthouses and 70% of all new schools.   In New York City the Lincoln Tunnel and  Triborough Bridge were built by WPA workers.  The Tennessee Valley Authority was another achievement.  What’s more, WPA workers were very instrumental in upgrading army and naval bases.  Which made a difference when you-know-what broke out.

In fact, one could argue, quite convincingly, that the bureaucracy Roosevelt built was crucial for our mobilization at the beginning of World War II.  ONLY A STUPID ASS WOULD SAY WE COULD’VE WON WORLD WAR II WITH A HOOVER SIZE GOVERNMENT!!!  And this is where the Roosevelt deniers become intellectual kin to Holocaust deniers.

Like Holocaust deniers, Roosevelt deniers have stupid, malicious reasons for wanting to re-write history.

But in your case, Tom, I think the Hoover years were just an oversight in your education.  A narrative that doesn’t fit your Libertarian views.

Did you see Ken Burns’ PROHIBITION?  All that 20′s footage of New York and Chicago was riveting to me.

Take care.

Paul

Round Three – Tom

Hey, Paul –

Yes, preventive medicine should start with proper diets.

Of course, but surely you know that wasn’t my point.  The point is that our government promotes a diet that is turning us into a nation of fat diabetics in order to assist the grain industry.  Our government has also 1) forced that crappy diet on schools and other government institutions and 2) attempted (often successfully) to stifle researchers who questioned the supposed science behind that diet, using funding as a weapon.

In Fat Head, I mentioned Dr. Kilmer McCulley, who was forced out of Harvard after publishing research disputing the USDA’s recommendations to cut back on fat and cholesterol and eat more grains.  He was later told privately that the powers at Harvard were warned the NIH would cut off their funding if they kept him around.  As Gary Taubes recounts in “Good Calories, Bad Calories,” once the Dietary Goals for America were produced by McGovern’s committee, researchers learned rather quickly that they’d better toe the line or start looking for another line of work.

I don’t expect the same government to be any less corrupt if they’re put in charge of making healthcare decisions for the entire citizenry.  Taking a position in government doesn’t cancel the natural human tendency towards greed.  It simply gives that greed coercive powers.

Affordable grocery stores, however, are not in all communities.  If you’ve ever been to Watts you know exactly what I mean.  Grocery stores have shied from there since 1965.

Let’s not get the causality backwards.  Fast-food restaurants face the same higher expenses grocery stores would face in Watts (higher insurance, etc.) but thrive there.  Grocery stores selling fruits and vegetables aren’t common in areas like Watts because the population doesn’t support them.  As I recounted in a post on my blog awhile back:

“Since 2001, a Philadelphia organization called Food Trust has worked to get corner stores to offer healthier foods, including fresh fruit, vegetables and water, as well as products with reduced sugar, salt and fat. But just 507 of the city’s estimated 2,500 corner stores have signed on.

Jetro Cash and Carry, which supplies many corner stores, joined the effort. But Jack Sagen, a Jetro sales and marketing director, said he recently lost $500 buying several dozen cases of 15-cent bags of sliced apples that perished before they could catch on with the stores.”

Thomas Sowell pointed out in a recent column that the obese poor spend more on a typical fast-food meal than it costs to buy foods at a local grocery store and cook at home.  You can lead a horse to a vegetable stand, but you can’t make him eat.  The poor aren’t unhealthy because vegetable stands aren’t around.  The vegetable stands aren’t around because people with bad health habits don’t buy vegetables.

Preventive Medicine # 2 are regular physical check-ups.  And regular dental check-ups too.  But without a health care plan, check-ups are not that affordable to the working poor.

Woah, hoss!  You seem to be equating “covered by insurance” with “free.”  Insurance doesn’t make anything free.  Insurance is just an arrangement to spread the risk of an unexpected financial disaster among a large pool of willing participants.  I don’t expect my car to be stolen, but I happily pay premiums every year to insure myself against the possibility.

“Insurance” against expenses we know we’ll incur isn’t true insurance and can’t work like true insurance.  If we order an insurer to cover a $200 annual checkup for Joe, the insurer has no choice but to raise Joe’s premiums.  (Remember, Aetna earns those billions (!!!) each year via an average annual profit of $132 per subscriber.)  If your 33% overhead figure is correct, then we just raised Joe’s premiums by $266 to save him from paying $200 out of pocket.

(Of course, when his premiums go up as the inevitable result of this mandate, Joe will scream and yell about greedy insurance companies and then vote for Obama because he believes Obama’s good intentions and inspiring rhetoric can magically repeal the laws of mathematics.  If Joe does understand the math, he’ll vote for Obama because he wants Obama to make someone else pay for his checkup.)

What’s more, if a health problem is found, or even a simple cavity, the working poor may not have the cash for treatment nor any credit card.

If you do drive around Watts someday, pay attention to what they’re willing to spend money on.  My sister works with students from the poor side of town and is disgusted to see them showing up at school with the latest (and most expensive) Nikes, cell phones, iPods, etc.  She also told me when she visits students, nearly every home has a big-screen TV.  It’s a matter of priorities, at least for many.

The point to my last piece is this:  Health care for the masses cannot sustain a for profit health care system.    Because people over 50 and those with preexisting conditions have vastly out-sized needs.  Far out-stripping the premiums paid by younger, healthy people.

Health care for the masses cannot sustain a for-profit system in which most people don’t know or care what treatments actually cost, and therefore there’s little or no competitive pressure among producers.  Taking away the for-profit aspect of it doesn’t make the cost of medical care any cheaper.  And as long as our government keeps promoting a diet that’s managed to turn more than a quarter of our senior citizens into diabetics (with younger groups catching up rapidly), the cost of treating all those sick people is going to skyrocket, period.

There’s no method of payment that can keep the cost of healthcare down when record numbers of people are fat and diabetic.  If the majority of Americans can’t afford the insurance to pay for all those treatments, then the majority of Americans also can’t afford the taxes to pay for all those treatments.  Shifting the method of payment doesn’t reduce the bill.

I guess these points were lost on you in my last thesis.  Which you interpreted as an attack on capitalism.  A misconception conservatives leap to in this debate.  Drawing on the myth that liberals have no grasp of economics.

But how do Lakefront liberals afford those hi-rise condos?  I mean, if they’re so ignorant of economics you’d think they’d all be failures.  Yet the most fashionable sections of our big cities trend liberal on election days.  And the most fashionable suburbs seem to elect moderate Republicans.  Who are, by and large, educated executives.

The vast majority of people have little or no grasp of economics.  Thus one of my favorite quotes from economist Murray Rothbard:

“It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is after all a specialized discipline and one that most people consider a dismal science.  But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance.”

Becoming a financial success is a matter of producing a product or service that other people value, not a matter of understanding economics.  If becoming a financial success required holding correct opinions on economic issues, then all the successful people would belong to one party or the other.  But of course that’s not the case.  For what it’s worth, however, the election demographics I looked up show that people who earn more than $100,000 per year are consistently more likely to vote Republican than other income groups:

http://www.ropercenter.uconn.edu/elections/how_groups_voted/voted_04.html

So they’re successful … they’re just not fashionable.

The point is: educated people tend to be more liberal.  This is true for both parties.  True throughout the world.

Are you kidding me?  Take a look at these election demographics:

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/11/07/weekinreview/20101107-detailed-exitpolls.html?ref=weekinreview

You’ll see similar figures if you look up demographics for presidential races.  What those figures show is that the people most fiercely loyal to the Democrats year in and year out are those who didn’t finish high school.

In most election years listed, support for Republicans goes up as education goes up until you reach the post-graduate level.  (We’ll come back to that.)  In 2010, for example, the percentage of people voting Republican was:

H.S. dropout – 39%
H.S. grad – 54%
Some college – 56%
College Degree – 58%
Post-grad –  48%

Even in years in which Republicans lost, we see the same trend.  For example, in 2008 the percentage of people voting Republican was:

H.S. dropout – 31%
H.S. grad – 44%
Some college – 46%
College Degree – 49%
Post-grad –  43%

So apparently people become more conservative as they become more educated — until they go to grad school, at which point their superior educations apparently turn them into Democrats.

But wait … is there another explanation for that sudden reversal in the statistical trendline?  Yes, of course there is:  Different careers attract different kinds of people.

In an email debate with another of my leftist friends (and yes, I have some), he proposed that journalists are overwhelmingly liberal because their work as journalists enlightens them as to how the world really is.  Utter hogwash.  I was a journalism major, and at least 90% of my fellow journalism students were liberals – long before they had a chance to become enlightened by working as actual journalists.  The field happens to attract people with the do-gooder, “I want to change the world!” mentality and is therefore dominated by liberals, as even Walter Cronkite’s former boss at CBS once admitted in an interview.  They’re not liberals because they’re journalists; they chose journalism because they’re liberals.

Same for those who choose to get a post-grad degree.  Getting an MBA is popular among men (in my experience, MBAs are pretty well split but overall tend to lean a bit right of center), but also among men and especially women, a disproportionate share of those who continue past a bachelor’s do so to become lawyers, teachers, or college professors.

The legal profession, like journalism, attracts a disproportionate share of liberals (no doubt anxious to save the world by suing corporations and doctors), much to the consternation of my conservative lawyer friend.  He views the ABA like I view SAG: He joined because he had to, but he can’t stand their politics.

College professors are also a disproportionately liberal bunch, as anyone who attends college (or watches the outstanding documentary “Indoctrinate U”) already knows.  And of course, most professors and teachers are government employees and (not surprisingly) vote for the party that promises to give them more of the taxpayers’ money.

So I don’t believe a post-grad education turns people into liberals.  I believe those with a liberal mind-set are more naturally more attracted to careers that require a post-grad education.

Either way, we need to distinguish between “educated” and “intelligent.”  In his terrific book “Intellectuals and Society,” Thomas Sowell draws a distinction between intellectuals and people who merely work in fields requiring equal or higher intelligence.  Intellectuals deal primarily in ideas and place great value on expression and verbal virtuosity.  New ideas are praised because they’re bold, revolutionary, or forcefully expressed — especially if those ideas are flattering to intellectuals.

The “progressive” movement (I always put “progressive” in quotes because I don’t consider taking power from individuals and giving it to government to be any kind of progress) was founded on the idea that an educated elite should run society.  Hmmm … I wonder what kind of person is attracted to that idea?  Perhaps a member of the educated elite?  Or as Milton Friedman put it, it’s not the smart people who are dangerous; it’s the people who think they’re so much smarter than everyone else, they should be empowered to tell others how to live.  But enough about Obama.

But here’s the fun part about being an intellectual (for the intellectuals, anyway):  their ideas usually are not (because they cannot be) subjected to any rigorous testing.  You can debate the proper method of deconstructing literature for a thousand years without proving anyone right or wrong.  The results of their ideas on social policy, if they’re implemented, take years or decades to manifest.  If the results aren’t what was predicted (as with Marx), the intellectuals employ verbal virtuosity to defend their ideas anyway. (Oh, Marx was right, you see … his ideas just weren’t properly implemented.)

In other fields merely requiring high intelligence, such as engineering and software programming, rigorous testing is applied constantly.  If an engineer’s bold and innovative new theory of structural integrity results in a bridge that falls down, nobody will give a rat’s ass how beautiful the theory was explained on paper.  If I write software code that crashes a system or merely fails to produce the required results, no one (certainly not my boss at BMI) will care how much verbal virtuosity I can demonstrate while contending that my code was actually correct.  No one will be persuaded by my rhetoric.  The code works or it doesn’t, period.

Working as a software engineer requires high intelligence: a mix of math, logic, abstract thinking, problem-solving ability, creativity, and even a bit of artistic ability when designing the user interface.  And yet I’ve never met a programmer who went to grad school.  I’ve written complex systems for Disney and now BMI, but I have a bachelor’s in journalism and never attended a single programming class. There’s no point to it.  Programmers learn more in a year of actual coding work than they could learn in 10 years of taking classes, so they finish their undergrad classes and go to work.

And yet, if I picked 20 software programmers at random and pitted them in an IQ test against 20 randomly-selected professors of literature, history, political science, women’s studies, etc., I’d bet on the software programmers every time.  I don’t even think it would be much of a contest.

The point of that long diatribe being that who chooses to go to grad school and who doesn’t is not a measurement of who’s intelligent and who isn’t.   Just ask (college dropout) Bill Gates.

And true throughout world history.  Our founding fathers, for instance, were ‘militant liberals’ by 18th Century standards.  Inspiring the French to guillotine their royals!

Are you just yanking my chain now?  Yes, the Founders were called “liberals” back in the day.  That doesn’t make them the equivalent of today’s liberals any more than “The Gay 90s” were a celebration of homosexuality.  The Founders were some of the fiercest opponents of big government and high taxes ever to walk the earth.  To quote Thomas Jefferson:

“A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned – this is the sum of good government.”

Does that sound like something today’s liberals believe?  Sounds more like a small-government conservative to me.  If the “liberal” Founders suddenly woke up in 21st century America and saw the size, power, and revenue-sucking prowess of today’s federal government, they’d grab some guns and start shooting.

Regarding our current politics, educated people aren’t questioning Evolution.  And they aren’t waving signs with aborted fetuses.  Nor demanding ‘open-carry’ laws (guns not beer).  It’s mainly small town yokels agitating these beliefs.

Nice example of Hollywood stereotyping, Paul.  That doesn’t fit the description of a single conservative or libertarian I know … except perhaps for the open-carry laws, which I support, by the way.  It’s about as accurate as painting the typical Democrat as a welfare mother with an illegitimate son or two in prison.

You ought to visit Nashville someday and get clue about what real conservatives are like.  You can start with IT department at BMI, which (as I found to my great delight after a decade in LA) is full of conservatives and libertarians with high IQs.

In fact, if you’re doubting Evolution, Global Warming probably sounds like a liberal hoax.

I don’t doubt Evolution, nor do I doubt that the planet warms and cools in cycles.  Always has and always will.  I definitely doubt that humans caused exactly one of those warming cycles – in the latter half of 20th century — to occur.  So does the professor who appears in this post – and he has to be right, because he has a post-graduate degree:

http://www.tomnaughton.com/?p=180

His book is terrific, by the way.

To prepare my “Science For Smart People” speech …

(which you can watch here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1RXvBveht0 – it’s a humorous presentation on nutrition and health science)

… I read two books on scientific principles.  Neither had any political agenda, but both happened to mention that in fields such as climate science, we’ve only identified a mere fraction of the variables involved, and therefore can’t make pronouncements with anything resembling scientific certainty.  And yet we have supposed scientists telling us they know what the temperature will be in 50 years, based on computer models they designed specifically to tell them what they wanted to hear.  Real scientists don’t do that.  Grant-whores do that, because “we don’t know” doesn’t lead to more grants.

And then there are the Roosevelt Deniers.  Intellectual kin to Holocaust Deniers.

Say WHAT?!!  Next you’ll be telling me that people who dispute the USDA’s claim that saturated fat causes heart disease are the intellectual kin to Holocaust Deniers.

Holocaust deniers deny provable facts.  Roosevelt deniers (if that’s your term for those who don’t believe Roosevelt’s policies ended the Depression) cite provable facts.  I listed several bone-headed policies Roosevelt implemented in my last email.  Which of those policies are you denying he implemented?

Tom, if you think the Great Depression was only a recession before Roosevelt took office, you have some reading-up to do.

… All along Herbert Hoover believed free market forces would eventually correct the constant downward spirals.  Therefore he insisted on maintaining the Gold Standard.  At a time when gold was hoarded!  Limiting the cash Treasury could print.

Indeed, Hoover’s interventionism – such as signing the Smoot-Hawley Act, which ignited a trade war – was tragic.  But Paul, if you think Hoover was a laissez-faire president who sat on his hands and waited for the recession to correct itself, then you’re the one who needs to read up.  Hoover was a major interventionist who tried all sorts of government cures to fix the economic crisis – many of which were adopted wholesale by Roosevelt.  I’ve read this in several books in detail, but for a Reader’s Digest version, you can check this excerpt from a book by Murray Rothbard:

http://www.lewrockwell.com/rothbard/rothbard184.html

Some quotes:

“Laissez-faire, then, was the policy dictated both by sound theory and by historical precedent. But in 1929, the sound course was rudely brushed aside. Led by President Hoover, the government embarked on what Anderson has accurately called the “Hoover New Deal.” For if we define “New Deal” as an antidepression program marked by extensive governmental economic planning and intervention – including bolstering of wage rates and prices, expansion of credit, propping up of weak firms, and increased government spending (e.g., subsidies to unemployment and public works) – Herbert Clark Hoover must be considered the founder of the New Deal in America. Hoover, from the very start of the depression, set his course unerringly toward the violation of all the laissez-faire canons. As a consequence, he left office with the economy at the depths of an unprecedented depression, with no recovery in sight after three and a half years, and with unemployment at the terrible and unprecedented rate of 25 percent of the labor force.

Hoover’s role as founder of a revolutionary program of government planning to combat depression has been unjustly neglected by historians. Franklin D. Roosevelt, in large part, merely elaborated the policies laid down by his predecessor.”

The bottom came when Hoover was blown out by a landslide.  That transition period, Nov. 32 to Mar. 33, was the Depression’s absolute nadir.  A period when bank-runs made the nightly news.

Nightly news?  Are you on board with Joe Biden, who explained to a journalist how FDR went on TV to calm the American people?

The irony is that FDR’s 1932 campaign platform called for a balanced budget and a 25% reduction in federal spending.  The fact that he later adopted and then expanded on Hoover’s big-spending interventionist programs only proves once again that FDR had no core economic principles.  It’s also a fine example of something  Milton Friedman once said:  in business, if a policy isn’t working then the business must change policies or suffer the consequences.  In government, a failed policy often becomes a justification to do the same thing again, only bigger.  That’s what FDR did – he repeated Hoover’s policies, only bigger.

It should also be noted that Hoover supported Prohibition which had fallen absurdly out of favor by 1932.  And it certainly made no business sense to have stupid, violent hoodlums making so much money supplying bootleg liquor.  This was just another reason Hoover was hated so much.  Prohibition was repealed by the end of Roosevelt’s first year.

You seem to be conveniently forgetting that Prohibition was the work of “progressives.”  Hoover didn’t institute Prohibition, and Roosevelt didn’t repeal Prohibition.  The states did.  FDR just happened to be in office when enough people finally decided to undo that tragic mistake.

And though the Depression did not end until the start of World War II, unemployment did go down.  From 24.75% in 1933 to 14.18% in 1937.  It then ticked up to 18.91% in 1938 (due to budget cuts) before dropping to 9.66% in 1941.

Government budget cuts don’t cause unemployment, and government spending doesn’t create employment.  Government spending transfers employment from one industry to another, or from one generation to another if the spending requires taking on debt.  Governments can’t create a net increase in jobs any more than I can create a net increase in the level of water in my bathtub by scooping water from one side to the other.

During the 1930′s, Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration was responsible for 10% of all new roads, 35% of all new hospitals, 65% of all new City Halls and Courthouses and 70% of all new schools.   In New York City the Lincoln Tunnel and  Triborough Bridge were built by WPA workers.  The Tennessee Valley Authority was another achievement.  What’s more, WPA workers were very instrumental in upgrading army and naval bases.  Which made a difference when you-know-what broke out.

Paul, there’s no free money.  Economics is all about the effects of how we allocate limited resources – emphasis on limited.  Every dollar put to one use is a dollar that can’t be put to another use.  I urge you to read Bastiat’s essay on the broken-window fallacy.

http://bastiat.org/en/twisatwins.html

In brief:  Someone breaks a window, and eventually people start speculating that this is good for the window-maker since it provides him with work.  Then people who do business with the window-makers decide it’s also good for them, since their customer the window-maker now has more money from the extra work, etc.  Eventually the logical conclusion is that we should break windows all the time so everyone will be better off.  What they all forget is that the guy who had to buy a new window now has less money to spend on other products and services, and therefore someone he does business with will suffer.

If we use tax dollars to build a bridge, we all see the people working on the bridge and cheer the government for “creating” jobs.  What we don’t see is that since my neighbor was taxed to pay for the bridge, he can longer use that money to buy a car and provide employment in the auto industry, so what the bridge-makers gain, the auto-makers lose.  We just don’t make the direct connection to the auto-makers.  It’s the unseen effect.  The idea that governments can “create” jobs by directing spending instead of allowing people to direct their own spending is pure leftist fantasy-land thinking.

Expanded version of the above argument in these posts:

http://www.tomnaughton.com/?p=35

http://www.tomnaughton.com/?p=400

In fact, one could argue, quite convincingly, that the bureaucracy Roosevelt built was crucial for our mobilization at the beginning of World War II.  ONLY A STUPID ASS WOULD SAY WE COULD’VE WON WORLD WAR II WITH A HOOVER SIZE GOVERNMENT!!!  And this is where the Roosevelt deniers become intellectual kin to Holocaust deniers.

Wow, Paul, that’s pretty weak.  Again, Hoover was not a small-government, laissez-faire guy — he vastly increased federal spending, supported an anti-free-market tariff bill, and tried to micro-manage the economy.

No one would deny that waging a world war requires a huge increase in military spending.  But that doesn’t mean it also requires FDR-style welfare spending.  We fought the Civil War and World War I with nothing of the sort in place.  If anything, all that money wasted on the New Deal simply added social-spending debt to war debt.

But if you’re suggesting we need to keep our military up to top-notch standards to be prepared for war, I’m with you.  Doesn’t seem to be a popular position in your preferred party, however.

Like Holocaust deniers, Roosevelt deniers have stupid, malicious reasons for wanting to re-write history.

No, we want to set history straight.  Eights years of FDR’s policies failed to end the Depression, even as other industrial countries went back into economic expansion.  His economic programs – mandating high prices (in a recession!), confiscating capital before businesses could use it to expand, discouraging investment in new businesses by slapping a 90% tax on those who might succeed, and many more – were the policies of an economic ignoramus.

If he’d done what we he promised on the campaign trail – reduce federal spending and let economic forces work (which Hoover most definitely did not do), the whole mess likely would have ended much sooner.  That is, after all, what worked in 1920 – which was worse economically than the first year of the what we now call the Great Depression.  This speech by Thomas Woods on “Why You’ve Never Heard of the Great Depression of 1920” sums it up nicely.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=czcUmnsprQI

But in your case, Tom, I think the Hoover years were just an oversight in your education.  A narrative that doesn’t fit your Libertarian views.

This is coming from the guy who believes that Hoover was a small-government, laissez-faire supporter?  What books are you reading, exactly?  Someone should tell the authors to do some fact-checking.  Hoover’s interventionist policies and doubling of federal spending as a percentage of GDP are a matter of public record.  He very much fits the libertarian narrative — because he wasn’t a libertarian of any sort.

Did you see Ken Burns’ PROHIBITION?  All that 20′s footage of New York and Chicago was riveting to me.

Do you watch “Boardwalk Empire” on HBO?  Great stuff, recreating those enivornments in high-def color.

I’ve seen parts one and two.  Never seen a Ken Burns documentary I didn’t enjoy.  I especially liked the one on Mark Twain.

I was intrigued to learn that the Prohibitionists were behind instituting a federal income tax so they’d have a replacement for alcohol taxes.  Figures.  I was also intrigued to learn that alcohol taxes were once a majority of federal revenues.  Ahhh, the good old days.  That was clearly a nice, small government, just as those wacky liberal Founders intended.

The murders among bootleggers were clearly no good, but I must say, I loved hearing about some of the entrepreneurs who got rich in illegal booze.  Few things make me as happy as seeing energetic capitalists telling the government to go screw itself.

Until next time,
Tom

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12 Responses to “Debate With A Leftist Pal, Part Three”
  1. Paul L in MA says:

    To pick just one point…

    Hollywood Paul faulted the Hoover administration for not bailing out the states.

    Ha. Now can we please make this a proverb:

    “There is no such thing as federal money.” (Repeat 3x)

    The government can only TAKE money by taxing. (Or print it, but that is a stealth tax on savings. Or borrow it, which is taxation deferred until later.)

    The federal government should not be an instrument of geographical redistribution of wealth.

    Problem is: the congressman who brings the bacon home to his own district, gets reelected by the people of that district. Don’t think it’s only Hollywood liberal types who applaud such corruption.

    We put our tax money in a big pot in Washington, then send our representatives to play tug-of-war over that pot. We are all in a race to rip off the good people of the other forty-nine states. It’s disgraceful, it’s dishonorable, and there seems to be little hope but for a President who understands it as his duty to say NO to Congress sometimes.

    Not that Hoover was that president…

    I believe the last president to consistently say NO to Congress on spending was Grover Cleveland. He wielded a mighty veto pen.

  2. Paul L in MA says:

    Oh, and by the way, I love “TWISATWINS” as acronym for “That which is seen, and that which is not seen.” It sounds like they should be animated cartoon superheroes in a new libertarian-themed Schoolhouse Rock.

    (Though I think the better, colloquial translation of “Ce qu’on voit, et ce qu’on ne voit pas” is simply “What you see and what you don’t.)

    If you can only read one brief thing by Bastiat, make it this:

    http://bastiat.org/en/petition.html

  3. Andrea Lynnette says:

    This isn’t a debate, this is one person tossing out talking points and offensive rhetoric, and the other providing data and conclusions drawn therefrom.

    As a (fiscal) conservative/(social) libertarian woman born of German-Jew immigrants, I find the comparison your pal makes particularly offensive. There is no similarity between causing the murder of millions of people (Jews, Gypsies, Gays, Mentally or Physically Challenged, and of course, anyone who harbored them) for your own nefarious schemes and opposing a system of government waste and corruption. And all those anti-abortion, gun-toting, creationist, anthropogenic-global-warming deniers he has so much scorn for are trying to increase freedom, not limit it.

    They believe that a fetus is a person, and therefore has the same rights as any other human. Whether or not they are correct is up for debate, but their stance is not based on the desire to punish or control.

    They believe that the right to defend yourself, your family, your property, is a human right for all, not just hypocritical celebrities who “hate guns” and lead Million Mom Marches while employing security personnel who carry firearms.

    Just like Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Atheists, Wiccans, and everyone else, they want the freedom to teach their children what they believe. I don’t know a single creationist who wants the government to require schools to teach it. And believe me, having friends in the Plain Community (Amish, Mennonite, etc.) means I know a LOT of six-day creationists. But they are thoroughly anti-theocracy, given their history with government-mandated religion a few centuries ago.

    AGW skeptics want the freedom to live without bureaucrats over-regulating us all into buying cars we don’t want, riding mass transit that doesn’t work, and reducing our standard of living, all based on so little evidence that the programs which are used to model them have variables the programmers named “fudge factor”!

    I don’t agree with them on every point, but they are at least headed in the mostly correct direction. They don’t want to use the government to punish people they don’t agree with, or use the force of the law and police to inflict their will on others. That’s what socialists, “progressives,” do. They aren’t the ones out in the street right now demanding their “fair share” of what other people made, earned, built, and own.

    Sorry, this guy hit a couple of really sore spots for me. I’m sick to death of people who want to tell me what to do “for my own good.” I’m tired of this ever-growing philosophy coming from the left that says that anyone who disagrees with them is a bigoted, racist, knuckle-dragging mouth-breather who should sit down, shut up, and do whatever the “elite” say they should. That’s not democracy; it’s feudalism wrapped up in a new package. It’s the divine right of PhD’s.

    The reason they have to stoop to calling us bigots and racists is that their ideas don’t hold up to logic. It’s also part of the intellectual heritage of the left to rely on personal attacks and emotional appeals, as I recounted in a long-ago post:

    http://www.tomnaughton.com/?p=571

  4. A Country Farmer says:

    Tom, normally love everything you say, but I was surprised with your comment that “if you’re suggesting we need to keep our military up to top-notch standards to be prepared for war, I’m with you,” particularly because you earlier referenced Rothbard. You also mentioned Tom Woods. Here’s a great video on militarism from Mr. Woods: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJTaw0GhY_s

    I think we need to be prepared to fight. I don’t think we need troops all over the world.

  5. ThatPaleoGuy says:

    @Andrea Lynnette:
    I don’t agree with some of your statements at all. While I’m supporting less government, more freedom, your examples are pretty bad and these people are actually doing the opposite.

    “They believe that a fetus is a person, and therefore has the same rights as any other human. Whether or not they are correct is up for debate, but their stance is not based on the desire to punish or control.”

    Their desire is indeed to punish and control women who want to make their own decision what’s happening with their own body. They want to outlaw abortion, so they want the government to intervene in other people lives to push their very questionable agenda. That’s not freedom and limited government at all. If you don’t want an abortion, don’t get one. But don’t try to force your opinion on others.

    “Just like Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Atheists, Wiccans, and everyone else, they want the freedom to teach their children what they believe. I don’t know a single creationist who wants the government to require schools to teach it. And believe me, having friends in the Plain Community (Amish, Mennonite, etc.) means I know a LOT of six-day creationists. But they are thoroughly anti-theocracy, given their history with government-mandated religion a few centuries ago.”

    That’s not true. A lot of them want schools to teach “both theories” equally and there have been several lawsuits trying to push that. Again, they want the government to force their believes on others. Basically, I agree that parents should be able to teach their kids their morals and values, but teaching creationism in science classes is just plain ridiculous and an insult to every intelligent person. It’s sad enough that these kids will have a bad start by being taught by mental abuse (…or you’re going to hell) just to believe in some sort of random fairy tale (depending on the parent’s religion) and never question anything (or they wouldn’t believe it), so it’s rather debatable if that doesn’t even counteract the freedom and future chances of the kids.

    “They don’t want to use the government to punish people they don’t agree with, or use the force of the law and police to inflict their will on others.”

    That’s exactly what those people do.

    “I’m sick to death of people who want to tell me what to do “for my own good.””

    Me too, especially if their ridiculous claims are based of some random religion with no evidence or rational argument for their stance whatsoever.

    • Andrea Lynnette says:

      I’m sorry, but how many people like that do you know?
      There are nuts in any movement; I’m talking about the vast majority of them.
      There have been lawsuits to demand that Christmas decorations be removed from public property, because it violates the separation of church and state. There are lawsuits to require foot baths and prayer space for Muslims in all public buildings in the name of equal rights. There are people who sue on behalf of all sorts of whacky things. Do those fringe people represent the movement? Or are they simply the inevitable result of dealing with humans?

  6. Jan says:

    “ONLY A STUPID ASS WOULD SAY WE COULD’VE WON WORLD WAR II WITH A HOOVER SIZE GOVERNMENT!!!”

    I found this statement extremely amusing. If I remember my 10th grade history class correctly, we fought the Revolutionary War with no official government at all – and defeated the armed forces of the British Empire, the most sophisticated and well-armed on the planet at the time.

    Either way, the need for a big military during WWII is no justification for a big welfare state to go along with it.

  7. Bridget says:

    @ThatPaleoGuy

    I’m sorry, but I will have to say that I don’t agree with some of your statements.

    “Their desire is indeed to punish and control women who want to make their own decision what’s happening with their own body.”

    I believe that it is less about controlling and punishing women then their desire to protect a life that they believe is being taken. That is their belief. How is this questionable? If they believe that it is wrong, why shouldn’t they be allowed to fight for it or question it? Just because you don’t agree with them does not mean that they should stop what they’re doing and believe what you want them to believe. Kind of goes against Freedom of Religion. And, not all people who are anti-abortion are religious.

    Anyway, on the point that Paul makes about no access to grocery stores and more access to fast food; don’t they sell healthier options like salads? They could choose to order a salad or do as you did in Fat Head and remove the buns and say no to the fries. But, they choose not to. Maybe they’ve heard from the government that the bun is the good part of the burger.

    Indeed, the people who are somehow considered victims of McDonald’s because there are more fast-food outlets than grocery stores in their neighborhoods are the same people who rarely order the salads McDonald’s sells.

    Abortion debates tend to be endless and fruitless because all the back-and-forth arguments are simply window dressing for the core issue: either you believe a fetus is a human being or not.

    • Paul L in MA says:

      A McD’s salad with chicken can indeed be a healthy lunch, but beware those oversweetened dressing pouches!

      I recall reading an ingredient panel on a Wendy’s salad dressing that was actually not oversweetened — I forget which exact product.

      Regarding abortion, I wish we could agree to de-nationalize that question, just as with so many other extraneous legislative responsibilities that the federal government has arrogated. I want the judicial overreach of Roe v. Wade overturned because it was judicial overreach, not because I really have strong pro-life feelings.

      I want states to legislate on the matter and I want NEVER to even hear about the question in presidential campaigns. I want the presidential election to be about economics (or rather, simple FISCAL questions, not about what are the most benevolent market interferences) and foreign policy and immigration and the like.

      Maybe my position is very minority and not under either pro-life or pro-choice rubrics. Is “libertarian” purism necessarily aggresively pro-choice? Call me more limited-fed-government than libertarian then.

      I’m with you. It never should’ve been a national issue in the first place. That’s what happens when Supreme Court justices suffer massive hallucinations while reading the Constitution.

      • Paul L in MA says:

        But neither to I agree with those who would amend the Constitution to the opposite position. There would still be no end of needless national level debate. Just let us revert to federal neutrality, please.

        This might disqualify my “conservative” credentials by some peoples’ lights, but so be it too.

  8. Jesrad says:

    “Woah, hoss!  You seem to be equating “covered by insurance” with “free.”  Insurance doesn’t make anything free.  Insurance is just an arrangement to spread the risk of an unexpected financial disaster among a large pool of willing participants.  I don’t expect my car to be stolen, but I happily pay premiums every year to insure myself against the possibility.”

    An insurance is merely a revolving credit. You have a permanent line of credit ready to spend on a new car or healthcare services, and you pay regular premiums which amount to interests on that sum. You are spot-on here: people have to understand they are always reimbursing those expenses eventually.

    Insurance companies certainly don’t make a profit by giving away more than they take in.

  9. Milton says:

    I figured that you’d take some heat for goring a sacred cow of the left (FDR). I was disappointed that it took the form of equating you to a holocaust-denier. Is he one of those liberals who constantly decry the lack of civility while rarely missing an opportunity to smear and slander people they disagree with?

    I wasn’t disappointed that he had to stoop to comparing me to a holocaust denier. I considered it a sign that he’d run out of actual arguments.

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