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Re: [smygo] Re: What Would Jefferson Do?

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  • kO nOrderisk
    input is fine, but no need to insult other people like for instance fellow-anarchists and even since i am not from the u.s. i found it an interesting article
    Message 1 of 3 , Oct 5 1:45 PM
      input is fine, but no need to insult other people like for instance fellow-anarchists and even since i am not from the u.s. i found it an interesting article and about the slavery you have to see things in a historical perspection allthough slavery off course is very bad, hopefully people in 200 year for instance will say and think the same about wageslavery...

      --- On Sat, 10/4/08, tetraedronico <tetraedronico@...> wrote:

      From: tetraedronico <tetraedronico@...>
      Subject: [smygo] Re: What Would Jefferson Do?
      To: smygo@yahoogroups.com
      Date: Saturday, October 4, 2008, 1:36 AM






      The question is What would Thomas Jefferson do in light of the
      monstrously big and oppressive Government we have?

      Well I think the answer would be: to write a beautiful poem about it
      but on the flip side to start enslaving more than two hundred blacks
      like the big hypocrite he was.

      That's right: Jefferson, he who wrote that all men are created equal,
      was a very rich guy that owned more that two hundred slaves and he
      never set them free. So I personally couldn't care less about what
      would this guy do about our present situation.

      It looks like every social and political movement have two kinds of
      people, those who adhere themselves by principles and those who adhere
      themselves by true actions, I care less about the former.

      I personally know a couple of self called Anarchist who are more
      interested in Sarah Palin, Barack Obama and the voting process than
      the average gran ma.

      --- In smygo@yahoogroups. com, Dan Clore <clore@...> wrote:
      >
      > News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:
      > http://groups. yahoo.com/ group/smygo
      >
      > http://dissentmagaz ine.org/article/ ?article= 1232
      > What Would Jefferson Do?: How Limited Government Got Turned Upside Down
      > By Lew Daly
      >
      > In the fall of 1964, Ronald Reagan went on national television to tell
      > the American people about a growing tyranny in their midst, "subtler,
      > but no less dangerous" than Soviet communism. He also told them to cast
      > their presidential vote for Barry Goldwater, who was ready to tame this
      > new political beast and put a stop to those people who would "trade our
      > freedom for the soup kitchen of the welfare state." Now known simply as
      > "The Speech," it was a performance that launched the extreme right wing
      > of the country from the political margins into the highest seats of
      > government. The resulting political realignment sharply affected how
      > wealth and power are distributed in our society.
      >
      > Less often noted than his frightening analogies with communism was
      > Reagan's view that the welfare state violated the "freedoms intended
      for
      > us by the Founding Fathers." As Reagan declared in The Speech, "The
      > Founding Fathers knew a government can't control the economy without
      > controlling people. And they knew when a government sets out to do
      that,
      > it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose. So we have come
      > to a time for choosing."
      >
      > The rhetorical device was simple. By comparing the welfare state with
      > the founders' dedication to limited government, free-market
      > conservatives fashioned a powerful tale of abandoned principles and
      even
      > tyrannical intent. The message was bracing, yet edifying: cutting taxes
      > and reducing public spending and regulation will bring us closer to
      what
      > the people who founded our country believed in 1776 and in the early
      > nation. By returning to limited government and laissez-faire economic
      > principles, we can protect our freedom, and America will be saved.
      >
      > For the "New Right" movement inspired by Goldwater and Reagan after
      > 1964, attacking the welfare state was a political reenactment of the
      > American founding�a revival, they claimed, of "Jeffersonian democracy."
      > When they cut taxes, they talked about the Boston Tea Party. When they
      > opposed campaign finance reform, they argued that giving money to
      > politicians is a form of protected speech under the First Amendment:
      > limiting such money is no better than shutting down newspapers or
      > throwing people in jail for calling King George III a tyrant. Even
      > Milton Friedman joined the "founding principles" crusade, arguing in
      his
      > 1980 bestseller Free to Choose that the modern Democratic Party is the
      > "greatest threat" to everything Thomas Jefferson believed in.
      >
      > What these modern-day Jeffersonians hated most of all was government
      > redistribution. In his Independence Day oration at the Jefferson
      > Memorial in 1987, Reagan called for a new "economic bill of rights" to
      > liberate the people by privatizing government services and by reducing
      > taxes, regulation, and social spending. Charles Murray recapitulated
      > this theme in his Clinton-era jeremiad What It Means to Be a
      Libertarian
      > (1997), which begins with a long excerpt from Jefferson's First
      > Inaugural Address and calls for the elimination of "all governmental
      > social-service programs and all income transfers in cash or kind."
      >
      > The Cato Institute, Washington's leading free-market think tank, is
      > perhaps the most conspicuous new claimant to the founders' vision.
      > According to the mission statement on its Web site, its agenda of
      > privatizing federal entitlement programs, flattening the tax code and
      > exempting wealth from taxation, deregulating industry and finance, and
      > slashing federal discretionary spending by 30 percent (for a start) is
      > inspired by a "Jeffersonian philosophy" of limited government.
      >
      > Such thinking sounds right to many people because it is rarely
      > challenged on its own historical merits. Most progressives seem to
      > accept the conservative argument that our modern, active government,
      > resting on political foundations laid in the New Deal era, goes far
      > beyond what the founders could have contemplated or their principles
      > allowed. For example, Michael Tomasky's much-discussed American
      Prospect
      > essay "Party In Search of a Notion" (April 2006) advises a return to
      the
      > notion of the "common good." But he goes no further than the New
      Deal in
      > defining what this means, as if it is strictly a modern invention.
      >
      > Ironically, Franklin D. Roosevelt's own ideas about government took a
      > much longer historical view, squarely confronting the seeming
      > contradiction between extensive public welfare and early American
      ideals
      > of limited government. Consider his extraordinary acceptance speech at
      > the 1936 Democratic Convention, in which he challenged the forces of
      > "economic royalism," then rallying in a business propaganda group
      called
      > the American Liberty League. Over waves of euphoric cheering from the
      > 100,000 people gathered to hear him in Philadelphia' s Franklin Field,
      > Roosevelt hailed his battle against business domination as a second
      > coming of the American Revolution. "Our allegiance to American
      > institutions requires the overthrow of this kind of power," he
      declared.
      > The argument was philosophically radical in a liberal society: private
      > power, no less than public power, inevitably leads to tyranny and
      > destruction in the absence of democratic controls. Surveying the
      > wreckage of the Great Depression, Roosevelt simply told his followers
      > that "the average man once more confronts the problem that faced the
      > Minute Man," because "[a] small group had concentrated into their own
      > hands an almost complete control over other people's property, other
      > people's money, other people's labor�other people's lives."
      >
      > Roosevelt's analysis of "economic tyranny" shared a critical assumption
      > with Thomas Jefferson and James Madison and other important founders of
      > our country: that limited government is not an end itself, but the
      > instrument of a particular vision of society, an egalitarian vision. It
      > was a social vision in which extremes of wealth and poverty did not
      > exist, and a relatively equal distribution of productive property
      > secured independence and freedom for the whole citizenry.
      >
      > The people who now claim the mantle of Jefferson reject this vision.
      > Although some pay it lip service by labeling their entitlement
      > privatization schemes and a few small subsidies for middle-class
      savings
      > the birth of an "ownership society," even a casual familiarity with the
      > skewed distribution of wealth and power in America reveals the painful
      > truth behind such nice-sounding phrases. Nevertheless, in allowing the
      > right to exploit the apparent contradiction between received notions of
      > limited government and public policies designed to promote a more equal
      > society, progressives, too, seem to have forgotten what limited
      > government was really about in early America.
      >
      > The new laissez-faire of the Reagan-Bush era was not a revival of the
      > founders' vision of limited government; nor did the New Deal liberalism
      > so despised today tear up the roots of our country in expanding the
      role
      > of government, as conservatives argue. To the contrary, the kind of
      > society the founders envisioned had no hope of survival without such
      > innovations in government.
      >
      > The Real Republican Vision
      >
      > The New Right's "Jeffersonian philosophy" of limited government ignores
      > the most basic historical element of laissez-faire thinking in early
      > America: the direct, radical purpose of disabling the political
      power of
      > the aristocracy. As historian James L. Huston writes, it was against
      the
      > "political economy of aristocracy, " government organized by and for a
      > small, wealthy elite, that supporters of the American revolution
      > embraced the "egalitarian promise of the negative state." The ideal,
      > simply, was a system that restricted the legal and political power of
      > the wealthy, in order to prevent them from combining against
      independent
      > smallholders and those without property. Limited government, in other
      > words, was a "populist" ideal, a doctrine of the many versus the
      few. As
      > a group of North Carolina democrats petitioned in 1776, when "fixing
      the
      > fundamental principles of Government," the goal should be to "oppose
      > everything that leans to aristocracy or power in the hands of the rich
      > and chief men exercised to the oppression of the poor."
      >
      > Beneath this fear of oppression, popular demand for limited government
      > was shaped by two basic assumptions: first, that building a genuine
      > republic depended on a broad, equitable distribution of productive
      > property and second, that inequitable distributions of property were
      > caused primarily by government actions that favored the rich�thus the
      > need for limited government. There were other aspects of liberty, of
      > course, but preserving a rough equality of productive resources was the
      > chief measuring stick of good (and bad) government in early America.
      >
      > Noah Webster expressed this view in his 1787 tract "An Examination into
      > the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution. " As he wrote, "A
      > general and tolerably equal distribution of landed property is the
      whole
      > basis of national freedom . . . the very soul of a republic." When this
      > equality holds, "the people will inevitably possess both power and
      > freedom." When it is lost, "power departs, liberty expires, and a
      > commonwealth will inevitably assume some other form." The same
      > understanding was shared by spokesmen for the numerous agrarian
      > "regulation" movements of the revolutionary era, a force that
      > contributed to Thomas Jefferson's political ascendancy in the 1790s. As
      > one regulator theorist argued in the Cumberland Gazette of Falmouth,
      > Maine, in 1786: "Equality of property is the life of a Republican
      > government; destroy that equality and the principles of the government
      > will be wholly corrupted, while the form remains a cloak for oppression
      > and tyranny."
      >
      > In the revolutionary fervor of 1776, John Adams had agreed. "The only
      > possible Way then of preserving the Ballance of Power on the side of
      > equal Liberty and public Virtue," he wrote in a letter to James
      > Sullivan, "is to make the Acquisition of Land easy to every Member of
      > Society: to make a Division of the Land into Small Quantities, So that
      > the Multitude may be possessed of landed Estates." Such thinking
      > obviously shaped Jefferson's Draft Constitution for Virginia (1776),
      > which stipulated that every man without property (or without adequate
      > property) is entitled to fifty acres of public land upon reaching
      > adulthood and, even more striking, that no one else should be permitted
      > to appropriate public land. "Legislators cannot invent too many devices
      > for subdividing property," he later wrote in a letter to James Madison.
      >
      > CLEARLY, JEFFERSON, Adams, and Webster were not only concerned with
      > abstract principles of freedom, but with the material conditions of
      > freedom or with the material "extent" of freedom. The yardstick for
      > measuring liberty was the distribution of productive ownership, not
      > simply the degree of protection given to property regardless of the
      > distribution of ownership. Interestingly, the very namesake of the Cato
      > Institute, "Cato's Letters" (a series of essays published by John
      > Trenchard and Thomas Gordon in British newspapers between 1720 and
      1723)
      > had already formulated the basic argument fifty years earlier. As
      > "Cato's Letter #3" (by Gordon) declared in 1720:
      >
      > A free people are kept so, by no other means than an equal distribution
      > of property; every man, who has a share of property, having a
      > proportionable share of power; and the first seeds of anarchy (which,
      > for the most part, ends in tyranny) are produced from hence, that some
      > are ungovernably rich, and many more are miserably poor; that is, some
      > are masters of all means of oppression, and others want all the
      means of
      > self-defence.
      >
      > The chief movers behind the U.S. Constitution (particularly Alexander
      > Hamilton and Gouverneur Morris) were not concerned with balancing
      > democracy and property rights, as Madison tried to do in his
      > masterpiece, The Federalist No. 10. What they wanted was a strong
      > central government with the power to overturn redistributive schemes
      > that might originate in the states (as had already occurred with some
      > frequency in the form of debt and tax relief). At the same time,
      central
      > government must be sufficiently divided to prevent national suffrage
      > from accomplishing similar things.
      >
      > Warning against economic tyranny�government operating as the "tool and
      > tyrant" of financial wealth�Madison moved rapidly into republican
      > opposition by the end of George Washington's first term. Such fears
      were
      > particularly incited by Alexander Hamilton's debt-funding plan, which
      > financed huge windfalls for wealthy bondholders in part through an
      > excise tax on whiskey and other essential commodities. This led to the
      > Whiskey Rebellion in 1794, the first real test of the new federal
      > government's monopoly on legitimate violence and a turning point in the
      > republican movement that would elevate Jefferson to the presidency (and
      > Madison to secretary of state) in 1801. John Taylor of Caroline, the
      > leading philosopher of this movement and "keeper of the Jeffersonian
      > conscience" (as Arthur Schlesinger put it), formulated a strong
      > democratic theory of wealth that was renewed again and again in
      > Democratic and third-party politics across the nineteenth century, from
      > the Jacksonian era through the rise of Populism. "Wealth, like
      > suffrage," Taylor wrote in his Inquiry Into the Principles and
      Policy of
      > the Government of the United States, "must be considerably distributed,
      > to sustain a democratick republic; and hence, whatever draws a
      > considerable proportion of either into a few hands, will destroy it. As
      > power follows wealth, the majority must have wealth or lose power."
      >
      > Madison himself had outlined the government's distributive purpose in
      > 1792, asserting in the National Gazette that the "great object" of
      > securing the republic means "withholding unnecessary opportunities from
      > a few to increase the inequality of property" and requires "the silent
      > operation of laws which, without violating the rights of property,
      > reduce extreme wealth towards a state of mediocrity and raise extreme
      > indigence towards a state of comfort." Clearly, for Jefferson and
      > Madison (as for Taylor), the republican social objective of securing a
      > relatively equal distribution of productive property was paramount in
      > their thinking about what government should or should not do.
      >
      > Early American laissez-faire� egalitarian laissez-faire� remained a vital
      > worldview well into the nineteenth century. In 1838, Samuel Tilden,
      then
      > a twenty-four- year-old law student, addressed a meeting of the Farmers,
      > Mechanics, and Workingmen of New York and noted the "incessant
      struggles
      > of the few to establish dominion over the many," arguing that a new
      > "spirit of aristocracy" had emerged, "[b]anding together the rich by
      the
      > strong ligament of mutual interest; arraying them in an organized class
      > which acts in phalanx and operates through all the ramifications in
      > society." This kind of analysis thrived in Democratic politics and in
      > workingmens' parties. It also survived in smallholder anti-rent
      > movements, which fought to invalidate "Law and Order in defense of
      Human
      > Rights," or in Horace Greeley's words, "the laws which give some men a
      > thousand times as much lands as they can use and thus deprive millions
      > of any at all . . . being contrary to the fundamental principles of our
      > Government."
      >
      > The Republican Vision Transformed
      >
      > Set against this historical backdrop, the last three decades of
      > resurgent laissez-faire can only be described as a betrayal of
      > Jeffersonian ideals: the New Right's attack on government has been
      > accompanied, not by growing economic equality, but by record levels of
      > inequality. In fact, wealth is more concentrated today than it was at
      > the time of independence. Those in the richest 1 percent today hold
      > about three times the share held by their counterparts in the late
      > eighteenth century.
      >
      > Such a pattern of concentrated wealth was visible already by the 1820s.
      > By 1860, the richest 1 percent held 29 percent of the wealth, and by
      > 1912 they held 56 percent. After bottoming out in the late 1970s, at 22
      > percent, today the richest Americans hold nearly 40 percent of the
      wealth.
      >
      > Beneath this pattern of growing inequality lie the roots of a political
      > transformation in egalitarian thought from laissez-faire principles to
      > progressive legislative reform. Put simply, changes in the American
      > economy rendered limited government obsolete, in terms of both
      practical
      > needs and egalitarian goals. To the laissez-faire classes of old, "the
      > farmers, mechanics, and workingmen" Andrew Jackson frequently extolled,
      > it was self-evident that limited government was no longer enough to
      > prevent a resurgent aristocracy in America. At the same time, their
      > rethinking of how to achieve egalitarian goals gave rise to new
      > appropriations of laissez-faire thought by the opponents of such goals.
      >
      > One important catalyst for these changes was the rise of regional and
      > national transportation systems, which helped to integrate domestic
      > markets, spurring competitive, large-scale enterprise to meet the
      > growing demand. Against these commercial forces and their growing
      scale,
      > the Jeffersonian classes had little natural protection in the
      > marketplace. In particular, the oppressive role of "judge-made" common
      > law, governing employer contracts and property disputes, among other
      > aspects of the economy, was a key pressure point in the popular retreat
      > from laissez-faire.
      >
      > BY SHIELDING employers from the demands and needs of a growing
      > wage-earning class�which by 1850 comprised at least half the
      working-age
      > population and probably three-quarters in New England�the common law
      (or
      > more precisely, American judges' interpretations of this largely
      British
      > legal inheritance) created a wage system that was "riddled with
      > important and lasting asymmetries of power," as the legal historian
      > Christopher Tomlins writes. Employers could change wage-and-hour terms
      > basically at will, and they had absolute rights of discharge to
      > reinforce this control over terms. The common law also shielded
      > employers from liability for workplace fatalities and injuries, and
      > criminalized worker organizing in a famous series of "labor conspiracy"
      > cases. "A code of laws draws around [the mechanic] a magick circle, by
      > making mechanical combinations punishable, lest they should check
      > capitalist combinations; and he is reimbursed by penalties for the loss
      > of hope," John Taylor wrote in his influential treatise Tyranny
      Unmasked
      > (1822). Under these conditions, the growth of markets and the
      > concentration of economic power went hand in hand.
      >
      > The natural equality of men, people realized, could only be
      preserved if
      > the state intervened to rectify legally constructed imbalances of
      > economic power. Already by the 1830s, as property requirements for
      > voting were gradually abolished in most states, popular pressure for
      > anticharter laws, labor laws, and land policies favorable to free-hold
      > settlement augured the downfall of egalitarian laissez-faire and the
      > rise of a new egalitarian vision of active government. But this was
      > hardly a rejection of the nation's founding principles. The Jacksonian
      > reformer Orestes Brownson called it "social democracy," writing in the
      > Boston Quarterly Review in 1841 that a social democrat is in fact a
      > "Jeffersonian Democrat," because he seeks to direct the workings of
      > government against economic dominion, so the "actual condition of
      men in
      > society shall be in harmony with their acknowledged rights as citizens."
      >
      > In the middle and late decades of the nineteenth century, the
      > laissez-faire advocates of old turned against limited government as an
      > egalitarian strategy, and instead sought political power, collective
      > bargaining, and social protections. The new political approach, as FDR
      > would later explain so powerfully, retained the egalitarian vision of
      > laissez-faire while necessarily rejecting its applicability to
      > contemporary realities, where the threat of a new aristocracy had
      > already long been realized. Limited government was no Jeffersonian
      > answer to the robber barons or the modern corporation.
      >
      > However, as central government absorbed and adjusted to these
      democratic
      > pressures, laissez-faire theory was revived in a mutant form that
      > divorced it from egalitarian goals. Essentially, the whole idea was
      > turned on its head, becoming a doctrine of elite self-defense. In this
      > version, the moral idea of a natural tendency toward equality, held by
      > antigovernment theorists in early America, was replaced by positivistic
      > concepts of natural inequality linked to economic laws.
      >
      > Yale sociologist William Graham Sumner was the great theorist of elite
      > laissez-faire. A devout Social Darwinist, Sumner argued that the very
      > idea of equality was nothing more than superstitious "dogma" (a term he
      > applied, it seems, to anything that placed limits on the survival of
      the
      > fittest). Sumner conceded a property-owning ideal for all citizens, but
      > he argued that the only thing government should do to facilitate such
      > ownership is secure personal liberty and private property�failing to
      > confront, of course, the existing inequality of assets and bargaining
      > power that such a policy would only make worse. Thus conceived,
      opposing
      > government became the stock and trade of those seeking to prevent
      > precisely what laissez-faire was originally meant to secure�a diffusion
      > of economic power befitting a genuine republic. The elites literally
      > recreated laissez-faire, turning an anti-aristocratic sword into a
      > shield for concentrated wealth.
      >
      > As legislatures began to inject new public standards into the private
      > economy, elite laissez-faire found its last redoubt in an activist
      > Supreme Court. Lochner v. New York (1905), casting down a state law
      > limiting bakery workers' hours as an infringement of "liberty of
      > contract" under the Fourteenth Amendment, was the flagship of this new
      > "laissez-faire constitutionalism, " which stymied social reforms for
      > three decades thereafter.
      >
      > In challenging the new laissez-faire, progressives such as Theodore
      > Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson understood what their conservative
      > opponents did not: that the true Jeffersonian measure of good
      government
      > was not abstract principle�simply "the government is best which governs
      > least"�but rather the social good secured by a particular
      government. If
      > the "laws of this country, do not prevent the strong from crushing the
      > weak," as Wilson wrote in The New Freedom, no one could doubt that
      > government had failed, whatever its structure or reach. In Franklin
      > Roosevelt's victories of 1932 and 1936, this perspective was reborn and
      > consolidated with a new electoral mandate, as the whole ideological
      > edifice of elite laissez-faire was swept away by a massive popular tide
      > in favor of the welfare state.
      >
      > The major achievements of the New Deal and the broader legislative era
      > it spawned�collective bargaining rights and federal wage and hour
      > standards for most workers; old age, disability, and unemployment
      > insurance; cash assistance for the poor; the GI Bill; home mortgage
      > assistance; a fixed progressive tax structure; and, later, the
      launching
      > of federal health-care programs�undergirded an industrial version of
      > precisely the kind of middle-class society that Madison and Jefferson
      > desired and even Federalists such as John Adams and Noah Webster
      > believed was essential to the preservation of liberty. If Jefferson's
      > ideal system of universal small-scale ownership faded in the New Deal,
      > the Jeffersonian dream of shared prosperity was never so close to being
      > realized as then. Middle incomes grew much faster than those at the
      top,
      > the poverty rate was cut in half, and strong cultural norms
      instilled by
      > higher education and the churches curtailed the power of business. The
      > strong growth of this period was something close to the all-rising tide
      > of economic theory, and this, furthermore, created favorable political
      > conditions for dismantling racial segregation in the South.
      >
      > Revolt of the Elites: Part Two
      >
      > Despite or because of this success, a small network of businessmen,
      > political activists, and academics, along with a handful of wealthy
      > patrons, began organizing a counter-movement in the 1950s, building
      what
      > was essentially a new political party out of the dregs of racism and
      the
      > resentment of private-sector elites faced with diminishing status and
      > power and more social costs. Many commentators focus on the right's
      > institution- building after Barry Goldwater's run for the White House in
      > 1964, emphasizing the role of business donors and business foundations
      > (Scaife, Olin, Bradley, Coors, and so on) in financing new think tanks
      > and coordinated "ideas work" in a period of intensive economic
      > uncertainty. However, this social and ideological revolt was fully
      > formed long before the economic crises of the 1970s opened the
      > floodgates of corporate money that transformed it from a radical
      > movement into a powerful political machine. Reagan won in a
      landslide on
      > the same basic antigovernment message offered by Goldwater sixteen
      years
      > earlier; by the American Liberty League thirty years before that;
      and by
      > the Gilded Age theorists who first reconstructed laissez-faire more
      than
      > a century ago.
      >
      > The new laissez-faire detached limited government from egalitarian
      goals
      > and actively dismantled relative equality through tax changes, spending
      > cuts, and regulatory retreat on labor and civil rights. As the
      economist
      > Robert Solow described it, the New Right platform amounted to little
      > more than elite plunder�"the redistribution of wealth in favor of the
      > wealthy and of power in favor of the powerful." It succeeded: nearly
      all
      > of the wealth America created over the last twenty-five years was
      > captured by the top 20 percent of households, who now pay only a penny
      > more on the dollar in total taxes than the poorest 20 percent. Changes
      > in corporate pay scales reflect the broader pattern of upward
      > redistribution: average wages lagged behind productivity gains even as
      > executive compensation outpaced earnings growth. Most striking of all,
      > particularly from a Jeffersonian perspective (and given our continuing
      > image as a highly entrepreneurial country), is the extraordinary
      > concentration of active business assets in the United States. By the
      end
      > of the 1980s, only 8.6 percent of households had any significant active
      > business assets. Yet those few who did held about 40 percent of total
      > household wealth. In early America, the equivalent scenario would have
      > been a near-total absence of small family farms�something unthinkable
      > even to the greatest landlords of the time.
      >
      > Laissez-Faire for Whom?
      >
      > What would the original theorists of American laissez-faire think of
      its
      > current deployment? A middling farmer named William Manning, who gave
      > popular voice to the Jeffersonian movement in his "Key of Liberty" of
      > 1799, declared that the destruction of freedom "always arises from the
      > unreasonable dispositions and combinations of the Few." Perhaps Manning
      > would agree with leveraged buyout king Theodore Forstmann (a member of
      > the Cato Institute's elite donor group) that in a republic "the only
      > role of government in the economy should be to guarantee the integrity
      > of market transactions. " The difference is that neither Manning,
      > Jefferson, nor Madison would view the United States today as a
      republic,
      > with 10 percent of the people possessing more than 70 percent of the
      > country's net worth and a substantial majority having little or no real
      > wealth and very little economic independence. No argument for limited
      > government can invoke republican principles while ignoring vast
      > disparities in wealth or how inequality is growing as government
      > retreats. Certainly no stated mission of government retreat can call
      > itself Jeffersonian if the net result is more power and wealth at
      the top.
      >
      > Furthermore, leading policies of the free-market right directly violate
      > the founders' expressed policy principles. The "flat tax" promoted by
      > Cato and other libertarian groups is perhaps the most blatant of these.
      > As Jefferson himself wrote, in a letter to Madison, "[a]nother means of
      > silently lessening the inequality of property . . . is to tax the
      higher
      > portions of property in geometrical progression as they rise." In
      > contrast, the Hall-Rabushka- type flat tax Cato pushes (developed by two
      > Hoover Institution economists in the 1980s) would tax all labor
      earnings
      > (including fringe benefits) and corporate profits at a single low rate,
      > while entirely excluding capital gains and wealth from taxation. This
      > will be a "tremendous boon to the economic elite," Hall and Rabushka
      > state in their book The Flat Tax, first published in 1983. Needless to
      > say, such a policy is radically at odds with the principles of taxation
      > held by Jefferson, who, in his Second Inaugural Address, declared it
      > "the pleasure and the pride of an American to ask, What farmer, what
      > mechanic, what laborer ever sees a tax gatherer of the United States?"
      >
      > Indeed, as a proponent of public works and social investment, Jefferson
      > openly celebrated the collective benefits of taxing the rich. In an
      1811
      > letter to Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours, he wrote, "Our revenues
      once
      > liberated by the discharge of the public debt, and its surplus applied
      > to canals, roads, schools, &c., and the farmer will see his government
      > supported, his children educated, and the face of his country made a
      > paradise by the contributions of the rich alone, without his being
      > called on to spend a cent from his earnings." Today such a view is
      > called "class warfare." Jefferson called it democracy.
      >
      > The intellectual folly of today's elite laissez-faire is captured
      > perfectly in the Cato Institute's 2006 annual report, which celebrates
      > its thirtieth anniversary and eulogizes Milton Friedman (who died late
      > that year). The introduction concludes by quoting from Thomas
      > Jefferson's First Inaugural Address on the definition of "good
      > government." A good government, Jefferson declared, is one "which shall
      > restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them
      otherwise
      > free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and
      > shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned." For
      > Cato, this is cited as a generic creed against taxes and regulation.
      But
      > for Jefferson and the republican movement in early America, taking from
      > the mouth of labor the bread it has earned was a slogan of egalitarian
      > populism and referred specifically to the Federalists' debt-funding
      > plan, which was designed, many believed, to create a new financial
      > aristocracy out of revenues paid by the people. The Jeffersonian
      defense
      > of labor's bread condemned upward redistribution, not downward
      > redistribution. Certainly, it was not the blanket condemnation of taxes
      > and regulation Cato would have us believe.
      >
      > If the welfare state means progressive taxation, social spending to
      > strengthen the middle class and elevate the poor, and the regulation of
      > corporate power, it does not offend Jeffersonian principles. What
      > offends Jeffersonian principles is a government that "fortifies the
      > conspiracies" of the rich and powerful (as Philadelphia republican
      > George Logan put it in 1792), leaving ordinary people without
      protection
      > from their strategies and combinations and their public disregard. By
      > that standard, we have reached a new low point of Jeffersonian liberty.
      > In Jefferson's name, the government has promoted inequality, not
      > restrained it. It has punished poor communities, weakened the middle
      > class, and created a new ruling class that makes our old Loyalist
      > enemies seem moderate and unjustly maligned. The people responsible for
      > this certainly do have a philosophy of limited government. But their
      > limited government is the Gilded Age version, a doctrine of elite
      > self-defense. It is not the early American version, where the beginning
      > of freedom is equality of productive resources, and limiting government
      > is necessary to prevent that equality from being destroyed by wealthy
      > elites.
      >
      > Lew Daly is a senior fellow at Demos in New York City. He is the author
      > of God and the Welfare State (Boston Review Books/MIT Press, 2006).
      > Unjust Deserts, coauthored with Gar Alperovitz, is forthcoming in Fall
      > 2008 from the New Press.
      >
      > --
      > Dan Clore
      >
      > My collected fiction: _The Unspeakable and Others_
      > http://tinyurl. com/2gcoqt
      > Lord We�rdgliffe & Necronomicon Page:
      > http://tinyurl. com/292yz9
      > News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:
      > http://groups. yahoo.com/ group/smygo
      >
      > Skipper: Professor, will you tell these people who is
      > in charge on this island?
      > Professor: Why, no one.
      > Skipper: No one?
      > Thurston Howell III: No one? Good heavens, this is anarchy!
      > -- _Gilligan's Island_, episode #6, "President Gilligan"
      >


















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