03302015Mon
Last updateTue, 24 Mar 2015 11am
MrBeer Home Brewing Kits - Make a great gift!  Free shipping on select kits throught Christmas.
Louie Gohmert: Boehner ‘Sold Out’ & ‘Betrayed’ Republicans

Louie Gohmert: Boehner ‘Sold Out’ & ‘Betrayed’ Republicans

Truth be told...

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) is challengin...

Sledding a liability which must be outlawed; Some cities are just out to kill fun

Sledding a liability which must be outlawed; Some cities are just out to kill fun

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP)  – As anyone who has grown up arou...

Diversions: Recycling a phone book into a work of gourmet paper mache art

Diversions: Recycling a phone book into a work of gourmet paper mache art

Absolutely nothing to do with politics, just a three mi...

Government Pummels Farmers Into Oblivion - Then Subsidizes the Wreckage

Government Pummels Farmers Into Oblivion - Then Subsidizes the Wreckage

The late, inordinately great Ronald Reagan provided exp...

GameStop, Inc.

Business

SETTING

News

SETTING

Founding Documents

SETTING

OP/ED

SETTING

What Freedom of Speech?

What Freedom of Speech?

The photos of 40 of the world's government leaders marching arm-in-arm along a P...

The Progressive Legacy: Part II

Thomas SowellThomas Sowell"Often wrong but never in doubt" is a phrase that summarizes much of what was done by Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, the two giants of the Progressive era, a century ago.

Their legacy is very much alive today, both in their mindset — including government picking winners and losers in the economy and interventionism in foreign countries — as well as specific institutions created during the Progressive era, such as the income tax and the Federal Reserve System.

Like so many Progressives today, Theodore Roosevelt felt no need to study economics before intervening in the economy. He said of "economic issues" that "I am not deeply interested in them, my problems are moral problems." For example, he found it "unfair" that railroads charged different rates to different shippers, reaching the moral conclusion that these rates were discriminatory and should be forbidden "in every shape and form."

It never seemed to occur to TR that there could be valid economic reasons for the railroads to charge the Standard Oil Company lower rates for shipping their oil. At a time when others shipped their oil in barrels, Standard Oil shipped theirs in tank cars — which required a lot less work by the railroads than loading and unloading the same amount of oil in barrels.

Theodore Roosevelt was also morally offended by the fact that Standard Oil created "enormous fortunes" for its owners "at the expense of business rivals." How a business can offer consumers lower prices without taking customers away from businesses that charge higher prices is a mystery still unsolved to the present day, when the very same arguments are used against Wal-Mart.

The same preoccupation with being "fair" to high-cost producers who were losing customers to low-cost producers has turned anti-trust law on its head, for generations after the Progressive era. Although anti-trust laws and policies have been rationalized as ways of keeping monopolies from raising prices to consumers, the actual thrust of anti-trust activity has more often been against businesses that charged lower prices than their competitors.

Theodore Roosevelt's anti-trust attacks on low-price businesses in his time were echoed in later "fail trade" laws, and in attacks against "unfair" competition by the Federal Trade Commission, another agency spawned in the Progressive era.

Woodrow Wilson's Progressivism was very much in the same mindset.

Government intervention in the economy was justified on grounds that "society is the senior partner in all business."

The rhetorical transformation of government into "society" is a verbal sleight-of-hand trick that endures to this day. So is the notion that money earned in the form of profits requires politicians' benediction to be legitimate, while money earned under other names apparently does not.

Thus Woodrow Wilson declared: "If private profits are to be legitimized, private fortunes made honorable, these great forces which play upon the modern field must, both individually and collectively, be accommodated to a common purpose."

And just who will decide what this common purpose is and how it is to be achieved? "Politics," according to Wilson, "has to deal with and harmonize" these various forces.

In other words, the government — politicians, bureaucrats and judges — are to intervene, second-guess and pick winners and losers, in a complex economic process of which they are often uninformed, if not misinformed, and a process in which they pay no price for being wrong, regardless of how high a price will be paid by the economy.

If this headstrong, busybody approach seems familiar because it is similar to what is happening today, that is because it is based on fundamentally the same vision, the same presumptions of superior wisdom, and the same kind of lofty rhetoric we hear today about "fairness." Wilson even used the phrase "social justice."

Woodrow Wilson also won a Nobel Prize for peace, like the current president — and it was just as undeserved. Wilson's "war to end wars" in fact set the stage for an even bigger, bloodier and more devastating Second World War.

But, then as now, those with noble-sounding rhetoric are seldom judged by what consequences actually follow.


Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305. His website is www.tsowell.com.

COPYRIGHT 2012 CREATORS.COM

BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS
" Nothing in the world is more flexible and yielding than water. Yet when it attacks the firm and the strong, none can withstand it, because they have no way to change it. So the flexible overcome the adamant, the yielding overcome the forceful. Everyone knows this, but no one can do it. "

--Lao Tzu

Please consider contributing, if only a couple of bucks, the cost of countering the liberal media is arduous and costly.

  

Recommended Reading...

Lumber Liquidators
Tractor Supply Company