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The pair of words at the top of the conserva-dictionary these days has to be those Bobbsey Twins of political attack: anti-American and un-American.  Michelle Bachman has called on the press to investigate "anti-American" members of Congress. Rand Paul called the president "un-American" for trying to hold BP accountable for the damage to the Gulf region. Oliver North says that President Obama has a "core-philosophy of being anti-American." The appropriately named Dick Morris says that Obama is the "first anti-American president."  

This isn't exactly a new coinage. The un and anti have been pulled out many times to fling against those who have in the past protested some aspect of national policy, especially those who've failed to cheer loudly enough for war.  But these days it's not so much generic hippy punching that brings out the twins. Instead they're generally fired over the bow of anyone the right sees as deviating from the one true path -- that of the unrestrained free market. President Obama is a frequent target because of his many real and imagined slights against the market. After all, while the current president didn't start the bank bailout (even if many Americans think he did), he did support at least mild regulation of Wall Street run wild, and he spent all that money on "shovel ready" infrastructure products even though it meant running up the debt, he did invest in the failing auto industry, and he... um, well, he's done lots of other socialist things too. They're sure of it. Barack Obama has even promoted the kind of America where children give away lemonade (really, that's what's wrong with America -- too much free lemonade).

Conservatives pull out the "anti-American" tag in going after every intrusion of the government into the economy. They leave little doubt that America and the "free market" are synonymous. But here't here's the thing: there is an American eonomic system, and while defining what it is takes a little time, defining what it's not is simple.  It's not the free market.

The American economic system -- the system defined by George Washington and Alexander Hamilton -- came directly out of the challenges faced by our nation. America, as a new country, was at a huge disadvantage to Europe when it came to the ability to produce manufactured goods. American-made goods at the time were often lesser quality, more expensive, or both when compared to products coming from European factories. Both men were well aware of free market principles (On the Wealth of Nations was published in 1776) and there were those among the founders that pushed Washington to run the country along a purely market-driven philosophy. An unregulated free market backed up by the gold standard was the basis of the "English System," and the British had enjoyed more than a little success.

Washington and Hamilton might have emulated the nation they had just defeated on the battlefield, but that wasn't the path they chose. Instead, steep tariffs were imposed on imported goods. These inflated the price of products from European factories and allowed American makers to both capture more of the market and turn a higher profit. With that money, American factories were enlarged and became more numerous.

There was another problem at the time -- states were nearly bankrupt. The cost of financing the War of Independence had emptied the coffers, and many states were having trouble paying off their loans. At the same time, hundreds of state and local banks were operating under different rules, different rates, even different currencies. The country was awash in speculators taking advantage of differences in exchange rates and shipping costs to rack up fortunes while farmers and craftsmen suffered. Think Wall Street was crazy in 2007? Imagine a country with dozens of different currencies and no one regulating the exchange rates. Now imagine how many people learned to game the system.

To address this, Hamilton proposed that the federal government bail-out the states and regulate the financial markets. There was only one problem with this idea -- the federal government was also in debt, and banks were unlikely to loan them money that would be used to regulate those same institutions. Hamilton had an answer for that. He proposed that the US government become the largest stockholder in a bank. Not an existing bank, a new bank. The government would create this bank as a private company, but the government would own the majority of stock. The government would also lay down the rules for the bank, including limits on who could buy stock and what type of investments the bank could make. From this new bank, the government would borrow the money to pay off the states and address federal needs.

The first and largest federal need? The $2 million it would take to buy stock in the new bank. The solution? The new bank loaned it to us. Got that? We made the bank, the bank then loaned us the money to buy the bank. Even paying back the loan was more than we could afford, so Hamilton made a proposal popular with politicians in any age, a "sin tax." In this case, it was a tax on imported and domestic spirits (to see how well that went, just look up the Whiskey Rebellion).

With the money from the new government-owned bank, the US could take care of its own debts and those of the states. The government could regulate currency and set rules on trading. It also started in on a series of large infrastructure projects -- roads, canals, and public buildings.

That, brothers and sisters, was the American economic system. Those who worry that we've wandered too far from the vision of the founding fathers might want to remember that in George Washington's first term, the government was involved in:

  • selectively restricting imports
  • bailing out debts of states
  • being the majority owner of a private company
  • clamping down on fiscal speculation
  • executing a "stimulus plan" of infrastructure projects
And all of this goodness was paid for by new taxes.

The American school of economics was founded on these ideas: selective tariffs, government regulation of banks, and strong investment in infrastructure. Under later presidents a fourth plank was added to this platform -- investment in public education.

Within a space of decades, the American school of economics gave us... America. America the economic power that matched, then surpassed any of its European rivals. The success of American economics was so clear that Lincoln's economic advisor, could write these words...

Two systems are before the world;... One looks to increasing the necessity of commerce; the other to increasing the power to maintain it. One looks to underworking the Hindoo, and sinking the rest of the world to his level; the other to raising the standard of man throughout the world to our level. One looks to pauperism, ignorance, depopulation, and barbarism; the other to increasing wealth, comfort, intelligence, combination of action, and civilization. One looks towards universal war; the other towards universal peace.

That other system, the sinking, pauper-ignorance-war making system? That was the English System, the system we now call "the free market."

Of course, the American school of economics was never followed by 100% of Americans. It's fortunes waxed and waned, taking huge hits at the start of the 20th century -- particularly under Woodrow Wilson. These days, we're taught to believe that protectionism was one of the causes of the 1929 stock market crash, but the truth is it was leaving the old system that caused a unsupportable increase in stock prices. Reduction of tariffs, easing of regulation, and the end of the National Bank system moved money away from internal investments and toward international trade and speculation.  The Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act was signed into being after the crash in an attempt to restore some fragment of the old system. It's not clear what, if any, effect these tariffs had, but under the New Deal funds were diverted from speculation back to infrastructure -- pulling America up from the depression.

These days we're also fed the idea that in this "flat" world, any attempt to return to the American system would be disastrous. We couldn't possibly impose tariffs as post-war Japan did until it was operating at a trade surplus. We couldn't possibly deal that way with our "partners" such as China -- where American automobiles face steep tariffs so steep that their products are uncompetitive unless they partner with Chinese-owned companies. The evidence of the last century is that nations practicing a "free trade" system, always export jobs to countries practicing the American system. But hey, America can't possibly use the American system. It would be... un-American.

The free market system was not the original economic system of America. It wasn't the system that brought us to international power, not the system that carried us through World War II, not written into our Constitution in any way. In fact, one of the primary powers granted federal authority is the regulation of the economy. It was clearly understood that economic anarchy was incompatible with democracy.

In saying that any move against an absolute free market is un-American, conservatives are declaring that Washington was un-American, Hamilton was un-American, Lincoln was un-American.

The truth is that the free market is opposed to the American economic system, but America the country has no predefined economic system. It's not hard-coded that we follow the American system, the free market system, or any other system. One of the goals of the constitution was to give us the flexibility to adapt economic policy to the times. Pretending that we must remain wedded to one system no matter what (even when that system has as long a record of failure as the so-called free market) -- that's really anti-American.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 06:00 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Virtual HR (4+ / 0-)

    Why? Because Obama maybe, could be, as told to them by their cat, be a "socialist."

    You're dissing cats. They have more sense.

  •  asdf (17+ / 0-)

    It's not hard-coded that we follow the American system, the free market system, or any other system. One of the goals of the constitution was to give us the flexibility to adapt economic policy to the times.

    At school in the UK, in the class called Government and Politics, we were taught that the fundamental difference between our two parties was based around this idea. That if we voted, we were effectively voting for a heavily regulated form of capitalism or a lightly regulated one and that everything else was in effect window dressing.

    This was in 1974 and I was only 14 but that has always stuck with me.

    •  Still true... (16+ / 0-)

      though these days the choice is between "everybody grab everything you can get, even if it means ripping it out of people's teeth!" and "um, maybe we should have some limits on tooth-grabbing."

      In other words, both parties are way, way over in free market land and vary only by a much smaller degree than in the past.

      Oh, and of course the two parties have flipped places. The number one opponent of Hamilton's economic principles was Thomas Jefferson, and it Democrats remained the more free-market party through the start of the 20th century. The party that tried to restore government regulation of the economy after Wilson was the Republicans. It wasn't until FDR took up the New Deal that the current roles of the parties really started to gel.

      That period from 1910-1930 shows a lot of dithering hand half-measures on both sides that failed to address the speculative rampage. Unfortunately, it looks very familiar.

      •  They are not in free-market land. (11+ / 0-)

        Both parties (you're talking Dems and Reps, right?)support extensive government involvement in the economy. They just differ slightly on how many crumbs should be tossed to people who work for a living.

        When we try to regulate toxic products - whether medicine, cosmetics, or bank loans - Reps scream bloody murder about government f*cking up the free market, and Dems nod soberly that government should tread as lightly as possible. But when the government gives money and aid to business in the form of research and development, usually through the Pentagon or the university system, both parties are as quiet as church mice.

        In other words, we can't have it both ways. We can't continue to define the "free market" in such a narrow way that ignores these truths.

        Never be deceived that the rich will permit you to vote away their wealth. - Lucy Parsons

        by cruz on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 06:21:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Ah..a debate where my sig has relevance... (11+ / 0-)

          I crafted it because it has always been clear to me that despite all of the bleating about the virtues of a "free market economy," we have not had truly free markets for the better part of our history....nor has the world in general.

          Hell, during the revolution, the British manipulated markets with taxes to protect home industries and force the colonies to buy their goods.

          And today, as I have noted so many times, it doesn't take more than a femto-second to spot a vast array of examples as to why markets are not free - a few of my favorites:

          If markets were truly free, your cable service would hand you a list of all the channels they offer and you would be able to pick only the ones you want.  In a free marketplace, the channels that didn't get public support would wither and die or be heavily subsidized by people who believe "The Knife Store" fulfills a major human need.

          If markets were truly free, Congress would not have specifically forbidden the purchase of drugs from Canada and barred government from using its buying power to negotiate better rates from drug companies.

          If markets were truly free, most of the agriculture subsidy program would be toast.

          And of course, if markets were truly free, industry wouldn't have to keep paying so much to get Congress to stick regulations in bills to protect their interests in violation of free market principles.

          We've manipulated markets pretty much from day one, but we love to claim we  are true believers of the "free market system."  There never has truly been one and there never will be because we regulate markets (to varying degrees of success) to achieve various ends -- protect the common good, achieve a social benefit, or simple greed.

          So every time someone starts crowing about how much they value free market principles or how their opponent is killing free enterprise, ask them which part of the free market system they are talking about.

          Free markets would be a great idea, if markets were actually free.

          by dweb8231 on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 07:35:52 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  There's no money in a "free market". (8+ / 0-)

            Businesses that want to make big money find ways to rig markets. They couldn't stand the competition that a free market would bring.

            •  They change laws to make "crime" legal (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              They buy off congress for a pittance. Then the politicians change laws that make it legal for corporations to steal from people (many times the lobbyists actually write the legislation that the politicians sponsor.) Rinse and repeat.

              When you look at the relatively small cost of lobbying and campaign contributions, it is staggering how much money the corporations get in return for such a tiny investment.

              Most of the politicians in DC are actually whores for money. And we aren't talking high class ones, like Klute, we are talking a few steps below the Jodie Foster character in Taxi Driver. The corporations are dropping a few quarters on the table and the panties (and boxers) of the DC politicians hit the floor.

              This would almost be funny, if they weren't in fact giving away the fortune of working class people, all the appease a tiny percentage of fat cats at the top.

              It has been the biggest heist in the history of the world, with the politicians and MSM driving the get-away car.

              Everything I write is within a margin of error of precisely 100%.

              by Bailey Savings and Loan on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 11:41:04 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  I agree with what you said... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            happymisanthropy, Dirtandiron

            ....but I think the people who push the term "free market," mean it exactly as you pointed out; the monopoly protection economic system. They just call it a "free market," because real 'mericans are free.

            The sleep of reason produces monsters.

            by Alumbrados on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 08:23:29 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  "Free markets," like most of the other concepts.. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            ..with freedom in them that our beloved nation is so soundly based on are become just so much more bullshit - a scam to keep the ants busy while the grasshoppers vacation on the beaches of the Riveria.

            P.S. from Wiki: "a femtosecond is to a second, what a second is to about 31.7 million years."

            In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king; in the land of the braindead, the intelligent person is cast as the village idiot."

            by dendron gnostic on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 09:16:20 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Close to the irony (0+ / 0-)

            One of the overlooked ironies of today's topsy-turvy politics is the idea that "Tea Party" activists are looking to the American Revolution as their model for what we should be doing today.

            But the fact is that the political and economic policies that "Tea Party" activists claim to promote are exactly the opposite of those that the original Boston Tea Party colonists were in favor of.

            The Boston Tea Party was a protest against government power being used to promote corporate power and profits at the expense of the consumer (there was no middle class at the time).  Today's Tea Party -- as recently revealed in their falling into lockstep with corporate interests and against their own with the letter about Net Neutrality -- is an agent of corporations to claim that any interference in their ability to garner maximum profits at the expense of the middle class is "socialism."

            There are many, many things wrong with the Tea Party and its perversions of politics, economics, and the rights of the individual.  But the number one irony is that they claim by their name agreement with people who would be appalled by everything they say, the real revolutionaries who broke this country free from not just the English government, but from the British East India Company and its monopoly on tea.

            Which was what the original Tea Party was all about, after all.

            "... there is no humane way to rule people against their will." Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine

            by Noziglia on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 10:32:45 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  I don't understand this (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Rolfyboy6, StrayCat

        He proposed that the US government become the largest stockholder in a bank. Not an existing bank, a new bank. The government would create this bank as a private company, but the government would own the majority of stock.

        I don't understand why Hamilton would propose setting up the new bank as a private company instead of a bank wholly owned and operated by the U.S.  Did this have something to do with the fear that congress - or whatever arm of government, presumably congress - would operate the bank as a political enterprise rather than a wholly economic enterprise, or what?

        "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

        by SueDe on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 06:53:06 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think you missed the "money for nothing" trick (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          The government needed money. It couldn't give it to itself - it didn't have any. So it founded a private bank that would loan it the money. (And yes, and probably make more sense to a 5-year-old than to a 50-year-old, but...)

          If you can't convince them, confuse them. (Harry S. Truman)

          by brainwave on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 07:44:12 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Hamilton was a brilliant man (4+ / 0-)

            with a streak of creative cynicism which recognized that people's belief in the value of money was purely psychological and that the government had to strong arm the financial markets.  He consolidated all the state's war debts and issued bonds on the debt and forced the war debt holders to take the bonds which made the bonds worth something as the bondholders needed to have a market in them to get their money back.  He then sold more bonds on the open market for the cash to run the government.  Washington understood all this and gave Hamilton the go ahead and vigorously supported the whole scheme.  It worked.

            "It's too LATE to stop now!" - John Lee Hooker

            by Rolfyboy6 on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 08:04:58 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  I'm not a Phd in economic history, but one... (0+ / 0-)

          ...reason why Hamilton wanted a private entity, IMHO: just imagine Congress trying to manage a Federal Bank.  We wouldn't have made it past the War of 1812 under that kind of set-up.

          In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king; in the land of the braindead, the intelligent person is cast as the village idiot."

          by dendron gnostic on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 09:19:41 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Hamilton also (0+ / 0-)

          sought to align the interests of the elites with those of the country. By having a private venture that essentially controlled the newly independent economy, Hamilton had no trouble enticing the wealthy and influential to the opportunity. That was the source of Jefferson's objection, that the Treasury Department was created with the intent to favor the wealthy over the common man.

  •  This is the kind of article (32+ / 0-)

    I wish were being printed in some mainstream publication rather than being preached to us here in the Great Orange Choir. Thems who need it will never read it.

    "The great lie of democracy, its essential paradox, is that democracy is first to be sacrificed when its security is at risk." --Ian McDonald

    by Geenius at Wrok on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 06:09:14 AM PDT

  •  Nice essay. Two quibbles -- (17+ / 0-)

    so Hamilton made a proposal popular with politicians in any age, a "sin tax." In this case, it was a tax on imported and domestic spirits (to see how well that went, just look up the Whiskey Rebellion).

    This was a bit more complex. It wasn't that farmers wanted people to drink. It was that distilling corn into whiskey made it easier to get to market. So this, at bottom, was an infrastructure issue too.

    And as far as "internal improvements," that was a contentious debate that didn't begin to wind down until about 1850. One of the ironies is that New York boosted its status over Philadelphia and other cities because the Erie Canal could be built entirely within a single state.

    No other state had that advantage though Pennsylvania tried and geography made it impossible.

    Neither Washington nor Hamilton lived to see Albert Gallatin get the ball rolling on this part of the plan.

    •  Also (6+ / 0-)

      The spirits tax was disproportionately harsher on smaller, "western" distillers than on bigger, eastern ones (of which Washington was one of the biggest, being one of the richest landowners in the US at the time). So the former's anger is understandable.

      Of course, the Erie Canal (which Hamilton would have undoubtedly supported had he lived and which was ironically promoted by DeWitt Clinton, the son of his enemy NY governor George Clinton) made the conversion of corn into whiskey less necessary.

      History is rich with such ironies.

      "Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" --Alexander Hamilton

      by kovie on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 06:23:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Global Entrepot Possible (4+ / 0-)

      "...And as far as "internal improvements," that was a contentious debate that didn't begin to wind down until about 1850. One of the ironies is that New York boosted its status over Philadelphia and other cities because the Erie Canal could be built entirely within a single state..."

      I don't believe it was the Erie Canal's being in only one state which was so significant.  What drove New York to dominance was that it was the only seaport through which the trade moving on the Great Lakes and its catchment basin could be brought easily and cheaply to the ocean.  That opened the old Northwest Territories to exploitation for agricultural purposes and ultimately the metallurgical industries, like coal and iron.  Those made the great industrial centers in northern New York (Buffalo, Syracuse, Schenectady, Troy) possible as the iron and steel moved toward its ultimate export.

      These industries got a head start on what was possible in the cities farther south which would need to rely on railroads, like Baltimore and Philadelphia.  Today we forget just how great a relative metropolis these cities and New Orleans were in the days after the War of 1812.

      "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

      by PrahaPartizan on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 07:07:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  You clearly haven't read the Right history. (21+ / 0-)

    The United States was born in the late 19th century by corporate persons who, at that time, were free from income taxes, regulations, limits on monopolies, labor unions, racial integration, women's rights, and other socialist reforms that eventually crippled the beautiful nation created by the Founding Fathers: John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, Jerry Falwell, et. al. You just need to read the Right books....

  •  There's no free market and there never has been. (23+ / 0-)

    Our "free market" involves:

    1. heavy, heavy taxpayer subsidies for research and development (computers, internet, containerization, factory automation, etc);
    1. massive government giveaways (hello? 1/6 of the total land mass of the country given away free to the railroads? The digital spectrum?);
    1. government/state violence on behalf of corporate power (from suppression of labor to "opening up" foreign markets to military/security aid so countries can keep their own populations in line)
    1. an advertising/public relations industry, the sole purpose of which is to undermine the free market and get us to purchase things we don't need;
    1. externalities, the massive costs of doing business borne by the public;

    ...and keep the list going, if you like. I never learned any of this in ECON 100, by the way, which as far as I'm concerned makes economics one of the most bullshit "sciences" ever created.

    See you in Detroit this June for the United States Social Forum!

    by cruz on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 06:12:17 AM PDT

  •  As you know, conservatives are more than willing (11+ / 0-)

    to 'tweak' the supposedly free market, if it benefits them.

    The only time I really perceive Adam Smith's proverbial invisible hand is when it's giving us the finger!

    I wish I could rec your diary, Mark Sumner aka. Thank you for taking on this terrible myth.

    "The opposite of war isn't peace, it's CREATION." _ Jonathan Larson, RENT

    by BeninSC on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 06:13:51 AM PDT

  •  That's "Footsucker" Dick Morris (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    StrayCat, Matt Z, Dirtandiron

    Just so we're clear about what the guy enjoys doing in his free time. I'm a pretty liberal guy when it comes to sex, but even that one is a little weird for me.

    •  I missed Popsicle toes again! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      StrayCat, Matt Z, Dirtandiron

      GOP says you are either a baby killer, or a killer baby.

      by 88kathy on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 06:18:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  ****sucker Dick Morris (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      has a little plan for Republicans in 2010, when they take back the House and Senate:

      ...The Republican solution to state financial distress should be simple: The Party should insist on a change in the federal bankruptcy law providing for a procedure for state bankruptcy (none now exists). This process must call for abrogation of all state and local public employee union contracts as is usually done in private sector bankruptcies. By freeing states and local governments (including school boards) of their union obligations on wages, work rules, staffing, and pensions, they have a chance to survive and, indeed, to prosper. But merely subsidizing these massive expenditures just prolongs the misery of the states in question.

      The collapse of overspending state governments must trigger the diminution of the power unions hold over their budgets and their politics. Their coming bankruptcies offer an opportunity for reform and the Republican Congress – backed by newly elected Republican state governments – give us precisely the opportunity we need to effectuate it.

      Bankruptcy: The New Republican Plan to subvert the American worker! ...courtesy of Dick ***sucker Morris.

      TAX THE RICH! They have money! I'm a Democrat. That's why!

      by ezdidit on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 08:30:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  When most Americans talk about the (12+ / 0-)

    economy and free markets and argue for the limited role of government, we have to keep in mind that for them these are very narrow terms, and we should also note the distinction between theory and practice.  And of course their thinking occurs in an absolute historical vacuum.

    Take the neoliberal bent that emerged post WWII and became dominant in the early 1970s.  

    In theory the 'free market' is alleged to be the greatest guarantor of freedom, individual choice, human rights, and protection of property rights, with the government's sole responsibilities limited to protection of property rights and the creation of markets where none exist (education, pollution, etc.)  In practice, capitalism, to function at all as a system, needs government - in fact requires government - namely for the protection of the quality and integrity of the money supply, a juridical apparatus to enforce and interpret contracts, a police and military to quell social unrest and protect internal and external markets and market participants, etc.  What is really meant then by lack of government impingement on the economy is that government should never distribute downward wealth or income and thus social power.  Instead the levers of power of the government are to be used to enhance ruling class hegemony.

    No public option. Well, at least we are no longer in Iraq or Afghanistan...

    by Pierro Sraffa on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 06:16:51 AM PDT

  •  Which is why I have to chuckle (7+ / 0-)

    every time some well-meaning but clearly uninformed liberal (and not a few tenth amendment-worshipping libertarians) scoffs at "that nefarious monarchist Hamilton", who for all of his undeniable faults was one of the indispensible geniuses to whom we owe so much for his foresight, planning and hard work in setting up the fundamentals of the America that we live in--especially its economic and public policy ones.

    Ironically, it was Jefferson, the founder of what was to become the Democratic party and a hero to most liberals, who was one of the founders of the school of free market, small government, states rights, nullification-endorsing libertarianism--i.e. teabaggery--that us lefties have come to despise and redicule as being contrary to most of the founders and framers' intentions, and an unfair and untenable way to run a country and economy. In many ways, Hamilton was far more progressive than Jefferson.

    But let's not go starting another Hamilton-Jefferson war. ;-)

    "Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" --Alexander Hamilton

    by kovie on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 06:17:46 AM PDT

  •  It's reminding me a bit of the nascient Bush- (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    StrayCat, Dirtandiron

    Fleischer propaganda campaign to conflate "freedom" and "free market" -- an Orwellian Newspeak campaign whose overt portion, at least, was abandoned when the 9/11 attacks gave Bush-Cheney the chance to become a war administration.

    The overwhelming consensus of 2,000+ scientific experts from the IPCC& 18 US scientific assns: climate change is happening and is a growing threat to our wo

    by Cenobyte on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 06:19:36 AM PDT

  •  The GOP has transgress the laws of prosperity (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dratman, StrayCat, OHknighty

    by selling their political votes to various Corporations. To cover up their deception, the GOP are quick to point fingers.

    The GOP have swindled the American people and are determine to have someone else take the blame. Nice people don't you agree?

  •  Constitution makes clear we're not free market (9+ / 0-)

    where actors can freely enter the marketplace.

    Consider just the following provisions from Article I Section 8:

    To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;. . .

    To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

    Both of those provisions limit free entrance into certain markets.

    The idea of licenses, which became of great significance in 1825 in Gibbons v Ogden, is also contrary to a truly free market economy.

    Further, from our earliest days we had some government industries -  Armories, for example, and remember the last shot before the Civil War was John Brown going after the Federal Armory in Harper's Ferry.

    We are, and have always been, a mixed economy.

    "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

    by teacherken on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 06:21:36 AM PDT

  •  Well here we are (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    back at that "Hindoo" part again.

    American business is about maximizing shareholder value. You basically don't want workers. ~Allen Sinai

    by ActivistGuy on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 06:21:45 AM PDT

  •  "Americanism" is about freedom (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    brown american

    What we want is as much freedom as possible, consistent with people not abusing that freedom to abuse others.  Conservatives often get stupid when it comes to regulation of markets, since the fact of the matter is that fraud does happen, it is not normally best regulated by the market, and some government intervention is thus necessary.

    At the same time, one can ask reasonable questions such as: is Obamacare necessarily the best means of making healthcare more affordable for all Americans?  Is Social Security in its current form the most efficient means of providing a social safety net for the elderly?

    In any process of thinking, one must always begin with the end in mind.  My own personal goal for our nation would be a nation in which hard work always yields wealth, which would necessarily mean equality of opportunity.  We do not have equality of opportunity currently, since people have unequal access to sources of funding, and--more importantly--access to the information that success is possible.

    In my view, the best single thing we could do to foster generalized wealth would be to reform our financial system--really, radically rework it.  I have a series of essays on by diary building that case, which ends with a proposal to do essentially what Hamilton did with his Bank of the United States, but include in that process the eradication of all consumer and business debt, such that we start anew, and then establish a stable currency which cannot be manipulated for their benefit by a power elite.  Hamilton, to be clear, was an unabashed elitist, as were most all of the Founding Fathers.  It was common then.  That is why they didn't create a true democracy.

    When I get time, I intend to figure out how to apply that same framework to international development.  The basic problem, I think, is that the IMF and World Bank have been used to in effect enslave many developing nations with debt.  The debt, in most cases, is incurred by a power elite for their benefit, and used to support autocratic governence that is anti-free market, and thus anti-development.

    It is not for nothing that the inventor of the microloan won the Nobel Prize.

    That's enough for now.  Somebody will probably try to HR me just for being me anyway.

    To see clearly is poetry, prophecy and religion--all in one. John Ruskin

    by barrycooper on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 06:30:51 AM PDT

    •  Not for being you (4+ / 0-)

      but maybe for using the right-wing loaded term "Obamacare."

      Besides which, America's regional subcultures have never agreed on what "freedom" is: whether it's the freedom of a community to collectively establish, promote and enforce its own values; the freedom of an individual to follow his conscience; the freedom not to be dominated, while dominating whomever else you might; or the freedom to be left alone to do whatever the hell you want, harm or injustice be damned.

      "The great lie of democracy, its essential paradox, is that democracy is first to be sacrificed when its security is at risk." --Ian McDonald

      by Geenius at Wrok on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 06:33:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Nor need we (0+ / 0-)

        agree on the definition of "freedom".  The point of our system was to allow disparate and even contradictory moral impulses free reign through the sovereignty of the sundry States.

        In my view, Liberalism is founded, necessarily, on the notion that it is empirically impossible to determine what the absolute, final, irrefutable truth is when it comes to moral law.

        This is the point of freedom.  If the absolute truth were knowable, then anyone who disputed it would be a heretic, and those who ran the government fully justified in torturing and executing them, as was done in the Medieval Church, Nazi Germany, and Communist Russia.  It is done today in Communist China, albeit to a much lesser extent than 40 years ago. Cuba still has hundreds of people in prison whose only crime was speaking about an alternative view of reality.

        To see clearly is poetry, prophecy and religion--all in one. John Ruskin

        by barrycooper on Mon Aug 16, 2010 at 04:18:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  But what is freedom? (4+ / 0-)

      If I want to get to my job, I have the freedom to choose between buying a car and walking 20 miles. Because there is no feasible public transportation (because I don't have an extra five hours a day). Is that freedom? Wouldn't a well-financed, extensive public transportation system expand my freedom?

      Never be deceived that the rich will permit you to vote away their wealth. - Lucy Parsons

      by cruz on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 06:52:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Freedom is contextual (0+ / 0-)

        We always have to look at the effects on all concerned.  When it comes to public transit, it is hard to make an argument against it, and I won't.

        On the debit side we might pay more in taxes, although I would think fares could largely finance a public transport system.  On the positive side, all of us get more room on the road if we drive, we endure less pollution, and for those who use it they save the cost of car, and don't have to drive themselves.

        These are just a few considerations.  My only dogma is that all moral judgments have be contextualized.  This this dogma, itself, has no context, it is quite flexible.

        To see clearly is poetry, prophecy and religion--all in one. John Ruskin

        by barrycooper on Mon Aug 16, 2010 at 04:20:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Debt forgiveness is has a very old history (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      StrayCat, happymisanthropy, mali muso

      Solon did it.  Various Roman politicians did it.  Unless it is surrounded by other reforms, as Solon did, it will be at most a temporary fix.

      You are espousing a version of the "Liberty" myth, that the founders wanted to maximize individuality at the expense of all other things. As Devilstower has just shown us, that myth is so fragile, it cannot be sustained by even a cursory examination of American history.

      "It was like that when I got here." - Homer Simpson

      by rbird on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 07:01:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's even in the ****ing Bible (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        that the wingnuts claim to "love" so much. Every 50th year in the original state of Israel was a Jubilee Year - all debts forgiven, all slaves freed, all land returned to the previous owners, etc. They basically reshuffled and redealt the cards every 50 years.

        Eventually, of course, the system became too corrupt to be salvaged by the Jubilee system, but it seems to have worked pretty well for quite some time.

        If it's
        Not your body
        Then it's
        Not your choice
        AND it's
        None of your damn business!

        by TheOtherMaven on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 10:09:24 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  It's not the founding fathers (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        who advanced the theme of "rugged individualism" regarding this country's citizens.  It was the westward expansion of the population and the necessity of relying on oneself and one's own "bootstraps" to survive.  Of course this frame of mind was never reality either, contrary to John Wayne movies; no progress is ever made without community and laws (whether written or unwritten) that govern individuals' interactions within that community.

        "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

        by SueDe on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 10:11:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  So true, the westward expansionists needed the (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          power of law to confiscate the land held by the native peoples to distribute to the European descended "settlers" who expropriated the tribal lands for themselves.  While the tribal peoples also had conflicts among themselves as to who had the rights to hunt and travel on which lands, they had nothing like the European codified property rights that was imposed American lands by Europeans under the color of law.

          And it feels like I'm livin'in the wasteland of the free ~ Iris DeMent, 1996

          by MrJersey on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 10:21:10 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  They abused the power of law (0+ / 0-)

            in a properly constituted free market economy, contracts--which the Indians had--are enforceable.  They have the power of law, and if the law is changed to abrogate them, that violates both the letter and the spirit of the law.

            No free market proponent can defend much of the 19th Century; not because markets were too free, but because the government was used--often--to protect the claims of the strong against those of the weak.  

            That is not a free market.

            To see clearly is poetry, prophecy and religion--all in one. John Ruskin

            by barrycooper on Mon Aug 16, 2010 at 04:26:42 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Individualism (0+ / 0-)

          is nothing more or less than the recognition that groups cannot perceive en masse.  For that reason, given social psychology, that society will most thrive which most values independence of thought and corresponding action.

          Individualism categorically does not reject social engagement, or the formation of free associations for any purpose whatever.

          To see clearly is poetry, prophecy and religion--all in one. John Ruskin

          by barrycooper on Mon Aug 16, 2010 at 04:24:19 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I doubt seriously you read my piece (0+ / 0-)

        Did you?

        I am unfamiliar with the democratization of debt forgiveness, and am willing to bet that the monetary system I am proposing has never been tried anywhere.  Always, even with a silver or gold standard, money could be added to the system with added gold or silver.

        To see clearly is poetry, prophecy and religion--all in one. John Ruskin

        by barrycooper on Mon Aug 16, 2010 at 04:22:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Free Market is Un-American? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Uncle Milty

    That might well be the most convoluted, specious and ludicrous argument that I've seen here yet.  If anything, the planned economy that the current government has been trying to put in place is un-American...the polar opposite of the piece.

    The job of the American government vis-a-vis business is nothing more than keeping the playing field level--something that neither side of the aisle seems to have the heart to do, given the special interest influence upon all parties.

    •  And how exactly could a level playing field (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      happymisanthropy, Dirtandiron

      with China, Japan, Germany, Singapore, France, Russia, India ... look like. And how could American government achieve that?

      Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away. -- Philip K. Dick

      by RandomGuyFromGermany on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 06:49:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Exactly. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MrJersey, Dirtandiron

        I have a feeling our treaties with those countries prevent us from enacting the same protectionist schemes that our founding fathers enacted.

        And as much as I'm for expanding international goodwill it seems "being nice" is draining us dry.

        If we tariffed imports to death wouldn't that take care of so many of our country's current ills? We don't have to regulate global corporations if we have tariffs in place to ensure they are encouraged to build their manufacturing plants here, to employ workers here, if they want to sell their products here.

    •  When did we not have a planned economy? (3+ / 0-)

      Please tell me where and when we've had a truly free-market economy in our history. I'll save you the trouble - we can't. Your free market is more utopian than socialism.

      Never be deceived that the rich will permit you to vote away their wealth. - Lucy Parsons

      by cruz on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 06:54:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  no one in DC is planning on how many bars of (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cruz, Dirtandiron

        soap P&G should make or how many lawyers should attend graduate from law school.

        "planned economy" is a pejorative to 98% of America.

        "The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason." - Thomas Paine

        by shrike on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 07:43:47 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Um, because those are trivial (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          MrJersey, cruz, Dirtandiron

          Do you understand the TRILLIONS upon TRILLIONS s in direct and implicit subsidies the US has give industries and companies it supports/is lobbied to support over the decades?

          Are you able to even see this entire web of support for entire, rotting, rotten, corrupt, useless swathes of the economy by the government?

          Your "Hayek Liberalism" is pure academic fantasy which apologizes for the ultra elites. It is a JOKE. Nothing more.

          •  like the subsidies in the 2005 Energy Bill? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            happymisanthropy, Dirtandiron

            That is not "planning".  That is simple graft and largesse.  

            So ConAgra lobbies for corn fuels?  Of course it is rotten and infested by lobbyists.  That is the legislative and democratic process even when it fails.

            All economics is academic fantasy at the macro level.

            "The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason." - Thomas Paine

            by shrike on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 08:17:09 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Ok, then how about (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              MrJersey, cruz, happymisanthropy

              the intentional destruction of public transport, the subsidies for development of the suburbs and for suburban home ownership, untold trillions on highways and airports and a massive military to defend all that is required to fuel this utterly unsustainable "way of life."

              How's that for "planning."

              Seems like a number of intertwined economic forces had a rather brilliant 10-20-30-40-50 year plan.

              •  that (and we will agree here) unsustainable (0+ / 0-)

                way of life was overwhelmingly supported by the electorate at the time.  Representative democracy is built into the blank-slate economics of the Constitution.

                As an environmentalist, I deplore the dam projects that delivered water and hydro-electricity to the barren West.

                But we got out voted.

                Did we build our own obsolescence?

                Sadly, we probably did.

                "The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason." - Thomas Paine

                by shrike on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 08:33:42 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  Ever hear of Herbert Hover? (5+ / 0-)

      I guess not, since you are repeating, almost word-for-word, the outmoded brain-dead ideas of the Hover administration.  He got it from pro-business Republicans who had risen to power during the Gilded Age.  Doubly wrong, doubly dangerous to the future of America.  The Great Depression kinda proved that.

      "It was like that when I got here." - Homer Simpson

      by rbird on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 07:10:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Crap, I do that all the time (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        It's Hoover, sorry.  I've done that since my undergrad days, maybe it's a subconscious slam on the guy.  Hoover, like the vacuum cleaner, not Hover, like the craft.  Either way you spell it, he was s sucky prez.

        "It was like that when I got here." - Homer Simpson

        by rbird on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 07:16:20 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  In point of fact (0+ / 0-)

          the New Deal began under Hoover, in all but name.  He started building the Hoover Dam, to employ people.  He built the Golden Gate Bridge, to employ people.

          He interfered in markets through some combination of coercion and persuasion to keep labor rates artificially high. If you contract with the Federal Government today, you still have to pay Davis-Bacon wages, which are roughly 50% higher than would otherwise be the case.

          Hoover engaged in deficit spending to finance his projects.  Keynes himself ratified what Hoover was doing.  Privately, FDR's own people agreed that his basic policies were a continuation of those begun under Hoover.

          I will be writing a piece on the Great Depression before long.  The received view of that unnecessary disaster is in my view entirely wrong.

          To see clearly is poetry, prophecy and religion--all in one. John Ruskin

          by barrycooper on Mon Aug 16, 2010 at 04:32:05 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  keeping the playing field level (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      would not be a free market, and is not a simple task, even without special interest influence.

    •  I think we will need some protectionism (0+ / 0-)

      to restart our manufacturig base, which is essential to our economy. Buy American! sounds good to me, It means jobs here.

  •  When I was a little kid, there used to be these (6+ / 0-)

    Public "Service" Announcements that regularly appeared on TV, on behalf of the "free enterprise" system.  I remember one featured a man sawing off the limb of a tree.  A limb that he was sitting on, while a voice-over warned of the dire consequences of abandoning the "free market" system.
    This would have been some time in the mid to late 60s, I'm thinking, and I suspect the spots were sponsored by the US Chamber of Commerce.  I guess the cold war wasn't too old a memory to make the Chamber fear we were all about to embrace Communism.
    And I'll never forget how these spots angered my Dad, who would say "We don't have free enterprise!  We have controlled enterprise in a free economy!"
    It would be many years before I understood what he was talking about.

    There's something about an Aqua Buddha man.

    by jazzmaniac on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 06:32:30 AM PDT

    •  Those have been around for a long time. (3+ / 0-)

      They were part of the larger anti-union campaign that began in the late 1930s after the NLRA kicked in.

      If you haven't read it, I highly recommend the book  Selling Free Enterprise by Elizabeth Fones-Wolf. She details the post WWII war against labor by business. Check out David Noble's Forces of Production for how automation - funded and developed by the government for business, since it was too expensive and inefficient for the "market" - was designed and implemented to meet the needs of business in their fight against labor.

      Never be deceived that the rich will permit you to vote away their wealth. - Lucy Parsons

      by cruz on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 07:00:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Rec'd for your dad's understanding (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jazzmaniac, Dirtandiron

      of the economy and for your eventually understanding his understanding.

      "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

      by SueDe on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 07:10:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  My dad's father was an acolyte (0+ / 0-)

        of Robert LaFollette and Eugene V. Debs.  It was through my Dad that I got my progressivism.
        I also recall a Chamber Of Commerce funded Warner Brothers cartoon, in which Sylvester the cat inherits a bunch of money, and his owner, Elmer Fudd, explains to him how he has to invest it in our glorious free market to enrich all his fellow citizens.  IIRC, it was directed by Chuck Jones and had to be the least funny thing that man was ever associated with.

        There's something about an Aqua Buddha man.

        by jazzmaniac on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 10:54:29 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The Equation Needs Balancing (4+ / 0-)

    If corporations and manufacturers are going to use a veritable slave labor force to produce cheap goods under a foreign system that imposes no restrictions on them, then it is only sensible for the United States to  force a balance so that more jobs are not lost to companies who desire to make their own rules. I don't think Capitalism or free markets work properly when you have companies that frequently circumvent a level playing field.

    Vote for Cthulhu: Cut out the middleman.

    by The Lone Apple on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 06:32:44 AM PDT

  •  "One of the goals of the constitution . . . " (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "One of the goals of the constitution was to give us the flexibility to adapt economic policy to the times."

    The Constitution stipulates that only gold/silver are recognized as a currency.

    Since 1913 - and beginning of the Fed - the American economy has been adrift. In 1971 - Nixon closed the gold window to pay for the Vietnam war with fiat money.

    The U.S. has been on a collision course with economic reality for nearly four decades withe risk of system risk rising each year.

    In 2007/8 that systemic risk came home to roost. The system is now broken.

    To take advantage of America's vulnerability, other countries; russia and germany for example, are looking to introduce a gold backed currency.

    This would suck most of any of the liquidity left in the U.S. out of the U.S.

    If you view the global economy (not just the U.S. economy) in terms of 'game theory' the picture gets clearer.

    All economies around the world are weak, but in the global game of high stakes financial poker, the U.S. is about to get 'called' holding nothing but a pair of threes.

    •  Bullshit. (0+ / 0-)

      "The Constitution stipulates that only gold/silver are recognized as a currency."

      Where do people get this stuff? The Constitution says that:

      "No State shall...coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts..."

      The states are not allowed to create money. Get it? The STATES. But the Federal Government is specifically allowed:

      To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin...

      To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;

      The problem with arguing with Teabaggers, Gold-Bugs, and Ayn Randites, is that their knowledge is based on a fundamental mis-understanding of the facts. But even after you show them the facts, they don't get any smarter and they remain Teabaggers, Gold-Bugs, and Ayn Randites.

      When will they learn that you can't eat gold?

  •  O. M. G. I had never seen that idiotic (5+ / 0-)

    lemonade column by that idiot Terry Savage. I shouldn't be surprised...but I am.

    I'm surprised that such idiocy gets printed anywhere. That has to be the stupidist piece of garbage ever to slink through my browser.

    Terry Savage is the problem with America, not little girls giving away lemonade.

    That column literally sickened me.

    "Bernie Madoff's mistake was stealing from the rich. If he'd stolen from the poor he'd have a cabinet position." -OPOL

    by blue in NC on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 06:36:31 AM PDT

    •  How much did Jesus charge for the loaves and the (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blue in NC, happymisanthropy

      fishes, and was that un-American?  

      And it feels like I'm livin'in the wasteland of the free ~ Iris DeMent, 1996

      by MrJersey on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 10:27:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, of course, there wasn't even (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        an America...

        but I know what you mean. :-)

        The "Savage Plan" for financial literacy:

        Greed is Good.

        Good lord, greed is an innate human instinct (hence the cries of "MINE!!!!!!!" in preschools across the country); why would anybody advocate teaching greed to young children while portraying generosity and kindness as weaknesses and vices?

        Well, I guess you'd have to be a Republican to understand...

        "Bernie Madoff's mistake was stealing from the rich. If he'd stolen from the poor he'd have a cabinet position." -OPOL

        by blue in NC on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 11:23:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Now here's a REAL religion (4+ / 0-)

    Look, when the Invisible Hand tells you to sacrifice your son (you did oppose sCHIP back then, didn't you? Just checking) you do it. I mean REALLY do it. None of this pussy "I just wanted to test you" stuff.

  •  They Theodo (3+ / 0-)

    re Roosevelt unamerican, which right there is game over. No other president other than Washington was more the every epitome of the nation.

  •  House UNAMERICAN Activities Committee from 50's (4+ / 0-)

    To give an idea of what a right wing 21st century GOP government would look like, we only need look back 50 years at the McCarthy era which was the right wing's counter attack to FDR liberals and liberal policies.

    The twin pillars of GOP ascendancy in the latter half of the 20th century, Nixon and Reagan, were creatures of that GOP right wing "dark ages" of America.  

    Gingrich, North, Bachmann, Armey are creatures of the resulting Reagan era, when America crashed under the weight of the right wing's failed economics and anti-government ideology.

    Obama's failure to attack Reaganomics, his constant praise of Reagan and his appointment of Reagan era right wingers like Simpson (Grayson's aptly named Cat Food Commission to deconstruct Social Security), is why the vampire of "un-American" activities is back.

    2008 election gave Obama a lot of silver bullets and wooden stakes and Obama never used them, now the GOP un-American vampires are on the rise. And still Obama won't shoot and keeps hitting liberals Democrats with the wooden stakes.

    •  HUAC started in the 1930's (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      but was soon diverted to sniffing out anti-Fascist activities ("don't you know there's a war on?").

      It didn't really get going with a witch-hunt of "communists" until 1946-47, by which time people were beginning to look askance at our wartime partner of expediency, the Soviet Union. Didn't take much to whip up the distrust int full-blown paranoia - and Senator McCarthy (he was never part of HUAC, but Richard Nixon most certainly was) saw the wave building and got out his "anti-communist" surfboard.

      If it's
      Not your body
      Then it's
      Not your choice
      AND it's
      None of your damn business!

      by TheOtherMaven on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 10:18:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Why haven't I heard this info before now? (6+ / 0-)

    This is a truly TERRIFIC post.  I've been reading newspapers for decades, and I've been reading since 2004, but I do not recall ever seeing this info before. So why is importatant information like this so elusive?

    In my opinion, we progressives do not do NEARLY enough to stem the tide of right-wing lies with facts like this. Thank you so much for providing much needed ammunition.

    "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."--Evelyn Beatrice Hall. "Hide the troll!"--StevenJoseph

    by StevenJoseph on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 06:44:18 AM PDT

  •  I think this is very simplified. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I don't think it is clear at all Hamilton's economic plan is the one he would follow now.  He wanted to industrialize the US.  He set the sort of economic policy nations past and present pursue when industrializing.  

    •  Well, that's true. (0+ / 0-)

      I don't think Devilstower is saying we should copy the exact system designed 200 years ago.  Our economy is very different.  Part of the unemployment of the Great Depression happened because mechanized agriculture radically reduced the amount of farm labor needed to meet national/export food demand.  To reduce the labor surplus, we created the "weekend," the 40-hour work week, retirement for average workers and not just professionals, and child labor laws.

      It was a horrible burden for our economy to bear.

      The question is not whether the chickens needed replacing, the question is whether the fox should have been guarding them in the first place.

      by happymisanthropy on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 12:11:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I disagree. (0+ / 0-)

        Child labor laws, the 40 hour work week, and retirement were the result of an increase in the value of labor.  Labor became more valuable thanks to increased productivity, and thanks to unionization is gained political near parity with large corporations.  So it was able to demand and get "pay" in different forms.  

    •  Don't we want to industrialized the US now? (0+ / 0-)

      Or is that "industry" thing passe?

  •  Good job (5+ / 0-)

    Globalism is not a force for peace and stability, it's a leveling tool used by corporations and financial elites to take political and economic power from the middle classes.  Contrary to the ire of anti-Globalists, Amiercan fast food and soft drinks are not the true dangers of globalization.  The loss of jobs, the devaluing of the jobs that remain, and the destruction of the manufacturing and economic infrastructure of nations who embrace it is the true danger.

    Funny, Lincoln and Washington saw it.  Today's "patriots" can't see it.  They don't realize they are just disposable tools of the economic elites.

    No, I'm not a socialist.  Nor am I particularly radical or leftist in thought or deed.  I'm a realist, and this is the reality of American economics as it is practiced now.

    Thanks for the essay.  Good job.

    "It was like that when I got here." - Homer Simpson

    by rbird on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 06:46:12 AM PDT

    •  If, after 20 years of sending jobs out of this (4+ / 0-)

      country to other countries to avoid regulation (both financial and ecological) under the philosophy of globalization, today's "patriots" still can not see that that the market economy does not work to their benefit without government intervention, they will never see it.  Either they are practicing willful ignorance or they have swallowed whole Reagan's statement that government is the problem - or both.

      "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

      by SueDe on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 07:21:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  So helpful! Any references? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    StevenJoseph, Gorette, StrayCat

    This is a brilliant article. Thank you, Mark. Can you recommend any books or articles that refer to "the American System"?

    "We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn't want to meet." -- Stephen Hawking

    by dratman on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 06:48:20 AM PDT

  •  Great Little History Lesson Here. No small part (4+ / 0-)

    of America's current problems stem directly from the fact that we have deliberately under educated most of our population for over 200 years so that they would not grasp the simple fact that anything that is unregulated sooner or later creates chaos.

    Greed is an instinctual characteristic of the human animal and without regulation it quickly becomes incredibly destructive.

    The so-called Free Market is no exception.

    •  For the most part in America, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      happymisanthropy, squarewheel

      and especially so since the industrial revolution, education is perceived as training for entry into the workforce.  Discussions of education almost always begin from the premise of preparing students to "get a good job" upon graduation.

      I really believe this is why basic economics, logic and critical thinking are not required subjects in either high school or college in the U.S. - such courses are threats to the business and financial elites of the country.

      "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

      by SueDe on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 07:30:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Amen. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MrJersey, happymisanthropy

    It's about time somebody started pointing this out.

    We are the heirs of Hamilton, Clay, Lincoln, TR and FDR.

    They are the heirs of Von Mises, Hayek.

    Our way is the American Sytem.

    Their is called "Austrian".  It's called that for a reason.  It's not indigenous.

    "I always found it interesting that people would cast aspersions on failure, as if it were a bad thing." -- Michael Steele, RNC Chairman

    by journeyman on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 06:56:37 AM PDT

    •  Henry Clay... (4+ / 0-)

      My fellow Kentuckian, is enemy number one of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, purveyors of the mythical "Austrian school of economics."  They've even put out a book titled "Henry Clay: National Socialist" -- which is typical of the kind of thinking that goes on there.

      Seeing how much those guys hate Clay warms my heart.

      •  Clay (4+ / 0-)

        Clay and Hamilton were Lincoln's heroes.

        I'd always sort of thought that Clay was something of a marginal character, "the great Compromiser" and all of that.  Then I read "What Hath God Wrought" by Daniel Walker Howe.  He made the argument that the 1844 election was pivotal in our history and may have made the Civil War, if not inevitable, far more likely.

        Eventually I'd like to get around to reading a biography of him.

        Another interesting thing is that in the late 19th century when Japan was looking for a way to develop its country some advocated the gospel of the "free" market.  Okubo Toshimichi, the strongman in the new government until his assassination, disagreed.  He felt Japan should adopt the developmental model pioneered in the US.  In other words, Japan's developmental state model was a conscious imitation of Hamilton's ideas.

        At any rate, thank you for writing this article.  More liberals need to embrace more of our heritage, which is far more liberal than many seem to think.  Conservatives need to realize that there's more to being true to one's heritage than playing dress up.

        "I always found it interesting that people would cast aspersions on failure, as if it were a bad thing." -- Michael Steele, RNC Chairman

        by journeyman on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 07:31:25 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you! I spend quite a bit of time trying to (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    StrayCat, RustyCannon

    explain to people just this.  Mind of I save my breath and just make copies?

  •  If we tariffed to death non-US-made goods (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dirtandiron, Balto

    Wouldn't that automagically help us rebuild our manufacturing base and wouldn't that be something that most Americans would be totally behind??

    This is a serious question because I'm no expert at macro-economics. It just seems like a no-brainer to me.

    •  It might, if we still manufactured (0+ / 0-)

      products that were necessary for our own survival and growth.  But in many cases we don't, at least not in this country, which means they have to be imported.  It has taken decades to ship the bulk of our manufacturing base out of the country, and it would take decades to rebuild it here.  In the meantime the retaliatory tariffs other countries would slap on our imports would eat us alive.  Already our trade balance is in serious deficit, and serious efforts at protectionism would swamp us.  Or so goes the conventional wisdom.

      "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

      by SueDe on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 07:39:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Wouldn't it make more sense... (0+ / 0-)

      If we provided strong financial incentives for companies to create manufacturing sites here?   Let's use a scalpel instead of the bludgeon that has been used unsuccessfully so many times before?  

    •  No free lunch (0+ / 0-)

      It would help us rebuild our manufacturing base, but everything at Wal-Mart would double in price.  A lot of middle and low income folks would see their standard of living drop significantly.

  •  But, facts are so limiting! ;-) nt (0+ / 0-)

    Truth forever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the throne. - James Russell Lowell

    by Deep Harm on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 07:25:23 AM PDT

  •  There is no such thing as the "English System" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    happymisanthropy, Dirtandiron

    other than as it's used in reference to the English system of weights and measurements and the idea that British colonialism was based on anything approaching a "free market" economy is a figment of only your imagination, given the centrality of slavery and colonial military power to it.

    •  It depends on who is allowed the (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dratman, Dirtandiron

      freedom.  The English system allowed freedom for the East India Company and others, but not for colonials.  The "free markets' were only for those who the king gave charters to, and not for the population at large.  Today's "free" markets are for the chosen oligarchs, almost always corporations who have purchased congress people, and sometimes whole committees of Congress.  The eighteenth century idea of patronage has arisen again, with the favored being given privilege, and the rest of us becoming subjects instead of citizens.
           "Freedom vs. Regulation" is, it seems to me, to be a false dichotomy, and a false statement of the problem.

      Patriotism may be the last refuge of scoundrels, but religion is assuredly the first.

      by StrayCat on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 07:42:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  What a well-thought-out diary, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    StrayCat, Dirtandiron, RustyCannon

    and I appreciated the historical background.  I'd never quite taken that in when I was a student.  

    Good job, Mark!

    Yes, I'm het, but I'm NOT a Mad Hetter!

    by Diana in NoVa on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 07:34:08 AM PDT

  •  Oliver North calling somebody UnAmerican (5+ / 0-)

    that's some great shit.


    Spray tons of carcinogens into the ocean to hide petroleum spewed from a hastily-drilled hole from a greedy corporation, but don't smoke pot.

    by xxdr zombiexx on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 07:38:40 AM PDT

  •  The ultra wealthy laugh their heads of at the (4+ / 0-)

    notion of a free market.

    It's pure bullshit, a phony religion espoused and justified by the elites' little acolyte nerds in academia and think tanks, and endlessly spewed by the elites' lapdog mouthpieces in the media (enough mixed metaphors phor ya?)

    It is a silly phrase and concept, the "free market", that obscures a far more complex reality, but which can also be used to bludgeon any progressive ideas and end any rational debate, much like "terrorism!" and "socialist!" do.

    Such nonsense.

    •  Do you wonder (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      why the ultra rich are against abolishing estate tax or are now pledging half their wealth to charity?

      American dream is a myth!

      by brown american on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 08:09:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  "the ultra rich" (0+ / 0-)

        there are a few who are, but not a majority of billionaires afaik.  

        And pledging wealth to charity is a dodge to not pay the estate tax, so the Gates foundation can go on deciding how public schools will be run.  Instead of, you know, paying taxes and letting school boards and teachers decide.

        The question is not whether the chickens needed replacing, the question is whether the fox should have been guarding them in the first place.

        by happymisanthropy on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 12:20:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  How do we get this out there? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MrJersey, Dirtandiron

    I had to hide some friends on facebook bceause they kept talking about Glenn Beck and the founders series.  When they kept talking about how Jefferson was a Christian not a deist I just couldn't hold back, and my wife didn't like reading their tripe.  So I hid them and now I don't see that garbage.

    But Beck reaches a few million people every day, and Kos reaches what, a couple hundred thousand?  And in a few hours this will scroll off the front page.  How do we raise people's awareness that Glenn Beck just lies (and then says "if you don't believe me, do the research yourself," which is great psychology).


    Democrats *do* have a plan for Social Security - it's called Social Security. -- Ed Schultz

    by FredFred on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 07:59:29 AM PDT

  •  President Madison- communist (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    However wise the theory may be which leaves to the sagacity and interest of individuals the application of their industry and resources, there are in this as in other cases exceptions to the general rule. Besides the condition which the theory itself implies of a reciprocal adoption by other nations, experience teaches that so many circumstances must concur in introducing and maturing manufacturing establishments, especially of the more complicated kinds, that a country may remain long without them, although sufficiently advanced and in some respects even peculiarly fitted for carrying them on with success. Under circumstances giving a powerful impulse to manufacturing industry it has made among us a progress and exhibited an efficiency which justify the belief that with a protection not more than is due to the enterprising citizens whose interests are now at stake it will become at an early day not only safe against occasional competitions from abroad, but a source of domestic wealth and even of external commerce. In selecting the branches more especially entitled to the public patronage a preference is obviously claimed by such as will relieve the United States from a dependence on foreign supplies ever subject to casual failures, for articles necessary for the public defense or connected with the primary wants of individuals. It will be an additional recommendation of particular manufactures where the materials for them are extensively drawn from our agriculture, and consequently impart and insure to that great fund of national prosperity and independence an encouragement which can not fail to be rewarded.

  •  The global system (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Your point is very pertinent.  It's similar but more US focused than the one I just made on my blog.  My point is that the global socio-economic system - consisting of free trade and capital movement - is uncontrollable at the national level.  Unless the underlying rules are challenged, states are limited in what they can do and the only viable strategy becomes one of playing the 'competition' card, i.e.reduce wages, benefits, regulations, corporate taxes, etc.

    Politics everywhere is oriented around this competition strategy.  I argue that the existence of only 1 viable strategy at the nation state level is the cause for the apathy and stalemate of politics at the national level.  Populations everywhere are frustrated that their political system can't seem to address their fundamental concerns.  The fact is they cannot - and we should recognize the reason why.


  •  "One small step for man... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dirtandiron giant leap for mankind." 234 years ago.

    Socialism writ large...but don't bother looking it up on conservapedia. It isn't there. Schmucks abound.

    TAX THE RICH! They have money! I'm a Democrat. That's why!

    by ezdidit on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 08:12:00 AM PDT

  •  Tea Party Dummies (5+ / 0-)

    If you are a member or aspire to membership of one of the tea parties out there and are not extremely wealthy then you are a complete moron.

    I will not apologize for making such a castigation.  If you are a member of the middle class and advocate the removal of long-standing American economic policies designed to protect the middle class then you are not intelligent.  You are in a sense, the small kid in grade school advocating the removal of rules that govern bullies.  You are the Georgia prison inmate arguing for the re-institution of chain gangs.  You are the 8 year old boy trying to remove the child labor laws.

    This is what happens when you allow evil agents of the plutocracy tell you how to think, what to believe and how to feel instead of researching history, western philosophy and economics for yourself.  

    There are people out there calling Obama a Stalinist.  A STALINIST?!?  Joseph Stalin's Soviet ruled Russia murdered 20 million people.  20 MILLION.  There are people riding around in cars with images of Obama wearing nazi uniforms.  People are likening his policies of that of Hitler.  This is absolutely insane.  Obama is merely following the traditions laid out by over 200 years of governing history, the inception of which was expertly detailed in Mark Sumner's above essay.

    These fascists - and make no mistake they are fascists - Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, Andrew Breitbart and the rest of the plutocracy's propaganda engine have successfully re-educated a good portion of this country with false information about every subject related to contemporary governmental policy.  This section of America - this tea party is populated with weak-minded fools who are easily led by the nose.  They continue to believe the lies spread by these evil agents.  They react with votes for individuals who would readily line up at the trough of legalized bribery to sell out the constituency the very moment they swear into office.  These tea party rubes will continue to place the dagger into the hands of those who seek to stab them into the back.    

    "Ubermensch" is German for "Douchebag"

    by meatballs on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 08:18:34 AM PDT

    •  Unfortunately, the Nazis came to power (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      through democratic process.  Teh stoopid can get pretty scary, and is very real.

      I have faith in the american people when we're educated.  The home-skooled religious whackjobs' feet need to be held to the fire; we can't let them slide with one iota of fantasy-based nuttery.  There's too much at stake.

      "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

      by La Gitane on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 09:56:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Propaganda has created a Dumbass-acracy (0+ / 0-)

      populated by brainwashed fanatics, particularly among the working class. Fortunately, most are not as mindless as the teabaggers, since their message and their candidates do not seem to be winning. But, the Republican assault on the education in this country has created a quite noticable lack of understanding in much of the electorate, who have been conditioned to routinely vote against their own best interests. It is remarkable to talk with people in Europe and Canada that are just regular working class people, but seem educated, informed, and involved in their democracies. Comparing that to our Joe Sixpacks who listen to rightwing hate radio is beyond depressing.

      Obama is NOT a Socialist, damn it! But, I'll go ahead and vote for him anyway.

      by tekno2600 on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 11:39:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I have a dispute... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    happymisanthropy, Dirtandiron

    that the "free market" even exists.  This is a basic Prisoner's Dilemma problem.  The simplest two-person system already shows the free market idea will lead to mutually assured destruction.

    If people really want a "free" market, they should be for abolishing ALL tariffs.  And then watch our economy collapse.

  •  Excellent work, Devilstower (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    happymisanthropy, Dirtandiron

    Hamilton was so crucial to both the formation and then the survival of our republic, and I don't think he is nearly appreciated, or understood, enough.

    Meanwhile, the neo-cons named their ridiculous group the Federalist Society, besmirching the name of one of our great founders (more than one, really, as Washington and Adams were Federalists also- but Hamilton was the intellectual soul of Federalism). Those early Federalists would have nothing to do with the modern GOP. Of course, neither would Jefferson and Madison.

    It's the four pillars of the male heterosexual psyche. We like: naked women, stockings, lesbians, and Sean Connery best as James Bond.

    by RIP Russ on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 08:34:38 AM PDT

    •  The Federalist Society (0+ / 0-)

      takes Madison, not Hamilton, as its ideological father figure, even though both were in near total agreement about the nature and meaning of the constitution at the time that it was written and ratified. (It's little known that both men were fiercely opposed to the Bill of Rights at the time, as being dilatory, unnecessary and possibly even dangerous, only later grudgingly being willing to support it in order to get the constitution ratified.)

      Also, the Federalist party was actually misnamed, because federalism means a weaker central government and more states rights, which was the opposite of what Federalists believed in. But the name stuck, and that's what they were called.

      The modern Federalist Society, in theory at least (and, really, only in theory), is more properly named, believing (or, really, claiming to believe) in federalism (even though in reality they believe in its opposite, neoconservatism).

      "Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" --Alexander Hamilton

      by kovie on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 09:10:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Hand in hand with this of course (3+ / 0-)

    Hamilton and the Federalists were firmly about establishing a dominant upper class in power.  The Constitution as written and understood in their day and age was in no way, shape, or form democratic. "Democracy" was in fact something of a pejorative term, barely more dignified than "mob rule."  

    The Framers liked Romans, didn't much care for Greeks; Oliver Cromwell scared the shit out of them.

    So Hamilton's Federalists were about helping the rich get richer, but as rightly pointed out in the essay, this really DID mean good things happened as well - national finances stabilized, national infrastructure improved and so on.

    Then Hamilton got run out of town (and eventually killed) and everything went to hell.  Federalism without the greater purpose of nation-building devolved into the greedy self-serving of nascent aristocrats who felt entitled to their goodies and the hell with everyone else.  (Strikes a vague chord does it?)

    The way to respond to the outrageous is with outrage; the way to respond to the ridiculous is with ridicule.

    by Dan E in Blue Hampshire on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 08:38:46 AM PDT

    •  A bit of an oversimplification (0+ / 0-)

      The Federalists did not deliberately set out to create a frozen aristocracy in which a few owned most of the wealth and everyone else was their effective serf for life, which is what today's conservatives seem intent on doing. Rather, they created an economic and political system in which, they believed, anyone with enough talent and drive could rise to the top on their merits--i.e. a meritocracy--and then become the leaders of society, i.e. a merit-based "aristocracy", rather than a hereditary one based on class and money. That this system was distorted and exploited by the men who came after them to serve their own purposes doesn't mean that the original Federalists intended this to happen or foresaw it. They were idealists, unlike the opportunists who followed.

      The most notorious of whom, Aaron Burr, the spiritual father of faux conservatism cum corrupt oligarchy, shot Hamilton, of course, for accusing him of being what he was, an unprincipled scoundrel, liar and thief, without morals or decency.

      I.e. the first modern US politician.

      The whole "Hamilton was a devious moustache-twirler who wanted to turn the US into a British-style aristocratic monarchy" myth is based on distortions and half-truths. He may have been more conservative than many of the other founders, but he was no Cardinal Richelieu. He was the driving force behind the ratification of the constitution, a document that for all its obvious flaws was easily the most democratic and egalitarian constitution in modern history at the time, and one of the original abolitionists.

      "Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" --Alexander Hamilton

      by kovie on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 09:02:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Also, the British economic system wasn't (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    free market, it was mercantile, which if anything was the opposite of free market, at least within the parameters of capitalism. The British crown, parliament, and their chartered proxies like the East India Company, artificially maintained the British imperial economic system by restricting the ability of its colonies to manufacture and export their own goods and import the goods of rival empires such as the Dutch or French, imposing all sorts of taxes and tarrifs arbitrarily, and sending the British military abroad to enforce its policies. This was anything but free market.

    The nascent US economy was probably freer than the British one, but it was certainly not "free". No economy can succeed that is 100% "free". That is an absurdity.

    "Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" --Alexander Hamilton

    by kovie on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 08:49:06 AM PDT

  •  maybe I missed it (2+ / 0-)

    but in that history lesson (admittedly, I'm reading without my glasses this morning - they are somewhere....?) did you somehow forget to mention that the U.S. assumption of state debt, and the subsequent federal debt financing and consolidation was UNDERWRITTEN by credit from British tradesman and banks?
    This was one major reason that Jefferson and the anti-assumption folks were against the plan and FOR creating a more ag based, less manufactured good hungry market that would build capital more slowly but with less debt and "home grown" manufacture. To create AMERICAN capital with what we were good at, marketing U.S. ag products (mainly tobacco and wheat) in hungry France under favorable (essentionally in today's nomenclature, "free") trade conditions.
    Jefferson got duped by Hamilton, agreeing to the scurrilous "Assumption" and national debt plan with a (com)promise to build the new capital city, DC, in well, DC (then Virginia). Jefferson - rightly - foresaw that having the nation's capital in Virginia would bring plenty of jobs to Virginians and to get it, convinced some others to vote Hamilton's way on the debt issues.
    He regretted it the rest of his life. It turned out to benefit no one but Northeastern "stock jobbers" and "speculators"
    Not much has changed in 230+ years! (now I gotta fiind my glasses).  In the ensuing "Panic of 1792" in which Hamilton's bosom buddy, William Duer - a banker/"stockjobber" went bust after speculating with Hamilton's funds:

    "The panic aggravated Jefferson's opposition to the Secretary of Treasury [Hamilton]. He objected to the measures taken by [Hamilton] to cushion the shock. Dipping into the government's sinking fund, Hamilton threw $100,000 [considerably more in today's dollars of course] into the securities market to purchase federal stock at par in order to uphold the government credit [under written by British merchants and banks] and to ease the panic.. Jefferson, who sat as a commissioner of the sinking fund, felt the unprecedented action looked primarily to the relief of the speculators. [emphasis added].... He was aware of Duer's Treasury connections but did not directly implicate Hamilton in the speculator's schemes. He accused Hamilton of wrong policy, not of wrong doing. Yet the Secretary [Hamilton] had contributed more than Jefferson realized to Duer's outrageous adventures."

    - Thomas Jefferson & the New Nation - A Biography, Merrill D. Peterson, Oxford University Press, 1970, pp. 461-462.

    Let's make sure we keep things in their proper historical perspective, but obviously, very little has changed. Just change the names from Hamilton to Paulson..... And exchange Britain for China when it comes to our fears of wrecking our credit with a former enemy should they decide to bring the house of cards down on our heads!

  •  british "free marketers" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    happymisanthropy, Dirtandiron

    of the time are spinning in their graves at what today's Republicans have wrought.

    "Free market" economics were targeted at breaking down the hi tariff and mercantile trade barriers of the day.

    Not to the wanton rape and pillage of unregulated, unscrupulous capital markets.

    •  19th century British liberals (0+ / 0-)

      were the first true free marketers. They're where we get the term "liberal", even though they had more in common with today's neo-liberals than true liberals.

      "Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" --Alexander Hamilton

      by kovie on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 09:12:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  A WILD market is not a FREE market. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Excellent diary and comments today!

    Politicians who promise LESS government only deliver BAD government.

    by jjohnjj on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 09:07:32 AM PDT

  •  Yes! "Free market" is an oxymoron. (3+ / 0-)

    A "market" is an environment where commerce is regulated.  It doesn't exist in nature.  It's a creation of law.

    I asked a "free market" guy what he would do if he sold me a cow and I didn't pay for it.  He said he sue me.  That's right.  He'd go whining to the government.

    If perception is the issue, truth is not the issue.

    by legalarray on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 09:15:34 AM PDT

  •  Old Hickory too (0+ / 0-)

    This sounds like the national bank that Jackson spent
    most of his second term - or was it the first? - trying to chop back down to size. Primarily because he saw the bank as being too great of a player in both state and national politics/elections. In short, using its money to buy government.

    Sounds familiar.

  •  "Our Free Enterprise System" is another false (0+ / 0-)

    set of terms I hear wingnut politicos spouting, perhaps even more frequently than just the words "free market." Obvious both sets of terms have been focus tested to sound good. "Free" sounds good, because people think they're talking about personal freedom, not about freedom from regulation and freedom to screw their customers with a Tiger Woods-like level of reckless abandonment. "Market" and "Enterprise" also sound very positive. But, what we really need are fair markets, not just free ones.

    My other main issue is: What "system" are they talking about? Do we have a system of enterprise? They act like that's written into our Constitution. I think if the Republicans of today got to write a constitution, they would establish the United States of Jesus, Inc. We'd have a corporation instead of a republic, which would be nominally theocratic, but business would be in the driver's seat, and our motto would be "In Profit We Trust."

    In reality, however, we don't have an enterprise system. Most people just jump out there rather unsystematically and start a business by the seat of their pants...and 90% or more fail. After all, it's hard to compete with the big monied interests. But, at least there are a few rules of the game, and sometimes, we even have--gasp!!!!--government programs to help small businesses. Republicans, though, want "free" + "enterprise" to mean business has no rules, and they certainly don't want the government to help small businesses compete with the uber rich oligarchs.

    We need to call Republicans on their demonstrably false claim that they have ever helped truly small businesses.

    Obama is NOT a Socialist, damn it! But, I'll go ahead and vote for him anyway.

    by tekno2600 on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 11:09:20 AM PDT

  •  Globalists Dismantle America. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Ka-ching, ka-ching, ka-ching.

    Greenspan admits his free market faith was "a mistake" - Reliance on self interest creates a flaw "in how the world works."

    by Otherday on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 11:44:28 AM PDT

  •  Mark, you missed the elephant(s) in the room. (0+ / 0-)

    When the United States was founded, we were a rich, unexploited nation with respect to natural resources.  My generation (I'm 68 y/o) of Americans has seen the end of growth in the discovery of much of the economically recoverable natural resources within our country’s borders.  During the last century we created a powerful military that was used to secure natural resources that didn’t have within our own borders, and criss-crossed the world to do it.  Japan and Germany didn’t have the energy for transport (petroleum) during WWII, and the U.S. was the largest producer of petroleum in the world at the time.  We built a world-leading production economy during the war and had all the energy we needed to run it.  After the war, with Japanese and much of Europe’s anindustry destroyed, the U.S., with it’s industrial capacity in high gear, and cheap fuel to run everything, literally dominated the earth.


    When we passed peak oil production in the U.S. in 1970, it was the beginning of the end for U.S. global economic domination.  (Although our military is still the biggest, baddest, and most expensive in the world.)  The Reagan years marked the next stage in the undermining of the economic foundation of the U.S.  Even Clinton’s administration with it’s offshoring of U.S. jobs and factories continued to bleed the manufacturing base we needed to have a strong "real" economy.  We now have a "casino economy" with the manufacturing sector at less than 10 percent of the economy, and no hope of energy independence ever again.  We have over 2.5 million troops and contractors in more than 730 bases scattered around the globe.

    From  The worldwide total of U.S. military personnel in 2005, including those based domestically, was 1,840,062 supported by an additional 473,306 Defense Department civil service employees and 203,328 local hires. Its overseas bases, according to the Pentagon, contained 32,327 barracks, hangars, hospitals, and other buildings, which it owns, and 16,527 more that it leased.

    Mark, I fully agree that the free market is anti-American.  But I fear that we are crossing into a corporatist (major corporation dominated) system of government similar to Mussolini’s definition  of fascism - a form of government where corporations run the government.  Between corporate power, including ownership of main-stream media, and the influence of the ultra-rich, "we the people" will be hard-pressed to change the trend.  Unless the economy is better regulated, taxes of the rich are increased, manufacturing of goods is increased, and the wages of working people are increased, we are doomed.  

    And I didn’t even mention global climate change.  When it’s too late to turn around that elephant (and it may already be too late), after they recognize the reality of it, the right-wingers will likely manage to pin the blame for global climate change on liberals.

    Bottom line, without energy, abundant and low-cost natural resources and a robust manufacturing sector, regulating the Wall Street casinos isn’t going to help.

     Even if we put bail-out money into critically needed infrastructure upgrades and repairs, we would still need to rebuild our manufacturing sector in the longer term.  When I see the right-wing media/propaganda machine so easily convince people to rage and vote against policies there are in own best interests, I worry deeply.

    (I was not able to find data on the internet for the percentage of the U.S. manufacturing sector that is military hardware for both the U.S. military and for export.  I have a feeling that it may now be greater than the percentage for consumer goods. Any of my fellow Kossacks know where to find this information??)

    The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking that created them - Albert Einstein

    by DaveVH on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 01:32:44 PM PDT

  •  Move-on should be doing (0+ / 0-)
    basic education about the history of the "American School" of economics. This is the fundamental base of a progressive platform. We need an agenda to push the Overton Window to the left. Seems like the Populist Party was better educated in economics then we are. We have another disadvantage. Rush Limbaugh has a thirty year headstart on us and has innoculated a vast portion of the country against common-sense.

    "...on the (catch a) human network. Cisco."

    by hoplite9 on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 02:44:00 PM PDT

  •  Maybe wrong on Smoot Hawley? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Uncle Milty

    From wikipedia on impact of smoot hawley tariffs

    U.S. imports decreased 66% from US$4.4 billion (1929) to US$1.5 billion (1933), and exports decreased 61% from US$5.4 billion to US$2.1 billion, both decreases much more than the 50% decrease in GDP.

    Although the tariff act was passed after the stock-market crash of 1929, some economic historians consider the political discussion leading up to the passing of the act a factor in causing the crash, the recession that began in late 1929, or both, and its eventual passage a factor in deepening the Great Depression.[17] Unemployment was at 7.8% in 1930 when the Smoot-Hawley tariff was passed, but it jumped to 16.3% in 1931, 24.9% in 1932, and 25.1% in 1933.[18]

    Sure seems clear to some what the impact of these tariffs were.  

  •  Great diary. A+ stuff here. (0+ / 0-)

    Long overdue.

    Too bad more Dems don't say it.

    Say it loud. I'm not free-market and I'm proud.

  •  Free Market or Unregulated Free Market? (0+ / 0-)

    If you're arguing that an unregulated free market is bad, I would agree, as would apparently the constitution which, as you note, creates the power to regulate interstate commerce.

    However, that's now what you're saying.  You're saying that the very concept of the "free market" is anti-american.

    If this is the position that the, arguably, largest an most influential liberal blog is now taking, I'm afraid that I'd have to not only say good bye to this blog, but basically dismiss liberalism completely as a renegade ideology within the democratic party.

  •  systems, shmystems. (0+ / 0-)

    It's extremely unlikely that the founders were aware of the abstract theory of free enterprise.  After all, Smith only published in 1776.  But even had they known of it, it's very unlikely they would have adopted it.  For all that conservatives seem to imagine there is a sacrosanct American economic system, it's interesting that the only mention of economics in the Constitution is the commerce clause - which in effect exactly opposes a pure market system.
        All of which is not to say that people weren't assumed to be free to buy and sell at whatever price they could obtain; but at the same time it was assumed that government had the responsibility to direct trade and manufacture in the larger public interest. See for example, Jefferson's embargo on trade with England (which almost caused free market Connecticut to secede) or such public service ventures as the Wilderness Road.
        The Founders didn't have an economic ideology, but what they assumed to be a correct and useful approach was then known as mercantilism, where government policy, in the form of subsidy or tariff or whatever was based on the notion that government guidance was often a useful thing. This we largely inherited from the English. A very good book on this topic is Frank Bourgin's THE GREAT CHALLENGE.  When he wrote it as his Ph.D thesis, the idea that the Founders weren't free enterprisers was so upsetting the his faculty (at Wisconsin) rejected it entirely. Ultimately the faculty relented and apologized, so the book was finally published 50 years later.      

  •  Is Dick Morris an appropriate name... (0+ / 0-)

    Because he is a penis who enjoys old English dancing?

    There can be hope only for a society which acts as one big family, not as many separate ones. ~Anwar Sadat

    by villagepark on Mon Aug 16, 2010 at 04:48:23 PM PDT

  •  Wonderful diary (0+ / 0-)

    The belief that free market is a core American value always made me chuckle. Most people, including myself at one time, just do not clearly see the hypocrisy of this belief while maintaining that large corporations and small businesses need some measure of regulation to prevent corruption.

    This whole idea is just another Orwellian nightmare.

    *We were always a free market. Free markets are evil."

    Rinse, repeat. Like one of the above posters stated, diaries like this need to be more widespread so that normal folks may see the hypocrisy and the way that free markets, as a whole, tend to enable the rich and powerful.

    I think people should be allowed to do anything they want. We haven't tried that for a while. Maybe this time it'll work. -George Carlin

    by CentristandProud on Tue Aug 17, 2010 at 08:28:52 AM PDT

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