Liberty & Power: Group Blog
Simon Jenkins provides an insightful analysis of Mrs. Thatcher's time in office.
"The first and most effective line of defence against fraud and insolvency is counterparties' surveillance. For example, JPMorgan thoroughly scrutinises the balance sheet of Merrill Lynch before it lends. It does not look to the Securities and Exchange Commission to verify Merrill's solvency." -- Alan Greenspan, The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World (New York: Penguin Press, 2007).
Now read John Kay on how Greenspan could have found a cure at the pharmacy.
Gates and his hirelings, such as Michael Kinsley, continue to promote that Myth, with what has become a fabric of lies, around the supposed genius of Gates' and his newly discovered"Creative Capitalism." When he accepted his honorary degree from Harvard, the drop-out conveniently omitted the role of his dead mother, Mary, in talking IBM's CEO into giving DOS a shot. IBM's management chose DOS over the advice of its own engineers precisely because of its poor quality as they anticipated, incorrectly it turned out, they could take over the OS aspect as well as hardware, after the heat was off with respect to antitrust. Gates' Foundation has also made some incredible boo-boos, documented by The LA Times in a 3-part series last year! For info on Mary Gates extraordinary foundation work, see here.
Why is Gates' promoting himself so, and distorting the past? Ego needs of the world's richest man? My own view is that he is promoting himself for consideration for a Nobel Peace Prize!
Meanwhile, see here to learn about another woman, Mary Lou Jepsen, who was the real force behind the MIT laptop project, which several private companies, mainly Taiwanese, have now made into the incredible netbook, which has started revolutionizing computing (a $200 refurbished Dell netbook, 2.3 lbs, can be converted to Mac OS X for about another hundred $$, making an even better machine than the free, Linux OS which comes with it, and which will make excellent computers possible for virtually every kid in the world, even before India later unveils its supposed $20 version). As you can see in the Wired article, US companies, slow on innovation, have been rather late, Dell & HP, to join in the development.
In 1988, this writer was on a Fulbright grant studying economic development in Asia (Korea, Taiwan & Japan), and, had a chance to meet the young man then starting Acer. I was most impressed with Taiwan, in every way, from food production ideas, which Marina-Huerta Educational Foundation has utilized, to computers, into which we are just now moving. Taiwan has played a major role in China's recent economic development, and, it is a major breakthrough that the two are now negotiating toward an eventual return of all of the great Chinese art stolen by Chiang, and taken to Taiwan when he fled China over half a century ago.
To sum up, what Jepsen gave personal computers was the equivalent of Henry Ford's Model T!
It will be interesting to see, as this writer wrote about a possible"People's Diplomacy," especially in the Caribbean, in the 3rd Ed. of A History of Florida (1999), whether Hillary Clinton's so-called, emerging"Smart Diplomacy," has the wisdom to build upon what these Taiwanese companies have already begun. Now, that would be a real global, educational"Stimulus!"
Jeffrey Rogers Hummel
I knew my rating of Washington would raise some eyebrows. To start with, I believe that the replacement of the Articles of Confederation with the Constitution was a terrible mistake in American history. The major problem with the Articles is that it created a central government that was too strong, not one that was too weak. So to the extent that Washington contributed to the Constitution's success, he earns a minus from me rather than a plus, as most historians would give him.
But even ignoring that, we still confront Washington's appointment of Alexander Hamilton as Secretary of the Treasury, with Hamilton's State-aggrandizing and mercantilist financial program: including an array of internal taxes (all later repealed under Jefferson), the assumption of state government debts (when the states should have assumed the federal debt, if not repudiated it outright), the establishment of the First U.S. Bank, and the creation of a government mint. For more detailed discussion of these issues, see an article I published back in 1988 in the British libertarian publication, Free Life, v. 5, n. 4, entitled"The Constitution as Counter-Revolution: A Tribute to the Anti-Federalists."
The Washington Administration furthermore used trouble with the Indians in the Northwest territory to justify a greatly expanded army of four thousand regulars. Not only did this military establishment swallow more than two-thirds of the remaining half of national expenditures not devoted to paying interest on Hamilton's huge debt, but it also makes Washington the president who initiated at the national level expropriation and extermination of Native Americans. Although Congress refused to go along with the Secretary of War Knox's plan for a federally trained and supervised militia, the Uniform Militia Act of 1792 etched the principle of universal military obligation into national statute. A second congressional act specified the conditions under which the militia could be called into national service and instituted heavy militia fines for failure to report when drafted.
Through the use of patronage within the new federal judiciary and the executive bureaucracy, supplemented by the pervasive influence of the debt, the public lands, the central bank, and the militarist Society of the Cincinnati, the Washington Administration created an effective "court party" of rent seeking Federalists. Any doubts about the national government's new grandeur were dramatically dispelled in 1794, when it smashed the Whiskey Tax Rebellion in western Pennsylvania. For this demonstration, Washington called up from four state militias no less than 12,950 men--more than he had usually commanded throughout the entire American Revolution. The widespread reliance upon militia conscription to raise this overwhelming force sparked further disturbances in eastern Pennsylvania, Virginia and Maryland.
Even Washington's foreign policy led to infringements on American liberty. His Neutrality Proclamation of 1793 applied to the actions of private citizens as well as to those of the government. Congress backed Washington's proclamation with the country's first neutrality act the following year, forbidding U.S. citizens from enlisting in a foreign military or fitting out a foreign armed vessel in U.S. ports. Congress also imposed a temporary embargo, closing all U.S. ports to foreign commerce. Finally, Congress ordered construction of six frigates, the first U.S. naval vessels since 1784, when the remnant of the Continental Navy had been sold off. After contracting for a navy to fight Algiers and restricting the liberty of those Americans enthusiastic about the French Revolution, the Washington Administration turned around and signed Jay's Treaty, with terms indecently favorable to the British State.
As for John Adams, one commenter suggested that the only blemish on his presidential record is the Alien and Sedition Acts. In reality, the only positive thing about his administration was Adams's break with Hamilton's High Federalists and his willingness to negotiate an end to the undeclared naval war with France (as vividly portrayed in the TV mini-series). But those who admire this as a courageous about face seem to overlook that it was the Adams Administration that got the country into that war in the first place.
The Quasi-War, as it was called, occasioned a government embargo of all trade with France. Congress authorized a forty-ship navy (which Jefferson later curtailed and partly sold off), established a separate Navy Department, and reactivated the Marine Corps. After George Logan, an ex-Quaker from Philadelphia, traveled on his own to France and returned to report that the French were now interested in conciliation, Congress passed the infamous Logan Act, which prohibited future private diplomacy.
Although British naval superiority made the threat of French invasion non-existent, Congress provided for a quadrupling of the standing army's size, to 14,500 soldiers, and laid plans for a Provisional Army of trained reserves numbering tens of thousands more. Paying for the new navy and enlarged army required more revenue, as expenditures nearly doubled. Anticipating the crisis, Adams had already signed into law a stamp tax in 1797. Among the legal transactions requiring stamp duties were legacies and probates, making this the U.S. government's first inheritance tax.
Once war began, Congress added a direct tax on real estate. John Fries, a disaffected Federalist, led a rebellion against the new tax in eastern Pennsylvania. This time, rather than using the militia to suppress a tax revolt (as had the Washington Administration), the Adams Administration set the ominous precedent of using the army. The rebels were quickly overawed, and Fries and two of his cohorts were tried for treason and sentenced to be hanged (although Adams, to his credit, pardoned them once peace was restored). Adams's undeclared naval war was also responsible for the first federal relief: hospitals for sick and disabled seamen, a measure from which the U.S. Public Health Service ultimately descended. Finally, the war saw the first national quarantine act.
When you add the the outrageous violations of civil liberties under the Alien and Sedition Acts, it is hard to find much admirable during the Adams presidency. (As a footnote, of the four Alien and Sedition Acts, the only one that subsequently did not expire or was not repealed, the Alien Enemy Act, became the basis for Woodrow Wilson's internment of enemy aliens during World War I.)