Posts Tagged wealth redistribution

Founding Fathers, Socialism, Constitutional Convention

Constitutional Convention

Even called it dangerous. On May 31st, 1787, Elbridge Gerry made the following remark:

Mr. GERRY. The evils we experience flow from the excess of democracy. The people do not want virtue, but are the dupes of pretended patriots. In Massts. it had been fully confirmed by experience that they are daily misled into the most baneful measures and opinions by the false reports circulated by designing men, and which no one on the spot can refute. One principal evil arises from the want of due provision for those employed in the administration of Governmt. It would seem to be a maxim of democracy to starve the public servants. He mentioned the popular clamour in Massts. for the reduction of salaries and the attack made on that of the Govr. though secured by the spirit of the Constitution itself. He had he said been too republican heretofore: he was still however republican, but had been taught by experience the danger of the levilling spirit.

This is actually quite loaded. First, He is pointing out the evils of democracy.(Remember, the founders set up a Republic, which is inherently democratic but it’s not a Democracy) As I have been repeatedly pointing out, modern leftists view democracy as a form of socialism and they have for over a century.

Second, the last line says this:

He had he said been too republican heretofore: he was still however republican, but had been taught by experience the danger of the levilling spirit.

What is levelling? Samuel Adams explains this better than anybody I have ever seen. In a letter to Dennys De Berdt, January 12, 1768, Samuel Adams writes the following: (page 137)

Property is admitted to have an existence, even in the savage state of nature. The bow, the arrow, and the tomahawk; the hunting and the fishing ground, are species of property, as important to an American savage, as pearls, rubies, and diamonds are to the Mogul, or a Nabob in the East, or the lands, tenements, hereditaments, messuages, gold and silver to the Europeans. And if property is necessary for the support of savage life, it is by no means less so in civil society. The Utopian schemes of levelling, and a community of goods, are as visionary and impracticable, as those which vest all property in the Crown, are arbitrary, despotic, and in our government, unconstitutional. Now, what property can the colonists be conceived to have, if their money may be granted away by others, without their consent?

Samuel Adams was never one to mince words, I love it. But you can easily see what levelling is in his description. It’s socialism! These damn socialists have been renaming themselves for centuries now! They were renaming themselves and playing sophist word games during the time of our founding and before it!

Well then, it makes total sense that Elbridge Gerry would call out the dangers of “the levilling spirit”.(It was mis-spelled in the transcript, so I’m not surprised that so many people have missed it) For brevity’s sake, I’m going to use wikipedia to explain this.

Before the socialists called themselves socialists, they called themselves “levellers”, as in “levelling the playing field”, you know, everybody gets the same paycheck, “make everything equal in everybody’s house”, that sort of thing. Mostly, the radical “we are going to steal your wealth” levellers ended up being called diggers. Note how Wikipedia describes them:

The Diggers tried (by “leveling” real property) to reform the existing social order with an agrarian lifestyle based on their ideas for the creation of small egalitarian rural communities. They were one of a number of nonconformist dissenting groups that emerged around this time.

Socialists. An early leader of the “digger/levellers” was William Everard. Here is his “The Declaration and Standard of the Levellers of England“. They only gained their name as ‘diggers’ because they chose to farm on government property.

Now that I have made my way through the weeds here, Elbridge Gerry is not the only Founding Father who discussed Socialism at the Convention. Benjamin Franklin did too. He also called it despotic:

Hence as all history informs us, there has been in every State & Kingdom a constant kind of warfare between the governing & governed: the one striving to obtain more for its support, and the other to pay less. And this has alone occasioned great convulsions, actual civil wars, ending either in dethroning of the Princes, or enslaving of the people. Generally indeed the ruling power carries its point, the revenues of princes constantly increasing, and we see that they are never satisfied, but always in want of more. The more the people are discontented with the oppression of taxes; the greater need the prince has of money to distribute among his partizans and pay the troops that are to suppress all resistance, and enable him to plunder at pleasure. There is scarce a king in a hundred who would not, if he could, follow the example of Pharoah, get first all the peoples money, then all their lands, and then make them and their children servants for ever.

Wealth redistribution. Benjamin Franklin just described ACORN. The king(Obama) redistributes wealth to his partisans.(Solyndra) There’s thousands of groups to pick from here. Ever notice how Obama always needs more taxes? Franklin did.

Reading all of this, you would almost get the idea that the Founders warned us.


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The Little Red Hen Goes to Re-Education Camp

By: LAWRENCE W. REEDlittle red hen goes to reeducation camp
What if Hollywood made a movie about World War II that was accurate all the way up to the D-Day invasion, then suddenly had the Russians landing at Normandy instead of the Americans, the British, the Canadians, and the French? We might wonder if somebody’s personal agenda got in the way of the facts.

I recently ran across an annoying rewrite of a story, though I admit it’s much subtler than the above hypothetical.

Remember that old tale you heard in grade school called The Little Red Hen? I’ve never found an edition of it that noted who the author of the original version was, but for the past 60 years or so it’s been published without a byline by Little Golden Books as one of a series of children’s classics. Generations of American children grew up reading it, or having it read to them. Here’s the gist of it:

A little red hen (hereafter referred to as LRH) finds some grains of wheat and decides to plant them.

The setting is apparently a barnyard because LRH asks a goose, a duck, a cat, and a pig, “Who will help me plant the wheat?” Now, these other beasts seem friendly enough, but they’re not exactly entrepreneurial or hardworking. While LRH works her tail off, the lazy critters are seen throughout the book having a jolly time—fiddling, fishing, chasing butterflies, and otherwise accomplishing little. They all reply to LRH with the same words: “Not I!”

So she plants the wheat herself.

The wheat grows tall and the LRH again approaches the lazy louts with the question, “Who will help me reap the wheat?”

Again she hears the same refrain, “Not I!” from each of them. So LRH does all the harvesting by her lonesome self.

The stuff is ready to be ground into flour and LRH asks, “Who will help me carry the wheat to the mill?” The bums aren’t about to get involved now. “Not I!” is all that LRH hears.

So LRH carries it herself—to the mill as wheat and back home as flour.

“Who will help me bake the bread?” she now asks. You guessed it. “Not I!” four times again from the loafers.

The bread is now baked and sitting on the window sill to cool. Who will help me eat the bread?” LRH asks?

It turns out those four good-for-nothings are greedy as well. Now they all exclaim, “I will!”

The last line is from LRH, who says, “No, I will eat it myself.” And she did.

End of story.

What’s the moral? Don’t expect a share of something you had nothing to do with. You’re not entitled to the fruit of someone else’s labor just because you breathe. Don’t complain that you’re unemployed if you turned down several job offers.

But the story I learned is now being offered in sanitized form so the ears of children aren’t subjected to such harsh and anachronistic moralizing.

In Chicago, there’s a children’s literacy museum on wheels called StoryBus. It’s a 37-foot Winnebago that promotes reading to kindergarten and pre-K students. (It’s a great idea, by the way, and gets considerable private funding). Visit the StoryBus website and you can find a new version of the LRH story. Everything is pretty much the same as the original until the hen insists on eating the bread herself.

At that point, the other animals are shocked. “Oh me! Oh my! Oh me, oh my!” they shout. The next and final paragraph reads as follows:

“The next time the Little Red Hen found some grains of wheat, the lamb (maybe somebody ate the goose and the duck) planted it in the rich, brown soil, the cat watered it carefully every day, and the pig harvested the wheat when it had grown tall and strong. When the dough was baked, together the animals made hot chocolate and ate the fresh, warm bread. It was delicious! The animals lived happily ever after.”

Yes, friends, the capitalist barnyard became a happy commune blessed even with something the residents didn’t have before—hot chocolate! So we mustn’t be so judgmental about the animals who wouldn’t help the hen.

Perhaps you’re thinking: “Reed, you’re making a mountain out of a mole hill.”

Maybe so, but I wonder how different the class discussion might be depending on which version the students hear. (I admit that for the sake of a little humor and emphasis, I described the goose, duck, cat, and pig with unflattering adjectives, but that’s the way we thought of them when I first heard the story.)

After the original tale, which ends abruptly with the hen enjoying all of her production herself and with no reasonable youngster likely to blame her for it, I can see the discussion centering on the sloth, the short-sightedness, and the self-indulgent entitlement mentality of the goose, duck, cat, and pig. But do you think that’s what happens when children peruse the sanitized version?

Certainly it could have been worse. The story could end the way a lot of journalism majors hear it told in most universities these days. The hen could be charged with monopolistic practices, running a bakery without a license, and offering to employ others below the minimum wage. Or she could be attacked for her unmitigated greed, then taxed at Franklin Roosevelt’s top marginal rate of 90 percent to teach her a lesson about compassion. Or even more tragically, she could be shipped off to a re-education camp to stamp out her antisocial acquisitiveness.

Maybe my view of this tale is colored by my own experience. Anxious to do my part to make sure my little nephews didn’t grow up with their hands out and their heads in the sand, I used the original tale a quarter-century ago to teach them some strong lessons. We spent more time talking about what might have happened after the story than it took to read it. I remember telling my bug-eyed young relatives that the goose, the duck, the cat, and the pig ended up in pretty sad shape. The goose roamed the barnyards, scraping by with whatever it could steal, and died a pauper. The duck went on welfare and when Mr. Duck flew the coop because it would mean a bigger welfare check, she was stuck with all the ducklings. The cat got run over on the way to the unemployment office. And the pig kept eating everybody else’s food, blew up bigger and bigger, and was transformed into a beautiful slab of bacon. My nephews got the point.

With the new version, I couldn’t say anything like that. I’d have to say that the sluggards were all quick to see the errors of their ways and joined a cooperative.

We live in an age of political correctness. We’re not supposed to make the kind of judgments I did about those poor animals. Even “greed” these days is meant to describe the desire to keep what’s yours. Hiring a politician to take it and give it to you is public service for him and an entitlement for you. Maybe this is why we have a lot of serious character issues in the United States today.

I think the original Little Red Hen story was just fine the way it was. You might be tempted to quibble with me by reading all sorts of alternate interpretations into it. That’s fine too. Just remember, it’s a fairy tale, not a documentary.

Or is it??

Tags: , , ,