It’s Hamilton vs. Jefferson All Over Again

September 19th, 2011 at 1:02 am | 61 Comments |

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When General Lee handed Ulysses S. Grant his surrender and my ancestors went home in defeat, there was reason to believe that one of the great unresolved conflicts over the meaning of the American experiment had been laid to a bloody rest.

I’m not talking about slavery, and it did not in fact prove to be the end. The most important original argument over American’s identity was best encapsulated in the competing visions of Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton.

Simply put, Hamilton was a proto-capitalist New York banker who wanted to see the country embrace a commercial model. His vision would require a strong central government to invest in infrastructure and regulation.

Jefferson was a Southern plantation owner who wanted a republic of small landholders where each was practically sovereign on his own property. His model required almost no central government. It was simple and in the beginning it was dominant, especially in the South.

In the years after the American Revolution Northern states began a shift toward Hamiltonian capitalism. Over strenuous Southern objections those states and the Federal government wherever possible, began chartering banks, building canals, expanding ports, and laying railroad tracks. You can’t develop a coal industry in Pennsylvania if you can’t ship the product to New York. Building that infrastructure would require more organization and capital than individuals could fund on their own, but would yield massive benefits to a wide swath of the country.

Southerners struggled to block most Federal expenditures for infrastructure. President Jefferson himself dismissed the Erie Canal as “little short of madness.” His fellow Virginian, President James Madison, vetoed an effort to fund it. It was eventually financed by New York State. It brought massive new wealth to the Great Lakes basin and solidified New York City as the commercial capital of the nation.

It brought nothing to the South.

My Southern ancestors lived quiet rural lives. The harshest and most dangerous labor in their world was performed by slaves, giving them a sort of borrowed dignity regardless of whether they owned any slaves themselves. Religion was paramount, followed by family, clan and country. Their agricultural model and warm climate left them free from the need to organize any meaningful government beyond basic police and courts.

There were trains and factories, but few of them. Southern states resisted any organized industrial planning and fought federal efforts to build infrastructure. When Civil War came they never had a chance. The Jeffersonian model didn’t just leave them trailing in factories and railroads. As James Webb pointed out in his book, Born Fighting:

With only one-third of the white population, the south had nearly two thirds of its richest men and a large proportion of the very poor…In 1860 seven eighths of [foreign] immigrants came to the north…In the north, 94% of the population was found to be literate by the census of 1860; in the south barely 54% percent could read and write. Roughly 72% of northern children were enrolled in school compared with 35% of the same age in the south.

Their martial spirit made them formidable fighters, but they were lousy at coordination and unable to match the North’s infrastructure advantages. They were plowed under by the massive organizational power of a capitalist civilization. They lost because they had built a weaker system.

Wars don’t necessarily change cultures. The South has experienced waves of Federal Reconstruction, including the post-war occupation, the New Deal, and the Civil Rights Movement. Yet my people have never openly confronted the central question that still hangs in the air.

Will we decide – deliberately – to join a modern capitalist nation with all the complex responsibilities and spectacular benefits it brings, or will we continue to cling to the dead vision of The Confederate Dream?

Now we have fielded a Republican Congress which is determined to burn down the Hamiltonian Republic that has emerged since the war and return to a “simpler” time. Along the way they would damage (or even destroy) the benefits we’ve gained from our reluctant capitalism. If you want to know what a Neo-Confederate political model looks like in a modern country, try to find a good public school for your kids in Mexico.

We may not think that’s what we voted for. No one can say out loud that they are fighting for the Confederate way of life, and some who embrace it may not even recognize it. You can get some hints at what’s going on if you probe Ron Paul’s fans for their thoughts on Lincoln. The weird AM radio and Tea Party rhetoric of fighting “socialism” sounds absurd, but only if you take it literally. We want to relive a fleeting moment of Jeffersonian simplicity.

The rebellion against the Neo-Confederate Revolution must start inside the Republican Party. If we fail to manage the complexity of our age, there are horrors that await. Jefferson’s world is gone, but we can still have a banana republic if we so insist.

Recent Posts by Chris Ladd



61 Comments so far ↓

  • Oldskool

    Nice piece but it won’t appeal to the practioners, they’re not into “think pieces”. They only want resentments offered up and then nursed, whatever kind you happen to have on hand will do fine.

    In 2001, they wanted to hear that they deserved their tax dollars back, even though taxes helped to balanced the budget. Today, balancing the budget is their new shiny thing as long as it doesn’t involve taxes in brackets that they themselves will never be in.

  • rbottoms

    The South has all the worst attributes of our society and works hard to keep it that way. Pig farming, chemical plants and chicken processing have to happen somewhere, fortunately for those of us who like bacon Southerners are determined to stay in a society that is an amalgam of 19th & 20th century, more of the latter than the former.

    • Smargalicious

      bottomly, stop drinking the hate-orade. Learn to love. Love to give. Give to relax.

    • nwahs

      “Pig farming, chemical plants and chicken processing have to happen somewhere, fortunately for those of us who like bacon Southerners are determined to stay in a society that is an amalgam of 19th & 20th century, more of the latter than the former.”

      The “latter” would be the 20th century, the “former” the 19th. Considering the venom making up your post, I don’t think meant that. I think you were trying to infer Southerners are still living in the 1800′s more than the 1900′s. Latter indicates the last reference and former indicates the first referenced. FYI from a southern educated boy :)

  • hisgirlfriday

    LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS PIECE!

    I’ve been saying something similar to the idea you’ve put forth here for a while now. The current GOP backward economic thinking is Jeffersonian/Jacksonian/Confederate madness all over again.

    Hamilton and Clay and Lincoln had it right when it came to a pro-manufacturing trade policy, infrastructure investments and public education support. This was the AMERICAN economic system that made our country the richest on earth. These Federalist/Whig/Republican men created an amazing republic yet somehow their wisdom has been purged from the Republican coalition that Lincoln made in the 1860s such that only the Know-Nothings are left. We have Ron Paul pulling the Republican Party further and further toward AUSTRIAN economics and disparaging the AMERICAN economic system that made our country so prosperous.

    If you look at the Confederate economic policies that bankrupted their civilization, all the hallmarks are there in the “conservative” agenda of today:
    1. Endless war that is unpaid for
    2. No labor protections or minimum wage
    3. No protections for native industry in trade policies
    4. Low, poorly collected taxes
    5. Rich landowners and rich financiers get richer while everyone else gets poorer
    6. No public education support

    If we continue on this path of economic insanity, I fear our United States of America will be a civilization gone with the wind just like the Confederate States of America.

    Keep up the good fight, Chris!

    • donotswallow

      Wait, you’re trying to peg the wars on Ron Paul? On FrumForum? Is this a joke?

      While serving in the Bush White House, Frum was “one of the most vociferous voices . . . calling for war in Iraq,” and “wrote in 2003 about the Iraqis ‘welcoming their liberators.’”[13]

    • Pareto

      This kind of thinking is exactly why the US will continue to sink itself into economic insignificance. You bash the Austrian school of economics without: (1) understanding its most basic principles, and (2) recognizing that your keynesian economic policy combined with pseudo Fed Friedman type policies has earned you $16T debt. Nice. So, you’re idea is to continue to repeat the same economic and political mantra and have government “fix” the problem is a sure sign that you also do not understand incentives. austrian economics turns on principally two axioms and makes no assertion that it “knows best” for society. the first axiom is that There is No Free Lunch. the second if that human action is purposeful action, motivated by the individual’s desire to move from a less to a more desired state, whatever that state of being constitutes, and its not up to Hamilton, to tell anybody what that is or might be. Thats the problem. You Keynesians endorse the idea that you know whats best for everybody, but, you have an impossible task of actually trying to demonstrate it! How arrogant is that posture? You have a militarism that you can’t afford, you have medicare/medicaid that you can’t afford, free education for everybody that you can’t afford, a house for everybody that you cannot afford. When does the Keynesian benefit actually begin to work? $20T, $40T debt? Government cannot create wealth, without compromising somebody else’s. Moreover, you can’t buy your way to prosperity such that $1 of government money would = $1.25 in GDP. If you could, then that would be a permanent line item on the government’s income statement!! Geeezzzuz!You bash the Austrian school, without even understanding the ineffectiveness of your own neoclassical dogma. Even Samuelson admitted that you can’t actually define the social welfare function without invoking some value judgement that is non-demonstrable. So right. We’ll keep doing the same thing over and over and hopefully, we’ll get a different result. Ron Paul isn’t disparaging the economic system that made the US great! He is disparaging the system that has been adopted over the last 60 years that is working feverishly to destroy the very system that did make the US great!! The so-called, American Free Society has transformed itself to nothing more than glorified Welfare State, a kind of socialism that differs only in degree from communist Cuba, where you can do and have whatever you want to the extent that Uncle Sam says you can do and have. I can’t imagine for even a second, that this is what Clay, Hamilton and Lincoln had in mind.

      • Frumplestiltskin

        wow, I must say I am impressed, it is rare to read someone who proves they know absolutely nothing about life. For one there is such a thing as a free lunch. I had it yesterday. I went fishing in the laguna, caught myself a nice fish, picked some limes off a wild lime tree and had myself a very nice and completely free lunch. For very little effort, certainly less than the calories consumed, nature provided me with a very nice free lunch, so right off the bat one of your two axioms is fundamentally wrong.
        While it is also impossible to know what is absoutely best for society, we can work towards what is better and government is one of the most effective means to bring it about, so your second axiom is wrong as well.

        As to the rest of your rant, your level of English is simply embarrassing, I can not countenance such horrendous grammar. Have you no pride whatsoever? “you’re idea”? I shudder at the thought that any adult could make such an elemental mistake.
        And it was not just that, one slip is ok, but good lord there was hardly a sentence that a typical 9 year old could not write better.

        Here is a simple axiom for you, if a adult’s English level is that of a seventh grader, then their overall intelligence is likely to be on par with that.
        Go back to grade school pareto, you are an embarrassment to all literate people everywhere.

        • Pareto

          Really,

          So, who’s fish pond and lime tree did you rob from? Unless it was your fish pond and your lime tree, then you scored a free lunch at somebody else’s expense. And, if you actually fed yourself from your own fish pond and lime tree, then the opportunity cost of doing so is the monetary equivalent of what you might have fetched at the market in echange for those goods for something else. Economics 101. Second, government is totally ineffective at providing even the most basic coordination of scarce resources, because in order to effect that coordination it has to spend resources from other productive resources being employed elsewhere. Again, There is no free lunch! I suppose what is disconcerting about your rant, is that you failed to provide any kind of logical argument to refute what the Austrian school attempts to show. Instead you stooped to personally attacking my writing style. Well done, I’ve touched a nerve. If that is the best you can do then I suggest you read Economics in One Lesson. Perhaps this will help you sort out your vision of the welfare state. It will, for sure, school you on the Identity that there is not, nor can there ever be a Free Lunch.

        • Frumplestiltskin

          I fished in the ocean, do you own the ocean? And the lime tree was wild on public land. And it is you who insist on placing a monetary value on what is essentially mere survival. So I take it that birds should be paying money for eating worms? So all the animal kingdom is cheating by not paying money? You have said what is at the heart of all that is corrupt with this line of thinking, that my eating a fish from the ocean is a form of theft from someone else. Of course there is a free lunch, nature provides us with its bounty, you did not create nature. This goes beyond economics, this goes into the heart of our place in the world.

          The only true cost in the state of nature is the caloric expenditure in attaining the meal. You can choose to monetize that, but there is no fixed law as to what that monetization must be. We can choose to use shiny metal rocks or pieces of paper. But I can choose not to, I can choose not to sell my fish at the market, I can choose to live on a remote uninhabited atoll and live off my own devices, must I then “pay” myself with money for every fish I catch or coconut I eat?

          So if you want to be silly and pay yourselves with leaves on an uninhabited tropical island, then go ahead, just don’t expect me to buy into your claim that there is no such thing as a free lunch. There is, nature provided it to me. Not you.

      • JohnMcC

        Mr Pareto, are you sure you read the same post as the rest of us ? Have you heard of paragraphs? Did your keyboardarrhea serve as therapy? Do you feel better now? It does appear that your thinking is on a level with your sentence structure.

      • Redrabbit

        the second if that human action is purposeful action, motivated by the individual’s desire to move from a less to a more desired state, whatever that state of being constitutes, and its not up to Hamilton, to tell anybody what that is or might be.

        This barely even makes sense. Actually, I’m not certain that I know what this is supposed to mean.

        As for the rest of your post…a few thoughts.

        Keynesianism is not based on the idea that we “know what is best”. It is based on the idea that government will step in as the buyer of less resort when demand is low. To essentially kickstart the economy when it is stuck in a liquidity trap due to deflation, low demand, etc.

        A more general thought. America did fine for itself long before the Austrian school ever came along.

  • zaybu

    I believe that the present situation is worse than that. When presidential candidates wear their ignorance as a badge of honor and the audience applauds, we have gone way beyond the Hamilton Vs Jefferson models. We’ve basically on a path of insanity, and it is the very fabrics of democracy that is at stakes.

  • tommybones

    You didn’t realize that the Civil War never ended? It simply became a cold war, still being fought as we speak? Wake up.

  • mstrauss2

    All five comments get it right. Oh, and the essay gets it right, too. In a nutshell, the Confederacy was not only a failed state, but it became a failed state the moment it became a state.
    Our current problem is to protect ourselves from these crazy people who are currently driving the Republican Party farther and farther into the abyss.
    I fear we are all on a downward spiral in which America will become another Mexico. Our best defense will be to stress the essence of American history: the American Civil War began in 1775, in global violence. The violence erupted again, mostly on the borders and in the South, in 1860. There was a dynamic flare-up of localized violence in the 1960′s. And now, we are at terrible risk for another violent episode. (Why do you think gun nuts love their guns so much?)
    The best way out may be to put the Civil War argument front and forward in everyone’s mind. We cannot separate politics from history.

  • rubbernecker

    Excellent piece, but would I send it to the conservatives I know below the Mason-Dixon? It would be futile.

    And I would have to hear some nonsense about who they think I think is the “Messiah,” and I’ve had enough of that.

  • jg bennet

    sadly when reagan swept the souther democrats the confederate mentality infected the republican party and has, like the invasion of the body snatchers, morphed them into their sworn enemy.

    i mean really, free trade, no infrastructure spending & no welfare clause is in the confederate constitution. plus the war was a shooting trade/economic war and the whole slavery thing became the excuse for it. the take on slavery in the US constitution & the confederate is basically the same and the first shots were fired at a tariff house not a military fort.

    THE REAL FACTS

    Republicans dominated American politics until around the early 20th century. President William McKinley stated the United States’ stance under the Republican Party as thus:
    “Under free trade the trader is the master and the producer the slave. Protection is but the law of nature, the law of self-preservation, of self-development, of securing the highest and best destiny of the race of man. [It is said] that protection is immoral…. Why, if protection builds up and elevates 63,000,000 [the U.S. population] of people, the influence of those 63,000,000 of people elevates the rest of the world. We cannot take a step in the pathway of progress without benefiting mankind everywhere. Well, they say, ‘Buy where you can buy the cheapest’…. Of course, that applies to labor as to everything else. Let me give you a maxim that is a thousand times better than that, and it is the protection maxim: ‘Buy where you can pay the easiest.’ And that spot of earth is where labor wins its highest rewards.”
    **Northern Progressives sought free trade to undermine the power base of Republicans** –
    Woodrow Wilson would admit as much in a speech to Congress. A brief resurgence by Republicans in the 1920s was disastrous for them. Woodrow Wilson’s ideological understudy, Franklin Roosevelt, would essentially blame the Great Depression upon the protectionist policies exemplified by the previous Republican President, Herbert Hoover……….

    So if a “socialist” Democrat like FDR supported free trade and was against protectionism to undermine the Republicans why is it that Republicans so staunchly support it today? Look at CATO, Heritage et al…

    REAGAN WAS THE LAST TRUE REPUBLICAN LION GUARDING OUR MANUFACTURING JOBS GATE

    The conventional wisdom about Reagan as free enterprise, free market champion is largely true. But on trade policy, Reagan acted decisively in five instances to save major American industries from predatory foreign competition. Moreover, the temporary import relief succeeded spectacularly, resulting in improved performance by these industries and avoiding the captive market prices that conventional economics teaches will always flow from restricting foreign competition. …………..

    CHRIS I’M RELLY GLAD YOU ARE ON THE FORUM!!!!

    • Banty

      “sadly when reagan swept the souther democrats the confederate mentality infected the republican party and has, like the invasion of the body snatchers, morphed them into their sworn enemy. ”

      Actually that started earlier, in the early ’70s, after the Johnson civil rights era.

  • Banty

    “Jefferson’s world is gone, but we can still have a banana republic if we so insist.”

    Exactly. This piece is making me re-think some of my views of the Tea Party, and what its connection to the old South may be.

  • jg bennet

    banty

    reagan was the last defender of our manufacturing base, it was nixon & milton friedman who started the trend and pushed it in the gop. the new right got what they wanted after reagan left. ater his departure it was hoo yaa let’s raid the middle class, eliminate regulations & bankrupt factories by utilizing cheap labor abroad. viva neo-liberalism!! here is the CATO article on reagan & trade if you have never seen it http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa107.html

    i know the forum hates hearing this but donald trump is a far more reaganesque/genuine republican than the entire gop put together. listen to him….protectionism, social welfare, infrastructure etc. all republican party ideas.

    milton friedman and his eco-psychological theory wrote the bible on todays gop economic ideology & is the godfather of our present economic situation and the guru evangelist whose words & ideas have brainwashed the republican party into believing 80 year old progressive propaganda against regulations & tariffs..

    what cracks me up is how, like a pavlovian response, republicans always bring up hoover & tariffs being the cause of the great depression, which was and still is nothing but propaganda.

    just ask the godfather milton friedman. here is what he said when asked about the great depression…..

    The Great Depression

    INTERVIEWER: You’ve written that what really caused the Depression was mistakes by the government. Looking back now, what in your view was the actual cause?

    MILTON FRIEDMAN: Well, we have to distinguish between the recession of 1929, the early stages, and the conversion of that recession into a major catastrophe. The recession was an ordinary business cycle. We had repeated recessions over hundreds of years, but what converted [this one] into a major depression was bad monetary policy. NOT TARIFFS!!

    CATO in 1988 referred to reagan as being as or more protectionist than hoover, yet you only hear reagan was a free trader. that is propaganda and almost every republican voter believes it.

    the bulk of all voters are not well informed and the republican voters are victims of economic/idealogical propaganda perpetrated on them by those they trust the most. the perpetrators being their political leaders, their church & their news information outlets.

    the thing is, if the truth were told to the republican voters about the reality of the usurpation of their party by a sworn ideological enemy, the republican party would fracture and go the way of the whigs.

    if the truth came out on say fox, breitbart, redstste etc. anger would boil and a new party would rise out of the ashes just like the republican party did in 1854 when the gop was born.

    the new party, like the republicans in the late 1850′s & 60′s, would dominate the political landscape and our country would be stronger, more united and far more true to its nature of the republican ideas of self reliance/protectionism & social justice……

  • balconesfault

    Read up on the history of the Army Corps of Engineers and the harnessing of the Mississippi – the life blood of the South.

    Imagine a south where the Corps wasn’t involved in dredging, maintaining levees, and otherwise controlling the Mississippi. The river would have already jumped to the Atchafalaya exit to the Gulf decades ago, stranding the massive petrochemical complexes of Baton Rouge and turning New Orleans into a swamp miles away from any shipping access.

  • Frumplestiltskin

    yeah, I want to chime in with everyone else and commend this piece, beyond all of the shortcomings of the Confederacy one not mentioned is that the states never learned to effectively co-ordinate between themselves which led to tremendous waste and needless duplication and at the same time shortages as each state acted independently, there were even debates within the Confederacy of states seceding from it.

    One criticism of the piece, there are plenty of good public Mexican schools, there are far less discipline problems here than in the states, the material is on par with what children learn in the states, the math, the sciences, social studies, etc. in addition, a far greater percentage of Mexicans speak English than do non-hispanic Americans speak Spanish (or any other language). As someone who works with public schools here I understand the issues far better than Ladd does. The real issue here is societal, they do not place as much emphasis on education in the home, therefore students learn and forget. This is also a problem in the states as well, but less so. In Shanghai, China, where I also taught, education is job one for children and they have a far, far, far more rigourous education than Americans or Mexicans.

    Neither of these situations, Chinese education or Mexican, have anything to do with Jefferson or Hamiltonian models so try not to be so flippant.

    • balconesfault

      And ironically, in a country which is 95% Catholic, the ideas that Church and State should not be separate, or that teaching of evolution in schools should be mitigated via the introduction of “Creation Science”, would be roundly mocked.

      • rockstar

        They’ve also been run by a party called the Institutional Revolutionary Party for 70+ years. Let’s discuss.

  • Ron Paul News: Barry Manilow's Endorsement, FrumForum's Ire, and a $875,000 Constitution Day Money Bomb - Hit & Run : Reason Magazine

    [...] * FrumForum attacks: "Ron Paul's fans" part of dangerous "Neo-Confederate Revolution." [...]

  • jg bennet

    FALSE……. free markets/neo-liberal economics raise the incomes of the poor, and protectionist policies hurt the poor.

    that is gop dogma and it is dead wrong

    here is a just one of many the canaries trapped in neo-liberal/free market cages that is dying due to the exact same economic policies the gop supports here……………we are experiencing the same economic dynamics…………….

    WikiLeaks Bolivia cables: US admits ‘economic roots of social revolution’

    Sunday, September 18, 2011

    Neoliberal policies “which have fed the growing political disaffection of Bolivia’s majority poor, have helped fuel the country’s rolling ‘social revolution.’”

    This was how a May 6, 2006, US embassy cable from La Paz recently released by WikiLeaks viewed the powerful wave of struggle that led to the election of Bolivia’s first indigenous president, Evo Morales, in 2005. COULD MEAN 3RD PARTY HERE

    This secret assessment came despite Washington publicly trumpeting neoliberal policies as the way to solve the problems of Latin America’s poor.

    In 1985, under the advise of US economist Jeffrey Sachs, the Victor Paz Estenssoro government opened up Bolivia’s economy to foreign transnationals.

    A number of state-owned companies were privatised, including the crucial mining sector. Restrictions on foreign capital were removed and labour security undermined.

    The US embassy admitted in its cable: “Notwithstanding the promises of politicians … poverty was largely impervious to the liberal reforms of the late 80s and 90s.”

    It noted the percentage of Bolivians living below the poverty line remained “virtually unchanged (over 60%) … and even increased during the economic crisis of 1999-2003”.

    At the same time, neoliberal reforms “clearly failed to meet public expectations for increased incomes and jobs”. SAME HERE HELLOOOO

    …………………………………..THE IMPORTANT PART FOLLOWS

    The US cable maintained that neoliberalism/free market economics provided Bolivia with “macro-economic stability and a platform for increased private investment.”

    *****The problem, according to the cable, was the widely held “perception that the large amounts of foreign direct investment Bolivia received between 1997 and 2003 as a result of privatization benefited the rich and not the poor”.******

    The cable, however, conceded:**** “This perception was not altogether inaccurate.”****

    The moral of the story……

    FREE MARKET NEOLIBERALISM AKA THE GOP MODEL IS A FLOP WHEN IT COMES TO JOBS. look at our jobs situation……FAIL

    • Pareto

      And the $4T spent over the last 4 years in fiscal stimulus and treasury purchases by the Fed (the greatest ponzi – EVER) have proven to be any more effective? US unemployment has risen, not fallen. The kicker is you ought not to expect anything different until the malinvestment is liquidated and markets clear. Business cycles occur not as a consequence of natural course. Rather, business cycles occur as a result of fiscal and monetary policy. Incentives matter in the course of any economy (even those that are closed), and when a central authority tinkers with its money supply, or, when it redistributes wealth through various and many welfare programs and corporate subsidies, incentives that motivate voluntary exchange change accordingly as each individual/corporation endeavors to move itself from a less to a more desired state. The solution is to stop tinkering! Stop tinkering and you end the business cycle.

    • JimBob

      so making items poor people buy more expensive makes them richer??

  • Graychin

    Well done, Sir. This is the best essay I have ever read on Frum Forum.

  • jg bennet

    AMERICAN CANARIES………….

    At a food pantry in a Chicago suburb, a 38-year-old mother of two breaks into tears.

    She and her husband have been out of work for nearly two years. Their house and car are gone. So is their foothold in the middle class and, at times, their self-esteem.

    “It’s like there is no way out,” says Kris Fallon.

    She is trapped like so many others, destitute in the midst of America’s abundance.

    The Census Bureau released new figures showing that nearly one in six Americans lives in poverty — a record 46.2 million people. The poverty rate, pegged at *****15.1 percent, is the highest of any major industrialized nation, the largest number in at least five decades.******, and many experts believe it could get worse before it abates.

    The numbers are daunting — but they also can seem abstract and numbing without names and faces.

    Associated Press reporters around the country went looking for the people behind the numbers. They were not hard to find.

    There’s Tim Cordova, laid off from his job as a manager at a McDonald’s in New Mexico, and now living with his wife at a homeless shelter after a stretch where they slept in their Ford Focus.

    There’s Bill Ricker, a 74-year-old former repairman and pastor whose home is a dilapidated trailer in rural Maine. He scrapes by with a monthly $1,003 Social Security check. His ex-wife also is hard up; he lets her live in the other end of his trailer.

    There’s Brandi Wells, a single mom in West Virginia, struggling to find a job and care for her 10-month-old son. “I didn’t realize that it could go so bad so fast,” she says.

    Some were outraged by the statistics. Marian Wright Edelman of the Children’s Defense Fund called the surging child poverty rate “a national disgrace.” ………………….

  • jg bennet

    PARETO

    the austrian school is a psychological theory that evolved into a religious dogma, it is scientology economics style.

    i think we should dump the psychology and return to the far more practical american school of economics. the american school is what the republican party supported from its beginning until it switched in the 20th century.

    when we followed the republican way aka this way http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_School_(economics) our economy grew into the largest economy in the world with the highest standard of living, surpassing the British Empire by the 1880s.

    china basically copied that republican system and have proceeded to kick our butts with the shoes we pay them to make for us………….

    The Austrian school? (Chicago Accent) “forgettabout it, its nothin but head shrinker mumbo jumbo anyways”…..

    Praxeology is the distinctive methodology of the Austrian school. The term was first applied to the Austrian method by ****Ludwig von Mises, who was not only the major architect and elaborator of this methodology but also the economist who most fully and successfully applied it to the construction of economic theory.*****

    Praxeology rests on the fundamental axiom that individual human beings act, that is, on the primordial fact that individuals engage in conscious actions toward chosen goals………..

    READ THIS WHOLE LINK PARETO it is the Mises Institute’s take on the free market and WHERE THEY HOPE THE AUSTRIAN SCHOOL WILL TAKE US……
    http://mises.org/freemarket_detail.aspx?control=353

    Come on Republicans get back to your roots…………………

    • Pareto

      jg benet,

      I understand the methodology of the Austrian school and that there are a variety of distinguishing perspectives within it. As you write, “Praxeology rests on the fundamental axiom that individual human beings act, that is, on the primordial fact that individuals engage in conscious actions toward chosen goals…….”, where such goals (wants) are unlimited, but, where the means to attain such goals remain scarce. I get it. Praxeology is the study of human action. But, as an economist, I focus more on the austrian critique of the welfare state. Rothbard lays out in consistent measure the illogical paradigm of modern utility theory that underscores the neo-classical school of economics. In his “Towards a Reconstruction of Utility and Welfare Economics”, Rothbard dismantles utility theory starting from first principles, arguing forcefully the problem with cardinal utility and indifference curve analysis. He talks about the summation problem as well, but really, we don’t even really need that since, as I said earlier, Samuelson as much as admitted that you can’t construct the social welfare function without invoking some judgement about social utility. I focus on the No Free Lunch identity because it is an identity that underscores the physical reality of scarcity and actually goes back to Carl Menger (rather than Mises) who delineates the physical order and properties of increasingly higher order goods. That said, not everybody is going to school themselves readily on the Austrian school of economics. However, I try to employ the same principles of the noclassical school (which everybody presumably knows) in an effort to demonstrate its logical deficiencies. Is this Austrian enough?

      • jg bennet

        WOW! that is well said. so why did we dump the american school when it worked so well?

        i’m thinking it was politics not economics that convinced us to switch. free trade is the road to broke.

        “I don’t care who writes a nation’s laws, or crafts its advanced treatises, if I can write its economics textbooks.” So said one of the greatest textbook writers of them all, Paul Samuelson.

        But even Samuelson didn’t live forever—he died in 2009 aged 94—and now others decide what the rising generation is reading. It is a fair bet that, on one of the most critical issues of modern economic policy, his successors’ books would not meet with the master’s approval. That issue is trade.

        Although Samuelson spent most of his life promoting unqualified free trade, he came close in his declining years to admitting he was wrong. In a paper in 2004, he suggested that there might be some circumstances in which a nation did not benefit from free trade. His analysis was carefully hedged; but, given his unique status not only as a textbook writer but as the first American economist to win a Nobel Prize, the effect on the faithful was as if the pope had conceded there might not be a God after all.

        what are your thoughts on this?

        here is the whole article http://www.theamericanconservative.com/blog/beyond-free-trade/

  • PatrickLee

    Thomas Jefferson didn’t object to infrastructure, but he rightfully pointed out that the Constitution didn’t give that authority to the national government. He supported infrastructure improvements, once authorizing amendments had been approved.

    For an accurate sampling of Thomas Jefferson’s views on a variety of topics, see his blog at http://www.JeffersonLeadership.com/?page_id=68. Thrice weekly he posts on a variety of topics.

  • NRA Liberal

    “Jefferson’s world is gone, but we can still have a banana republic if we so insist.”

    Great line.

  • decentralizedimproviser

    Is it easy to pretend that the US did not have a very limited government after the Civil War ended in 1865 through the Cleveland administration in 1897? Grover Cleveland would be a “neo-confederate” or libertarian by all measures under the standards of today. This period happened to be the greatest period of prosperity in American history… under a constitutional limited government with sound money, no war & open immigration.

    This debate is not just ideological. It’s practical with empirical evidence. The quality of life of humans is directly related to liberty.

    • think4yourself

      - “… under a constitutional limited government with sound money, no war & open immigration.”

      You are proposing a return to the gold standard?
      You are proposing an end to the Federal Reserve?
      The Depts. of Homeland Security, Education, FDA? How about the Justice Dept and Federal Court system?
      I’m assuming you would end Social Security and Medicare today?
      Remove the US from the United Nations and NATO?
      Cancel all trade agreements with foreign governments?

      • decentralizedimproviser

        You are proposing a return to the gold standard? NO, AN END TO LEGAL TENDER LAWS. THE GOLD STANDARD IS ANOTHER FLAVOR OF CENTRAL ECONOMIC PLANNING.
        You are proposing an end to the Federal Reserve? IF THE FEDERAL RESERVE NOTE CAN COMPETE WELL WITH OTHER CURRENCIES LIKE GOLD, SILVER & WHATEVER ELSE THE MARKET DECIDES, THEN THEY CAN STICK AROUND. BUT, I WOULD PULL FDIC INSURANCE. LET BANKS GET PRIVATE DEPOSIT INSURANCE.
        The Depts. of Homeland Security, Education, FDA? GONE FROM TAXPAYER SUPPORT. FDA/USDA SHOULD BE TRANSITIONED INTO A NON-MANDATORY CHARITABLE ORG. IF I WANT TO DRINK RAW MILK, TAKE EXPERIMENTAL MEDS, OR SMOKE A PLANT, THAT’S NOT THE FEDERAL OR ANY OTHER GOVERNMENTS’ BUSINESS. IF YOU GET VALUE FROM FDA APPROVAL, YOU CAN SUPPORT IT.
        How about the Justice Dept and Federal Court system? OF COURSE THAT WOULD STAY. THE GOVERNMENT NEEDS TO HAVE A MEDIATION / REMEDY SYSTEM FOR LIFE & PROPERTY RIGHTS.
        I’m assuming you would end Social Security and Medicare today? FOR PEOPLE UNDER 40, YES. WOULD I STOP THE PROGRAMS COLD TURKEY FOR EVERYONE? THAT’S UNETHICAL.
        Remove the US from the United Nations and NATO? ABSOLUTELY. POST HASTE & CLOSE ALL NON-NORTH AMERICAN BASES.
        Cancel all trade agreements with foreign governments? 5% IMPORT TARIFF ACROSS THE BOARD. 0% ON EXPORTS. THERE’S NO NEED FOR TRADE AGREEMENTS. A US BUSINESS CAN DO BUSINESS WITH ANYONE IN THE WORLD THEY WANT.

        • Redrabbit

          Woah.

          That was….

          This is a parody, right?

          You can’t actually believe any of what you posted, right?

    • hisgirlfriday

      Grover Cleveland presided over the greatest period of prosperity in American history? Yeah I guess if it was the greatest period of prosperity if your name was Carnegie, Rockefeller, Morgan or Vanderbilt.

    • Redrabbit

      You mean the Gilded Age?

      Seriously?

      >___<

  • JimBob

    Ohhh brother hilarious. New York , Illinois, Massachusetts are all losing population to Florida, Texas, Tennessee , and North Carolina . Low tax states.

    Jeffersonian model of 50 states experimenting on what works and what doesn’t. The one shoe fits all has been a disaster.

    All in all a weak article.

  • Steve D

    Jefferson basically wanted America to be a Third World nation. He pictured us growing food and exporting food and raw materials to Europe in return for their manufactured goods, which is the role the Third World plays today. He pictured American farmers as being independent yeomen, which they never were and never could be simply because large planters could control prices and markets. And the inevitable result would have been exactly what has happened in the Third World – the developed world would have called all the shots.

    • JimBob

      That’s not true. Hamilton favored subsidizing favored industries. Today that’s called crony capitalism. Jefferson had more faith in the free market.

  • Dazedandconfused

    Great piece.

    As a counter factual history exercise, I really think the South could have won, had they the ability to use the space the way Greene did against the British in the Revolutionary war. That was precluded, because they had to maintain a military front to defend the slave-holders.

    There are strengths in what are being called weaknesses here, but you have to be able to use them. Perhaps Lee was simply too steeped in the military traditions of the time, of seeking large decisive battles. They all studied Napoleon excessively, of course, but I have a hard time imagining Lee as a rigid-doctrine sort of cat.

  • jg bennet

    We are living in and still supporting a failed economic system & our Friedmanstein monster called Latin America it turns out is unfriendly to the villagers…..Just like many Latin American countries our villagers are suffering consequences of lettingFfriedmansrein out of his cage…..

    The year 2010 marked the 200th anniversary of independence for many Latin American nations. While the region may have achieved its political independence it still remains, 200 years later, deeply tied – and subordinated – to the larger world capitalist system that has shaped its economic and political development from the conquest in 1492 right up to the present period of globalisation.

    The new global capitalism swept Latin America by storm in the 1980s and 1990s. Neo-liberal programmes were imposed by international financial institutions, western governments, and local elites. The region experienced a sweeping transformation of its political economy and social structure. By the early 21st century the “commanding heights” of accumulation were no longer the old traditional agro-exports or national industry. New industries and business practices took their place: maquiladoras, transnational agribusiness complexes, global banking, tourism, the “retail revolution”, Walmart and other super-stores (which now control some 70 per cent of the region’s commerce, up from just 10-20 per cent in 1990), and trans-national labour markets, which have made Latin America a major exporter of workers to the global economy.

    Transnational capital poured into the region in the form of productive investment in these dynamic new circuits of accumulation. Portfolio managers and speculative financial ventures took advantage of the bonanza opened up by privatisation, deregulation, and issues of government bonds, which attracted investors from the money markets that dominate the global financial system.

    A new breed of transnationally-oriented elites and capitalists forged a neo-liberal bloc and led the region into the global age of hothouse accumulation, financial speculation, credit ratings, the internet, malls, fast-food chains, and gated communities. Neo-liberalism forged a social base among emerging middle classes and professional strata for which globalisation opened up new opportunities for upward mobility and participation in the global bazaar.

    But neo-liberalism also brought about unprecedented social inequalities & mass unemployment…………..

    ARE WE IN FOR A PINK TIDE?
    http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/09/2011913141540508756.html

  • jg bennet

    Yep, it looks like we may be in for a pink revolution here in the good ole USA unless an independent party gets the white house and gets us off of our neoliberal/neo-confederate kool-aid drinking economic model.

    Both parties have done this to us………. We’re like Russia now & Both parties keep singing the neo-confederate song………….. The Dixie Democrats are now the GOP & the Dems are the Dems, they have not changed much since FDR…………

    The widening gap between the wealthy and everyone else in the United States may be hindering a broader economic recovery, according to a new study.

    The study out of the International Monetary Fund found that greater income equality positively correlates with stronger economic growth.

    *****Released in September, the study more specifically concluded that a 10 percent decrease in inequality increased the expected duration of economic growth by 50 percent.****

    AS TRUMP SAYS OUR POLITICAL LEADERSHIP IS STUPID…Seems the data now backs that statement up..

    The IMF paper, which studied a sample of countries around the world between 1950 and 2006, found that in countries with more income inequality, such as Jordan and Cameroon, the economy more frequently plunged into deeper recessions, while economic growth lasted much longer in more equal societies.

    Indeed, greater levels of income equality corresponded more strongly to sustained economic growth than other economic factors, including lower debt levels, according to the report. “Sustainable economic reform,” the authors write, “is possible only when its benefits are widely shared.” The United States

    Income inequality has grown in the United States over the past four decades and now more closely compares to the income distributions of Russia and Iran than many other developed economies………..

  • WillyP

    So the country is in decline because of too much Jeffersonian decentralization?

    Um, yeah right.

    Now not wanting to spend ourselves (and ostensibly the world) into oblivion makes Conservatives pirates? Financial terrorists? We’re not in favor of burning down anything… it’s the WELFARE STATE that’s collapsing, and it’s going to drag our constitutional republican down with it.

    Man oh man, is Mr. Ladd’s thinking upside-down and backwards!

  • richardson101

    You say “…laying railroad tracks. You can’t develop a coal industry in Pennsylvania if you can’t ship the product to New York. Building that infrastructure would require more organization and capital than individuals could fund on their own, but would yield massive benefits to a wide swath of the country.”

    That’s not true. The Great Northern Transcontinental Railway was built entirely with private funds and no land grants. Without the corporate welfare you support, infrastructure still gets built. It just gets built more efficiently and only in locations where it makes sense.

    The notion that we would be a poor country if it weren’t for corporate welfare or socialist enterprises is false

    • mannie

      But Mr. Hill was an exceptional man. You cant sit around and wait for his type to arrive.

    • jakester

      The Transcontinental Railroad actually paid back the government all the subsidies it got. It was also the most important direct route to the west coast since it connected Chicago to SF. It also served an important national political purpose since it helped alleviate some of the post Civil War unemployment and disunity. Comparing the Great Northern, which came more than ten years later and connected sparsely settled Washington State to MN, is comparing apple to oranges, it is silly.

  • WillyP

    The whole idea that government can only spend what it first takes from the productive sector is totally absent from this author’s thought process. A bureaucracy doesn’t spit out wealth… it spits out regulations, and requires tax dollars to pay the bureaucrats who make these regulations. Government is a wonderful thing if and only if it is limited to administering justice. Once it begins to run amuck, unchecked by any constitution, it is the greatest menace to society that man knows. Our Founding Fathers, including Hamilton, understood this well. Some modern “Republicans” (read: RINOs) worship big government… for what reason, I have no idea.

    • jakester

      Pretty much all republicans and conservatives support a big military and strong defense. How do you think that happens, from a small central government augmented by state militias?

  • jg bennet

    Here is the right attitude

    DONALD Trump has advised Australia to “screw” China by raising its commodity prices.

    “I say raise your prices,” the flamboyant American billionaire told a Sydney audience tonight.

    “You really screw them on the sale of raw materials.

    “They need you badly. You have all the cards.”

    Criticising America’s lack of tough negotiators in business dealings with China, Trump said: “One of the reasons I love Australia is because you’re selling them all sorts of shit.”……….

    What do you think of that capitalist attitude willyp? I like it….

    • mannie

      The funny thing is, the past Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, from the Labour Party, got the axe for attempting to do just that. He wanted to slap a windfall profits tax on certain mine products, and offset that increase in revenue by reducing taxation on less Aussie dominant sectors. Sounded like a great idea to me, but the Right sure dident go for it. And now, thinking back on a few things I saw on American media, fellows like Kudlow and others on CNBC did a pretty good hatchet job on Mr. Rudd as well. And the real kicker is, now the Aussie voter seems quite warm to the idea of Kevin Rudd retaking the reins of Labour and returning the the PM’s office. Good on ya, Kevin!

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