“We Must Turn Back Picketty’s Charge” by Burt Folsom
Dr. Folsom has another excellent analysis of the latest (and still just as devoid of substance) “scholarly” plea for taxing “the rich” so that government “helps the poor.” That “help” never gets to those who actually need it, does it? Folsom’s new article, looking back on the ground laid by Hoover and FDR in the 1930s, reminds us that there is nothing new under the sun and redistribution still fails every time. As Coolidge once said, “No matter what any one may say about making the rich and the corporations pay the taxes, in the end they come out of the people who toil. It is your fellow workers who are ordered to work for the Government every time an appropriation bill is passed.”
A superb presentation by the late, but great, Mr. Robert Sobel on Calvin Coolidge. While not a recent work, it is a fresh contribution to respect and appreciate the thirtieth president even now. It was my first read on Mr. Coolidge. Scholar Sobel presents him as he was, without apology, without pretense, without facade.
Though Mr. Coolidge may finally be gaining a semblance of regard for who he was and the principles he embodied, this interview, not that long ago in the grand scheme of events, reminds us that an unwarranted prejudice and close-minded suspicion has prevailed so long about Coolidge and his kind of leadership. The host’s almost awkward incredulity illustrates this engrained, yet mistaken, impression of who Coolidge was and is supposed to remain.
Sobel’s work demands that we open our minds to the profound value of Coolidge’s legacy, rejecting the utterly false perception of his weakness and ineffectiveness assumed as fact by an intellectually narrow and politically biased academia. Sobel expects us to reckon with this intricate, and even potent leader, instead of keeping our eyes closed for fear of seeing something that contradicts what we are now supposed to believe as irrefutable, politically, culturally and economically. He has much to teach us about leadership in general and the Presidency in particular. Don’t merely read the book and shelve it, take the time to study it in order to better grasp what makes Coolidge important now.
“Our system of property rights has been devised out of much hard experience for the purpose of confirming the liberty and independence of the people. It cannot be limited or destroyed without limiting or destroying the opportunity of the people…
“Our system does not put property rights above human rights. We regard our material resources as a means to a higher life. We undertake to protect property rights for the sole purpose of protecting human rights.
“No one should deny that there have been abuses of property. We have had thieves and swindlers since the world began. But that is no reason for discarding a sound system. Guilt is personal. If a bookkeeper by accident or design falsifies his ledger we do not condemn the rules of arithmetic; we try to reform the bookkeeper. The trouble with him was that he did not observe the rules. Because we sometimes suffer from ignorance and dishonesty is no reason for changing our system of property rights. We cannot make the exception the rule. We must make the offenders observe the system. Besides, the great mass of the people are honest and the great mass of business transactions are scrupulously correct.
“There is always a temptation in time of adversity to think anything would be better than that which we have. Naturally we ask ourselves why, if our system is sound, it does not work better. The answer is that our system has worked better than any other that was ever devised. Under it we have had more progress and more comfort than ever came to any other people. Even in our present distress we are better taken care of than we could be under any other system. We are wise enough to know that there is no system of property rights that is proof against human folly and greed. We cannot expect perfection. We do expect improvement. But that is no reason why we should agree with those who would persuade us that all our hard-won victories were mistakes which we ought now to abandon. Our greatest hope of success materially and spiritually lies in the continued support of those political and economic institutions which were established by the Constitution of the United States” — former President Calvin Coolidge, excerpt of “Everyman’s Property,” Collier’s, July 23, 1932.