Was It Something the President Said?

December 21st, 2011 · No Comments · economy, tax policy

By Arthur Alpert

“Get over it” is a trendy phrase I’ve never liked.

Like its kin, “Life is unfair,” the phrase usually comes from the mouth of somebody who’s comfortable and wants you to stop complaining that you’re not.

The speaker’s real message is, “Quit seeking justice.”

Me, I’ve yet to get over the Albuquerque Journal’s decision to not report President Obama’s speech in Osawatomie, Kansas, Tuesday Dec. 6.

(True, the newspaper’s resident comedian noted it, but inaccurately, as is his wont. And Journal columnists have since commented, but the daily hasn’t reported what Mr. Obama said.)

It’s not the editors’ arrogance that gnaws; that’s not new.

Nor is it the inescapable conclusion that Journal management only pretends to journalism. That, too, is old.

And no, I’ve no hope for justice, however defined.

What remains is a question. Why? Was it something the President said?

Yes, his address was called “populist,” but it was weak tea compared to Teddy Roosevelt’s 1910 “New Nationalism” oration in Osawatomie.

Mr. Obama said government should play a role in leveling the economic playing field via taxation and regulation.

Heck, even some traditional conservatives – while disputing the size of the role – would concede that.

He said growing income inequality threatened the middle class (which argument the Journal scorns), but he also decried “breathtaking greed,” a sentiment many Tea Party sympathizers share.

So I’m left wondering at the Journal’s decision to censor.

Was it a preemptive strike? Did the Journal fear readers might gravitate from Mr. Obama’s ideas to Theodore Roosevelt’s?

That’s a wild idea, even if today’s Journal – no longer conservative, dominated now by laissez-faire fanatics – must find Teddy’s views downright Bolshevik.

For example:

“Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.”

Whoa! Can you picture Journal nabobs screeching, “Teddy was a commie-pinko!”

“Get Gessing on the phone, quickly. He’ll know where Karl Marx wrote it.”

In fact, Teddy was quoting Abraham Lincoln. And surely Lincoln got his idea from Adam Smith.

Yes, that Adam Smith, who wrote: “The property which every man has in his own labor, as it is the original foundation of all other property….”

Funny, isn’t it, how “free market think tanks” forget that?

But I digress.

Teddy also said the “struggle for human betterment” requires “equality of opportunity.” And to arrive there, the U.S. must engage in “the destruction of special privilege.”

It gets better. Here’s Teddy again:

“At many stages in the advance of humanity, this conflict between the men who possess more than they have earned and the men who have earned more than they possess is the central condition of progress. In our day it appears as the struggle of freemen to gain and hold the right of self-government as against the special interests, who twist the methods of free government into machinery for defeating the popular will.”

Special interests? Defeating the popular will? Oooh.

Teddy continued:

“For every special interest is entitled to justice, but not one is entitled to a vote in Congress, to a voice on the bench, or to representation in any public office.”

Oh, my. He’s talking corporate personhood, isn’t he, as well as corporate purchase of democracy?

“The citizens of the United States must effectively control the mighty commercial forces which they have themselves called into being.”
Got that? No? Well, Teddy makes it perfectly clear:

“There can be no effective control of corporations while their political activity remains.”

That’s T-shirt material.

“To put an end to it will be neither a short nor an easy task,” Teddy continued, “but it can be done.”

Ooops! I hope Teddy didn’t put money on that.

You can read his entire speech here.

Do pay particular attention to his thesis that the national interest must outweigh the corporate, lest a small, affluent class rule the country.

Because, you see, “libertarians” share the Marxists’ belief that the economy is more fundamental than the nation.

Oh, and don’t skip Teddy on tariffs, periodic financial panics, trusts and graduated income taxes.

Still, my wild idea is far-fetched. It’s doubtful the editors ignored President Obama’s discourse for fear readers might go on to read Teddy’s speech.

No, I’m satisfied that the Journal’s censorship reflects its consistent policy on ideas its commissars dislike – print them rarely, softly and divert attention with deceptive headlines.

As for Teddy’s tougher ideas, well, the policy is simple – they don’t exist.

Mind you, that’s not without logic. It’s as if the Journal is saying, “You want John Stuart Mill’s marketplace of ideas? Go to a journalistic enterprise.”

Reason enough to not get over it.

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  • Mario Prechtel

    Thank you for the Teddy Roosevelt quotes. They say exactly what I have been thinking. I am an independent and have been frustrated with the left’s inability to articulate that the playing field is not open for everyone. The conservative political machine has effectively convinced the middle that the liberals want to steal the American dream. The liberals have been unable to convince the middle that money and those that have it are insured against risk, and the insurance’s premium is paid for with public funds.

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