“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ten Presidents Better than Franklin D, Roosevelt

Franklin Roosevelt? Pah! Here are ten far greater US presidents

January 17th, 2011


Further evidence of the unwisdom of experts. A major survey of British academics has come up with a ranking of US presidents. In top place, predictably, is that old despot Franklin D Roosevelt.
What a perfect illustration of how received opinion tends to be wrong. Roosevelt is praised for having rescued the US from recession through the New Deal. In fact, the New Deal almost certainly prolonged the slump. Its mass of regulations encouraged cartels and crony capitalism, burdened businesses and deterred employers from taking on workers.  In 2004, two economists at the UCLA, Harold L Cole and Lee A Ohanian, conducted a major study which concluded that the New Deal had in fact lengthened the recession by seven years:
President Roosevelt believed that excessive competition was responsible for the Depression by reducing prices and wages, and by extension reducing employment and demand for goods and services. So he came up with a recovery package that would be unimaginable today, allowing businesses in every industry to collude without the threat of antitrust prosecution and workers to demand salaries about 25 percent above where they ought to have been, given market forces. The economy was poised for a beautiful recovery, but that recovery was stalled by these misguided policies.
Yup. In Britain, by contrast, the policy of slashing the deficit worked. You don’t believe me? You have in your mind, perhaps, an image of the Jarrow marchers? There were, as in any period of economic transition, some who suffered terribly. But the raw data tell the story: the 1930s saw greater net growth than any other decade in British history.
Even if we disregard FDR’s economic legacy, it is impossible to ignore his autocratic leanings. He ruled by executive decree, sidelined Congress, trampled on the jurisdiction of the states, ignored the two-term convention and attempted to pack the supreme court. He shifted power permanently from elected representatives to federal czars, from the legislature to the executive and from the states to Washington, ripping up the sublime constitution which his predecessors had served.
So, if not FDR, who? I’ve drafted my own list. It contains two libertarian, patriotic and incorruptible presidents who, had they lived in different times, might be remembered as titans: Grover Cleveland and Calvin Coolidge. Cleveland and Coolidge form golden links in the chain of limited government that links Jefferson to Reagan. Every politician should ponder Cleveland’s reply to a petition for federal aid in the aftermath of a natural disaster:
I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution, and I do not believe that the power and duty of the general government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering which is in no manner properly related to the public service or benefit. Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character, while it prevents the indulgence among our people of that kindly sentiment and conduct which strengthens the bonds of a common brotherhood.
Anyway, here’s my list.
1.    Ronald Reagan (here’s why)
2.    Abraham Lincoln (here’s why)
3.    Thomas Jefferson (here’s why)
4.    Grover Cleveland
5.    Calvin Coolidge
6.    George Washington
7.    John Adams
8.    James Polk
9.    James Madison
10.  John Quincy Adams


  1. FDR alternative view?

    It was the very profitable war and the creation of the Industrial Military Complex that finally lifted the US out of Depression not the New Deal.

    FDR was a covert imperialist who wanted to replace the British Empire with his own and succeeded.

    His stupidity and naivety in completely underestimating the evil of Stalin gave half of Europe over to Soviet tryrany for 40 years.

    He also helped to ensure the replacement of the Japanese Empire with Communist China as a US oriental 'bete noir' by misjudging popular support for Chinese Nationalist warlords and developing an irrational hatred of the Japanese.

  2. Of course wartime production created 'growth' it created full employment which created salaries which create consumer demand which fed into the economy. Look at the standard of living of the average American by say 1948. Military spending dipped briefly after 45 but then was soon back up and expanding after 1947 -it has never looked back.
    A permanent war economy has fed America's growth. Billions were made from the Vietnam War.

  3. The only reason FDR has been canonised by the Left is to create a historical instance of big-state policies working. The fact that they didn't work is neither here nor there. If he did not exist the Left would invent him.

  4. It is refreshing not seeing JFK on the list.

  5. His stupidity and naivety in completely underestimating the evil of Stalin gave half of Europe over to Soviet tryrany for 40 years.

    I don't think there is much Obama could do that could even be close to being worse.

  6. You folks misremember his cousin, Teddy.

    He started the "Big Government" ball rolling. He is the primary usurper of Congressional authority.

    Sending the Great White Fleet to Asia, without Congressional funding for the fuel to return.

    Inserting the Federals into the business cycle of the United States, deciding which companies should be busted, which could be sustained. The first "Progressive" to admit it.

    Reagan, he busted the budget, with the greatest piece of Keynesian illusion in history. He was a proud acolyte of FDR, an unremitting "New Dealer".

    So much for number one.

  7. Wall Street Journal -

    TAIPEI—Nearly one-third of the missiles fired by the Taiwanese military during an air-defense drill Tuesday missed their targets, raising concerns on the island's defense capabilities amid China's rising military dominance ..

  8. How many times do I have to remind you. Reagan's part in the spending was military. The Democrat Congress increased their domestic spending in repsonse to his military buildup. Now try to imagine the US militay under Jimmy Carter. It was pretty pathetic.

    Reagan was not Keynesian spender. Tax and spend Democrats who had been in control of Congress for forty years were.

    Now if you want to discuss whether Obama's deficits are Keynesian disasters we can do that.

  9. FDR didn't give two hoots and a holler for the poor, oppressed assholes in Eastern Europe; nor should he have. They had never done anything for us, and the American People were ready for Peace.

    The war had been won, and the people were ready to get back to their lives.

    This Britisher hasn't a clue. FDR was, arguably, the 3rd Greatest President. Hoover had completely screwed the pooch, and the banking system was in shambles. There was no work, and no money.

    The Republicans were stuck on stupid, and people were working for $0.25/day (source: my father.)

    FDR drug the economy, and the country, out of the ditch. Actually, the economy was improving before WWII, due to a large extent to lend-lease, and arms sales to England, and Russia.

    FDR orchestrated a World War on two fronts, and won them both in a relatively short time. He was an inspirational leader, and the common Americans adored him. And, they trusted him.

    George Washington might have been the only American, before, or since, that could have gotten the United States off the ground, and into Nationhood. He's got to be No. 1.

    Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt is a little closer call, but, for brevity, we'll go with Lincoln, today, for No. 2.

    Nobody comes close to FDR for No. 3.

  10. Imagine this, if you can. There was a time, there, early on, when twenty something states did not have a functioning bank.

    FDR put people to work building levees, dams, electric power lines, courthouses, shipyards, munition factories, anything that would get money flowing. The asshole Republicans fought him every step of the way.

    He knew the War was going to reach out and grab us, but, due to Republican isolationism, he was reduced to helping Britain, surreptitiously, and by indirect means.

    The Britishers always thought he arrived "late," but Churchill knew that FDR was doing all that he could possibly do to help out until we were inevitably attacked.

  11. So what, whit?

    The fact is that military spending is the primary part of the problem of out of control Federal spending.

    If Mr Reagan thought it imperative that the US spend that money, on the military, he should have raised taxes to get it done, not borrowed it.

    He set in motion the greatest of Keynesian illusions. There was no war, no military threat that justified the borrowing.

    Mr Reagan, cut from the same clothe as FDR, but he used rhetoric that you approve of.

    No more a threat existed during Reagan than under JFK and the fraudulent "Missile Gap". Mr Reagan was symptomatic of the military industrial complex's raping of our Republic, that Ike warned US was the greatest danger to our liberties and freedoms.

    Now Eisenhower, there was a great President. Peace, prosperity and the creation of the greatest highway system in all the whirled.

    Obviously we did not "win" the Cold War, as there never was a reduction of that military spending after the "collapse" of the paper tiger in Russia.

    All Reagan left US was a mountain of debt and precedent for its' acceptance in peace time. The difference between Gorbachev and Putin, marginal at best.

  12. Time to ride, hope you all have a wonderful day.

  13. "The fact is that military spending is the primary part of the problem of out of control Federal spending."


    Yeah, Whit, you dumb shit!

    It's that less than 4 percent static, no growth annual military budget that's threatening our economy and our country,

    NOT the hyperbolic growth of entitlements, welfare, intrusive nanny big government, and public union wages, insurance, and pensions that's driven us into the ditch.

    ...jeeze, get with the program, man:

    Repeat after me:

    "4 percent of GDP with no growth is what is tearing this country apart."

    Keep repeating that until you can think of nothing else.

    For the love of God, Whit!

  14. 'Rat is not really that stupid, just delusional. Jared.

    AZ birds of a feather, ya know.

  15. "There was no war, no military threat that justified the borrowing."

    The Soviets did not exist, and if they had, they would have been warm and fuzzy. Red China.

  16. ...and, as Rufus says, FDR pulled us out of the depression.

    Just like Obamacare will.

    Trust me.

  17. "...and, as Rufus says, FDR pulled us out of the depression."

    "Everybody" "knows" that.

  18. Guess who's still number one in the Russian people's mind?

    You got it:
    FDR's buddy Joe

  19. Attention, maroons that were touting unions:

    States Warned of $2 Trillion Pensions Shortfall...

    US public pensions face a shortfall of $2,500 billion that will force state and local governments to sell assets and make deep cuts to services, according to the former chairman of New Jersey’s pension fund.

    The severe US economic recession has cast a spotlight on years of fiscal mismanagement, including chronic underfunding of retirement promises.

    “States face cost pressure, most prominently from retirement benefits and Medicaid [the health programme for the poor],” Orin Kramer told the Financial Times.

  20. Unions are what they are.
    Public employee unions are driving us to an unpleasant place.

    Too put it mildly.

  21. This comment has been removed by the author.

  22. Madoff, evil.

    Govt/Public Employee Unions, good. the minds of those here who tout the Government/Union Ponzi Scams.