Category Archives: Founding Fathers

‘Stay Away From Homes and Families’ of Justices, Sen. Dick Durbin Tells Supreme Court Protesters. He’s Right.

Pro-abortion demonstrators protest outside the home of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in Chevy Chase, Maryland, on Saturday. Even The Washington Post’s liberal editorial page, which agrees with them on abortion generally, called them out: “To picket a judge’s home is especially problematic.” (Photo: Craig Hudson/ Washington Post/Getty Images)

Make-believe Handmaids of Gilead (or at least the ones wandering the streets of suburban Washington, D.C.), listen up: You and your compatriots are likely committing a crime.

Regardless, you are certainly exhibiting poor judgment by trying to intimidate and influence Supreme Court justices and their families at their homes.

You don’t have to take our word for it. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, said, “I think it’s reprehensible. Stay away fromthe homes and families of elected officials and members of the court.”

Even The Washington Post’s editorial board opined, “Leave the Justices Alone at Home.” It wrote: “The right to assemble and speak freely is essential to democracy. Erasing any distinction between the public square and private life is essential to totalitarianism.”

In no uncertain terms, the editorialist wrote, “The protests are part of a disturbing trend in which groups descend on the homes of people they disagree with and attempt to influence their public conduct by making their private lives—and, often, those of their families and neighbors—miserable.”

And lest the message be lost, the editorial writer added, “To picket a judge’s home is especially problematic. It tries to bring direct public pressure to bear on a decision-making process that must be controlled, evidence-based, and rational if there is to be any hope of an independent judiciary.”

We agree. So, what can be done?

While there are state or local laws that mightprohibit these protesters’ intimidating conduct, a federal law—18 U.S.C. §1507—seems to be directly on point.

It says:

Whoever, with the intent of interfering with, obstructing, or impeding the administration of justice, or with the intent of influencing any judge … in the discharge of his duty, pickets or parades … in or near a building or residence occupied or used by such judge … or with such intent uses any sound-truck or similar device or resorts to any other demonstration in or near any such building or residence, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year or both.

The statute is clear. Numerous other legal experts who have reviewed the statute think it likely applies to the protests at the justices’ homes and would likely survive a legal challenge.

The Washington Post said these are “limited and justifiable restraints on where and how people exercise the right to assembly.” It added: “Citizens should voluntarily abide by them, in letter and spirit.”

If not, the editorialist wrote, the relevant government “should take appropriate action.”

So, where is the Justice Department?  And why is Attorney General Merrick Garland missing in action?

He was quick to condemn parents who showed up at school board meetings, the appropriate forum, to protest the radical policies being pushed by some board members.

But the best he can do here is a milquetoast statement that he “continues to be briefed on security matters related to the Supreme Court and Supreme Court justices,” and that he directed the U.S. Marshals Service to help ensure the justices’ safety.

In the words of President Joe Biden: “C’mon, man!” That’s not nearly enough.

Garland needs to issue a statement that those breaking the law will be prosecuted and held accountable for their actions—and then follow through.

The rule of law depends on it.

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1 Of 5 / The Bible’s Influence In America / American Heritage Series / David Barton

2 Of 5 / The Bible’s Influence In America / American Heritage Series / David Barton

3 Of 5 / The Bible’s Influence In America / American

Heritage Series / David Barton

4 Of 5 / The Bible’s Influence In America / American Heritage Series / David Barton

5 Of 5 / The Bible’s Influence In America / American Heritage Series / David Barton

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3 Of 3 / Faith Of The Founding Fathers / American Heritage Series / David Barton

________________Many inauthentic quotes attributed to the Founding Fathers have been in circulation for much of the 20th century. These are still being used frequently, especially by those in the religious right.

Fortunately we have many of the letters, diaries, and notes written by the Founding Fathers. Thomas Jefferson wrote many letters daily. John Quincy Adams wrote in his diary every day for 18 years straight. During the 1787 Constitutional Convention, James Madison wrote notes in shorthand which he converted into longhand every night. Newspapers of the day are also a good source. Actually, George Washington’s farewell Presidential Address in 1796 was only a newspaper article. In sum, our prolific Founders left us with many sources of material.

Misquotes

If one quotes the actual words of a Founding Father but does not give the context, then he is guilty of misquoting.

John Adams (1735-1826) “This would be the best of all possible worlds if there were no religion in it.”

John George and Paul Boller, Jr. in their book They Never Said It set the record straight:

Adams did indeed make the statement, but only to repudiate it. In a letter to Thomas Jefferson about religion on April 19, 1817, he mentioned reading some polemical books that reminded him of the way his boyhood minister, Lemuel Bryant, and his Latin schoolmaster, Joseph Cleverly, used to argue ad nausea about religion, and he told Jefferson: “Twenty times, in the course of my late reading, have I been on the point of breaking out, ‘this would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!!!!’ But in this exclamation, I should have been as fanatical as Bryant or Cleverly. Without religion, this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in public company–I mean hell.”

 Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) “I therefore beg leave to move–that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessing on our deliberations, be held in this assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the clergy of this city be requested to officiate in that article.”

This is exactly what Franklin said at the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. However, many in the religious right ignore that fact that his motion was tabled and never voted on. For instance, Tal Brooke comments, “It was Benjamin Franklin who called the Constitutional Convention to prayer with a powerful statement of their debt to God. As mere men, they could not presume to undertake so great a task without petitioning Him for guidance. America abounds with Christian evidences from its earliest days.”

Actually this version of the Franklin prayer motion originated with a letter written in September of 1825 from William Steele to his son, Jonathan. The letter told about William’s recollection of a conversation with General Jonathan Dayton, a member of the Constitutional Convention. This incorrect account later appeared in the National Intelligencer, and other sources as well. According to Steele, Dayton recalled that “the motion for appointing a chaplain was instantly seconded and carried.” However, James Madison in a letter to Thomas S. Grimke (January 6, 1834) stated that Franklin’s “proposition was received and treated with the respect due to it; but the lapse of time which had preceded, with consternations growing out of it, had the effect of limiting what was done, to a reference of the proposition to a highly respectable Committee… That the communication [Steele’s account of Dayton testimony] was erroneous is certain; whether from misapprehension or misrecollection, uncertain.”

We should learn a lesson from James Madison. It is one thing to correct a person who is mistaken about historical details, but it is quite another to accuse someone of intentionally fabricating a story. Note that Madison stopped short of doing the latter.

Fake Quotes

A fake quote is an inauthentic quote attributed to a Founding Father. The late Robert S. Alley, former professor at the University of Richmond has rightly stated that “proving that a quotation does not exist is a daunting task…” However, evidence exists that proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the following quote is not authentic.

James Madison (1751-1836) “Religion …[is] the basis and foundation of government.”

This fake quote is taken from Madison’s Memorial and Remonstrance. The subject in this sentence is not “Religion,” but actually the “Declaration of those rights ‘which pertain to the good people of Virginia.'” Nevertheless, this inauthentic quote has been circulated for many years.

Disputed Quotes

A disputed quote may actually be authentic, but no primary source has been found. Some scholars would put the following two quotes in the previous category of “Fake Quotes” while other scholars may hold out hope that a primary source will be found.

James Madison (1751-1836) “We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all of our political institutions upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves…according to the Ten Commandments of God.”

Possibly this quote was originally given by Bishop James Madison (a cousin) or from James Madison’s father, James Madison, Sr., but this is pure speculation. There is always a distant chance that a quote could turn up from a primary source that was found in someone’s attic. In fact, a primary document from James Madison surfaced as late as 1946, but don’t hold your breath till that happens again. The fact remains that there is not a shred of evidence that links James Madison to this quote. Moreover, Paul F. Boller, Jr. in a personal letter to me stated, “The Madison quote about the Ten Commandments sounds un-Madisonian. I’ve read a lot of Madison, and I know he didn’t express himself that way…Sometimes the questionable quote can’t be found in any of the writings that have survived of the person who is supposed to have made the statement. The Madison quote doesn’t appear in any of Madison’s writings.”

Christian apologist Gary DeMar wrote concerning his research concerning the quote:

I credited this quotation to Madison in the first edition of the first volume of God and Government. Nearly every book written by a Christian author to support the Christian America thesis claims Madison as the quotation’s author. I have searched in vain for the quotation’s original source. American Vision even contacted a Madison scholar for help. He was not familiar with the quotation. Further study led me to the January 1958 calendar published by Spiritual Mobilization. What was Spiritual Mobilization’s source for the quotation? None was listed. Additional detective work led me to another James Madison, a cousin of President Madison. Madison served as president of William and Mary College and was the first Protestant Episcopal bishop of Virginia. Is he the source of the quotation? Very possibly. Christians should stop attributing of the quotation to President James Madison until we find out.

 It is my opinion that this disputed quote attributed to Madison has been the one used more than any other by the religious right. This is probably due to the fact that the Supreme Court banned the display of the Ten Commandments in the public school rooms in the case Stone v. Graham in 1980.

George Washington (1732-1799) “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”

Several years ago, I was guilty of using this disputed quote, and the late Professor John George of the University of Central Oklahoma, Political Science Department, told me that there is not a shred of evidence to link Washington to this quote. Professor George was a leading expert on this subject, and he co-authored They Never Said It: A Book of Fake Quotes, Misquotes, and Misleading Attributions with Paul F. Boller, Jr. of Texas Christian University.

I had copied this disputed quote off of a bumper sticker that my friend from church had on his truck. However, I was surprised at my friend’s reaction when I told him he should remove his sticker. He said,  “Is Professor George a Christian? If not then he probably has an axe to grind.” I later discovered that Professor George had corrected many atheists too. Nevertheless, I tried to find someone in the religious right who also had some knowledge on the subject.

So I called up the company that specialized at putting out bumper stickers with quotes from the  Founding Fathers dealing with God. The owner of the company actually spent a whole year researching the Washington quote and he said he concluded that Washington did not say it. He commented, “Washington did not talk that way. He did not use the word ‘Bible’ any that I can remember, and I believe, I have read everything available that Washington wrote.”

This fellow was a Christian lawyer, and he said he could no longer sell the Washington bumper sticker even though it made up 90% of his sales. Again I went back to my friend, but he replied, “That fellow is not a historian. David Barton has studied the history of the founding fathers for over 20 years. I have a lot of respect for Barton.”

Then I contacted Barton’s organization, Wallbuilders Inc of Aledo, Texas. They mailed me the “Unconfirmed or Questionable Quote” list and it featured the Washington quote. Furthermore, it recommended not using this quote until it is authenticated.

When confronted with this opinion from Barton my friend responded, “I am not going to take my bumper sticker off until I have an explanation of how the quote could have possibly been mistakenly attributed to Washington in the first place.”

Then I received a few weeks later an updated “Unconfirmed Quote” list from Wallbuilders, and under the Washington disputed quote is this explanation:

There is a very real possibility that the quotation has its origin in an 1835 biography by James K. Paulding. In a description of Washington’s character, with supporting quotations, Paulding declares Washington to have said, “It is impossible to account for the creation of the universe without the agency of a Supreme Being. It is impossible to govern the universe without the aid of a Supreme Being.” The similarities are obvious; a paraphrase of these quotes could have easily generated the words in question. However, we have not been able to trace Paulding’s cite to a more scholarly reference. He offers no footnotes.

I thought my friend would finally back down when I showed him this evidence, but I was about to learn something about human nature. I explained to him that this quote originated around 1835 when someone read Paulding’s book A Life of Washington. This is because it contained another unconfirmed quote of Washington which also had the words “impossible” and “govern.” Obviously a paraphrase took place at that time. My friend replied, “Are you 100% sure it is a bad quote? If not then I am going to continue to use it!”

Needless to say I have learned a lot about people’s tendency to ignore evidence when it goes against their presuppositions. Furthermore, I have quit trying to convince my friend that a disputed quote should be shelved until it is authenticated. He truly believes if Washington were here today he would say it now even if he didn’t say it the first time.

  Everette Hatcher is a businessman in Little Rock, and his blog is www.thedailyhatch.org . He is a conservative Republican and he has confronted over 30 religious right authors over their misuse of disputed quotes. (The article above has been recommended by unlikely advocates such as the atheist Farrell Till of the Skepitcal Review.)

(Update: You will notice above in the section labeled “Fake Quotes” that I linked a comment by the late Dr. Robert Alley to an article by Rob Boston of Americans United published in 1996. I posted earlier how I was the source for the two articles that Rob Boston wrote on David Barton but unfortunately he implied that Barton made up these quotes. Fortunately I was given the opportunity to set the record straight in The Freedom Writer.

Later I got several board members of Americans United to contact Boston on my behalf and voice their opinion of how unfair Boston had been to Barton in his article  “Consumer Alert”. On March 7, 1997, I spoke with Barry Lynn the executive director of Americans United. Lynn was very gracious on the phone and  promised to consider an article from me in response to the slanted  “Consumer Alert” article Boston had written earlier. Americans United board member Dr. Paul Simmons of Louisville helped me write the aritcle, but ultimately it was never published until today.)

George Washington (Lansdowne portrait) by Gilbert Stuart, oil on canvas, 1796

George Washington (Lansdowne portrait) by Gilbert Stuart, oil on canvas, 1796
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. Acquired as a gift to the nation through the generosity of the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation.

 

Dan Mitchell article: Debunking Biden’s Absurd “Cut the Deficit” Claim

A.F. Branco for Oct 21, 2021

Debunking Biden’s Absurd “Cut the Deficit” Claim

After almost 16 months in office, what is President Biden’s track record on fiscal policy?

The good news is that his big tax-and-spend plan to “build back better” has not been approved by Congress (and fingers crossed that it stays that way).

The bad news is that he has done other things, such as getting a fake stimulus though Congress, as well as a so-called infrastructure package.

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget put together an estimate of his major initiatives.

By the way, the CRFB folks fixate on how these initiative impact the deficit. What we really should be concerned about is how much money is being spent.

But let’s set that aside and focus instead on a jaw-dropping claim from the White House.

Even though all of his major initiatives have increased red ink, he is patting himself on the backfor lower deficits.

For what it is worth, Biden’s claim is semi-accurate. It is true that budget deficits are temporarily falling.

But not because of him. Instead, red ink is falling because there was massive, one-time, multi-trillion dollar emergency spending for the COVID pandemic in 2020. That spending began to wind down in 2021 and it has mostly dissipated this year, so of course deficits have fallen.

For Biden to take credit for this drop would be akin to Truman taking credit for the big drop in red ink after World War II ended.

Eric Boehm of Reason wrote a column that debunks Biden’s ludicrous claim.

…this year’s budget deficit is forecasted to be the third or fourth-largest in American history—but President Joe Biden claims…his administration is overseeing a period of fiscal austerity. …Here are some words that actually tumbled out of the president’s mouth at a press conference… “We’re on track to cut the federal deficit by another $1.5 trillion by the end of this fiscal year. …on top of us having a $350 billion drop in the deficit last year, my first year as president,” Biden continued.…Those facts, however, exclude a few key details. …Biden took office the year after the budget deficit hit previously unimaginable highs due to a completely unprecedented spending binge triggered by a once-in-a-generation public health disaster. …if you look at the actual budgetary baselines published by the Congressional Budget Office—that is, the ongoing amount of annual federal spending absent any emergency stimulus bills like the ones passed on several occasions during the height of the pandemic—Biden has overseen a noticeable increase in the deficit above the pre-pandemic baseline. According to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a fiscal watchdog group that advocates for lower deficits, Biden’s policies have added about $2.5 trillion to the deficit over the next 10 years.

Brian Riedl is now with the Manhattan Institute, but we used to work together earlier this century at the Heritage Foundation. One of his admirable traits is that he hasn’t lost the ability to be outraged.

That comes through in his tweet about Biden’s supposed accomplishment.

By the way, I’m not making a partisan point. I have no doubt Trump would have done the same thing.

After all, politicians are probably the least ethical people in the nation. And Washington brings out the worst of the worst.

Biden talks up deficit reduction, as watchdog says it’s ‘highly misleading’

Last Updated: May 4, 2022 at 11:50 a.m. ETFirst Published: May 4, 2022 at 10:22 a.m. ET

President: ‘Bringing down the deficit is one way to ease inflationary pressures’

President Joe Biden speaks Wednesday about the economy at the White House. Also pictured (L-R) are Shalanda Young, director of the Office of Management and Budget; Cecilia Rouse, chair of the Council of Economic Advisers; and Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council.

AFP/GETTY IMAGES

President Joe Biden on Wednesday delivered an economic speech that highlighted cuts to the federal deficit, even as some watchdogs have criticized his rhetoric around reducing red ink.

“The bottom line is the deficit went up every year under my predecessor, before the pandemic and during the pandemic, and it’s gone down both years since I’ve been here. Period. They’re the facts,” Biden said at the White House.

“Why is it important? Because bringing down the deficit is one way to ease inflationary pressures.”

The president has been talking up fiscal deficit reduction as a way to win over a key Democratic senator — West Virginia’s Joe Manchin — who has blocked Biden’s Build Back Better spending plan and wants to see Washington focused on closing the budget gap and fighting high inflation.

Biden’s rhetoric on eliminating red ink has drawn flak from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a nonpartisan watchdog organization.

“While President Biden’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 budget calls for $1.05 trillion of welcomed deficit reduction, the administration has largely been focused on taking credit for the expected $1.3 trillion fall in the deficit between FY 2021 and 2022,” the organization said in a blog post last month.

“The administration touting this victory is highly misleading; deficits are falling mainly because COVID relief is ending, and deficits will remain high even after this decline.”

Biden on Thursday said his administration revealed this week that it’s on track to cut the federal deficit by $1.5 trillion by the end of the current fiscal year, adding that it’s “the biggest decline in a single year ever in American history.”

The president’s remarks come after his Treasury Department on Monday surprised observers by announcing that it plans to pay down $26 billion in debt in the second quarter.

“For the first time since 2016, the Treasury Department is planning to pay down the national debt issued to the public this quarter,” he said on Wednesday. “For all the talk Republicans make about deficits, it didn’t happen a single quarter under my predecessor, not once.”

Biden’s speech initially had been planned for 2 p.m. Eastern, but the White House moved up the scheduled time for his remarks by three hours.

The Federal Reserve at 2 p.m. Eastern is expected to announce its biggest hike in interest rates in 20 years — a half-percentage-point rise — as the American central bank aims to combat the highest U.S. inflation in 40 years. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell is due to speak at a news conference at 2:30 p.m.

March 31, 2021

President Biden  c/o The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

Please explain to me if you ever do plan to balance the budget while you are President? I have written these things below about you and I really do think that you don’t want to cut spending in order to balance the budget. It seems you ever are daring the Congress to stop you from spending more.

President Barack Obama speaks about the debt limit in the East Room of the White House in Washington. | AP Photo

“The credit of the United States ‘is not a bargaining chip,’ Obama said on 1-14-13. However, President Obama keeps getting our country’s credit rating downgraded as he raises the debt ceiling higher and higher!!!!

Washington Could Learn a Lot from a Drug Addict

Just spend more, don’t know how to cut!!! Really!!! That is not living in the real world is it?

Making more dependent on government is not the way to go!!

Why is our government in over 16 trillion dollars in debt? There are many reasons for this but the biggest reason is people say “Let’s spend someone else’s money to solve our problems.” Liberals like Max Brantley have talked this way for years. Brantley will say that conservatives are being harsh when they don’t want the government out encouraging people to be dependent on the government. The Obama adminstration has even promoted a plan for young people to follow like Julia the Moocher.  

David Ramsey demonstrates in his Arkansas Times Blog post of 1-14-13 that very point:

Arkansas Politics / Health Care Arkansas’s share of Medicaid expansion and the national debt

Posted by on Mon, Jan 14, 2013 at 1:02 PM

Baby carrot Arkansas Medicaid expansion image

Imagine standing a baby carrot up next to the 25-story Stephens building in Little Rock. That gives you a picture of the impact on the national debt that federal spending in Arkansas on Medicaid expansion would have, while here at home expansion would give coverage to more than 200,000 of our neediest citizens, create jobs, and save money for the state.

Here’s the thing: while more than a billion dollars a year in federal spending would represent a big-time stimulus for Arkansas, it’s not even a drop in the bucket when it comes to the national debt.

Currently, the national debt is around $16.4 trillion. In fiscal year 2015, the federal government would spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.2 billion to fund Medicaid expansion in Arkansas if we say yes. That’s about 1/13,700th of the debt.

It’s hard to get a handle on numbers that big, so to put that in perspective, let’s get back to the baby carrot. Imagine that the height of the Stephens building (365 feet) is the $16 trillion national debt. That $1.2 billion would be the length of a ladybug. Of course, we’re not just talking about one year if we expand. Between now and 2021, the federal government projects to contribute around $10 billion. The federal debt is projected to be around $25 trillion by then, so we’re talking about 1/2,500th of the debt. Compared to the Stephens building? That’s a baby carrot.

______________

Here is how it will all end if everyone feels they should be allowed to have their “baby carrot.”

How sad it is that liberals just don’t get this reality.

Here is what the Founding Fathers had to say about welfare. David Weinberger noted:

While living in Europe in the 1760s, Franklin observed: “in different countries … the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.”

Alexander Fraser Tytler, Lord Woodhouselee (15 October 1747 – 5 January 1813) was a Scottish lawyer, writer, and professor. Tytler was also a historian, and he noted, “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship, then a monarchy.”

Thomas Jefferson to Joseph Milligan

April 6, 1816

[Jefferson affirms that the main purpose of society is to enable human beings to keep the fruits of their labor. — TGW]

To take from one, because it is thought that his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, “the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry, and the fruits acquired by it.” If the overgrown wealth of an individual be deemed dangerous to the State, the best corrective is the law of equal inheritance to all in equal degree; and the better, as this enforces a law of nature, while extra taxation violates it.

[From Writings of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Albert E. Bergh (Washington: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1904), 14:466.]

_______

Jefferson pointed out that to take from the rich and give to the poor through government is just wrong. Franklin knew the poor would have a better path upward without government welfare coming their way. Milton Friedman’s negative income tax is the best method for doing that and by taking away all welfare programs and letting them go to the churches for charity.

_____________

_________

Thank you so much for your time. I know how valuable it is. I also appreciate the fine family that you have and your commitment as a father and a husband.

Sincerely,

Everette Hatcher III, 13900 Cottontail Lane, Alexander, AR 72002, ph 501-920-5733

Williams with Sowell – Minimum Wage

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell – Reducing Black Unemployment

By WALTER WILLIAMS

—-

Ronald Reagan with Milton Friedman
Milton Friedman The Power of the Market 2-5

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Biden talks up deficit reduction, as watchdog says it’s ‘highly misleading’

A.F. Branco for Oct 21, 2021

Biden talks up deficit reduction, as watchdog says it’s ‘highly misleading’

Last Updated: May 4, 2022 at 11:50 a.m. ETFirst Published: May 4, 2022 at 10:22 a.m. ET

President: ‘Bringing down the deficit is one way to ease inflationary pressures’

President Joe Biden speaks Wednesday about the economy at the White House. Also pictured (L-R) are Shalanda Young, director of the Office of Management and Budget; Cecilia Rouse, chair of the Council of Economic Advisers; and Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council.

AFP/GETTY IMAGES

President Joe Biden on Wednesday delivered an economic speech that highlighted cuts to the federal deficit, even as some watchdogs have criticized his rhetoric around reducing red ink.

“The bottom line is the deficit went up every year under my predecessor, before the pandemic and during the pandemic, and it’s gone down both years since I’ve been here. Period. They’re the facts,” Biden said at the White House.

“Why is it important? Because bringing down the deficit is one way to ease inflationary pressures.”

The president has been talking up fiscal deficit reduction as a way to win over a key Democratic senator — West Virginia’s Joe Manchin — who has blocked Biden’s Build Back Better spending plan and wants to see Washington focused on closing the budget gap and fighting high inflation.

Biden’s rhetoric on eliminating red ink has drawn flak from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a nonpartisan watchdog organization.

“While President Biden’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 budget calls for $1.05 trillion of welcomed deficit reduction, the administration has largely been focused on taking credit for the expected $1.3 trillion fall in the deficit between FY 2021 and 2022,” the organization said in a blog post last month.

“The administration touting this victory is highly misleading; deficits are falling mainly because COVID relief is ending, and deficits will remain high even after this decline.”

Biden on Thursday said his administration revealed this week that it’s on track to cut the federal deficit by $1.5 trillion by the end of the current fiscal year, adding that it’s “the biggest decline in a single year ever in American history.”

The president’s remarks come after his Treasury Department on Monday surprised observers by announcing that it plans to pay down $26 billion in debt in the second quarter.

“For the first time since 2016, the Treasury Department is planning to pay down the national debt issued to the public this quarter,” he said on Wednesday. “For all the talk Republicans make about deficits, it didn’t happen a single quarter under my predecessor, not once.”

Biden’s speech initially had been planned for 2 p.m. Eastern, but the White House moved up the scheduled time for his remarks by three hours.

The Federal Reserve at 2 p.m. Eastern is expected to announce its biggest hike in interest rates in 20 years — a half-percentage-point rise — as the American central bank aims to combat the highest U.S. inflation in 40 years. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell is due to speak at a news conference at 2:30 p.m.

March 31, 2021

President Biden  c/o The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

Please explain to me if you ever do plan to balance the budget while you are President? I have written these things below about you and I really do think that you don’t want to cut spending in order to balance the budget. It seems you ever are daring the Congress to stop you from spending more.

President Barack Obama speaks about the debt limit in the East Room of the White House in Washington. | AP Photo

“The credit of the United States ‘is not a bargaining chip,’ Obama said on 1-14-13. However, President Obama keeps getting our country’s credit rating downgraded as he raises the debt ceiling higher and higher!!!!

Washington Could Learn a Lot from a Drug Addict

Just spend more, don’t know how to cut!!! Really!!! That is not living in the real world is it?

Making more dependent on government is not the way to go!!

Why is our government in over 16 trillion dollars in debt? There are many reasons for this but the biggest reason is people say “Let’s spend someone else’s money to solve our problems.” Liberals like Max Brantley have talked this way for years. Brantley will say that conservatives are being harsh when they don’t want the government out encouraging people to be dependent on the government. The Obama adminstration has even promoted a plan for young people to follow like Julia the Moocher.  

David Ramsey demonstrates in his Arkansas Times Blog post of 1-14-13 that very point:

Arkansas Politics / Health Care Arkansas’s share of Medicaid expansion and the national debt

Posted by on Mon, Jan 14, 2013 at 1:02 PM

Baby carrot Arkansas Medicaid expansion image

Imagine standing a baby carrot up next to the 25-story Stephens building in Little Rock. That gives you a picture of the impact on the national debt that federal spending in Arkansas on Medicaid expansion would have, while here at home expansion would give coverage to more than 200,000 of our neediest citizens, create jobs, and save money for the state.

Here’s the thing: while more than a billion dollars a year in federal spending would represent a big-time stimulus for Arkansas, it’s not even a drop in the bucket when it comes to the national debt.

Currently, the national debt is around $16.4 trillion. In fiscal year 2015, the federal government would spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.2 billion to fund Medicaid expansion in Arkansas if we say yes. That’s about 1/13,700th of the debt.

It’s hard to get a handle on numbers that big, so to put that in perspective, let’s get back to the baby carrot. Imagine that the height of the Stephens building (365 feet) is the $16 trillion national debt. That $1.2 billion would be the length of a ladybug. Of course, we’re not just talking about one year if we expand. Between now and 2021, the federal government projects to contribute around $10 billion. The federal debt is projected to be around $25 trillion by then, so we’re talking about 1/2,500th of the debt. Compared to the Stephens building? That’s a baby carrot.

______________

Here is how it will all end if everyone feels they should be allowed to have their “baby carrot.”

How sad it is that liberals just don’t get this reality.

Here is what the Founding Fathers had to say about welfare. David Weinberger noted:

While living in Europe in the 1760s, Franklin observed: “in different countries … the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.”

Alexander Fraser Tytler, Lord Woodhouselee (15 October 1747 – 5 January 1813) was a Scottish lawyer, writer, and professor. Tytler was also a historian, and he noted, “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship, then a monarchy.”

Thomas Jefferson to Joseph Milligan

April 6, 1816

[Jefferson affirms that the main purpose of society is to enable human beings to keep the fruits of their labor. — TGW]

To take from one, because it is thought that his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, “the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry, and the fruits acquired by it.” If the overgrown wealth of an individual be deemed dangerous to the State, the best corrective is the law of equal inheritance to all in equal degree; and the better, as this enforces a law of nature, while extra taxation violates it.

[From Writings of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Albert E. Bergh (Washington: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1904), 14:466.]

_______

Jefferson pointed out that to take from the rich and give to the poor through government is just wrong. Franklin knew the poor would have a better path upward without government welfare coming their way. Milton Friedman’s negative income tax is the best method for doing that and by taking away all welfare programs and letting them go to the churches for charity.

_____________

_________

Thank you so much for your time. I know how valuable it is. I also appreciate the fine family that you have and your commitment as a father and a husband.

Sincerely,

Everette Hatcher III, 13900 Cottontail Lane, Alexander, AR 72002, ph 501-920-5733

Williams with Sowell – Minimum Wage

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell – Reducing Black Unemployment

By WALTER WILLIAMS

—-

Ronald Reagan with Milton Friedman
Milton Friedman The Power of the Market 2-5

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David Barton’s UNCONFIRMED QUOTE LIST Updated

1 Of 5 / The Bible’s Influence In America / American Heritage Series / David Barton

2 Of 5 / The Bible’s Influence In America / American Heritage Series / David Barton

David Barton in 2016 -- photo by Gage Skidmore.jpg

Barton in 2016

Unconfirmed Quotations

confirmed

Unconfirmed QuotationsIn his 1989 book Myth of Separation, WallBuilders’ founder David Barton argued that the Founding Fathers would be appalled by the government-enforced secularization of the public square that became widespread in the latter half of the twentieth-century. In the course of making his argument, he utilized a number of quotations from America’s Founders that he found in secondary sources on the subject. He carefully cited each quotation. However, he subsequently realized that some of the quotations he used for Myth of Separation came from sources other than original ones.

Scholars and popular historians routinely utilize secondary sources or take quotations from these sources, 1 but when David returned to this subject for his 1996 book Original Intent, he decided to only rely on quotations that could be found in original primary source material. In an effort to be thoroughly transparent, he placed the handful of secondary quotations from Myth of Separation on an “Unconfirmed Quotations” list which he posted on WallBuilders’ website. At that time, he challenged writers on all sides of the debate over religion in the Founding Era to stop relying on secondary sources and quotations from later eras and instead to utilize original sources.

Although many people, including several respected academics, have told David that they admire his honesty and transparency, others have attempted to use this practice against him. For instance, in a recent critique of David’s work, Professor Gregg Frazer of The Master’s College writes:

Having been confronted over the use of false quotes, Barton was forced to acknowledge their illegitimacy in some way on his website. There, he describes them as “unconfirmed” – as if there is some doubt about their legitimacy. In a computer age with search capabilities, we know that these quotes are false – the fact that they are listed as “unconfirmed” reflects a stubborn attempt to hold onto them and to suggest to followers that they might be true. That is made worse by the fact that under these “unconfirmed” quotes are paragraphs maintaining that the bogus quote is something that the person might have said. 2

What an interesting reward for trying to be honest and transparent.

As stated in the piece “Taking on the Critics,” David was not confronted by any individual or group about these quotes. To the contrary, he was the first to step forward and challenge all sides in the historical debate over religion in the Founding to “raise the bar” and use only quotations that could be verified by primary sources.

Calling these unconfirmed quotes “bogus” implies that they were simply made up by David. Yet each and every one of them can be found in secondary sources, which David cited in his earlier works; and many academics, especially on the secularist side, continue to rely on secondary sources for their authorities. But Frazer and others suggest that David and WallBuilders live in a fantasy world where they stubbornly engage in wishful thinking that these unconfirmed quotations are accurate. However, Frazer ignores the fact that WallBuilders has been able to confirm some quotations on our original list. The now Confirmed Quotations are listed below, followed by those that remain unconfirmed in original documents.
Original sources for these latter quotes may yet be found. After all, James Madison’s detached memoranda, much beloved by secularists, did not surface until 1946. And original letters and documents from Founders are still being discovered today in dusty archives, private estates, and other uncatalogued sources. Additionally, existing collections are still being digitized and regularly added to the web, thus steadily increasing the field of searchable materials for these unconfirmed quotes. While WallBuilders has now located original sources for several of the quotes (see below), we continue to recommend that individuals refrain from using those that still remain on the Unconfirmed list until such time that an original primary source may be found; or if using these quotes, clearly identify that they come from a secondary and not a primary source.

Confirmed Quotations
#1: Benjamin Franklin
“Whosoever shall introduce into public affairs the principles of primitive Christianity will change the face of the world.”
Benjamin Franklin

This particular quote has been used in many works since the 1970s that seek to remind Americans of our religious heritage. 3 It originally appeared on WallBuilders’ “Unconfirmed” list, but we are now able to report that we have found an early primary source that attributes this message to Franklin.

In initial attempts to document this quote, David found it in George Bancroft’s 1866 History of the United States, which stated:

He [Franklin] remarked to those in Paris who learned of him the secret of statesmanship: “He who shall introduce into public affairs the principles of primitive Christianity will change the face of the world.” 4

This is no insignificant source, for Bancroft is considered “The Father of American History.” He is most famous for his thorough, systematic history of the nation published in ten volumes from 1854-1878. Contrary to the claims of Gregg Frazer and other critics, David did not simply invent this quote. It appeared in one of the greatest histories of the United States ever written! But adhering to his own standards, David stopped using this quote until it could be confirmed in an original source. However, such a source was recently discovered.

Before turning to the quotation, it may be useful to provide some context. In 1776 Franklin was sent by America as an ambassador to France, a position he held until 1785. He was beloved by the French, and he offered them many useful and friendly recommendations, including political advice for those who would listen. 5 Shortly after Franklin’s death in 1790, Jacques Mallet Du Pan, a French journalist and political leader, published his historical memoirs, in which he reported:

Franklin often told his disciples in Paris that whoever should introduce the principles of primitive Christianity into the political state would change the whole order of society. 6

While this 1793 work does not contain the word-for-word quotation regularly cited today, its similarity is obvious and it clearly communicates the main idea in the quotation. One reason for the difference may be that because the work was written in French, there are variations in how a particular translator renders that statement into English. 7

It may be objected that a second-hand account of what someone said is not as reliable as, say, a letter clearly penned by Franklin in which he writes the same quotation. We agree. And yet students of the American founding repeatedly utilize such sources. For instance, speeches made in the Federal Convention of 1787 are regularly quoted as if they were directly spoken by particular delegates, although in most (but not all) cases what is being quoted is James Madison’s notes of those speeches.

Those who wish to deny America’s Christian heritage will undoubtedly brush off Du Pan’s account of Franklin’s views. Yet those interested in an accurate account of religion in the American Founding cannot afford to be so dismissive of this important find.

Confirmed Quotations
#2: Thomas Jefferson“I have always said and always will say that the studious perusal
of the Sacred Volume will make us better citizens.”
Thomas Jefferson

This quote, also used in numerous modern works, 8 appears in an 1869 book edited by Samuel W. Bailey; 9 but because it did not appear in Jefferson’s works or writings, and because the occasion in which it might have been spoken by him could not be identified, it was left as unconfirmed. Its source, however, has now been found: the writings of the great Daniel Webster (1782-1852).

Webster was part of the second generation of American statesmen. Born at the end of the American Revolution, he grew up with the speeches of Presidents George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison. Following his own entry into politics, he became a leading national figure, serving almost a decade in the U. S. House, nearly two decades in the U. S. Senate, and being Secretary of State for three different Presidents.

Webster gained a reputation as an exceptional orator. He was considered the greatest attorney in his generation and personally argued and won numerous cases before the U. S. Supreme Court. 10His strong commitment to the principles of law and the Constitution earned him the title “The Defender of the Constitution.”

In 1852, Webster described a conversation he had with Thomas Jefferson, reporting:

Many years ago I spent a Sabbath with Thomas Jefferson at his residence in Virginia. It was in the month of June, and the weather was delightful. While engaged in discussing the beauties of the Bible, the sound of the bell broke upon our ears, when, turning to the sage of Monticello, I remarked, “How sweetly – how very sweetly sounds that Sabbath bell!” The distinguished statesman for a moment seemed lost in thought, and then replied: “Yes, my dear Webster; yes, it melts the heart, it calms the passions, and makes us boys again.” . . . “[British statesman Edmund] Burke,” said he, “never uttered a more important truth than when he exclaimed that a ‘religious education was the cheap defense of nations’.” “Raikes [the founder of the Sunday School movement in England],” said Mr. Jefferson, “has done more for our country than the present generation will acknowledge. Perhaps when I am cold, he will obtain his reward. I hope so – earnestly hope so. I am considered by many, Mr. Webster, to have little religion; but now is not the time to correct errors of this sort. I have always said, and always will say, that the studious perusal of the Sacred Volume will make better citizens, better fathers, and better husbands.” 11

So, while the quote is not found in Thomas Jefferson’s personal writings, it was recorded by a respected eye-witness. Because this quote fits well with Jefferson’s numerous attempts to promote the study of the Bible (thoroughly documented in The Jefferson Lies), it seems reasonable to attribute it to him.

Confirmed Quotations
#3: John Quincy Adams“The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: it connected, in one indissoluble bond, the principles of
civil government with the principles of Christianity.”
John Quincy Adams

This quote has also had wide circulation in recent decades. 12 It appeared as early as 1860 in John Wingate Thornton’s The Pulpit of the American Revolution, which reprinted a number of sermons preached during the Revolution. In that work, Thornton stated:

Thus the church polity [form of government] of New England begat like principles in the state. The pew and the pulpit had been educated to self-government. They were accustomed “TO CONSIDER.” The highest glory of the American Revolution, said John Quincy Adams, was this: it connected, in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity. 13

Initially, this quote was not found in any of Adams’ own writings; and it seemed unlikely that Thornton was reporting what Adams had personally told him, so we therefore placed it on the Unconfirmed list. We have now found the origin of this quote. It turns out that Thornton had simply, but accurately, summarized an opening section from one of Adams’ famous published orations: his 1837 Fourth of July address at Newburyport, Massachusetts.

Adams began that discourse by observing that Christmas and the Fourth of July were America’s two most-celebrated holidays, and that the two were connected. He queried of his audience that day:

Why is it that next to the birthday of the Savior of the World, your most joyous and most venerated festival returns on this day [July 4th]? . . . Is it not that in the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior? That it forms a leading event in the progress of the Gospel dispensation? Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer’s mission upon earth? That it laid the corner stone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity, and gave to the world the first irrevocable pledge of the fulfillment of the prophecies, announced directly from Heaven at the birth of the Savior and predicted by the greatest of the Hebrew prophets six hundred years before? 14

Comparing Adams’ original 1837 quotation with Thornton’s 1860 summation of it, one immediately sees the origin of Thornton’s statement. He had accurately related the essence of Adams’ message; and while he never presented his statement as being an exact quotation from Adams, those who used Thornton’s work in subsequent generations assumed that it was. Consequently, this Unconfirmed Quotation originally attributed to Adams can now be replaced with his exact statement as delivered in his 1837 speech.

Confirmed Quotations
#4: Supreme Court“Our laws and our institutions must necessarily be based upon and embody the teachings of the Redeemer of mankind. It is impossible
that it should be otherwise. In this sense and to this extent, our
civilizations and our institutions are emphatically Christian.”
Supreme Court

This quotation, too, appeared in numerous modern works 15 and was identified as being a quote from the “Supreme Court.” Those who used the quote assumed that it was from the U. S. Supreme Court, but when searching the Court’s opinions, it was not found, even though it was consistent with the tone and rhetoric of the U. S. Supreme Court’s “Christian nation” decision in Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States (1892). 16 Not finding the quote in that case, the next thought was that it perhaps appeared in Supreme Court Justice David Brewer’s book subsequently written on the same subject after he had penned the language in the Court’s unanimous decision in the Holy Trinity case. While he definitely used phrases similar to this quotation, 17 it did not appear in his work. But after more than a decade of searching, this quote was finally found; and it definitely was from a ruling by a “Supreme Court” – the 1883 Illinois Supreme Court! 18 This quote is now authenticated and can be cited, providing that it is attributed to the proper court.

Confirmed Quotations
#5: Samuel Adams“A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy. While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue they will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader.”
Samuel Adams

This quote was found in multiple modern works about the Founding Fathers and the Founding Era. 19 But because it lacked primary source documentation, this statement was held as suspect. But eventually this exact quote was found in a letter from Samuel Adams to fellow patriot James Warren on February 12, 1779, 20 and thus it has been removed from the Unconfirmed list and placed it on the Confirmed list.

Unconfirmed Quotations
#1: George Washington
“It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”
George Washington

This quotation, used in numerous modern works, 21 also appeared in a number of books in the 1800s and early 1900s. 22 It is not found in any modern, critical edition of Washington’s writings, but it appears as early as 1835, when James K. Paulding (a Secretary of the Navy) reports Washington as saying:

It is impossible to account for the creation of the universe without the agency of a Supreme Being. It is impossible to govern the universe without the aid of a Supreme Being. 23

The similarity between this and the unconfirmed quotation is obvious, and a subsequent paraphrase of these words could have generated the quote in question. It is unlikely that Paulding actually heard Washington say these words, but this early record should not be lightly dismissed. And the tone and rhetoric of this currently unconfirmed quotation is consistent with Washington’s numerous statements on religion. For an extensive selection of his religious sayings, see:

  • Maxims of Washington: Political, Social, Moral, and Religious, John F. Schroeder, editor (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1855). This work has been reprinted multiple times since 1855, including by The Mount Vernon Ladies Association in 1942. However, due to unwise editorial changes made by the modern editor, John Riley, in the most recent edition, the current version is considered unreliable. We therefore highly recommend older versions.
  • William J. Johnson, George Washington The Christian (New York: The Abingdon Press, 1919; reprinted in 1976 by Mott Media, and in 1992 by Christian Liberty Press).
  • George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, Jared Sparks, editor (Boston: Hilliard, Gray and Co., 1837), Vol. 12, pp. 399-411, “The Religious Opinions and Habits of Washington.”

There are numerous indications of Washington’s lifelong conviction concerning the inseparability of God, and specifically Christianity, from both private and public life. Notice some of the many examples in which he expressed this belief:

To his brother-in-law:

I was favored with your epistle [letter] wrote on a certain 25th of July when you ought to have been at church, praying as becomes every good Christian man who has as much to answer for as you have. Strange it is that you will be so blind to truth that the enlightening sounds of the Gospel cannot reach your ear, nor no examples awaken you to a sense of goodness. Could you but behold with what religious zeal I hye [i.e., hie – that is, hasten] me to church on every Lord’s Day, it would do your heart good, and fill it, I hope, with equal fervency. 24

To his military troops:

While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion. To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian. 25

To a church:

I readily join with you, that “while just government protects all in their religious rights, true religion affords to government its surest support.” 26

To the nation:

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness – these firmest props of the duties of man and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. 27

There is certainly abundant evidence to support thesis of the quotation in question as generally consistent with Washington’s beliefs, although the exact wording of this quotation currently remains unconfirmed.

Unconfirmed Quotations
#2: Patrick Henry
“It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great
nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians;
not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ!”
Patrick Henry

This quote, which has been utilized in numerous works over recent decades; 28 seems to have first appeared in The Virginia magazine in 1956. 29 Few could dispute that this quotation is consistent with Henry’s life and character.

Henry’s dedication to the Christian faith, and even his use of what today would be considered evangelical rhetoric, is seen repeatedly throughout his life. For example, on one occasion when attacked by critics who attempted to weaken his standing by publicly diminishing his religiosity, he told his daughter:

Amongt other strange things said of me, I hear it is said by the deists that I am one of their number; and, indeed, that some good people think I am no Christian. This thought gives me much more pain than the appellation of Tory [i.e., being called a traitor]; because I think religion of infinitely higher importance than politics; and I find much cause to reproach myself that I have lived so long and have given no decided and public proofs of my being a Christian. But, indeed, my dear child, this is a character which I prize far above all this world has, or can boast. 30

Henry repeatedly demonstrated his firm commitment to Christianity. For example, not only did he distribute Soame Jennings’ 1776 book, View of the Internal Evidence of Christianity 31 but he also made clear that he “looked to the restraining and elevating principles of Christianity as the hope of his country’s institutions.” 32 And when Thomas Paine penned his Age of Reason attacking religion in general and Christianity and the Bible in particular, Henry wrote a refutation of what he described as “the puny efforts of Paine.” 33 But after reading Bishop Richard Watson’s Apology for the Bible written against Paine, Henry deemed that work sufficient and decided not to publish his own. 34

When Henry passed away in 1799, his personal legal documents and his will were opened and publicly read by his executors. Included with his will was an original copy of the 1765 Stamp Act Resolutions (early precursors to the American Revolution) passed by the Virginia Legislature, of which Henry had been a member. On the back of those resolutions Henry penned a handwritten message, knowing it would be read at his death. He recounted the early colonial resistance to British policy that eventually resulted in the American Revolution, and then concluded with this warning:

Whether this [the American War for Independence] will prove a blessing or a curse will depend upon the use our people make of the blessings which a gracious God hath bestowed on us. If they are wise, they will be great and happy. If they are of a contrary character, they will be miserable. Righteousness alone can exalt them as a nation [Proverbs 14:34]. Reader! – whoever thou art, remember this! – and in thy sphere practice virtue thyself and encourage it in others. P. Henry 35

And in his will, after having dispersed his earthy possessions to his family, he told them:

This is all the inheritance I can give my dear family. The religion of Christ can give them one which will make them rich indeed. 36

There are many similar quotes; so while the specific statement above is currently unconfirmed, it is certainly consistent with the tone and rhetoric of other of Henry’s declarations about Christianity.

Unconfirmed Quotations
#3: James Madison
“We have staked the whole future of American
civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it.
We have staked the future of all of our political institutions
upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves . . .
according to the Ten Commandments of God.”
James Madison

This quotation, like the others in this list, has been used in numerous modern works as well as works dating back to 1939. 37 These words have not been found in any of Madison’s writings. However, the key thought of the necessity of individual self-government according to a Biblical standard is reflective of Madison’s expressed beliefs.

For example, in Federalist #39, Madison speaks of “that honorable determination which animates every votary of freedom to rest all our political experiments on the capacity of mankind for self-government.” 38 He also spoke of Christianity as “the religion which we believe to be of Divine origin” 39 and as “the best and purest religion.” 40 It is consistent that he would favorably view God’s standards as the measure for the governance and guidance of society. In fact, he declared:

[T]he belief in a God All-Powerful, wise, and good is so essential to the moral order of the world and to the happiness of man that arguments which enforce it cannot be drawn from too many sources nor adapted with too much solicitude to the different characters and capacities to be impressed with it. 41

Despite other quotations consistent with the emphasis of the one in question above, this specific quotation remains unconfirmed, and it should not be used unless it can be verified in an original primary source document.

SummaryChristians, of all people, should be known for their honesty. In David’s early works on religion and the Founders, he used quotations that he had every reason to believe were accurate. When he began to have questions about the validity of a few of these quotations, he publically acknowledged that they may not be accurate. Since 1996 he has been able to confirm some of these quotations, and has ceased to use those that he has not been able to confirm.

As the historical debates continue over the relation of church and state and the faith of the Founding Fathers, all involved should pursue the highest standard of scholarship. Anyone writing on this subject is encouraged to document their sources, and to always take quotations from primary rather than secondary sources.


Endnotes

1. See, for instance, Mark A. Noll, Nathan O. Hatch, and George M. Marsden, The Search for Christian America (Westchester: Crossway Books, 1983), passim and especially p. 73 (citing various secondary source to support the profoundly erroneous assertion that “The God of the founding fathers was a benevolent deity, not far removed from the God of eighteenth-century Deists or nineteenth century Unitarians.”); John Fea, Was America Founded as a Christian Nation: A Historical Introduction (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011),118-19, 258 (quoting John Calvin from Gregg Frazer’s 2004 doctoral dissertation rather than the readily available Institutes of the Christian Religion); and, worst of all, Isaac Kramnick and R. Laurence Moore, The Godless Constitution: The Case Against Religious Correctness (New York: W.W. Norton, 1996) (within which the authors do not feel compelled to cite any sources whatsoever!).

2. From a hostile written review of David Barton and WallBuilders written by Gregg Frazer at the request of Jay Richards. That written critique was subsequently passed on to David Barton on August 13, 2012, by the Rev. James Robison, to whom Jay Richards had distributed it.

3. See, for example, Peter Marshall and David Manuel, The Light and the Glory (NJ: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1977), p. 370; Stephen McDowell, America’s Providential History (Charlottesville, VA: Providence Foundation, 1989), p. 1;William Federer, America’s God and Country: Encyclopedia of Quotations (Coppell, TX: Fame Publishing, Inc., 1994), p. 246; Martin H. Manser, Westminster Collection of Christian Quotations (Westminster: John Knox Press, 2001), p. 151; Classics of American Political and Constitutional Thought, Scott J. Hammond, Kevin R. Hardwick, Howard L. Lubert, editors (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 2007), Vol. II, p. 228.

4. George Bancroft, History of the United States, From the Discovery of the American Continent (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1866), Vol. IX, p. 492.

5. See, for example, Benjamin Franklin, Two Tracts: Information to Those Who Would Remove to America. And, Remarks Concerning the Savages of North America (London: 1784), pp. 3-24, “Information to Those Who Would Remove to America.”

6. M. Mallet Du Pan, Considerations on the Nature of the French Revolution, and on the Causes which Prolong its Duration Translated from the French(London: J. Owen, 1793), p. 31.

7. The original reads: “Francklin répéta plus d’une fois à ses éleves de Paris, que celui qui transporteroit dans l’état politique les principes du christianisme primitif, changeroit la face de la société.” Jacques Mallet du Pan, Considerations Sur La Nature De La Révolution De France (Londres: Chez Emm. Flon, 1793), 28.

8. See, for example, Stephen McDowell, America’s Providential History (Charlottesville, VA: Providence Foundation, 1989), p. 178; John Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1991; originally printed in 1975), no page number; Dag Heward-Mills, BASIC Theology (Florida: Xulon Press, 2011), p. 29.

9. Homage of Eminent Persons to The Book, Samuel W. Bailey, editor (New York: Rand, Avery, & Frye, 1869), p. 67.

10. See, for example, Joseph Banvard, Daniel Webster: His Life and Public Services (Chicago: The Werner Co, 1895), pp. 131-132.

11. Daniel Webster, The Writings and Speeches of Daniel Webster Hitherto Uncollected (Boston: Little, Brown, & Company, 1903), Vol. IV, pp. 656-657, to Professor Pease on June 15, 1852; originally appearing in The National Magazine: Devoted to Literature, Art, and Religion. July to December, 1858, James Floy, editor (New York: Carolton & Porter, 1858), Vol. XIII, August, 1858, pp. 178-179.

12. See, for example, Stephen McDowell, America’s Providential History (Charlottesville, VA: Providence Foundation, 1989), p. 146; William Federer, America’s God and Country: Encyclopedia of Quotations (Coppell, TX: Fame Publishing, Inc., 1994), p. 18; William Federer, Treasury of Presidential Quotes (St. Louis, MO: Amerisearch, 2004), p. 459; D. James Kennedy and Jerry Newcombe, How Would Jesus Vote? A Christian Perspective on the Issues (New York: Random House, 2010), p. 28.

13. John Wingate Thornton, The Pulpit of the American Revolution (Boston: Gould And Lincoln, 1860), p. xxix.

14. John Quincy Adams, An Oration Delivered Before the Inhabitants of the Town of Newburyport, at Their Request, on the Sixty-first Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, July 4th, 1837(Newburyport: Charles Whipple, 1837), pp. 5-6.

15. See, for example, Stephen McDowell, America’s Providential History (Charlottesville, VA: Providence Foundation, 1989), p. 178; William Federer, America’s God and Country: Encyclopedia of Quotations (Coppell, TX: Fame Publishing, Inc., 1994), p. 72; Joseph P. Hester, Ten Commandments: A Handbook of Religious, Legal and Social Issues(Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2002), p. 138l.

16. For example, “These, and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation.” Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States, 143 U. S. 457, 471 (1892).

17. Justice David J. Brewer, author of the 1892 Holy Trinity opinion, wrote a 1905 book, The United States: A Christian Nation. Brewer opened his work with these words: “This republic [the United States] is classified among the Christian nations of the world. It was so formally declared by the Supreme Court of the United States. . . . Nevertheless, we constantly speak of this republic as a Christian nation – in fact, as the leading Christian nation of the world.” David J. Brewer, The United States A Christian Nation (Philadelphia: John C. Winston Company, 1905), pp. 11-12.

18. Richmond v. Moore, 107 Ill. 429, 1883 WL 10319 (Ill.), 47 Am.Rep. 445 (Ill. 1883).

19. See, for example, Stephen McDowell, America’s Providential History (Charlottesville, VA: Providence Foundation, 1989), p. 179; Stephen McDowell and Mark Beliles, Liberating the Nations: Biblical Principles of Government, Education, Economics, & Politics (Charlottesville, VA: Providence Foundation, 1995), p. 14; William Federer, America’s God and Country: Encyclopedia of Quotations (Coppell, TX: Fame Publishing, Inc., 1994), p. 23; Peter Marshall and David B. Manuel, Jr., The Light and the Glory: 1492-1793 (Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell, 1977; revised 2009), p. 11; Ira Stoll, Samuel Adams: A Life (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2008), p. 203.

20. Samuel Adams, The Writings of Samuel Adams, Harry Alonzo Cushing, editor (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1905), Vol. IV, p. 124, to James Warren on February 12, 1779.

21. See, for example, William J. Federer, America’s God and Country: Encyclopedia of Quotations(Coppell, TX: Fame Publishing Inc., 1994), p. 660; Henry H. Halley, Halley’s Bible Handbook (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008; originally printed 1927), p. 18, “Notable Sayings About the Bible”; Martin H. Manser, Westminster Collection of Christian Quotations (Westminster: John Knox Press, 2001) p. 152.

22. See, for example, Howard H. Russell, A Lawyer’s Examination of the Bible (New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1893), p. 40, The Bible in New York. A Quarterly Review of the New York Bible Society (New York: November 1910), Vol. III, No. 9, p. 8, “What Some Men Have Said About the Bible,” Samuel Strahl Lappin, The Training of the Church: A Series of Thirty-Five Lessons Designed to Aid Those Who Would Know More, Do More and Be More in the Services of Jesus Christ (Cincinnati: Standard Publishing Company, 1911), p. 26, The Bible Champion, Jay Benson Hamilton, editor (New York: Bible League of North America, 1914), Vol. XVII, No. 2, February 1914, p. 85, Thomas M. Iden, The Upper Room Bulleton: 1920-1921 (Ann Arbor, MI: Ann Arbor Press, 1921), Vol. VII, No. 3, October 23, 1920, p. 35,”United States Presidents and the Bible,” John Calvin Leonard, Herald and Presbyter (Cincinnati: 1921), Vol. XCII, No. 38, September 21, 1921, p. 3.

23. James K. Paulding, A Life of Washington (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1835), Vol. II, p. 209.

24. George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, John C. Fitzpatrick, editor (Washington, D. C.: U. S. Government Printing Office, 1940), Vol. 37, p. 484, to Burwell Bassett, August 28, 1762.

25. George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, John C. Fitzpatrick, editor (Washington, D. C.: U. S. Government Printing Office, 1934), Vol. 11, pp. 342-343, General Orders of May 2, 1778.

26. George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, John C. Fitzpatrick, editor (Washington, D. C.: U. S. Government Printing Office, 1939), Vol. 30, p. 432 n., from his address to the Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church in North America in October, 1789.

27. George Washington, Address of George Washington, President of the United States . . . Preparatory to His Declination (Baltimore: George and Henry S. Keatinge, 1796), pp. 22-23.

28. See, for example, Stephen McDowell, America’s Providential History (Charlottesville, VA: Providence Foundation, 1989), p. 184; William Federer, America’s God and Country: Encyclopedia of Quotations (Coppell, TX: Fame Publishing, Inc., 1994), p. 289; Joseph P. Hester, The Ten Commandments: A Handbook of Religious, Legal and Social Issues (NC: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2003), p. 137; Newt Gingrich, Vince Haley, A Nation Like No Other: Why American Exceptionalism Matters(Houston: Regency Publishing, 2011), p. 76.

29. See, for example, information at Snopes.com.

30. S. G. Arnold, The Life of Patrick Henry (Auburn: Miller, Orton & Mulligan, 1854), p. 250, to his daughter Betsy on August 20, 1796.

31. Patrick Henry, Life, Correspondence and Speeches, William Wirt Henry, editor (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1891), Vol. II, p. 490.

32. Patrick Henry, Life, Correspondence and Speeches, William Wirt Henry, editor (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1891), Vol. II, p. 621.

33. S. G. Arnold, The Life of Patrick Henry of Virginia(Auburn and Buffalo: Miller, Orton and Mulligan, 1854), p. 250, to his daughter Betsy on August 20, 1796.

34. George Morgan, The True Patrick Henry(Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1907), p. 366 n. See also, Bishop William Meade, Old Churches, Ministers, and Families of Virginia (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1857), Vol. II, p. 12.

35. Patrick Henry, Patrick Henry: Life, Correspondence and Speeches, William Wirt Henry, editor (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1891), Vol. I, pp. 81-82, from a handwritten endorsement on the back of the paper containing the resolutions of the Virginia Assembly in 1765 concerning the Stamp Act.

36. From a copy of Henry’s Last Will and Testament, dated November 20, 1798, obtained from Patrick Henry Memorial Foundation, Red Hill, Brookneal, VA.

37. See, for example, Harold K. Lane, Liberty! Cry Liberty! (Boston: Lamb and Lamb Tractarian Society, 1939), pp. 32-33; Frederick Nyneyer, First Principles in Morality and Economics: Neighborly Love and Ricardo’s Law of Association (South Holland; Libertarian Press, 1958), p. 31; Rus Walton, Biblical Principles of Importance to Godly Christians (New Hampshire: Plymouth Rock Foundation, 1984), p. 361; Stephen McDowell and Mark Beliles, Principles for the Reformation of the Nations (Charlottesville: Providence Press, 1988), p. 102; Stephen McDowell and Mark Beliles, The Spirit of the Constitution(Charlottesville: Providence Press, n.d.); Stephen McDowell and Mark Beliles, America’s Providential History (Charlottesville: Providence Press, 1989), pp. 263-264; William Federer, America’s God and Country: Encyclopedia of Quotations (Coppell, TX: Fame Publishing, Inc., 1994), p. 411; Gary DeMar, God and Government: A Biblical and Historical Study(Atlanta: American Vision Press, 1982), Vol. 1, pp. 137-138.

38. Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison, The Federalist, on the New Constitution Written in 1788 (Philadelphia: Benjamin Warner, 1818), pp. 203-204, James Madison, Number 39.

39. James Madison, A Memorial and Remonstrance, on the Religious Rights of Man; Written in 1784-5, At the Request of the Religious Society of Baptists in Virginia(Washington City: S. C Ustick, 1828), pp. 5-6.

40. Religion and Politics in the Early Republic: Jasper Adams and the Churc

By |December 29th, 2016|Categories: Issues and Articles|0 Comments

3 Of 5 / The Bible’s Influence In America / American

Heritage Series / David Barton

4 Of 5 / The Bible’s Influence In America / American Heritage Series / David Barton

5 Of 5 / The Bible’s Influence In America / American Heritage Series / David Barton

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3 Of 3 / Faith Of The Founding Fathers / American Heritage Series / David Barton

________________Many inauthentic quotes attributed to the Founding Fathers have been in circulation for much of the 20th century. These are still being used frequently, especially by those in the religious right.

Fortunately we have many of the letters, diaries, and notes written by the Founding Fathers. Thomas Jefferson wrote many letters daily. John Quincy Adams wrote in his diary every day for 18 years straight. During the 1787 Constitutional Convention, James Madison wrote notes in shorthand which he converted into longhand every night. Newspapers of the day are also a good source. Actually, George Washington’s farewell Presidential Address in 1796 was only a newspaper article. In sum, our prolific Founders left us with many sources of material.

Misquotes

If one quotes the actual words of a Founding Father but does not give the context, then he is guilty of misquoting.

John Adams (1735-1826) “This would be the best of all possible worlds if there were no religion in it.”

John George and Paul Boller, Jr. in their book They Never Said It set the record straight:

Adams did indeed make the statement, but only to repudiate it. In a letter to Thomas Jefferson about religion on April 19, 1817, he mentioned reading some polemical books that reminded him of the way his boyhood minister, Lemuel Bryant, and his Latin schoolmaster, Joseph Cleverly, used to argue ad nausea about religion, and he told Jefferson: “Twenty times, in the course of my late reading, have I been on the point of breaking out, ‘this would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!!!!’ But in this exclamation, I should have been as fanatical as Bryant or Cleverly. Without religion, this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in public company–I mean hell.”

 Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) “I therefore beg leave to move–that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessing on our deliberations, be held in this assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the clergy of this city be requested to officiate in that article.”

This is exactly what Franklin said at the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. However, many in the religious right ignore that fact that his motion was tabled and never voted on. For instance, Tal Brooke comments, “It was Benjamin Franklin who called the Constitutional Convention to prayer with a powerful statement of their debt to God. As mere men, they could not presume to undertake so great a task without petitioning Him for guidance. America abounds with Christian evidences from its earliest days.”

Actually this version of the Franklin prayer motion originated with a letter written in September of 1825 from William Steele to his son, Jonathan. The letter told about William’s recollection of a conversation with General Jonathan Dayton, a member of the Constitutional Convention. This incorrect account later appeared in the National Intelligencer, and other sources as well. According to Steele, Dayton recalled that “the motion for appointing a chaplain was instantly seconded and carried.” However, James Madison in a letter to Thomas S. Grimke (January 6, 1834) stated that Franklin’s “proposition was received and treated with the respect due to it; but the lapse of time which had preceded, with consternations growing out of it, had the effect of limiting what was done, to a reference of the proposition to a highly respectable Committee… That the communication [Steele’s account of Dayton testimony] was erroneous is certain; whether from misapprehension or misrecollection, uncertain.”

We should learn a lesson from James Madison. It is one thing to correct a person who is mistaken about historical details, but it is quite another to accuse someone of intentionally fabricating a story. Note that Madison stopped short of doing the latter.

Fake Quotes

A fake quote is an inauthentic quote attributed to a Founding Father. The late Robert S. Alley, former professor at the University of Richmond has rightly stated that “proving that a quotation does not exist is a daunting task…” However, evidence exists that proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the following quote is not authentic.

James Madison (1751-1836) “Religion …[is] the basis and foundation of government.”

This fake quote is taken from Madison’s Memorial and Remonstrance. The subject in this sentence is not “Religion,” but actually the “Declaration of those rights ‘which pertain to the good people of Virginia.'” Nevertheless, this inauthentic quote has been circulated for many years.

Disputed Quotes

A disputed quote may actually be authentic, but no primary source has been found. Some scholars would put the following two quotes in the previous category of “Fake Quotes” while other scholars may hold out hope that a primary source will be found.

James Madison (1751-1836) “We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all of our political institutions upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves…according to the Ten Commandments of God.”

Possibly this quote was originally given by Bishop James Madison (a cousin) or from James Madison’s father, James Madison, Sr., but this is pure speculation. There is always a distant chance that a quote could turn up from a primary source that was found in someone’s attic. In fact, a primary document from James Madison surfaced as late as 1946, but don’t hold your breath till that happens again. The fact remains that there is not a shred of evidence that links James Madison to this quote. Moreover, Paul F. Boller, Jr. in a personal letter to me stated, “The Madison quote about the Ten Commandments sounds un-Madisonian. I’ve read a lot of Madison, and I know he didn’t express himself that way…Sometimes the questionable quote can’t be found in any of the writings that have survived of the person who is supposed to have made the statement. The Madison quote doesn’t appear in any of Madison’s writings.”

Christian apologist Gary DeMar wrote concerning his research concerning the quote:

I credited this quotation to Madison in the first edition of the first volume of God and Government. Nearly every book written by a Christian author to support the Christian America thesis claims Madison as the quotation’s author. I have searched in vain for the quotation’s original source. American Vision even contacted a Madison scholar for help. He was not familiar with the quotation. Further study led me to the January 1958 calendar published by Spiritual Mobilization. What was Spiritual Mobilization’s source for the quotation? None was listed. Additional detective work led me to another James Madison, a cousin of President Madison. Madison served as president of William and Mary College and was the first Protestant Episcopal bishop of Virginia. Is he the source of the quotation? Very possibly. Christians should stop attributing of the quotation to President James Madison until we find out.

 It is my opinion that this disputed quote attributed to Madison has been the one used more than any other by the religious right. This is probably due to the fact that the Supreme Court banned the display of the Ten Commandments in the public school rooms in the case Stone v. Graham in 1980.

George Washington (1732-1799) “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”

Several years ago, I was guilty of using this disputed quote, and the late Professor John George of the University of Central Oklahoma, Political Science Department, told me that there is not a shred of evidence to link Washington to this quote. Professor George was a leading expert on this subject, and he co-authored They Never Said It: A Book of Fake Quotes, Misquotes, and Misleading Attributions with Paul F. Boller, Jr. of Texas Christian University.

I had copied this disputed quote off of a bumper sticker that my friend from church had on his truck. However, I was surprised at my friend’s reaction when I told him he should remove his sticker. He said,  “Is Professor George a Christian? If not then he probably has an axe to grind.” I later discovered that Professor George had corrected many atheists too. Nevertheless, I tried to find someone in the religious right who also had some knowledge on the subject.

So I called up the company that specialized at putting out bumper stickers with quotes from the  Founding Fathers dealing with God. The owner of the company actually spent a whole year researching the Washington quote and he said he concluded that Washington did not say it. He commented, “Washington did not talk that way. He did not use the word ‘Bible’ any that I can remember, and I believe, I have read everything available that Washington wrote.”

This fellow was a Christian lawyer, and he said he could no longer sell the Washington bumper sticker even though it made up 90% of his sales. Again I went back to my friend, but he replied, “That fellow is not a historian. David Barton has studied the history of the founding fathers for over 20 years. I have a lot of respect for Barton.”

Then I contacted Barton’s organization, Wallbuilders Inc of Aledo, Texas. They mailed me the “Unconfirmed or Questionable Quote” list and it featured the Washington quote. Furthermore, it recommended not using this quote until it is authenticated.

When confronted with this opinion from Barton my friend responded, “I am not going to take my bumper sticker off until I have an explanation of how the quote could have possibly been mistakenly attributed to Washington in the first place.”

Then I received a few weeks later an updated “Unconfirmed Quote” list from Wallbuilders, and under the Washington disputed quote is this explanation:

There is a very real possibility that the quotation has its origin in an 1835 biography by James K. Paulding. In a description of Washington’s character, with supporting quotations, Paulding declares Washington to have said, “It is impossible to account for the creation of the universe without the agency of a Supreme Being. It is impossible to govern the universe without the aid of a Supreme Being.” The similarities are obvious; a paraphrase of these quotes could have easily generated the words in question. However, we have not been able to trace Paulding’s cite to a more scholarly reference. He offers no footnotes.

I thought my friend would finally back down when I showed him this evidence, but I was about to learn something about human nature. I explained to him that this quote originated around 1835 when someone read Paulding’s book A Life of Washington. This is because it contained another unconfirmed quote of Washington which also had the words “impossible” and “govern.” Obviously a paraphrase took place at that time. My friend replied, “Are you 100% sure it is a bad quote? If not then I am going to continue to use it!”

Needless to say I have learned a lot about people’s tendency to ignore evidence when it goes against their presuppositions. Furthermore, I have quit trying to convince my friend that a disputed quote should be shelved until it is authenticated. He truly believes if Washington were here today he would say it now even if he didn’t say it the first time.

  Everette Hatcher is a businessman in Little Rock, and his blog is www.thedailyhatch.org . He is a conservative Republican and he has confronted over 30 religious right authors over their misuse of disputed quotes. (The article above has been recommended by unlikely advocates such as the atheist Farrell Till of the Skepitcal Review.)

(Update: You will notice above in the section labeled “Fake Quotes” that I linked a comment by the late Dr. Robert Alley to an article by Rob Boston of Americans United published in 1996. I posted earlier how I was the source for the two articles that Rob Boston wrote on David Barton but unfortunately he implied that Barton made up these quotes. Fortunately I was given the opportunity to set the record straight in The Freedom Writer.

Later I got several board members of Americans United to contact Boston on my behalf and voice their opinion of how unfair Boston had been to Barton in his article  “Consumer Alert”. On March 7, 1997, I spoke with Barry Lynn the executive director of Americans United. Lynn was very gracious on the phone and  promised to consider an article from me in response to the slanted  “Consumer Alert” article Boston had written earlier. Americans United board member Dr. Paul Simmons of Louisville helped me write the aritcle, but ultimately it was never published until today.)

George Washington (Lansdowne portrait) by Gilbert Stuart, oil on canvas, 1796

George Washington (Lansdowne portrait) by Gilbert Stuart, oil on canvas, 1796
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. Acquired as a gift to the nation through the generosity of the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation.

 

Dan Mitchell: As Professor Friedman explained, the economics of price controls are very clear. When politicians and bureaucrats suppress prices, you get shortages (as all students should learn in their introductory economics classes)

<img srcset="https://s-libertaddigital-com.cdn.ampproject.org/i/s/s.libertaddigital.com/2022/01/04/300/0/miltonfriedman.jpg.webp 300w, https://s-libertaddigital-com.cdn.ampproject.org/i/s/s.libertaddigital.com/2022/01/04/600/0/miltonfriedman.jpg.webp 600w, https://s-libertaddigital-com.cdn.ampproject.org/i/s/s.libertaddigital.com/2022/01/04/1200/0/miltonfriedman.jpg.webp 1200w" alt="El economista, Milton Friedman (1912-2006) | <span>Alamy

Portrait of Milton Friedman.jpg

 

The Case Against Price Controls, Part III

In Part I of this series, Professor Don Boudreaux explained the folly of price controls, and Professor Antony Davies was featured in Part II.

Now let’s see some commentary from the late, great, Milton Friedman.

As Professor Friedman explained, the economics of price controls are very clear.

When politicians and bureaucrats suppress prices, you get shortages (as all students should learn in their introductory economics classes).

Sometimes that happens with price controls on specific sectors, such as rental housing in poorly governed cities.

Sometimes it happens because of economy-wide price controls, as we saw during Richard Nixon’s disastrous presidency.

In all cases, price controls are imposed by politicians who are stupid or evil. That’s blunt language, but it’s the only explanation.

Sadly, there will never be a shortage of those kinds of politicians, as can be seen from this column in the Wall Street Journal by Andy Kessler.

Here are some excerpts.

On the 2020 campaign trail, Joe Biden declared, “ Milton Friedman isn’t running the show anymore.” Wrong! …Lo and behold, inflation is running at 7.9%, supply chains are tight, and many store shelves are empty. Friedman’s adage “Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon” has stood the test of time. But what scares me most is the likely policy responses by the Biden administration that would pour salt into this self-inflicted wound.It feels as if price controls are coming. …Prices set by producers are signals, and consumers whisper feedback billions of times a day by buying or not buying products. Mess with prices and the economy has no guide. The Soviets instituted price controls on everything from subsidized “red bread” to meat, often resulting in empty shelves. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s National Recovery Agency fixed prices, prolonging the Depression, all in the name of “fair competition.” …Price controls don’t work. Never have, never will. But we keep instituting them. Try finding a cheap apartment in rent-controlled New York City. …Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a leader among our economic illiterate, noted in February that high prices are caused in part by “giant corporations…”

He closes with a very succinct and sensible observation.

Want to whip inflation now? Forget all the Band-Aids and government controls. Instead, as Friedman suggests, stop printing money.

In other words, Mr. Kessler is suggesting that politicians do the opposite of Mitchell’s Law.

Instead of using one bad policy (inflation) as an excuse to impose a second bad policy (price controls), he wants them to undo the original mistake.

Will Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren take his advice?

That’s doubtful, but I’m hoping there are more rational people in the rooms where these decisions get made.

Maybe some of them will have read this column from Professor Boudreaux.

Prices are among the visible results of the invisible hand’s successful operation, as well as the single most important source of this success. Each price objectively summarizes an inconceivably large number of details that must be taken account of if the economy is to perform even moderately well. Consider the price of a loaf of a particular kind and brand of bread.…The price at the supermarket of a loaf of bread, a straightforward $4.99, is the distillation of the economic results of the interaction of an unfathomably large number of details from around the globe about opportunities, trade-offs, and preferences. The invisible hand of the market causes these details to be visibly summarized not only in the price of bread, but in the prices of all other consumer goods and services, as well as in the prices of each of the inputs used in production. …These market prices also give investors and entrepreneurs guidance on how to deploy scarce resources in ways that produce that particular mix of goods and services that will today be of greatest benefit for consumers.

I have two comments.

First, Don obviously buys fancier bread than my $1.29-a-loaf store brand (used to be 99 cents, so thanks for nothing to the Federal Reserve).

Second, and far more important, he’s pointing out that market-based prices play an absolutely critical role in coordinating the desires of consumers and producers.

When politicians interfere with prices, it’s akin to throwing sand in the gears of a machine.

For more information on the role of prices, I strongly recommend these videos from Professors Russ Roberts, Howard Baetjer, and Alex Tabarrok.

By Ryan Bourne and Brad Subramaniam

Anti‐​price gouging laws prolonged shortages of certain goods that were in high demand early in the pandemic. Some analysis suggests these laws even worsened public health outcomes, because ongoing shortages of, say, hand sanitizer and toilet paper, led to consumers in states with these regulations searching for them more at physical retailers, actually increasing transmission of the virus.

But there’s an interesting question that’s often underexplored in regard to these laws: how does the expectation that these price controls will be triggered shape people’s beliefs about products’ availability and so customer search behavior?

That’s the topic of another fascinating new paper by economists Rik Chakraborti and Gavin Roberts. Using data for online searches for hand sanitizer and toilet paper across states, they harness the variation in when laws were introduced to research the question: is consumer search behaviour different in states with new anti‐​price gouging legislation introduced during the pandemic from states with pre‐​existing anti‐​price gouging laws?

Economic theory would suggest that any anti‐​price gouging legislation, whenever introduced, would lead to more consumer search for goods, due to the induced shortages. And, sure enough, after controlling for the effects of lockdowns, rising infections, and declines in travel which plagued the early stages of the pandemic, consumers in states with anti‐​price gouging laws were significantly more likely to search online for toilet paper and hand sanitizer than those in states without such laws.

More searching presumably reflects higher levels of hoarding and panic‐​buying creating the shortages—after all, having to resort to online shopping for goods that are commonly bought in stores means the local grocery or drug store has probably been emptied already.

But theory would also suggest that customers in states with past experience of anti‐​price gouging laws might search even more intensely, because people come to expect shortages again when crises hit. In other words, those who have experienced shortages before might be more likely to hoard and panic buy this time around, leading to even higher online search than in situations where new laws are introduced for the first time.

Again, Chakraborti and Roberts’ paper suggests economic theory is correct. States with anti‐​price gouging regulations on the books before the pandemic saw Google Shopping searches for hand sanitizer jump by 153 percent and toilet paper searches nearly double (a 99 percent increase) relative to states without anti‐​price gouging laws. This uplift was much larger than in states where the laws were introduced during the pandemic (100 percent and 46 percent, respectively).

The long and short is that consumers in states with pre‐​existing price controls searched most intensely online for hand sanitizer and toilet paper. This suggests customers learned from previous experience of these price regulations’ effects, with the higher search levels reflecting greater hoarding and panic buying in anticipation of shortages to come. As the authors state, this implies that longstanding anti‐​price gouging legislation is even worse for economic welfare than we might think. The anticipation of shortages actually compounds shortages as consumers become more “experienced,” with excessive and fruitless searching for products the wasteful result.

For more on the basics of anti‐​price gouging legislation in the pandemic, see my book Economics In One Virus. Other Cato pieces can be found here, here, and here.

Government, Markets, and the Supply Chain

Way back in 2009, I shared a meme that succinctly summarizes how Washington operates.

It’s basically a version of Mitchell’s Law. To elaborate, governments cause problems and politicians then use those problems as an excuse to make government even bigger.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

I worry the same thing may be about to happen because of the current concern about “supply chain” issues, perhaps best illustrated by the backlog of ships at key ports, leading to shortages of key goods.

Some of this mess is fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, but it’s being exacerbated by bad policy.

In a column for Reason, J.D. Tuccille points out that government is the problem, not the solution.

…supply-chain issues…create shortages and push prices up around the world. …Lockdowns also changed people’s lives, closing offices and factories and confining people at home. That resulted in massive and unpredictable shifts in demand and unreliable supply. …”Market economies tend to be pretty good at getting food on the supermarket shelves and fuel in petrol stations, if left to themselves,” agrees Pilkington. “That last part is key: if left to themselves. Heavy-handed interference in market economies tends to produce the same pathologies we see in socialist economies, including shortages and inflation. That has been the unintended consequence of lockdown.” …The danger is that people see economic problems caused by earlier fiddling and then demand even more government intervention. …if the government were to further meddle in the market to allocate products made scarce by earlier actions, it’s hard to see how the result wouldn’t be anything other than increased supply chain chaos.

Allysia Finley opines for the Wall Street Journal about California’s role in the supply-chain mess.

The backup of container ships at the Long Beach and Los Angeles ports has grown in recent weeks… The two Southern California ports handle only about 40% of containers entering the U.S., mostly from Asia. Yet ports in other states seem to be handling the surge better. Gov. Ron DeSantis said last month that Florida’s seaports had open capacity.So what’s the matter with California? State labor and environmental policies. …business groups recently asked Gov. Gavin Newsom to declare a state of emergency and suspend labor and environmental laws that are interfering with the movement of goods. …One barrier is a law known as AB5. …Trucking companies warned that the law could put small carriers out of business and cause drivers to leave the state. …there’s little doubt the law hinders efficiency and productivity. …State officials have also pressed localities to attach green mandates to permits for new warehouses, which can be poison pills. …This boatload of regulations is making it more expensive and difficult to store goods arriving at California ports.

Needless to say, I’m not surprised California is making things worse.

The state seems to have some of the nation’s worst politicians.

But let’s set that aside and close with some discussion about one of the differences between government and the private sector.

This may surprise some readers, but people and businesses in the private sector make mistakes all the time.

So part of the supply-chain mess presumably is a result of companies and entrepreneurs making bad guesses.

That being said, there’s a big feedback mechanism in the private sector. It’s called profit and loss.

So when mistakes are made, there’s a big incentive to quickly change.

With government, by contrast, there’s very little flexibility (as we saw during the pandemic). And when politicians and bureaucrats do act, they often respond to political incentives that lead them to make things worse.

Big-Government Republicans Enable Big-Government Democrats

I get asked why I frequently criticize Republicans.

My response is easy. I care about results rather than rhetoric. And while GOP politicians often pay lip service to the principles of limited government,they usually increase spending even faster than Democrats.

Indeed, Republicans are even worse than Democrats when measuring the growth of domestic spending!

This is bad news because it means the burden of government expands when Republicans are in charge.

And, as Gary Abernathy points out in a column for the Washington Post, Republicans then don’t have the moral authority to complain when Democrats engage in spending binges.

President Biden is proposing another $3 trillion in spending… There are objections, but none that can be taken seriously. …Republicans had lost their standing as the party of fiscal responsibility when most of them succumbed to the political virus of covid fever and rubber-stamped around $4 trillion in “covid relief,”… With Trump out and Biden in, Republicans suddenly pretended that their 2020 spending spree happened in some alternate universe.But the GOP’s united opposition to Biden’s $1.9 trillion package won’t wash off the stench of the hypocrisy. …I noted a year ago that we had crossed the Rubicon, that our longtime flirtation with socialism had become a permanent relationship. Congratulations, Bernie Sanders. The GOP won’t become irrelevant because of its association with Trump, as some predict. It will diminish because it is bizarrely opposing now that which it helped make palatable just last year. Fiscal responsibility is dead, and Republicans helped bury it. Put the shovels away, there’s no digging it up now.

For what it’s worth, I hope genuine fiscal responsibility isn’t dead.

Maybe it’s been hibernating ever since Reagan left office (like Pepperidge Farm, I’m old enough to remember those wonderful years).

Subsequent Republican presidents liked to copy Reagan’s rhetoric, but they definitely didn’t copy his policies.

  • Spending restraint was hibernating during the presidency of George H.W. Bush.
  • Spending restraint also was hibernating during the presidency of George W. Bush.
  • And spending restraint was hibernating during the presidency of Donald Trump.

I’m not the only one to notice GOP hypocrisy.

Here are some excerpts from a 2019 column in the Washington Post by Fareed Zakaria.

In what Republicans used to call the core of their agenda — limited government — Trump has been profoundly unconservative. …Trump has now added more than $88 billion in taxes in the form of tariffs, according to the right-leaning Tax Foundation. (Despite what the president says, tariffs are taxes on foreign goods paid by U.S. consumers.) This has had the effect of reducing gross domestic product and denting the wages of Americans.…For decades, conservatives including Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan preached to the world the virtues of free trade. But perhaps even more, they believed in the idea that governments should not pick winners and losers in the economy… Yet the Trump administration…behaved like a Central Planning Agency, granting exemptions on tariffs to favored companies and industries, while refusing them to others. …In true Soviet style, lobbyists, lawyers and corporate executives now line up to petition government officials for these treasured waivers, which are granted in an opaque process… On the core issue that used to define the GOP — economics — the party’s agenda today is state planning and crony capitalism.

Zakaria is right about Republicans going along with most of Trump’s bad policies (as illustrated by this cartoon strip).*

The bottom line is that Republicans would be much more effective arguing against Biden’s spending orgy had they also argued for spending restraint when Trump was in the White House.

P.S. It will be interesting to see what happens in the near future. Will the GOP be a small-government Reagan party or a big-government Trump party?

Or maybe it will go back to being a Nixon-type party, which would mean bigger government but without mean tweets. And there are plenty of options.

If they make the wrong choice (anything other than Reaganism), Margaret Thatcher has already warned us about the consequences.

*To be fair, Republicans also went along with Trump’s good policies. It’s just unfortunate that spending restraint wasn’t one of them.

—-

March 31, 2021

President Biden  c/o The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

Please explain to me if you ever do plan to balance the budget while you are President? I have written these things below about you and I really do think that you don’t want to cut spending in order to balance the budget. It seems you ever are daring the Congress to stop you from spending more.

President Barack Obama speaks about the debt limit in the East Room of the White House in Washington. | AP Photo

 

“The credit of the United States ‘is not a bargaining chip,’ Obama said on 1-14-13. However, President Obama keeps getting our country’s credit rating downgraded as he raises the debt ceiling higher and higher!!!!

Washington Could Learn a Lot from a Drug Addict

Just spend more, don’t know how to cut!!! Really!!! That is not living in the real world is it?

Making more dependent on government is not the way to go!!

Why is our government in over 16 trillion dollars in debt? There are many reasons for this but the biggest reason is people say “Let’s spend someone else’s money to solve our problems.” Liberals like Max Brantley have talked this way for years. Brantley will say that conservatives are being harsh when they don’t want the government out encouraging people to be dependent on the government. The Obama adminstration has even promoted a plan for young people to follow like Julia the Moocher.  

David Ramsey demonstrates in his Arkansas Times Blog post of 1-14-13 that very point:

Arkansas Politics / Health Care Arkansas’s share of Medicaid expansion and the national debt

Posted by on Mon, Jan 14, 2013 at 1:02 PM

Baby carrot Arkansas Medicaid expansion image

 

Imagine standing a baby carrot up next to the 25-story Stephens building in Little Rock. That gives you a picture of the impact on the national debt that federal spending in Arkansas on Medicaid expansion would have, while here at home expansion would give coverage to more than 200,000 of our neediest citizens, create jobs, and save money for the state.

Here’s the thing: while more than a billion dollars a year in federal spending would represent a big-time stimulus for Arkansas, it’s not even a drop in the bucket when it comes to the national debt.

Currently, the national debt is around $16.4 trillion. In fiscal year 2015, the federal government would spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.2 billion to fund Medicaid expansion in Arkansas if we say yes. That’s about 1/13,700th of the debt.

It’s hard to get a handle on numbers that big, so to put that in perspective, let’s get back to the baby carrot. Imagine that the height of the Stephens building (365 feet) is the $16 trillion national debt. That $1.2 billion would be the length of a ladybug. Of course, we’re not just talking about one year if we expand. Between now and 2021, the federal government projects to contribute around $10 billion. The federal debt is projected to be around $25 trillion by then, so we’re talking about 1/2,500th of the debt. Compared to the Stephens building? That’s a baby carrot.

______________

Here is how it will all end if everyone feels they should be allowed to have their “baby carrot.”

How sad it is that liberals just don’t get this reality.

Here is what the Founding Fathers had to say about welfare. David Weinberger noted:

While living in Europe in the 1760s, Franklin observed: “in different countries … the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.”

Alexander Fraser Tytler, Lord Woodhouselee (15 October 1747 – 5 January 1813) was a Scottish lawyer, writer, and professor. Tytler was also a historian, and he noted, “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship, then a monarchy.”

Thomas Jefferson to Joseph Milligan

April 6, 1816

[Jefferson affirms that the main purpose of society is to enable human beings to keep the fruits of their labor. — TGW]

To take from one, because it is thought that his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, “the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry, and the fruits acquired by it.” If the overgrown wealth of an individual be deemed dangerous to the State, the best corrective is the law of equal inheritance to all in equal degree; and the better, as this enforces a law of nature, while extra taxation violates it.

[From Writings of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Albert E. Bergh (Washington: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1904), 14:466.]

_______

Jefferson pointed out that to take from the rich and give to the poor through government is just wrong. Franklin knew the poor would have a better path upward without government welfare coming their way. Milton Friedman’s negative income tax is the best method for doing that and by taking away all welfare programs and letting them go to the churches for charity.

_____________

_________

Thank you so much for your time. I know how valuable it is. I also appreciate the fine family that you have and your commitment as a father and a husband.

Sincerely,

Everette Hatcher III, 13900 Cottontail Lane, Alexander, AR 72002, ph 501-920-5733

Williams with Sowell – Minimum Wage

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell – Reducing Black Unemployment

By WALTER WILLIAMS

—-

Ronald Reagan with Milton Friedman
Milton Friedman The Power of the Market 2-5

Related posts:

Welfare Spending Shattering All-Time Highs

  We got to act fast and get off this path of socialism. Morning Bell: Welfare Spending Shattering All-Time Highs Robert Rector and Amy Payne October 18, 2012 at 9:03 am It’s been a pretty big year for welfare—and a new report shows welfare is bigger than ever. The Obama Administration turned a giant spotlight […]

We need more brave souls that will vote against Washington welfare programs

We need to cut Food Stamp program and not extend it. However, it seems that people tell the taxpayers back home they are going to Washington and cut government spending but once they get up there they just fall in line with  everyone else that keeps spending our money. I am glad that at least […]

Welfare programs are not the answer for the poor

Government Must Cut Spending Uploaded by HeritageFoundation on Dec 2, 2010 The government can cut roughly $343 billion from the federal budget and they can do so immediately. __________ Liberals argue that the poor need more welfare programs, but I have always argued that these programs enslave the poor to the government. Food Stamps Growth […]

Private charities are best solution and not government welfare

Milton Friedman – The Negative Income Tax Published on May 11, 2012 by LibertyPen In this 1968 interview, Milton Friedman explained the negative income tax, a proposal that at minimum would save taxpayers the 72 percent of our current welfare budget spent on administration. http://www.LibertyPen.com Source: Firing Line with William F Buckley Jr. ________________ Milton […]

The book “After the Welfare State”

Dan Mitchell Commenting on Obama’s Failure to Propose a Fiscal Plan Published on Aug 16, 2012 by danmitchellcato No description available. ___________ After the Welfare State Posted by David Boaz Cato senior fellow Tom G. Palmer, who is lecturing about freedom in Slovenia and Tbilisi this week, asked me to post this announcement of his […]

President Obama responds to Heritage Foundation critics on welfare reform waivers

Is President Obama gutting the welfare reform that Bill Clinton signed into law? Morning Bell: Obama Denies Gutting Welfare Reform Amy Payne August 8, 2012 at 9:15 am The Obama Administration came out swinging against its critics on welfare reform yesterday, with Press Secretary Jay Carney saying the charge that the Administration gutted the successful […]

Welfare reform part 3

Thomas Sowell – Welfare Welfare reform was working so good. Why did we have to abandon it? Look at this article from 2003. The Continuing Good News About Welfare Reform By Robert Rector and Patrick Fagan, Ph.D. February 6, 2003 Six years ago, President Bill Clinton signed legislation overhauling part of the nation’s welfare system. […]

Welfare reform part 2

Uploaded by ForaTv on May 29, 2009 Complete video at: http://fora.tv/2009/05/18/James_Bartholomew_The_Welfare_State_Were_In Author James Bartholomew argues that welfare benefits actually increase government handouts by ‘ruining’ ambition. He compares welfare to a humane mousetrap. —– Welfare reform was working so good. Why did we have to abandon it? Look at this article from 2003. In the controversial […]

Why did Obama stop the Welfare Reform that Clinton put in?

Thomas Sowell If the welfare reform law was successful then why change it? Wasn’t Bill Clinton the president that signed into law? Obama Guts Welfare Reform Robert Rector and Kiki Bradley July 12, 2012 at 4:10 pm Today, the Obama Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released an official policy directive rewriting the welfare […]

“Feedback Friday” Letter to White House generated form letter response July 10,2012 on welfare, etc (part 14)

I have been writing President Obama letters and have not received a personal response yet.  (He reads 10 letters a day personally and responds to each of them.) However, I did receive a form letter in the form of an email on July 10, 2012. I don’t know which letter of mine generated this response so I have […]

Biden’s Budget Deficits 

A.F. Branco for Oct 21, 2021


The Biden administration has released its federal budget for 2023. One of the themes is deficit reduction. The president says the budget “keeps us on track to reduce the deficit this year to less than half of what it was before I took office.” The administration will be “the first in history to reduce the deficit by more than $1 trillion in a single year.”

Finally, someone is taking an axe to the bloated federal budget!

Or maybe not. Under the Biden budget:

  • Deficits are currently falling, but would start rising again in 2024, as shown in the chart.
  • Spending would rise from $5.85 trillion this year to $8.87 trillion in 2032.
  • Debt held by the public would rise from $24.8 trillion this year to $39.5 trillion in 2032, or 102.4 percent of GDP to 106.7 percent.
  • Taxes would be increased $2.5 trillion over 10 years, but these hikes likely won’t pass Congress, so deficits would be higher than proposed unless spending is restrained.
  • Interest rates on federal debt are projected to remain low, with the rate on 10‐​year debt only rising to 3.3 percent by 2032. Thus the budget says the “burden of debt would stay low,” which seems very optimistic. Every 1 percentage point increase in average borrowing costs on $25 trillion of federal debt is $250 billion in added annual interest outlays.
d

March 31, 2021

President Biden  c/o The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

Please explain to me if you ever do plan to balance the budget while you are President? I have written these things below about you and I really do think that you don’t want to cut spending in order to balance the budget. It seems you ever are daring the Congress to stop you from spending more.

President Barack Obama speaks about the debt limit in the East Room of the White House in Washington. | AP Photo

“The credit of the United States ‘is not a bargaining chip,’ Obama said on 1-14-13. However, President Obama keeps getting our country’s credit rating downgraded as he raises the debt ceiling higher and higher!!!!

Washington Could Learn a Lot from a Drug Addict

Just spend more, don’t know how to cut!!! Really!!! That is not living in the real world is it?

Making more dependent on government is not the way to go!!

Why is our government in over 16 trillion dollars in debt? There are many reasons for this but the biggest reason is people say “Let’s spend someone else’s money to solve our problems.” Liberals like Max Brantley have talked this way for years. Brantley will say that conservatives are being harsh when they don’t want the government out encouraging people to be dependent on the government. The Obama adminstration has even promoted a plan for young people to follow like Julia the Moocher.  

David Ramsey demonstrates in his Arkansas Times Blog post of 1-14-13 that very point:

Arkansas Politics / Health Care Arkansas’s share of Medicaid expansion and the national debt

Posted by on Mon, Jan 14, 2013 at 1:02 PM

Baby carrot Arkansas Medicaid expansion image

Imagine standing a baby carrot up next to the 25-story Stephens building in Little Rock. That gives you a picture of the impact on the national debt that federal spending in Arkansas on Medicaid expansion would have, while here at home expansion would give coverage to more than 200,000 of our neediest citizens, create jobs, and save money for the state.

Here’s the thing: while more than a billion dollars a year in federal spending would represent a big-time stimulus for Arkansas, it’s not even a drop in the bucket when it comes to the national debt.

Currently, the national debt is around $16.4 trillion. In fiscal year 2015, the federal government would spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.2 billion to fund Medicaid expansion in Arkansas if we say yes. That’s about 1/13,700th of the debt.

It’s hard to get a handle on numbers that big, so to put that in perspective, let’s get back to the baby carrot. Imagine that the height of the Stephens building (365 feet) is the $16 trillion national debt. That $1.2 billion would be the length of a ladybug. Of course, we’re not just talking about one year if we expand. Between now and 2021, the federal government projects to contribute around $10 billion. The federal debt is projected to be around $25 trillion by then, so we’re talking about 1/2,500th of the debt. Compared to the Stephens building? That’s a baby carrot.

______________

Here is how it will all end if everyone feels they should be allowed to have their “baby carrot.”

How sad it is that liberals just don’t get this reality.

Here is what the Founding Fathers had to say about welfare. David Weinberger noted:

While living in Europe in the 1760s, Franklin observed: “in different countries … the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.”

Alexander Fraser Tytler, Lord Woodhouselee (15 October 1747 – 5 January 1813) was a Scottish lawyer, writer, and professor. Tytler was also a historian, and he noted, “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship, then a monarchy.”

Thomas Jefferson to Joseph Milligan

April 6, 1816

[Jefferson affirms that the main purpose of society is to enable human beings to keep the fruits of their labor. — TGW]

To take from one, because it is thought that his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, “the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry, and the fruits acquired by it.” If the overgrown wealth of an individual be deemed dangerous to the State, the best corrective is the law of equal inheritance to all in equal degree; and the better, as this enforces a law of nature, while extra taxation violates it.

[From Writings of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Albert E. Bergh (Washington: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1904), 14:466.]

_______

Jefferson pointed out that to take from the rich and give to the poor through government is just wrong. Franklin knew the poor would have a better path upward without government welfare coming their way. Milton Friedman’s negative income tax is the best method for doing that and by taking away all welfare programs and letting them go to the churches for charity.

_____________

_________

Thank you so much for your time. I know how valuable it is. I also appreciate the fine family that you have and your commitment as a father and a husband.

Sincerely,

Everette Hatcher III, 13900 Cottontail Lane, Alexander, AR 72002, ph 501-920-5733

Williams with Sowell – Minimum Wage

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell – Reducing Black Unemployment

By WALTER WILLIAMS

—-

Ronald Reagan with Milton Friedman
Milton Friedman The Power of the Market 2-5

Related posts:

Welfare Spending Shattering All-Time Highs

  We got to act fast and get off this path of socialism. Morning Bell: Welfare Spending Shattering All-Time Highs Robert Rector and Amy Payne October 18, 2012 at 9:03 am It’s been a pretty big year for welfare—and a new report shows welfare is bigger than ever. The Obama Administration turned a giant spotlight […]

We need more brave souls that will vote against Washington welfare programs

We need to cut Food Stamp program and not extend it. However, it seems that people tell the taxpayers back home they are going to Washington and cut government spending but once they get up there they just fall in line with  everyone else that keeps spending our money. I am glad that at least […]

Welfare programs are not the answer for the poor

Government Must Cut Spending Uploaded by HeritageFoundation on Dec 2, 2010 The government can cut roughly $343 billion from the federal budget and they can do so immediately. __________ Liberals argue that the poor need more welfare programs, but I have always argued that these programs enslave the poor to the government. Food Stamps Growth […]

Private charities are best solution and not government welfare

Milton Friedman – The Negative Income Tax Published on May 11, 2012 by LibertyPen In this 1968 interview, Milton Friedman explained the negative income tax, a proposal that at minimum would save taxpayers the 72 percent of our current welfare budget spent on administration. http://www.LibertyPen.com Source: Firing Line with William F Buckley Jr. ________________ Milton […]

The book “After the Welfare State”

Dan Mitchell Commenting on Obama’s Failure to Propose a Fiscal Plan Published on Aug 16, 2012 by danmitchellcato No description available. ___________ After the Welfare State Posted by David Boaz Cato senior fellow Tom G. Palmer, who is lecturing about freedom in Slovenia and Tbilisi this week, asked me to post this announcement of his […]

President Obama responds to Heritage Foundation critics on welfare reform waivers

Is President Obama gutting the welfare reform that Bill Clinton signed into law? Morning Bell: Obama Denies Gutting Welfare Reform Amy Payne August 8, 2012 at 9:15 am The Obama Administration came out swinging against its critics on welfare reform yesterday, with Press Secretary Jay Carney saying the charge that the Administration gutted the successful […]

Welfare reform part 3

Thomas Sowell – Welfare Welfare reform was working so good. Why did we have to abandon it? Look at this article from 2003. The Continuing Good News About Welfare Reform By Robert Rector and Patrick Fagan, Ph.D. February 6, 2003 Six years ago, President Bill Clinton signed legislation overhauling part of the nation’s welfare system. […]

Welfare reform part 2

Uploaded by ForaTv on May 29, 2009 Complete video at: http://fora.tv/2009/05/18/James_Bartholomew_The_Welfare_State_Were_In Author James Bartholomew argues that welfare benefits actually increase government handouts by ‘ruining’ ambition. He compares welfare to a humane mousetrap. —– Welfare reform was working so good. Why did we have to abandon it? Look at this article from 2003. In the controversial […]

Why did Obama stop the Welfare Reform that Clinton put in?

Thomas Sowell If the welfare reform law was successful then why change it? Wasn’t Bill Clinton the president that signed into law? Obama Guts Welfare Reform Robert Rector and Kiki Bradley July 12, 2012 at 4:10 pm Today, the Obama Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released an official policy directive rewriting the welfare […]

“Feedback Friday” Letter to White House generated form letter response July 10,2012 on welfare, etc (part 14)

I have been writing President Obama letters and have not received a personal response yet.  (He reads 10 letters a day personally and responds to each of them.) However, I did receive a form letter in the form of an email on July 10, 2012. I don’t know which letter of mine generated this response so I have […]

Dan Mitchell ”President Franklin Roosevelt’s economic policies in the 1930s were misguided!”

Harding vs. FDR

I’ve written about President Warren Harding’s under-appreciated economic policies.

He restored economic prosperity in the 1920sby slashing tax rates and reducing the burden of government spending.

I’ve also written many times about how President Franklin Roosevelt’s economic policies in the 1930s were misguided.

And that’s being charitable. For all intents and purposes, he doubled down on the bad policies of Herbert Hoover. As a result, what should have been a typical recession wound up becoming the Great Depression.

But I’ve never directly compared Harding and FDR.

Ryan Walters, who teaches history to students at Collins College, has undertaken that task. In a piece for the Foundation for Economic Education, he explains how Harding and Roosevelt took opposite paths when facing similar situations.

Both men came into office with an economy in tatters and both men instituted ambitious agendas to correct the respective downturns.Yet their policies were the polar opposite of one another and, as a result, had the opposite effect. In short, Harding used laissez faire-style capitalism and the economy boomed; FDR intervened and things went from bad to worse. …Unlike FDR, who was no better than a “C” student in economics at Harvard, Harding understood that the old method of laissez faire was the best prescription for a sick economy.

Here’s some of what he wrote about Harding’s successful policies.

America in 1920, the year Harding was elected, fell into a serious economic slide called by some “the forgotten depression.” …The depression lasted about 18 months, from January 1920 to July 1921. During that time, the conditions for average Americans steadily deteriorated. Industrial production fell by a third, stocks dropped nearly 50 percent, corporate profits were down more than 90 percent.Unemployment rose from 4 percent to 12, putting nearly 5 million Americans out of work. …Harding campaigned on exactly what he wanted to do for the economy – retrenchment. He would slash taxes, cut government spending, and roll back the progressive tide. …Under Harding and his successor, Calvin Coolidge, and with the leadership of Andrew Mellon at Treasury, taxes were slashed from more than 70 percent to 25 percent. Government spending was cut in half. Regulations were reduced. The result was an economic boom. Growth averaged 7 percent per year, unemployment fell to less than 2 percent, and revenue to the government increased, generating a budget surplus every year, enough to reduce the national debt by a third. Wages rose for every class of American worker.

And here’s what happened under FDR.

Basically the opposite path, with horrible consequences.

FDR certainly inherited a bad economy, like Harding, yet he made it worse, not better, prolonging it for nearly a decade. With the stock market crash in October 1929, the American economy slid into a steep recession, which Herbert Hoover…proceeded to make worse by intervening with activist government policies – increased spending, reversing the Harding-Coolidge tax cuts, and imposing the Smoot-Hawley tariff. …once in office FDR set in motion a massive government economic intervention called the New Deal. …under FDR taxes were tripled and new taxes, like Social Security, were added, taking more money out of the pockets of ordinary Americans and businesses alike. Between 1933 and 1936, FDR’s first term, government expenditures rose by more than 83 percent. Federal debt skyrocketed by 73 percent. In all, spending shot up from $4.5 billion in 1933 to $9.4 billion in 1940. …The results were disastrous. …Unemployment under Roosevelt averaged a little more than 17 percent and never fell below 14 percent at any time. And, to make matters worse, there was a second crash in 1937. From August 1937 to March 1938, the stock market fell 50 percent.

At the risk of understatement, amen, amen, and amen.

Sadly, very few people understand this economic history.

This is mostly because they get spoon fed inaccurate information in their history classes and now think that laissez-faire capitalism somehow failed in the 1930s.

And they know nothing about what happened under Harding.

P.S. What happened in the 1920s and 1930s also is very instructive when thinking about the growth-vs-equality debate.

P.P.S. Shifting back to people not learning history (or learning bad history), it would be helpful if there was more understanding of how supporters of Keynesian economics were completely wrong about what happened after World War II.

Which Presidents Are Right about Government, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson or Woodrow Wilson and Barack Obama?

When I was became interested in public policy, I thought Jimmy Carter was the epitome of a bad President. But as I began to learn economics, I realized that Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson also were terrible and belong in the Hall of Fame of bad Presidents.

Presidential Hall of ShameAnd the more I studied economics and public policy, I learned that Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt were two peas in a failed big-government pod and deserve membership in that Hall of Fame.

Or I guess we should call it a Hall of Shame (you can click on the image to see my selections).

Whatever we call it, I’m now at the point where I realize that Woodrow Wilson and Teddy Roosevelt are the charter members. Why? Well, because they were the first Presidents to reflect the progressive ideology.

More specifically, they shared the ideology of the progressive movement, which saw a powerful and activist central government as a force for good – a radical departure from the views of America’s Founding Fathers, who hoped that the Constitution would protect people by keeping government very small.

Not surprisingly, Barack Obama is in that “progressive” tradition, even to the point of attacking the views of the Founding Fathers in a recent speech at Ohio State University.

I commented on this issue in this Fox News segment.

That short clip only scratches the surface.

For more detail, here are some excerpts from a column by Andrew Napolitano. Like me, he isn’t impressed by the President’s statolatry.

It should come as no surprise that President Obama told Ohio State students at graduation ceremonies last week that they should not question authority… And he blasted those who incessantly warn of government tyranny. Yet, mistrust of government is as old as America itself. America was born out of mistrust of government. …Thomas Jefferson…warned that it is the nature of government over time to increase and of liberty to decrease. And that’s why we should not trust government. In the same era, James Madison himself agreed when he wrote, “All men having power should be distrusted to a certain degree.” …The reason Obama likes government and the reason it is “a dangerous fire,” as George Washington warned, and the reason I have been warning against government tyranny in my public work is all the same: The government rejects the natural law because it is an obstacle to its control over us. …Because the tyranny of the majority can be as dangerous to freedom as the tyranny of a madman, all use of governmental power should be challenged and questioned. Government is essentially the negation of liberty.

Napolitano also warns against majoritarianism in his column, which is music to my ears.

Though I’m not sure our battle today is with majoritarianism or the progressive ideology.

Our real challenge is redistributionism. Far too many people think it is okay to use the coercive power of government to obtain unearned benefits. And that’s true whether the benefits are food stamps or bailouts.

Welfare State Wagon CartoonsAnd as we travel farther and farther down this path, it leads to ever-greater levels of dependency and ever-higher levels of taxation. But that simply means more people decide it makes more sense to ride in the wagon rather than pull the wagon.

Somehow, we have to reverse this downward spiral.

Unless we want America to become Greece or France, at which point productive people may be forced to emigrate – assuming there are still some sensible nations left in the world.

Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)
Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)

Roger Ebert called this flick one of Allen’s best. The director, pictured with cinematographer Sven Nykvist on set, was nominated for three Academy Awards, including best director and writing. “Who else but Woody Allen could make a movie in which virtue is punished, evildoing is rewarded and there is a lot of laughter – even subversive laughter at the most shocking times?” wrote the famous reviewer.

_____________

The founding fathers believed that it benefitted the government for it’s leaders to believe in God and with that would come the view that evil will be punished and good will be rewarded in the afterlife. John Quincy Adams said: There are three points of doctrine the belief of which forms the foundation of all morality. The first is the existence of God; the second is the immortality of the human soul; and the third is a future state of rewards and punishments. Suppose it possible for a man to disbelieve either of these three articles of faith and that man will have no conscience,

This point of view is not held by many today. I noticed in Woody Allen’s film “Crimes and Misdemeanors” you can see how Allen’s agnostic worldview permits him to allow the lead character to have his mistress killed when she threatens to call the cops. Judah noted, “God is a luxery I can not afford.” Earlier in the film Judah is terrified when he thinks there is a living God that will punish him in an afterlife, but only after he convinces himself there is no God is he at peace with his decision to have this troublesome lady killed. Check out this movie on Netflix and you will see what I mean about this potential moral problem that atheists can not answer. (I have looked this question many times in my previous posts.)

David Barton is a Christian historian and he has quoted many of the founders concerning their views of the afterlife and how their views impact what is done while leading the nation:

James Iredell, a ratifier of the Constitution and a U. S. Supreme Court justice appointed by George Washington, also confirmed:

According to the modern definition [1788] of an oath, it is considered a “solemn appeal to the Supreme Being for the truth of what is said by a person who believes in the existence of a Supreme Being and in a future state of rewards and punishments according to that form which would bind his conscience most.” 9

David Barton noted in his article, “Importance of Morality and Religion in Government,”:

01/2000

John Quincy Adams

Sixth President of the United States

There are three points of doctrine the belief of which forms the foundation of all morality. The first is the existence of God; the second is the immortality of the human soul; and the third is a future state of rewards and punishments. Suppose it possible for a man to disbelieve either of these three articles of faith and that man will have no conscience, he will have no other law than that of the tiger or the shark. The laws of man may bind him in chains or may put him to death, but they never can make him wise, virtuous, or happy.

(Source: John Quincy Adams, Letters of John Quincy Adams to His Son on the Bible and Its Teachings (Auburn: James M. Alden, 1850), pp. 22-23.)

Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Signer of the Declaration of Independence

Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion, whose morality is so sublime & pure, [and] which denounces against the wicked eternal misery, and [which] insured to the good eternal happiness, are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments.

(Source: Bernard C. Steiner, The Life and Correspondence of James McHenry (Cleveland: The Burrows Brothers, 1907), p. 475. In a letter from Charles Carroll to James McHenry of November 4, 1800.)

James McHenry

Signer of the Constitution

[P]ublic utility pleads most forcibly for the general distribution of the Holy Scriptures. The doctrine they preach, the obligations they impose, the punishment they threaten, the rewards they promise, the stamp and image of divinity they bear, which produces a conviction of their truths, can alone secure to society, order and peace, and to our courts of justice and constitutions of government, purity, stability and usefulness. In vain, without the Bible, we increase penal laws and draw entrenchments around our institutions. Bibles are strong entrenchments. Where they abound, men cannot pursue wicked courses, and at the same time enjoy quiet conscience.

(Source: Bernard C. Steiner, One Hundred and Ten Years of Bible Society Work in Maryland, 1810-1920 (Maryland Bible Society, 1921), p. 14.)

Benjamin Rush

Signer of the Declaration of Independence

Remember that national crimes require national punishments, and without declaring what punishment awaits this evil, you may venture to assure them that it cannot pass with impunity, unless God shall cease to be just or merciful.

(Source: Benjamin Rush, An Address to the Inhabitants of the British Settlements in America Upon Slave-Keeping (Boston: John Boyles, 1773), p. 30.)

Joseph Story

Supreme Court Justice

Indeed, the right of a society or government to [participate] in matters of religion will hardly be contested by any persons who believe that piety, religion, and morality are intimately connected with the well being of the state and indispensable to the administrations of civil justice. The promulgation of the great doctrines of religion—the being, and attributes, and providence of one Almighty God; the responsibility to Him for all our actions, founded upon moral accountability; a future state of rewards and punishments; the cultivation of all the personal, social, and benevolent virtues—these never can be a matter of indifference in any well-ordered community. It is, indeed, difficult to conceive how any civilized society can well exist without them.

(Source: Joseph Story, A Familiar Exposition of the Constitution of the United States (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1847), p. 260, §442.)

Longstanding Anti‐​Price Gouging Statutes Worsen Shortages 

By Ryan Bourne and Brad Subramaniam

Anti‐​price gouging laws prolonged shortages of certain goods that were in high demand early in the pandemic. Some analysis suggests these laws even worsened public health outcomes, because ongoing shortages of, say, hand sanitizer and toilet paper, led to consumers in states with these regulations searching for them more at physical retailers, actually increasing transmission of the virus.

But there’s an interesting question that’s often underexplored in regard to these laws: how does the expectation that these price controls will be triggered shape people’s beliefs about products’ availability and so customer search behavior?

That’s the topic of another fascinating new paper by economists Rik Chakraborti and Gavin Roberts. Using data for online searches for hand sanitizer and toilet paper across states, they harness the variation in when laws were introduced to research the question: is consumer search behaviour different in states with new anti‐​price gouging legislation introduced during the pandemic from states with pre‐​existing anti‐​price gouging laws?

Economic theory would suggest that any anti‐​price gouging legislation, whenever introduced, would lead to more consumer search for goods, due to the induced shortages. And, sure enough, after controlling for the effects of lockdowns, rising infections, and declines in travel which plagued the early stages of the pandemic, consumers in states with anti‐​price gouging laws were significantly more likely to search online for toilet paper and hand sanitizer than those in states without such laws.

More searching presumably reflects higher levels of hoarding and panic‐​buying creating the shortages—after all, having to resort to online shopping for goods that are commonly bought in stores means the local grocery or drug store has probably been emptied already.

But theory would also suggest that customers in states with past experience of anti‐​price gouging laws might search even more intensely, because people come to expect shortages again when crises hit. In other words, those who have experienced shortages before might be more likely to hoard and panic buy this time around, leading to even higher online search than in situations where new laws are introduced for the first time.

Again, Chakraborti and Roberts’ paper suggests economic theory is correct. States with anti‐​price gouging regulations on the books before the pandemic saw Google Shopping searches for hand sanitizer jump by 153 percent and toilet paper searches nearly double (a 99 percent increase) relative to states without anti‐​price gouging laws. This uplift was much larger than in states where the laws were introduced during the pandemic (100 percent and 46 percent, respectively).

The long and short is that consumers in states with pre‐​existing price controls searched most intensely online for hand sanitizer and toilet paper. This suggests customers learned from previous experience of these price regulations’ effects, with the higher search levels reflecting greater hoarding and panic buying in anticipation of shortages to come. As the authors state, this implies that longstanding anti‐​price gouging legislation is even worse for economic welfare than we might think. The anticipation of shortages actually compounds shortages as consumers become more “experienced,” with excessive and fruitless searching for products the wasteful result.

For more on the basics of anti‐​price gouging legislation in the pandemic, see my book Economics In One Virus. Other Cato pieces can be found here, here, and here.

 

Government, Markets, and the Supply Chain

Way back in 2009, I shared a meme that succinctly summarizes how Washington operates.

It’s basically a version of Mitchell’s Law. To elaborate, governments cause problems and politicians then use those problems as an excuse to make government even bigger.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

I worry the same thing may be about to happen because of the current concern about “supply chain” issues, perhaps best illustrated by the backlog of ships at key ports, leading to shortages of key goods.

Some of this mess is fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, but it’s being exacerbated by bad policy.

In a column for Reason, J.D. Tuccille points out that government is the problem, not the solution.

…supply-chain issues…create shortages and push prices up around the world. …Lockdowns also changed people’s lives, closing offices and factories and confining people at home. That resulted in massive and unpredictable shifts in demand and unreliable supply. …”Market economies tend to be pretty good at getting food on the supermarket shelves and fuel in petrol stations, if left to themselves,” agrees Pilkington. “That last part is key: if left to themselves. Heavy-handed interference in market economies tends to produce the same pathologies we see in socialist economies, including shortages and inflation. That has been the unintended consequence of lockdown.” …The danger is that people see economic problems caused by earlier fiddling and then demand even more government intervention. …if the government were to further meddle in the market to allocate products made scarce by earlier actions, it’s hard to see how the result wouldn’t be anything other than increased supply chain chaos.

Allysia Finley opines for the Wall Street Journal about California’s role in the supply-chain mess.

The backup of container ships at the Long Beach and Los Angeles ports has grown in recent weeks… The two Southern California ports handle only about 40% of containers entering the U.S., mostly from Asia. Yet ports in other states seem to be handling the surge better. Gov. Ron DeSantis said last month that Florida’s seaports had open capacity.So what’s the matter with California? State labor and environmental policies. …business groups recently asked Gov. Gavin Newsom to declare a state of emergency and suspend labor and environmental laws that are interfering with the movement of goods. …One barrier is a law known as AB5. …Trucking companies warned that the law could put small carriers out of business and cause drivers to leave the state. …there’s little doubt the law hinders efficiency and productivity. …State officials have also pressed localities to attach green mandates to permits for new warehouses, which can be poison pills. …This boatload of regulations is making it more expensive and difficult to store goods arriving at California ports.

Needless to say, I’m not surprised California is making things worse.

The state seems to have some of the nation’s worst politicians.

But let’s set that aside and close with some discussion about one of the differences between government and the private sector.

This may surprise some readers, but people and businesses in the private sector make mistakes all the time.

So part of the supply-chain mess presumably is a result of companies and entrepreneurs making bad guesses.

That being said, there’s a big feedback mechanism in the private sector. It’s called profit and loss.

So when mistakes are made, there’s a big incentive to quickly change.

With government, by contrast, there’s very little flexibility (as we saw during the pandemic). And when politicians and bureaucrats do act, they often respond to political incentives that lead them to make things worse.

 

Big-Government Republicans Enable Big-Government Democrats

I get asked why I frequently criticize Republicans.

My response is easy. I care about results rather than rhetoric. And while GOP politicians often pay lip service to the principles of limited government,they usually increase spending even faster than Democrats.

Indeed, Republicans are even worse than Democrats when measuring the growth of domestic spending!

This is bad news because it means the burden of government expands when Republicans are in charge.

And, as Gary Abernathy points out in a column for the Washington Post, Republicans then don’t have the moral authority to complain when Democrats engage in spending binges.

President Biden is proposing another $3 trillion in spending… There are objections, but none that can be taken seriously. …Republicans had lost their standing as the party of fiscal responsibility when most of them succumbed to the political virus of covid fever and rubber-stamped around $4 trillion in “covid relief,”… With Trump out and Biden in, Republicans suddenly pretended that their 2020 spending spree happened in some alternate universe.But the GOP’s united opposition to Biden’s $1.9 trillion package won’t wash off the stench of the hypocrisy. …I noted a year ago that we had crossed the Rubicon, that our longtime flirtation with socialism had become a permanent relationship. Congratulations, Bernie Sanders. The GOP won’t become irrelevant because of its association with Trump, as some predict. It will diminish because it is bizarrely opposing now that which it helped make palatable just last year. Fiscal responsibility is dead, and Republicans helped bury it. Put the shovels away, there’s no digging it up now.

For what it’s worth, I hope genuine fiscal responsibility isn’t dead.

Maybe it’s been hibernating ever since Reagan left office (like Pepperidge Farm, I’m old enough to remember those wonderful years).

Subsequent Republican presidents liked to copy Reagan’s rhetoric, but they definitely didn’t copy his policies.

  • Spending restraint was hibernating during the presidency of George H.W. Bush.
  • Spending restraint also was hibernating during the presidency of George W. Bush.
  • And spending restraint was hibernating during the presidency of Donald Trump.

I’m not the only one to notice GOP hypocrisy.

Here are some excerpts from a 2019 column in the Washington Post by Fareed Zakaria.

In what Republicans used to call the core of their agenda — limited government — Trump has been profoundly unconservative. …Trump has now added more than $88 billion in taxes in the form of tariffs, according to the right-leaning Tax Foundation. (Despite what the president says, tariffs are taxes on foreign goods paid by U.S. consumers.) This has had the effect of reducing gross domestic product and denting the wages of Americans.…For decades, conservatives including Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan preached to the world the virtues of free trade. But perhaps even more, they believed in the idea that governments should not pick winners and losers in the economy… Yet the Trump administration…behaved like a Central Planning Agency, granting exemptions on tariffs to favored companies and industries, while refusing them to others. …In true Soviet style, lobbyists, lawyers and corporate executives now line up to petition government officials for these treasured waivers, which are granted in an opaque process… On the core issue that used to define the GOP — economics — the party’s agenda today is state planning and crony capitalism.

Zakaria is right about Republicans going along with most of Trump’s bad policies (as illustrated by this cartoon strip).*

The bottom line is that Republicans would be much more effective arguing against Biden’s spending orgy had they also argued for spending restraint when Trump was in the White House.

P.S. It will be interesting to see what happens in the near future. Will the GOP be a small-government Reagan party or a big-government Trump party?

Or maybe it will go back to being a Nixon-type party, which would mean bigger government but without mean tweets. And there are plenty of options.

If they make the wrong choice (anything other than Reaganism), Margaret Thatcher has already warned us about the consequences.

*To be fair, Republicans also went along with Trump’s good policies. It’s just unfortunate that spending restraint wasn’t one of them.

—-

March 31, 2021

President Biden  c/o The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

Please explain to me if you ever do plan to balance the budget while you are President? I have written these things below about you and I really do think that you don’t want to cut spending in order to balance the budget. It seems you ever are daring the Congress to stop you from spending more.

President Barack Obama speaks about the debt limit in the East Room of the White House in Washington. | AP Photo

 

“The credit of the United States ‘is not a bargaining chip,’ Obama said on 1-14-13. However, President Obama keeps getting our country’s credit rating downgraded as he raises the debt ceiling higher and higher!!!!

Washington Could Learn a Lot from a Drug Addict

Just spend more, don’t know how to cut!!! Really!!! That is not living in the real world is it?

Making more dependent on government is not the way to go!!

Why is our government in over 16 trillion dollars in debt? There are many reasons for this but the biggest reason is people say “Let’s spend someone else’s money to solve our problems.” Liberals like Max Brantley have talked this way for years. Brantley will say that conservatives are being harsh when they don’t want the government out encouraging people to be dependent on the government. The Obama adminstration has even promoted a plan for young people to follow like Julia the Moocher.  

David Ramsey demonstrates in his Arkansas Times Blog post of 1-14-13 that very point:

Arkansas Politics / Health Care Arkansas’s share of Medicaid expansion and the national debt

Posted by on Mon, Jan 14, 2013 at 1:02 PM

Baby carrot Arkansas Medicaid expansion image

 

Imagine standing a baby carrot up next to the 25-story Stephens building in Little Rock. That gives you a picture of the impact on the national debt that federal spending in Arkansas on Medicaid expansion would have, while here at home expansion would give coverage to more than 200,000 of our neediest citizens, create jobs, and save money for the state.

Here’s the thing: while more than a billion dollars a year in federal spending would represent a big-time stimulus for Arkansas, it’s not even a drop in the bucket when it comes to the national debt.

Currently, the national debt is around $16.4 trillion. In fiscal year 2015, the federal government would spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.2 billion to fund Medicaid expansion in Arkansas if we say yes. That’s about 1/13,700th of the debt.

It’s hard to get a handle on numbers that big, so to put that in perspective, let’s get back to the baby carrot. Imagine that the height of the Stephens building (365 feet) is the $16 trillion national debt. That $1.2 billion would be the length of a ladybug. Of course, we’re not just talking about one year if we expand. Between now and 2021, the federal government projects to contribute around $10 billion. The federal debt is projected to be around $25 trillion by then, so we’re talking about 1/2,500th of the debt. Compared to the Stephens building? That’s a baby carrot.

______________

Here is how it will all end if everyone feels they should be allowed to have their “baby carrot.”

How sad it is that liberals just don’t get this reality.

Here is what the Founding Fathers had to say about welfare. David Weinberger noted:

While living in Europe in the 1760s, Franklin observed: “in different countries … the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.”

Alexander Fraser Tytler, Lord Woodhouselee (15 October 1747 – 5 January 1813) was a Scottish lawyer, writer, and professor. Tytler was also a historian, and he noted, “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship, then a monarchy.”

Thomas Jefferson to Joseph Milligan

April 6, 1816

[Jefferson affirms that the main purpose of society is to enable human beings to keep the fruits of their labor. — TGW]

To take from one, because it is thought that his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, “the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry, and the fruits acquired by it.” If the overgrown wealth of an individual be deemed dangerous to the State, the best corrective is the law of equal inheritance to all in equal degree; and the better, as this enforces a law of nature, while extra taxation violates it.

[From Writings of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Albert E. Bergh (Washington: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1904), 14:466.]

_______

Jefferson pointed out that to take from the rich and give to the poor through government is just wrong. Franklin knew the poor would have a better path upward without government welfare coming their way. Milton Friedman’s negative income tax is the best method for doing that and by taking away all welfare programs and letting them go to the churches for charity.

_____________

_________

Thank you so much for your time. I know how valuable it is. I also appreciate the fine family that you have and your commitment as a father and a husband.

Sincerely,

Everette Hatcher III, 13900 Cottontail Lane, Alexander, AR 72002, ph 501-920-5733

Williams with Sowell – Minimum Wage

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell – Reducing Black Unemployment

By WALTER WILLIAMS

—-

Ronald Reagan with Milton Friedman
Milton Friedman The Power of the Market 2-5

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Dan Mitchell on Supply Chain Mess: “People and businesses in the private sector make mistakes…there’s a big feedback mechanism in the private sector. It’s called profit and loss!”

 

Government, Markets, and the Supply Chain

Way back in 2009, I shared a meme that succinctly summarizes how Washington operates.

It’s basically a version of Mitchell’s Law. To elaborate, governments cause problems and politicians then use those problems as an excuse to make government even bigger.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

I worry the same thing may be about to happen because of the current concern about “supply chain” issues, perhaps best illustrated by the backlog of ships at key ports, leading to shortages of key goods.

Some of this mess is fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, but it’s being exacerbated by bad policy.

In a column for Reason, J.D. Tuccille points out that government is the problem, not the solution.

…supply-chain issues…create shortages and push prices up around the world. …Lockdowns also changed people’s lives, closing offices and factories and confining people at home. That resulted in massive and unpredictable shifts in demand and unreliable supply. …”Market economies tend to be pretty good at getting food on the supermarket shelves and fuel in petrol stations, if left to themselves,” agrees Pilkington. “That last part is key: if left to themselves. Heavy-handed interference in market economies tends to produce the same pathologies we see in socialist economies, including shortages and inflation. That has been the unintended consequence of lockdown.” …The danger is that people see economic problems caused by earlier fiddling and then demand even more government intervention. …if the government were to further meddle in the market to allocate products made scarce by earlier actions, it’s hard to see how the result wouldn’t be anything other than increased supply chain chaos.

Allysia Finley opines for the Wall Street Journal about California’s role in the supply-chain mess.

The backup of container ships at the Long Beach and Los Angeles ports has grown in recent weeks… The two Southern California ports handle only about 40% of containers entering the U.S., mostly from Asia. Yet ports in other states seem to be handling the surge better. Gov. Ron DeSantis said last month that Florida’s seaports had open capacity.So what’s the matter with California? State labor and environmental policies. …business groups recently asked Gov. Gavin Newsom to declare a state of emergency and suspend labor and environmental laws that are interfering with the movement of goods. …One barrier is a law known as AB5. …Trucking companies warned that the law could put small carriers out of business and cause drivers to leave the state. …there’s little doubt the law hinders efficiency and productivity. …State officials have also pressed localities to attach green mandates to permits for new warehouses, which can be poison pills. …This boatload of regulations is making it more expensive and difficult to store goods arriving at California ports.

Needless to say, I’m not surprised California is making things worse.

The state seems to have some of the nation’s worst politicians.

But let’s set that aside and close with some discussion about one of the differences between government and the private sector.

This may surprise some readers, but people and businesses in the private sector make mistakes all the time.

So part of the supply-chain mess presumably is a result of companies and entrepreneurs making bad guesses.

That being said, there’s a big feedback mechanism in the private sector. It’s called profit and loss.

So when mistakes are made, there’s a big incentive to quickly change.

With government, by contrast, there’s very little flexibility (as we saw during the pandemic). And when politicians and bureaucrats do act, they often respond to political incentives that lead them to make things worse.

 

 

Big-Government Republicans Enable Big-Government Democrats

I get asked why I frequently criticize Republicans.

My response is easy. I care about results rather than rhetoric. And while GOP politicians often pay lip service to the principles of limited government,they usually increase spending even faster than Democrats.

Indeed, Republicans are even worse than Democrats when measuring the growth of domestic spending!

This is bad news because it means the burden of government expands when Republicans are in charge.

And, as Gary Abernathy points out in a column for the Washington Post, Republicans then don’t have the moral authority to complain when Democrats engage in spending binges.

President Biden is proposing another $3 trillion in spending… There are objections, but none that can be taken seriously. …Republicans had lost their standing as the party of fiscal responsibility when most of them succumbed to the political virus of covid fever and rubber-stamped around $4 trillion in “covid relief,”… With Trump out and Biden in, Republicans suddenly pretended that their 2020 spending spree happened in some alternate universe.But the GOP’s united opposition to Biden’s $1.9 trillion package won’t wash off the stench of the hypocrisy. …I noted a year ago that we had crossed the Rubicon, that our longtime flirtation with socialism had become a permanent relationship. Congratulations, Bernie Sanders. The GOP won’t become irrelevant because of its association with Trump, as some predict. It will diminish because it is bizarrely opposing now that which it helped make palatable just last year. Fiscal responsibility is dead, and Republicans helped bury it. Put the shovels away, there’s no digging it up now.

For what it’s worth, I hope genuine fiscal responsibility isn’t dead.

Maybe it’s been hibernating ever since Reagan left office (like Pepperidge Farm, I’m old enough to remember those wonderful years).

Subsequent Republican presidents liked to copy Reagan’s rhetoric, but they definitely didn’t copy his policies.

  • Spending restraint was hibernating during the presidency of George H.W. Bush.
  • Spending restraint also was hibernating during the presidency of George W. Bush.
  • And spending restraint was hibernating during the presidency of Donald Trump.

I’m not the only one to notice GOP hypocrisy.

Here are some excerpts from a 2019 column in the Washington Post by Fareed Zakaria.

In what Republicans used to call the core of their agenda — limited government — Trump has been profoundly unconservative. …Trump has now added more than $88 billion in taxes in the form of tariffs, according to the right-leaning Tax Foundation. (Despite what the president says, tariffs are taxes on foreign goods paid by U.S. consumers.) This has had the effect of reducing gross domestic product and denting the wages of Americans.…For decades, conservatives including Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan preached to the world the virtues of free trade. But perhaps even more, they believed in the idea that governments should not pick winners and losers in the economy… Yet the Trump administration…behaved like a Central Planning Agency, granting exemptions on tariffs to favored companies and industries, while refusing them to others. …In true Soviet style, lobbyists, lawyers and corporate executives now line up to petition government officials for these treasured waivers, which are granted in an opaque process… On the core issue that used to define the GOP — economics — the party’s agenda today is state planning and crony capitalism.

Zakaria is right about Republicans going along with most of Trump’s bad policies (as illustrated by this cartoon strip).*

The bottom line is that Republicans would be much more effective arguing against Biden’s spending orgy had they also argued for spending restraint when Trump was in the White House.

P.S. It will be interesting to see what happens in the near future. Will the GOP be a small-government Reagan party or a big-government Trump party?

Or maybe it will go back to being a Nixon-type party, which would mean bigger government but without mean tweets. And there are plenty of options.

If they make the wrong choice (anything other than Reaganism), Margaret Thatcher has already warned us about the consequences.

*To be fair, Republicans also went along with Trump’s good policies. It’s just unfortunate that spending restraint wasn’t one of them.

—-

March 31, 2021

President Biden  c/o The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

Please explain to me if you ever do plan to balance the budget while you are President? I have written these things below about you and I really do think that you don’t want to cut spending in order to balance the budget. It seems you ever are daring the Congress to stop you from spending more.

President Barack Obama speaks about the debt limit in the East Room of the White House in Washington. | AP Photo

 

“The credit of the United States ‘is not a bargaining chip,’ Obama said on 1-14-13. However, President Obama keeps getting our country’s credit rating downgraded as he raises the debt ceiling higher and higher!!!!

Washington Could Learn a Lot from a Drug Addict

Just spend more, don’t know how to cut!!! Really!!! That is not living in the real world is it?

Making more dependent on government is not the way to go!!

Why is our government in over 16 trillion dollars in debt? There are many reasons for this but the biggest reason is people say “Let’s spend someone else’s money to solve our problems.” Liberals like Max Brantley have talked this way for years. Brantley will say that conservatives are being harsh when they don’t want the government out encouraging people to be dependent on the government. The Obama adminstration has even promoted a plan for young people to follow like Julia the Moocher.  

David Ramsey demonstrates in his Arkansas Times Blog post of 1-14-13 that very point:

Arkansas Politics / Health Care Arkansas’s share of Medicaid expansion and the national debt

Posted by on Mon, Jan 14, 2013 at 1:02 PM

Baby carrot Arkansas Medicaid expansion image

 

Imagine standing a baby carrot up next to the 25-story Stephens building in Little Rock. That gives you a picture of the impact on the national debt that federal spending in Arkansas on Medicaid expansion would have, while here at home expansion would give coverage to more than 200,000 of our neediest citizens, create jobs, and save money for the state.

Here’s the thing: while more than a billion dollars a year in federal spending would represent a big-time stimulus for Arkansas, it’s not even a drop in the bucket when it comes to the national debt.

Currently, the national debt is around $16.4 trillion. In fiscal year 2015, the federal government would spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.2 billion to fund Medicaid expansion in Arkansas if we say yes. That’s about 1/13,700th of the debt.

It’s hard to get a handle on numbers that big, so to put that in perspective, let’s get back to the baby carrot. Imagine that the height of the Stephens building (365 feet) is the $16 trillion national debt. That $1.2 billion would be the length of a ladybug. Of course, we’re not just talking about one year if we expand. Between now and 2021, the federal government projects to contribute around $10 billion. The federal debt is projected to be around $25 trillion by then, so we’re talking about 1/2,500th of the debt. Compared to the Stephens building? That’s a baby carrot.

______________

Here is how it will all end if everyone feels they should be allowed to have their “baby carrot.”

How sad it is that liberals just don’t get this reality.

Here is what the Founding Fathers had to say about welfare. David Weinberger noted:

While living in Europe in the 1760s, Franklin observed: “in different countries … the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.”

Alexander Fraser Tytler, Lord Woodhouselee (15 October 1747 – 5 January 1813) was a Scottish lawyer, writer, and professor. Tytler was also a historian, and he noted, “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship, then a monarchy.”

Thomas Jefferson to Joseph Milligan

April 6, 1816

[Jefferson affirms that the main purpose of society is to enable human beings to keep the fruits of their labor. — TGW]

To take from one, because it is thought that his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, “the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry, and the fruits acquired by it.” If the overgrown wealth of an individual be deemed dangerous to the State, the best corrective is the law of equal inheritance to all in equal degree; and the better, as this enforces a law of nature, while extra taxation violates it.

[From Writings of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Albert E. Bergh (Washington: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1904), 14:466.]

_______

Jefferson pointed out that to take from the rich and give to the poor through government is just wrong. Franklin knew the poor would have a better path upward without government welfare coming their way. Milton Friedman’s negative income tax is the best method for doing that and by taking away all welfare programs and letting them go to the churches for charity.

_____________

_________

Thank you so much for your time. I know how valuable it is. I also appreciate the fine family that you have and your commitment as a father and a husband.

Sincerely,

Everette Hatcher III, 13900 Cottontail Lane, Alexander, AR 72002, ph 501-920-5733

Williams with Sowell – Minimum Wage

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell – Reducing Black Unemployment

By WALTER WILLIAMS

—-

Ronald Reagan with Milton Friedman
Milton Friedman The Power of the Market 2-5

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FRIEDMAN FRIDAY “For years, a lot of us subscribed to the notion that Milton Friedman warned us about,” that government would harm the economy if it didn’t take a light-touch approach to business, said former Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd, a longtime Biden friend, referring to the economist who helped define the small-government neoliberal philosophy.

President Biden in the White House on March 18.

President Biden in the White House on March 18.ANDREW HARNIK/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Behind Biden’s Big Plans: Belief That Government Can Drive Growth

Multitrillion-dollar spending program would reverse Reagan-era tacit understanding that public sector is less efficient than the private in allocating resources

WASHINGTON—President Biden envisions long-term federal spending claiming its biggest share of the American economy in decades. He wants to pay for that program in part by charging the highest-earning Americans the biggest tax rates they’ve faced in years.

The Biden economic team’s ambitions go beyond size to scope. The centerpiece of their program—a multitrillion-dollar proposal to be rolled out starting Wednesday, less than a month after a $1.9 trillion stimulus—seeks to give Washington a new commercial role in matters ranging from charging stations for electric vehicles to child care, and more responsibility for underwriting education, incomes and higher-paying jobs.

The administration has also laid the groundwork for regulations aimed at empowering labor unions, restricting big businesses from dominating their markets and prodding banks to lend more to minorities and less for fossil-fuel projects. All while federal debt is currently at a level not seen since World War II.

It all marks a major turning point for economic policy. The gamble underlying the agenda is a belief that government can be a primary driver for growth. It’s an attempt to recalibrate assumptions that have shaped economic policy of both parties since the 1980s: that the public sector is inherently less efficient than the private, and bureaucrats should generally defer to markets.

The administration’s sweeping plans reflect a calculation that “the risk of doing too little outweighs the risk of doing too much,” said White House National Economic Council Director Brian Deese. “We’re going to be unapologetic about that,” he said. “Government must be a powerful force for good in the lives of Americans.”

The pandemic and lockdown measures that followed have become a Rorschach test for the new economic debate. Former President Donald Trumpargued that the booming economy of 2019 and early 2020 was proof his tax-cutting, deregulating agenda was the best for spurring broadly shared prosperity, and he portrayed the coronavirus and lockdowns as a temporary disruption. The Biden team sees the pandemic as exposing myriad flaws and fragilities that liberals had long identified in the economy, masked by prosperity.

Mr. Biden himself casts his program as a throwback to Lyndon B. Johnson’s 1960s Great Society and Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1930s New Deal. “This is the first time we’ve been able to, since the Johnson administration and maybe even before that, to begin to change the paradigm,” he said at a White House event in mid-March. Mr. Biden recently spoke with a group of prominent American historians, and his aides have studied FDR’s presidency as they plan his economic agenda.

Mr. Biden’s big plans raise big questions, and big risks. He faces an uphill battle to win over a narrowly divided Congress, with solid Republican opposition plus hesitancy among Democratic moderates who blanch at higher taxes and more spending following nearly $5 trillion in coronavirus relief outlays over the past year.

Conservative-tilting courts, increasingly skeptical of executive authority, might block some of his initiatives. Already, a coalition of Republican state attorneys general has sued to challenge some provisions of the stimulus program and some of his executive orders.

Some economists consider the latest spending plan an overkill response to the temporary, albeit severe, hit from the pandemic and lockdowns. They call recent stirrings in the bond market a warning that the vast increase in government spending and borrowing might prompt a return to the high-inflation/high-interest-rate stagnation of the late 1970s and early 1980s—conditions that fed the long-lasting backlash to expansive FDR-LBJ policies in the first place.

“They’re creating too much demand when it’s not needed. When demand runs away from supply, you get inflation,” said Kevin Hassett, a former Trump chief economic adviser now at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. “The laws of economics can’t be repealed,” he said.

The Biden agenda rests on the notion those laws have evolved. “There appear to have been a broad-based set of structural changes that have had a very significant effect on how the economy works,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said. “There are a lot of ways in which I think our understanding of the economy has shifted.”

<img class=”i-amphtml-blurry-placeholder” src=”data:;base64,

She cited persistently low interest rates and low inflation, defying many conventional forecasts, as reasons to feel more relaxed than before about federal borrowing and low unemployment rates. Ms. Yellen says there’s little sign inflation is in danger of escalating, and is confident that if it does, the Federal Reserve has the tools to contain it.

The administration’s policies are rooted in economic research focused on perceived free-market flaws, much of it conducted and funded by young, left-leaning economists and activists now scattered throughout the administration. Much of the Biden economic agenda is built around the conclusion that climate change in particular is a private-sector breakdown requiring extensive government intervention.

Before joining the Biden Council of Economic Advisers, Heather Boushey ran the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, a think tank devoted to persuading economists and policy makers to take action reducing income inequality. To her and many of her colleagues, the pandemic validates their studies on market failures.

“We’ve talked about inequality—it seems like an abstract concept, but in 2020, this notion of the K-shaped economy became so real,” Ms. Boushey said. She was referring to a recovery where the fortunes of upper-income families—able to keep their jobs, work from home and enjoy gains in their stock portfolios—rose like the letter’s upward-sloping part, while lower-income families were unable to keep jobs in hard-hit service industries such as restaurants.

Plans for selling the administration proposals lean heavily on fears of losing out to China’s model of state-driven capitalism, a concern that resonates across the political spectrum. “China is out-investing us by a long shot, because their plan is to own that future,” Mr. Biden said recently in previewing his program.

In a Wednesday speech in Pittsburgh, the president is preparing to unveil the first part of an economic proposal that would cost $3 trillion or more over 10 years and might be split into multiple pieces of legislation, with more coming in April. The first measure will focus on infrastructure, climate change, domestic manufacturing and research and development. Mr. Biden will find ways to pay for the full cost of the first measure, the White House has said. The second measure will center on child care, healthcare and education.

‘There are a lot of ways in which I think our understanding of the economy has shifted,’ said Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

‘There are a lot of ways in which I think our understanding of the economy has shifted,’ said Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

PHOTO: DREW ANGERER/GETTY IMAGES

The multipart package would include higher taxes on corporations, upper-income households and investors. It will call for huge investments in infrastructure and climate programs and provide for universal prekindergarten and tuition-free community college, people familiar with the plan said.

Most Republicans are expected to oppose it, and the president’s advisers are already discussing options for continuing to move some of his proposals without GOP support, including through the process known as budget reconciliation.

Mike Donilon, one of Mr. Biden’s closest advisers, acknowledged the challenges but argued the public supports action. “I don’t think the country is in much mood for relentless obstructionism,” he said.

Critics of big-government projects have long argued that bureaucrats are less skilled than market forces in allocating resources. “What they’re trying to do is re-establish government as a major positive force in the economy, and I believe government is a massive negative force” in it, said Stephen Moore, a former Trump economic adviser. “There really is a micromanagement of the economy from the left.”

Presidents of both parties, hesitant to micromanage, have long steered away from anything smacking of an industrial policy that attempts to bolster specific industries. Biden aides are more willing to target and support certain industries such as the health and high-tech sectors. “We are committed to using the levers of government to encourage more domestic production,” Mr. Deese said.

President Biden held notes on infrastructure while speaking during a news conference in the East Room of the White House on March 25.

President Biden held notes on infrastructure while speaking during a news conference in the East Room of the White House on March 25.

PHOTO: OLIVER CONTRERAS/PRESS POOL

The president’s budget and regulatory proposals could disrupt major industries, boosting renewable-energy companies over fossil-fuel firms and expanding markets for emerging technologies. Business groups and Republicans warn that new regulations could stifle growth.

Mr. Biden’s stimulus bill added to federal debt that had already hit peacetime records under Mr. Trump. Mr. Biden has said his full agenda will ultimately be aimed at curbing government borrowing, through tax increases and savings in medical spending.

That will be a challenge. Federal debt, which reached 100% of gross domestic product last fiscal year for the first time since 1946, is expected to rise to a record 107% of economic output by 2031, according to the Congressional Budget Office, fueling concerns that future generations will get stuck with the bill. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said in March that the federal government can manage its debt at current levels, but policy makers should seek to slow its growth once the economy is stronger.

The long-dominant paradigm Mr. Biden and aides want to change is one widely branded neoliberalism, framed by Ronald Reagan, who declared in his 1981 inaugural address that “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” He ushered in an era of tax cuts, deregulation and federal programs increasingly designed to work through market forces. That was followed by two of the longest expansions in American history, in the 1980s and the 1990s.

Ronald Reagan speaking at his inauguration on Jan. 20, 1981.

Ronald Reagan speaking at his inauguration on Jan. 20, 1981.

PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

While Democrats controlled the White House for nearly half the time since then, their policies often were constrained by the core Reagan principles, in the view of many progressives. Bill Clinton tried to juggle liberal goals with a focus on balancing the budget, expanding free trade, and deregulating the financial sector. Barack Obama created a new government health program, but to the chagrin of the left, worked through private insurers. His 2009 program to fight the recession was constrained by fears of big deficits.

“For decades now, people have talked about economics as running against government, ignoring how much we need government to be able to build out opportunities,” said Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who, as an Obama adviser, often tangled with his aides over how aggressively to rein in Wall Street and support homeowners slammed by the 2008-2009 financial crisis.

A confluence of forces since the turn of the century has shaken support for the market-oriented economic model. A sharp increase in income and wealth inequality, combined with longtime wage stagnation that ended just before the pandemic hit, raised questions about how broadly prosperity gets shared absent government intervention. The swift loss of manufacturing jobs undermined support for free trade. China’s success and Wall Street’s collapse in the financial crisis further sowed doubts about free markets.

Those trends animated critics on the left, fueling the 2016 presidential campaigns of self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and the rise to prominence of his allies such as New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Republicans, too, have faced internal challenges to the party’s free-market orientation. Mr. Trump won the presidency in part by attacking bipartisan support for globalization. In office, he launched a trade war with China, regularly criticized big business and intervened to force domestic investments and pressure companies to relocate manufacturing to the U.S. and cut prices of drugs.

“Some establishment Republicans are too willing to do nothing at all with government. They see an all-natural, organic market having its way,” said Missouri GOP Sen. Josh Hawley. Mr. Hawley, a Trump supporter and possible presidential contender, has called for tougher antitrust laws to break up big tech companies and co-sponsored a bill last year with Mr. Sanders to give households $1,200 direct payments.

The first-term senator voted against the latest stimulus bill and opposes many of Mr. Biden’s policies, but he also says that “old-style conservatives have been too quick to wave away policies to strengthen American workers and promote competition rather than monopolies.”

Trends such as wealth disparities and wage stagnation animated the presidential candidacy of Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, seen here speaking at a rally in Manchester, N.H., in August 2015.

Trends such as wealth disparities and wage stagnation animated the presidential candidacy of Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, seen here speaking at a rally in Manchester, N.H., in August 2015.

PHOTO: RICK FRIEDMAN/CORBIS/GETTY IMAGES

While many of those urging an economic rethink are relatively new voices in the debate, some pillars of the establishment have evolved, including former senior economic aides in the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations. Another Washington veteran whose positions have changed: Joe Biden.

Elected to the Senate in 1972 at age 29, Mr. Biden ousted a Republican incumbent in part by casting himself as more attuned to the needs of the middle class, a theme that became a through-line of his career. He has long espoused the importance of unions, small businesses and a strong working class.

Mr. Biden juggled those causes with a belief in the need to curb government spending and cut taxes. He voted for Mr. Reagan’s historic 1981 tax cuts and backed spending ceilings for most agencies through the 1980s and a balanced-budget constitutional amendment in the 1990s. He regularly floated the idea of limiting Social Security and Medicare.

“For years, a lot of us subscribed to the notion that Milton Friedman warned us about,” that government would harm the economy if it didn’t take a light-touch approach to business, said former Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd, a longtime Biden friend, referring to the economist who helped define the small-government neoliberal philosophy.

As Mr. Obama’s vice president during the financial crisis, Mr. Biden walked a tightrope between pushing for spending, especially on infrastructure, and taking the lead in negotiating with Republicans to limit the extent of government expansion. Toward the end of his term, the persistently slow recovery prompted the vice president and his aides to launch a study of wage stagnation, income inequality and ways the government could steer business to do more for workers. That work planted the seeds for his current program.

Joe Biden was first elected to the Senate from Delaware in 1972 after a campaign in which he cast himself as attuned to the needs of the working class.

Joe Biden was first elected to the Senate from Delaware in 1972 after a campaign in which he cast himself as attuned to the needs of the working class.

PHOTO: HENRY GRIFFIN/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Mr. Biden started his 2019 presidential bid determined to lay out more of a big-government agenda than recent Democrats had espoused. But much of the primary field had moved even farther left. He emerged once again as the fiscal scold warning of excessive spending.

The arrival of the pandemic and the killing of George Floyd marked a turning point for Mr. Biden, according to his advisers, bringing into focus what his aides describe as his longstanding desire to “go big.”

Mr. Biden tapped his longtime friend and successor as Delaware senator, Ted Kaufman, to run the transition, and in helping assemble the economic team, Mr. Kaufman said his team focused on people steeped in new economic thinking and steered away from business executives.

“I looked at people who had internalized what Joe Biden’s policy was about, and Joe Biden’s policy was not about taking care of Wall Street or people making over $400,000 a year,” Mr. Kaufman said.

The middle ranks of the administration are filled with academics and activists who have spent the past few years honing a framework for progressive economic policy-making. In March 2019, many of them gathered at a Washington conference called “Bold v. Old.” A panel on toughening antitrust enforcement was led by Jennifer Harris, an official with the Hewlett Foundation—a philanthropy created by one of the founders of Hewlett-PackardCo. —overseeing a program funding researchers seeking to replace the neoliberal paradigm. She was joined by Lina Khan, a young law professor known for laying out the case for breaking upAmazon.com Inc., and Sabeel Rahman, president of Demos, a progressive think tank.

Ms. Harris has joined the Biden National Economic Council. Ms. Khan has been nominated to the Federal Trade Commission. Mr. Rahman works at the Office of Management and Budget.

Few of those new-generation policy makers supported Mr. Biden in the primaries. One of Mr. Deese’s deputies, Bharat Ramamurti, who was Ms. Warren’s chief campaign policy adviser, says the party is now largely unified on economic policy.

President Biden at his first press conference as president on March 25.

President Biden at his first press conference as president on March 25.

PHOTO: OLIVER CONTRERAS/PRESS POOL

A change in the Biden approach to economics is a re-evaluation of the costs of government action, which his team says have receded or always been exaggerated. And on the other side of the equation: an assertion that the cost of inaction is greater than previously estimated.

Progressive economists have generated rafts of research, often contested by conservatives, challenging the links between higher tax rates and lower economic activity. “The evidence suggests that the impact of marginal tax rates on labor supply is not as big as we may have once feared,” said Cecilia Rouse, chair of the Council of Economic Advisers.

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Liberal academics have produced studies examining the costs to the economy’s productive capacity from inequality and long-term unemployment, work invoked by the Biden team to justify spending big and fast to try to return to full employment as soon as next year. Some critics, including former Clinton and Obama economic adviser Lawrence Summers, have said that spending too aggressively to drive down unemployment could backfire, possibly prompting the Fed to raise interest rates and trigger a recession.

This more relaxed view of previous economic limits has freed the Biden team to plan on a grand scale. They designed a two-step strategy that began with the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, which provided $1,400 direct payments to many Americans, extended a $300 weekly jobless-aid supplement, expanded the child tax credit to provide periodic payments and dropped requirements that recipients work.

That was a symbolically significant shift from the Clinton-era move to tie welfare to work and a nod to the burgeoning progressive demands for a no-strings-attached guaranteed government income floor, at least for families with children.

Biden aides are also preparing an aggressive plan of new regulations and enforcement that can be implemented without Congress.

“The president campaigned on concerns about big tech, about labor market competition, about making sure small businesses can compete with the bigger guys,” Mr. Ramamurti said. “The president has a clear agenda there.”

Write to Jacob M. Schlesinger at jacob.schlesinger@wsj.com

It appears that only a fraction of the spending proposed in a new $3 trillion to $4 trillion bill would go toward an already too-expansive definition of infrastructure. Pictured: Engineers discuss the progress of an infrastructure construction project. (Photo: Sornranison Prakittrakoon/ Moment/Getty Images)

The media were flooded Monday with news that the Biden administration is working on a colossal new $3 trillion to $4 trillion spending plan.

While full details are not available yet, the plan appears to be another left-wing grab bag of big-government proposals. Rather than stimulating the economy, it would stimulate bigger government while funneling unprecedented amounts of power and money through the hands of politicians in Washington.

All this comes on the heels of President Joe Biden signing into law on March 11 a badly flawed $1.9 trillion legislative package that was originally marketed as a COVID-19 response, but which was more focused on left-wing pet causes, such as bailouts for union pension plans and unnecessary handouts for state governments.

Just a day later, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., released a statement calling for bipartisan work on legislation that would focus on infrastructure. While there were good reasons to question how beneficial or “bipartisan” such legislation would be, there was at least a chance of finding some across-the-aisle support.

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But the potential for bipartisanship was quickly scuttled by news of the latest multitrillion-dollar plan.

It would be bad enough if the latest plan was just a big-spending infrastructure package. However, it appears that only a fraction of the new spending would go toward an already too-expansive definition of infrastructure.

Instead, most of the new spending and tax subsidies would go toward expanding the welfare state, including “free” tuition for community colleges, “free” child care, and other handouts that lack right-of-center support.

This would likely be the largest expansion of the federal government since the “Great Society” of the 1960s, even eclipsing Obamacare in scope.

Reports indicate that Democrats might attempt to split the plan into two bills—one focused on social spending that passes narrowly along party lines, the other focused on actual infrastructure aimed at winning bipartisan support.

However, it’s clear that the $3 trillion-plus total price tag is already souring prospects for bipartisan infrastructure legislation.

House Republicans boycotted the annual Ways and Means Committee “Member’s Day” hearing on Tuesday in the wake of news reports on the plan, since they indicated that Democrats have already made up their minds to pursue as much spending as possible through the legislative procedure known as reconciliation.

Coincidentally, two respected nonpartisan groups released reports this week that show why Biden and Pelosi should pause their aggressive agenda.

First, the Congressional Budget Office published a paper demonstrating what would happen if a sustained increase in federal spending were coupled with big tax increases to pay for the spending.

While the analysis points to different long-term effects from different types of taxes, any tax-and-spend approach would lead to reductions in economic growth and personal income that are larger than the size of the tax hikes.

For example, the analysis found that having 10% more federal government would mean a 12% to 19% reduction in personal consumption.

And that’s a conservative estimate. Most estimates show tax hikes shrink the economy by two to three times more than the revenues they raise.

That doesn’t mean Congress could escape the consequences of a continued spending spree by simply adding to the national debt. The CBO paper cautions that that would not only impose significant costs and divert resources away from the private sector, but it also would be unsustainable and increase the risk of a devastating financial crisis.

Along the same lines, the Government Accountability Office released a sobering reporton the nation’s poor financial health.

Now that Congress has passed a combined total of $6 trillion in legislation in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic (more than $48,000 per household), it must quickly address the unsustainable growth of major benefit programs, such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

Even before the pandemic struck, these programs were on a path to bankruptcy. Addressing these shortfalls in a way that is fair to both current retirees and future generations who will have to foot the bill is one of the greatest policy challenges facing the nation.

Unfortunately, Washington is exacerbating the problem by adding excessively to the national debt and potentially stunting economic growth with higher taxes.

While the Biden administration has repeatedly claimed that it will only seek to raise taxes on the wealthy, a government of the size that it’s seeking would require amounts of money that can only be generated through steep across-the-board tax increases on middle-class Americans.

Regardless of whether those taxes are levied tomorrow or in a few years, they would be an inevitable part of expanding the size and scope of the federal government.

Rather than continuing down the path of centralized power and socialism, lawmakers should recognize the costs associated with endless federal spending and chart a course toward financial responsibility and prosperity.

If they don’t, it will be the public’s duty to hold them accountable.

Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email letters@DailySignal.com and we will consider publishing your remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature.

March 31, 2021

President Biden  c/o The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

Please explain to me if you ever do plan to balance the budget while you are President? I have written these things below about you and I really do think that you don’t want to cut spending in order to balance the budget. It seems you ever are daring the Congress to stop you from spending more.

President Barack Obama speaks about the debt limit in the East Room of the White House in Washington. | AP Photo

“The credit of the United States ‘is not a bargaining chip,’ Obama said on 1-14-13. However, President Obama keeps getting our country’s credit rating downgraded as he raises the debt ceiling higher and higher!!!!

Washington Could Learn a Lot from a Drug Addict

Just spend more, don’t know how to cut!!! Really!!! That is not living in the real world is it?

Making more dependent on government is not the way to go!!

Why is our government in over 16 trillion dollars in debt? There are many reasons for this but the biggest reason is people say “Let’s spend someone else’s money to solve our problems.” Liberals like Max Brantley have talked this way for years. Brantley will say that conservatives are being harsh when they don’t want the government out encouraging people to be dependent on the government. The Obama adminstration has even promoted a plan for young people to follow like Julia the Moocher.  

David Ramsey demonstrates in his Arkansas Times Blog post of 1-14-13 that very point:

Arkansas Politics / Health Care Arkansas’s share of Medicaid expansion and the national debt

Posted by on Mon, Jan 14, 2013 at 1:02 PM

Baby carrot Arkansas Medicaid expansion image

Imagine standing a baby carrot up next to the 25-story Stephens building in Little Rock. That gives you a picture of the impact on the national debt that federal spending in Arkansas on Medicaid expansion would have, while here at home expansion would give coverage to more than 200,000 of our neediest citizens, create jobs, and save money for the state.

Here’s the thing: while more than a billion dollars a year in federal spending would represent a big-time stimulus for Arkansas, it’s not even a drop in the bucket when it comes to the national debt.

Currently, the national debt is around $16.4 trillion. In fiscal year 2015, the federal government would spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.2 billion to fund Medicaid expansion in Arkansas if we say yes. That’s about 1/13,700th of the debt.

It’s hard to get a handle on numbers that big, so to put that in perspective, let’s get back to the baby carrot. Imagine that the height of the Stephens building (365 feet) is the $16 trillion national debt. That $1.2 billion would be the length of a ladybug. Of course, we’re not just talking about one year if we expand. Between now and 2021, the federal government projects to contribute around $10 billion. The federal debt is projected to be around $25 trillion by then, so we’re talking about 1/2,500th of the debt. Compared to the Stephens building? That’s a baby carrot.

______________

Here is how it will all end if everyone feels they should be allowed to have their “baby carrot.”

How sad it is that liberals just don’t get this reality.

Here is what the Founding Fathers had to say about welfare. David Weinberger noted:

While living in Europe in the 1760s, Franklin observed: “in different countries … the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.”

Alexander Fraser Tytler, Lord Woodhouselee (15 October 1747 – 5 January 1813) was a Scottish lawyer, writer, and professor. Tytler was also a historian, and he noted, “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship, then a monarchy.”

Thomas Jefferson to Joseph Milligan

April 6, 1816

[Jefferson affirms that the main purpose of society is to enable human beings to keep the fruits of their labor. — TGW]

To take from one, because it is thought that his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, “the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry, and the fruits acquired by it.” If the overgrown wealth of an individual be deemed dangerous to the State, the best corrective is the law of equal inheritance to all in equal degree; and the better, as this enforces a law of nature, while extra taxation violates it.

[From Writings of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Albert E. Bergh (Washington: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1904), 14:466.]

_______

Jefferson pointed out that to take from the rich and give to the poor through government is just wrong. Franklin knew the poor would have a better path upward without government welfare coming their way. Milton Friedman’s negative income tax is the best method for doing that and by taking away all welfare programs and letting them go to the churches for charity.

_____________

_________

Thank you so much for your time. I know how valuable it is. I also appreciate the fine family that you have and your commitment as a father and a husband.

Sincerely,

Everette Hatcher III, 13900 Cottontail Lane, Alexander, AR 72002, ph 501-920-5733

Williams with Sowell – Minimum Wage

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell – Reducing Black Unemployment

By WALTER WILLIAMS

—-

Ronald Reagan with Milton Friedman
Milton Friedman The Power of the Market 2-5

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