Archives For Teddy Roosevelt

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With the walloping Republicans gave Democrats in the midterm elections, the GOP stands one Louisiana Senate runoff away from completely controlling Southern politics from the Carolinas to Texas. Only a handful of Democrats hold statewide office in the rest of the Old Confederacy.

SOURCE:  The South: Solid once again _ for Republicans – Yahoo News.

It looks like with this latest election the south has finally turned almost 100% Republican. How did that happen? That is the topic of this post. Of course I am giving you my personal knowledge on this topic. The South did turn from almost exclusively Democrat to Republican in my lifetime so I do have some, be it ever so small, personal expertise in the matter.

The Republican party should point proudly to its roots and that is Abraham Lincoln. He was our president during perhaps the most difficult time in American history, when we were killing each other by the millions over whether some people were property to be owned or citizens to be protected.

Another great Republican president forty years after Lincoln was Teddy Roosevelt. Although he was born into the American aristocracy he had a deep empathy for those less fortunate than he was. This empathy lead him to see how badly the common guy was faring during the Industrial Revolution and to do something about it. He took on the “robber barons” of his time and gave at least some power back to ordinary citizens away from the super-rich.

The Republican party has a proud heritage in at least these two great presidents. Between 1861 and 1909 there were ten Republican presidents to two Democratic presidents. They dominated American politics for almost fifty years after the Civil War. What happened to almost reverse the party of Lincoln and Roosevelt into what it is today?  To answer that turnaround we need to look at the 1960s.

Up until the 1960s the Democratic party was the party of the South. They dominated because they weren’t Republicans who took away their slaves and therefore much of their economic prosperity.  Then came along President Kennedy and the “Second Emancipation Proclamation” Here is a little about that from Wikipedia:

The Second Emancipation Proclamation is the term applied to an envisioned Executive Order that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other leaders of the African-American Civil Rights Movement (1955–68) enjoined President John F. Kennedy to issue. As the Emancipation Proclamation was an Executive Order issued by President Abraham Lincoln to free all slaves being held in states at war with the Union, the envisioned “Second Emancipation Proclamation” was to use the powers of the Executive office to strike a severe blow to segregation.

Southern Democrats became outraged that a Democratic president would issue such an executive decision. And then came President Johnson with the Civil Rights agenda.  Within a decade southerners left the Democratic party in mass. During the years between 1933 and 1969 Republicans controlled the White House only eight years. When the southern white politicians moved to the Republican party it was ripe for change and change it  they did. During the years since that time the GOP sadly morphed from the party Lincoln and Roosevelt to something completely different.

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2014-10-27_07-45-26The Republican leaders really didn’t want Roosevelt as President. As a young Bull Moose Republican in politics, TR had angered top GOP honchos by refusing to appoint Republicans to bureaucratic positions. Party bosses Mark Hanna and Thomas Platt were able to “kick Roosevelt upstairs” as the vice presidential nominee in 1900 for the incumbent President, William McKinley. Roosevelt agreed because he was thinking of running for President in 1904. No one thought that Roosevelt would take over for McKinley later in 1901.

SOURCE: 10 little-known facts about President Theodore Roosevelt – Yahoo News.

I must admit up front that Teddy Roosevelt is my kind of Republican. He and Abe Lincoln, both Republicans, are two of my heroes. What happened to the GOP that they have moved so far right of their original founders? If someone like Teddy came along in the GOP today I would jump at the chance to vote for him but given the crop of 2016 likely candidates that seems very far from reality right now.

I am currently reading albeit slowly for some reason ( maybe I am just relishing each words of the author)  a book about Teddy by Doris Kearns Goodwin so the quote above did not surprise me too much. I am sure that if Teddy were around today the current GOP would tar and feather him if they got a chance, kind of like they did with Colin Powell. Teddy Roosevelt was plain and simple a progressive Republican.  I know that combination of words are total foreign to us a hundred years later. Teddy, even though he was part of the New York aristocracy always felt a kinship with the guy that struggled to take care of his family.

Teddy fought the then Republican establishment throughout his political career. None of them liked him too much because he was just too unpredictable when it came to making decisions between the rich and the poor. He simply sided with the poor much too often for them. Deja Vu all over again right? Almost from the beginning he was very popular with the masses of people. They loved his bravado and showmanship. One of the reasons that Teddy was so popular was that he made it almost his life’s purpose to make good friends among the reporters and media of his day. They simply loved him and therefore wrote many favorable things about him.

Like all my heroes Teddy had his dark side. He loved killing things and to some degree that also included people. He often said his most pleasant memories were of his war time on San Juan Hill in Cuba. It seems he simply got a huge rush from extinguishing life. But as usual we have to take some bad to get the good from our heroes.

About Inequality…

November 25, 2014

There are various complex models for this, but the general explanation is fairly intuitive: Modern economies are built on a mass market. But if the great majority of people don’t have much (or any) disposable income, then there is no mass market, and it’s harder to start a business relying on any kind of mass sales. And with weak consumer spending, existing businesses have little reason to invest in growth, and instead disgorge their profits to shareholders, exacerbating the trend. In the end, you get a hollowed-out, bifurcated economy, where low-grade goods are sold to the broke masses on razor-thin margins, while incomprehensible sums slosh around weird luxury markets.

SOURCE: What Democrats get wrong about inequality – The Week.

The words above do the best job I have seen lately explaining how prosperity happens.  It is no secret that when Henry Ford started paying a living wage to his employees the birth of the middle-class started in earnest. If he had paid the then current minimum wage his workers and others like them could never have afforded the cars they make. Mass markets depend on a large customer base to be successful. That is as the article says is fairly intuitive.

There is a reason the Walmarts of the world are displacing so many local vendors and that is because with their mass marketing potential they can get their products at a lower cost than local competitors.  Paying wages that are not livable wages is the logical result of Walmart’s success.

I am a “car” guy in that I enjoy watching all the car fix-it shows on satellite TV especially the Velocity channel.  There seem to be hundreds of companies that take 40 – 50 year old cars and renovate them for their nostalgic  customers. Most often the price of these cars are from $80,000 to as high as several million. Obviously the customer base for these companies are the upper 5% or so of the population.  It is great that companies can earn a good living from these business but there are only so many people who can afford the products they produce.  as the article says incomprehensible sums slosh around weird luxury markets.

It seems like our downfall as a middle-class nation is the result of not providing enough people an income that will allow any kind of discretionary spending. The national minimum wage has remained stagnate for more than a decade due to GOP resistance. In fact some in that quarter want to even abolish the minimum wage entirely and leave it up to individual companies to determine what they pay. There is said to even be some house bills to that effect.

They say statistics show that the income inequality is the worst it has been since the robber-baron years of more than 100 years ago. But we don’t, like we did a hundred years ago, seem to have a person with the character of Teddy Roosevelt to get us out of our most recent downward spiral. I don’t know what it will take to turn it around this time? But I do know that if it continues as is it currently going we will drive ourselves into an almost third-world status. I’m sure China will be more than happy to take over as the world economic leader if we falter.

Freeloading…

May 29, 2014

2014-05-21_08-34-27“You are right there’s been a lot of freeloading, but the freeloading has been by the biggest financial institutions who got bailed out by the American taxpayers, who broke the law and were never held responsible,” Warren said.

“Here’s the key part — nobody went to jail for any part of this,” Warren continued. “The only people in America today who go to jail are regular folks. Big financial institutions get out there, they launder drug money, they violate the law, and still no one is held accountable. I think that’s fundamentally wrong.”

SOURCE: Elizabeth Warren Reveals What’s ‘Fundamentally Wrong’ About The People Who Go To Jail.

Oh Elizabeth certainly has a way with words. I wish she were as popular as Hillary.  She is an intellectual as Obama is but I won’t hold that against her, at least right now. Her actions in the Senate, if you can call anything in the Senate action, shows that she practices what she preaches.

Why are all the criminal indictments taken against poor and middle income folks? Why are all the “upper class” (I use those words very loosely) seem to be immune from any jail time? I see recently where Credit Suisse was recently fined $2.5 billion for helping the 1%ers hide their income from the IRS.  Attorney General Eric Holder said no bank is too big to jail but actually no one went to jail. $2.5 billions is a lot of money but evidently not to the banking companies as they announced that the money for the fine will cause a slight decrease in the quarterly profits!

My Republican friends seem to be so obsessed with poor people gaming the system and freeloading but then they totally ignore the freeloading by the biggest financial institutions. As Elizabeth said not one person went to jail for any of those things that almost caused the collapse of our country. One of the reasons I heard was that it is just too expensive to indict these millionaires as they would draw out the proceedings for years to come. What an excuse!!  I, and I hope most of you, also think that it is fundamentally wrong to allow someone to be above the law simply by their financial wealth or power status.

I would love to see Elizabeth as president. I know it won’t happen because Hillary has an almost lock on the Democratic ticket. I kind of think Elizabeth would look very much like that pesky Republican of a little more than one hundred years ago. Teddy Roosevelt took on the elite of his time and for the most part beat them. They were called robber barons then but the things they did were pretty much the same as these guys are doing now.  Wouldn’t it be interesting to see if Elizabeth could manage what he accomplished?

Something needs to change in the country soon. Our middle class is evaporating before our eyes. When it is gone and the financial elite are back in almost total control it will be hard to wrench power from them.

Teddy Roosevelt…

November 26, 2013

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I think Teddy Roosevelt was probably my second all-time favorite Republican. Of course Lincoln was number one.  If only Mr. Bush had  followed in his fellow Republican’s footsteps one hundred years later instead of going to the opposite extreme. Thank you President Roosevelt for taking the bully pulpit as a trust buster for the common good of the people.

The Middle Class….

January 21, 2013

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Middle class 1Having grown up in the 1950s and 60s I am very much entrenched in the idea of a middle class society. That is where the average working person got a share of the prosperity of the times. But in looking back at history it now seems apparent to me that the “middle class”, at least as we knew it then  probably an anomaly of our times.

The middle class is a result of the Ford model for the economy. That is where the workers are paid a living wage and they would then build a community where they could afford to buy the products they make. We have much to thank Henry Ford for those times. Ford came upon the scenes shortly after the age of the “Robber Barrons”. The barons were Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Carniege, JP Morgan, and Fisk.  These guys were mostly consumed by their desire for wealth and ruthlessly destroying their competition. They had little respect for the workers they employed.  They were a mere tool for their greed for ever increasing wealth. Their employees generally worked six to seven days a week for twelve hours a day. They often got a little than a dollar a day. If you got sick you lost your job. If you died because of an industrial accident your family was pretty much on their own. We learned that this is what you get with unbridled capitalism. Continue Reading…