FT166: “Multiculturalism celebrates are differences while breeding anti-American terrorists.” —Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 19th, 2013

Fundamental Truth

The Entrepreneurial Spirit gave America the Economic Prowess to spend the Soviet Union into the Ash Heap of History

Immigrants used to come to the United States with great enthusiasm.  They were excited that they were going to be an American.  They wanted to assimilate.  They learned their American history.  Better than most people born in the United States.  When they took the oath of citizenship a euphoric joy filled them.  For having fulfilled their greatest dream.  If they heard their family members speak the language of their birth country they rebuked them sternly.  And told them, “We’re American now.  Speak English.”

Yes, there was great pride in becoming an American.  As immigrants saw America as Ronald Reagan saw it.  A shining city upon a hill.  Whose beacon light guides freedom-loving people everywhere.  People in the Old World yearned for the freedom of the New World.  Religious freedom.  Freedom from an oppressive government.  Economic freedom.  Where everyone had the same chance to be whatever they wanted to be no matter who their parents were.  For in America there was no privilege.  Just hard work.  And the ability to keep the fruit of all your labors.  This is the American dream.  This is why they came to this shining city upon a hill.

Immigrants wanted to assimilate.  They wanted to think of themselves as Americans.  For it meant something.  Something special.  It meant you were a citizen of the greatest country in the world.  For individual liberty unleashed great prosperity.  An entrepreneurial spirit.  American ingenuity.  Making America the leader in new technology.  Making work less tedious.  And life more enjoyable.  Giving America the highest standard of living.  Great food surpluses that let America feed the world.  And the military power to defeat Nazism and stand up to communism.  And the economic prowess to spend the Soviet Union into the ash heap of history.

Our Public Schools teach our Children that we Stole the Land from the Native Americans and got Rich on Slave Labor

People came to America to be Americans.  They remembered their culture.  But their culture did not identify who they were.  They were Americans.  Not hyphenated Americans.  As Theodore Roosevelt said, “In this country we have no place for hyphenated Americans.”  We were not Italian-Americans.  We were not Polish-Americans.  We were not Irish-Americans.  We were not German-Americans.  We were Americans.

Our public schools once taught our children about the Founding.  The abuses of European monarchies.  Unjust taxation.  And the perverse powers of privilege.  Things the Founding Fathers found abhorrent.  The Founding Fathers knew the history of Greece and Rome.  King John and Magna Carta.  And the English Civil War was not that distant from their time.  They were students of the Enlightenment.  They read Adam Smith.  Believed in laissez-faire economics.  And championed limited government.  When they formed a new country they drew from this vast pool of knowledge.  And made the greatest country in the world.  One with religious freedom but based on Judeo-Christian values.  A country so great that rulers of other nations wanted to hinder its ascension to further greatness.  While the people living under those rulers wanted to be Americans.

This experiment in self-government had some growing pains.  We were not perfect.  But we were far more perfect than any other government out there.  But our public schools don’t teach that today.  Instead, they teach our children that the Founders stole the land from the Native Americans.  That we stole our southern land and California from the Mexicans.  Who gained their independence from Spain who colonized these lands.  Land they had stolen from the native people who were living on it at the time.  (Interestingly, when the Mexicans gained their independence from a European power the land belonged to the Mexicans.  But when the Americans gained their independence from a European power the land belonged to someone else.)  That we stole Cuba and the Philippines from the Spanish.  Who stole it from the people living on these lands when they arrived and stole it.  Yet it is the Americans who were an imperialist power stealing land.  Never the Mexicans or the Spanish.  And, of course, that America grew rich and powerful thanks to free slave labor.  Despite that very same economic system causing the South to lose the American Civil War.

The American Educational System failed to make Dzhokhar Tsarnaev NOT burn with a Seething Hatred of America

Then the attacks on capitalism came.  The system that made America great.  All of a sudden it was unfair.  It was unjust.  And it exploited the poor to help the rich get richer.  A better system was socialism.  For it was fair.  It was just.  Because it put people before profits.  (Just ask those who lived in the Soviet Union, the People’s Republic of China under Mao, North Korea, Cuba and the people who lived behind the Iron Curtain in Eastern Europe how wonderful it was to live where they put people before profits.  Here’s a hint.  A lot of these people were shot while trying to escape their social utopia).  Unlike the most evil thing in the world.  The corporation.  Who underpaid their workers.  Raped the land of its natural resources.  And polluted the environment.  So not only were they evil for pursuing profits they were evil for exploiting both people and the planet.  So we needed more government to regulate capitalism.  And those evil corporations.  So our children learned the evils of capitalism and the goodness of government in our public schools and universities.  Where their teachers and professors taught them all of the badness of the United States.  While glossing over all of its goodness.  Imbuing some shame into our students for being American.  Even making some burn with a seething hatred of the United States.

And so began the diversity movement.  And multiculturalism.  If America was so shameful we should not celebrate what unified us as Americans.  But we should celebrate our differences.  We no longer celebrated the things people immigrated to the United States for.  But the things they fled in the countries they emigrated from.  We are no longer Americans.  We are now hyphenated Americans.  And it was the thing preceding the hyphen that made us great now.  Not being American.  Because America had a shameful past.  And had a long way to go to atone for her sins.  Making a lot of hatred of America now home-grown.  Especially in the American universities.  Where radicals from the Sixties who wanted to overthrow capitalism and replace it with socialism now write the curriculum.  And these radical professors disparaged judgmental Christianity every chance they could.  For they liked the sex and drugs of their Me generation.  Mocking the Judeo-Christian values that made America great.  Something those who were not Christians ate up.

So the American university system is a hotbed of anti-American sentiment.  Perhaps explaining why some of the greatest terrorist attacks on American soil were perpetrated by people educated in the United States.  Such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.  Architect and mastermind of a series of terrorist attacks.  Including the attacks on 9/11.  Who attended college in North Carolina.  Earning a degree in mechanical engineering.  And Anwar al-Awlaki.  Who earned a degree in civil engineering from Colorado State University.  He also studied education leadership at San Diego State University.  And worked on a doctorate at George Washington University.  Then moved to Yemen and became the Osama bin Laden of the Internet.  And then we have the Boston Marathon bombers.  Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev.  Who immigrated to the United States about a decade ago.  With Dzhokhar being so young he probably has no memories of his native Chechnya.  A hotbed of radical Islamist terrorism.  Locked in a bitter war with Christian Russia.  Where barbarous acts in that conflict have rivaled the atrocities of the Eastern Front in World War II.  Yet he burned with such a seething hatred of an America founded on Judeo-Christian values that he could place a bomb next to an 8 year old child.  A seething hatred he learned from someone while living in America.  Either directly from the American educational system.  Or indirectly as that educational system failed to make him NOT burn with a seething hatred of America.

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Upward Mobility

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 6th, 2012

Politics 101

When Old Enough not to Violate Child-Labor Laws we worked After School at the Local Hardware Store or Supermarket

Once upon a time one of our first jobs was delivering newspapers.  We used to call these people paperboys.  Then girls said they wanted to earn money, too.  We called them papergirls.  Boys and girls would fill up a bag full of newspapers slung on their bike and start peddling through the neighborhood.  Raising a little spending money while they still were in school.  They didn’t make much.  They couldn’t keep doing this as a career and raise a family.  But they made a lot of money for a 14-year old kid.

When these kids grew old enough to get a job without violating child-labor laws they went to work after school at the local hardware store or bagged groceries at the supermarket.  Or worked at McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Dairy Queen, Baskin Robbins, Big Boy, etc.  During the summer they flocked to vacation areas and worked in the tourist economy.  Anxious to earn money to put gas into their cars.  Or go to the mall.  Again, they weren’t making big bucks.  Nothing that they could raise a family on.  But they earned more than delivering papers.  And were able to buy the things that were important to them.

Once we graduated high school some got jobs at factories.  Some went into the skilled trades.  While some went on to college.  Working as waitresses to pay their way.  Pressing clothes at a dry cleaner.  Working as a short order cook.  Or working their summers in construction.  As well as working some odd jobs on campus between classes.  Saving every penny to pay for their books.  Room and board.  Even their tuition.  While still finding time to study.  These kids worked very hard between their studies and their jobs.  Using their earnings to pay their bills.  While leaving them less spending money to have fun with than those paperboys and papergirls had.  Who weren’t paying for books, room & board and tuition.

The American Dream is Being Free to Work Hard and Sacrifice to make a Better Life

These jobs we worked during our high school and college years were entry level jobs for the unskilled.  Which is why they didn’t pay much.  To reflect that skill level.  But they gave us job experience.  And a little spending money.  Which was fine during those years because our spending needs were modest.  Besides, these jobs weren’t our careers.  They were just stopping points on our career paths.  Where we learned some important job skills (be on time, work hard, how to work with other people, that the customer is always right, etc.) that helped us in our next jobs.  And we moved from job to job.  Gaining skills.  And income.  Until we could afford to raise a family.

Many started college after working for awhile.  Or returned to college.  Taking a couple of classes at night after work.  To gain additional skills to advance in the company.  Or to gain the skills to make a career change.  So they could earn more money.  To afford more things in life.  Like a better home.  In a better neighborhood with better schools for their children.  Living the American Dream.  Having whatever they want simply by working extra hard to have it.  Which they could if they chose to put in the effort to increase their value in the market place.  Which has always been the way to achieve our goals.  Working hard and sacrificing to make a better life.  Which is what brings others to our shores.  To be free to live the American Dream.

Immigrants coming to this country often took menial jobs.  Such as sweeping the floor in a factory.  Saving every penny.  Improving their language skills.  If they needed to increase their language skills.  Working hard.  And when they acquired some skills they moved up.  Earning enough to bring their wives over from the old country.  Who also started working a menial job upon their arrival.  To help earn enough money to buy a house to raise a family in.  The husband’s hard work took him further up in the company.  Or he set off on his own.  Going into business for himself.  Working even longer hours to provide for his family.  Living out the American Dream.  Working hard so their children can have a better life.

In the US People can go from being Poor to Middle Class to the 1% back to Middle Class and even back to Poor

Sara Blakely tried to be a lawyer but couldn’t pass the LSAT law exam.  She spent some time as a ride greeter at Disney World.  After that she tried selling fax machines door-to-door.  Seeing a lot of doors slammed in her face.  Not exactly the life she dreamed of.  And if that wasn’t bad enough there was something else that bothered her.  The way she looked in white pants from behind.  And set out to do something about it.  Starting with $5,000 Sara Blakely created Spanx.  A company selling slimming bodywear that she invented.  And about a decade later Spanx is now worth $1 billion.  Pleasing some 6 million women.  Who helped her give some $20 million to charity.

Currently in America there is a war on the rich and successful.  Those on the Left are attacking those with money.  Those who have worked hard and have earned wealth.  Claiming that they got their wealth unfairly.  And aren’t paying their fair share in taxes.  That contemptible 1%.  Those people they rile up the masses to hate.  As if this 1% is a monolithic permanent upper class.  As if every millionaire today has always been a millionaire.  As if none of them ever failed the LSAT law exam.  Worked as a greeter at Disney World.  Or sold fax machines door-to-door.

But the 1% is not a permanent monolithic upper class.  As people like Sara Blakely prove.  And the others like her who have worked hard.  Starting with little more than an idea.  And a few years of savings.  We call it upward mobility.  Those in the 1% were likely at different income levels throughout their lives.  Starting out poor.  Working their way up to middle class.  And the lucky few like Sara Blakely breaking into the 1%.  Who earned every dime she has.  And just as people can work hard to rise up to the 1% they can just as easily fall from the 1%.  For there are no monolithic classes in the United States.  Anyone can succeed here.  And anyone can fail.  So here people can go from being poor to middle class to the 1% back to middle class and even back to poor.  Because in America you can live the American Dream.  Where you’re free to do anything you want to try.  You can work hard to succeed.  And you can fail trying.  But the key is this.  Here you can try.  Which is a lot more than people in many parts of the world can ever hope to do.

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An Ivy League Professor says their Ivy League Government Policies have killed the American Dream

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 10th, 2012

Week in Review

The Ivy League has long had an influence over government policy.  Administrations have been filled with Ivy League graduates.  Where they have been advising lawmakers and writing policy.  Much of the economic mess we suffer from these days goes back to the progressive views of the Ivy League.  Where they think the private economy will work better when smart and enlightened thinkers like themselves tweak it. 

And over the years our capitalist free market has been slowly morphing into crony capitalism.  Where those businesses with like minded ideas as those in government (as advised by their Ivy League intelligentsia) get preferential treatment by the government.  And those who don’t think right are hit with excessive regulations and taxes.  Or as they would say in Columbia, being fair.  Because fair is whatever they say is fair (see The ‘American Dream’ Is a Myth: Joseph Stiglitz on ‘The Price of Inequality’ by Aaron Task, Daily Ticker, posted 6/8/2012 on Yahoo! Finance).

In his latest book, The Price of Inequality, Columbia Professor and Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz examines the causes of income inequality and offers some remedies. In between, he reaches some startling conclusions, including that America is “no longer the land of opportunity” and “the ‘American dream’ is a myth…”

For example, just 8% of students at America’s elite universities come from households in the bottom 50% of income, Stiglitz says, even as those universities are “needs blind” — meaning admission isn’t predicated on your ability to pay…

“What I want is a more dynamic economy and a fairer society,” he says, suggesting income inequality is ultimately detrimental to those at the top, too. “My point is we’ve created an economy that is not in accord with the principles of the free market.”

The only thing preventing the American Dream today is progressive government policies.  Immigrants used to come to this country with nothing but loose change in their pockets and went on to start a business.  Today there are so many taxes and fees and regulations that require a lawyer to understand.  This is what’s killing the American Dream.  Government.

More millionaires are self-made middle class people with a good idea.  They became entrepreneurs.  And succeeded despite the obstacles government put in place.  For no one ever heard an entrepreneur say he or she wished there was more government involvement in their industry.

The only people stuck in their class are the elite rich who own the Ivy League institutions and restrict admissions to their friends and family.  And the poor who are the victims of government programs that are supposed to help them.  Implemented by government on the advice of those Ivy League graduates who fill the ranks of policy makers in Washington.  Which perpetuates a permanent underclass for government to take care of with ever expanding government programs.

He is right, though, about the economy not in accord with free market principles.  President Obama hates capitalism and has taken active measures to oppose it.  Shut down oil exploration on federal lands and in international waters within our exclusive economic zone.  Not approving the Keystone XL pipeline.  Strong-arming Obamacare through Congress with backroom deals to pass a bill the American people didn’t want.  Subsidizing green energy companies like Solyndra that fail.  Attacking private equity.  And so on.  Helping like-minded people.  And hurting those who think differently.  This administration has become the model of crony capitalism. 

The land of opportunity and the American Dream will return this November.  It will take a while to undo some of the damage done these past 3 years or so.  But opportunity is still there.  If government would only get out of the way.

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The Demand for an ever Higher Fuel Economy has decreased the demand for Gasoline and raised Gas Prices

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 26th, 2012

Week in Review

A Republican congressman complains about the high price of gasoline.  But because he’s a Republican AND drives a Hummer he gets little sympathy (see Florida congressman upset at Obama for $70 fill-up of his Hummer by Justin Hyde posted 2/23/2012 on Yahoo! Autos).

Saying gas costs too much based on your H3 — which sports an average fuel economy of 16 to 18 mpg — seems akin to arguing Americans have grown too fat at the drive-through window of a Carl Jr.’s. Yet West and other drivers can’t be blamed for the current run-up; it’s not American demand for gasoline causing its prices to rise, but rather demand from China, Latin America and worries over Iran’s actions near the Strait of Hormuz. Last year, fossil fuels were America’s biggest export — partly because of the economic recession and the shift toward vehicles that get 40 mpg instead of 16.

Sad, isn’t it?  China and Latin America can enjoy life.  But the country that made driving the great American past time can’t.  Over there they’re buying gas and enjoying it.  Over here we make people feel ashamed for doing something their parents loved to do.  Packing the family into a big and safe vehicle.  Hitting the open road.  And seeing America.

Well, if it’s any consolation just think about this.  While we scrunch into our commuter mobiles that can fit 2 adults almost comfortably the Chinese communists are now living the American dream in China.  Enjoying the freedom and adventure gasoline gives you.  Who knows, perhaps they’ll be buying recreational vehicles in their retirement.  Spending their golden years seeing their country.  Like we once did here.  Visiting their family.  And camping out at parks and campgrounds.  Enjoying their retirement.  Something few can do now thanks to the high price of gasoline.

There’s a lot the government can do to fix this.  They can STOP doing everything that hinders the oil industry and stop equating gasoline to a drug addiction.  Let the market set the prices.  Let supply flow in to meet market demand.  And let us drive what we want to drive.

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FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH #33: “The founding fathers weren’t perfect but they were closer than most.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 28th, 2010

George Washington

George Washington owned slaves.  We all know this.  Whenever we try to revere our Founding Fathers, someone on the Left will speak up and remind us of this fact.  Of course, the context of the times means nothing to them.  We’ll forgive Robert Byrd’s racist and KKK past because of the context of his times.  But not the father of our country. 

Washington inherited his slaves.  With the property he inherited.  He wasn’t a huge fan of slavery.  In fact, he wanted to replace his slaves with paid laborers.  Because he wasn’t making a lot of money with his slaves.  There were large families.  Many old who could no longer work.  And lots of children.  This large slave holding consumed a good percentage of his crops for their subsistence.  While a smaller percentage of them contributed labor to produce those crops.  He tried to sell them.  But others were only interested in the workers.  Not the old and the young.  But he didn’t want to break up the families.  So he didn’t sell.  He continued to use slave labor.  Made less money than he could.  Because it was the decent thing to do.

His will freed his slaves after his wife’s death.  It also provided for them.  His heirs were to provide sufficient training to help these former slaves get a job.  To help them integrate into the community.  But you don’t hear that part from the Left.  Just that he owned slaves.

In the context of his times, he was a great man.  And he still is.  Despite what the Left will remind us of.  He was the father of our country.  The indispensable one.  Without him, there would have been no nation.  For he truly was “first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.”

Ben Franklin

Ben Franklin lived a long life.  So long you could say he lived a couple of lives.  Printer and entrepreneur.  Writer and publisher.  Inventor and scientist.  Diplomat, peacemaker and Founding Father.  A great man.  And, yes, with a few flaws.  He saw a prostitute or two in his youth.  Sired an illegitimate child.  William (who would go on and father his own illegitimate child).  He wasn’t the greatest husband.  He could have been a better father.  But he did a lot for this country.  Few did more.  So we can forgive him these few trespasses.  Most did.  Even John Adams would speak kindly of him.

Franklin and Adams were very different people.  Yes, Franklin wrote, “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a young man healthy, wealthy and wise.”  But as an elder diplomat in Paris, he came to see the pleasures in staying up late.  Enjoying the company of the ladies in the Paris salons.   And drinking Madeira.  He was a social butterfly.  And the people of France loved him.  The great American scientist and inventor.

When Adams joined Franklin in Paris, their personalities clashed.  Adams went to bed early.  Got up early.  And didn’t enjoy the company of the very forward (for the time) salon women of Paris.  Only one woman interested him.  His beloved Abigail.

Adams resented Franklin’s celebrity.  And had difficulty working with him.  Especially with the hours he kept.  But Franklin’s style worked.  Paris preferred him over Adams.  And they made it known to the Continental Congress.  This strained their relationship.  Adams was concerned the French were playing Franklin, for the French were very adept at diplomacy.  But in the end Franklin proved to be no slouch himself.  He maintained French funding, arms and supplies for the American cause throughout the Revolutionary War, promising all along there would be no separate peace with Great Britain (France was, after all, in it for the spoils a British defeat would provide).  But we made a separate peace.  France got little for all her efforts (other than her own revolution).  And Franklin minimized the damage to the Franco-American friendship.  Not bad for a naughty old drunk.

John Adams

John Adams is the most unappreciated of the Founding Fathers.  There’s no memorial for him in our nation’s capitol.  And yet there probably wouldn’t have been a nation without him.  So why is he the Rodney Dangerfield of our Founding Fathers?

Adams was a flawed man who knew his flaws.  He didn’t try to hide them, though.  He tried to fix them.  But he wasn’t very successful.  He was a very religious man.  And he was oh so pious.  But irascible.  And vain.  It always bothered him that others got so much credit.  For doing far less than he did.  Especially Jefferson.  These were his flaws.  Which could make him hard to like at times.  And bitter.  The story that Adams often told about the writing of the Declaration of Independence went like this.  He said Jefferson should write the Declaration of Independence, not him.  First of all, Jefferson was a Virginian.  With all the trouble in the North, it was important to show a united front.  All the colonies.  Even those not facing the wrath of the British army and navy.  Second, no one liked him (Adams).  So no one would like anything he wrote.  (Which was not true as he did help some colonies write their state constitutions.)

And sometimes he could come across as kind of an elitist.  Because he was so well learned and so well disciplined.  He was part of that old school who thought that the best and brightest should serve in government.  And some thought he was too British.  Yes, he represented the British soldiers implicated in the Boston Massacre and supported the Jay Treaty, but he was no British toady.  At a last attempt at peace and reconciliation, King George was willing to forgive many who rebelled against the crown.  But not Adams.  He was ‘too’ responsible for all that independence trouble.  He would hang.

Anyway, that’s about the extent of Adams’ flaws.  A bad personality trait or two.  Nothing scandalous.  He had a loving marriage.  He was a good father.  Highly principled.  Honest.  And just.  One of the best of the best.

James Madison                                                        

James Madison was the most erudite of the Founding Fathers.  Jefferson may have thought big thoughts.  But Madison could, too.  As well as master the details.  When it came to constitutionality in the inaugural administration, Washington didn’t turn to his Secretary of State (Jefferson).  He went to the Speaker of the House.  James Madison.

Washington had no children.  But he admired and loved Hamilton, Jefferson and Madison like sons.  And then the fighting started between his ‘children’.  Especially between Hamilton and Jefferson.  Who saw two different Americas.  This animosity would extend to the president.  And the entire Federalist ‘party’.  Jefferson and Madison saw Washington as a senile old man manipulated by a puppet master.  Hamilton.  So Jefferson and Madison led an opposition party against the Washington administration.  While Jefferson was still a member of the administration.  The Jefferson-Hamilton feud got so bad that Jefferson would eventually leave and ‘retire’ to Monticello.  Madison would carry on the opposition, taking his orders from Monticello.  Sort of a Jefferson toady.

The Jefferson-Madison hatred of the Federalists bordered on the ridiculous.  They saw everything through a prism of conspiracy.  That the Federalists were trying to reunite America with Great Britain.  Thus making them, the Republicans, fiercely pro-France.  Even during the height of the Terror of the French Revolution.  Jefferson once advised the French ambassador not to worry about Washington.  He was old and senile.  Those of right mind were clearly on France’s side.  When Washington learned of this, he never would talk to Jefferson again.

Madison kept up the hysteria.  Even during the Adams administration.  He was sure Adams wanted war with France.  And when the French insulted the Americans in the XYZ Affair (you want to talk to us French?  First you give us French a lot of money), Madison said Adams fabricated the whole thing.  So he could declare war on France.  Well, he didn’t make it up.  It happened.  And while war fever gripped the nation, Adams tried one last time.  And got peace.

Despite this Hamilton/Federalist paranoia, Madison was one of our best.  He was the father of our constitution.  He (and strangely enough Alexander Hamilton) led the ratification process.  And Madison led the fight to add the Bill of Rights.  Few men have been so instrumental in the founding of a nation.

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson may have had an intimate relationship with a slave.  Some may call it rape.  But, in the context of the times, it was no big deal.  Others were doing it.  Just like we forgive the Aztec for their human sacrifices.  In the context of their times, it was no big deal.  A lot of less-advanced people were doing it. 

Jefferson was a complex man.  Some would call him a sphinx.  He could tell lies that even he believed.  Quiet and shy, he was not the ladies man.  He looked like one, but he wasn’t.  Rejected once while in college and he was ready to live a life of celibacy.   But he did meet another woman.  Who he loved and married.  She was a frail thing, though.  And a couple of babies later, she died.  This just devastated Jefferson.  Shook him to his core.  It took months before he emerged from that deep depression.  He would never marry again.  And the female company he kept after that was often with married women.  His daughters.  Or, perhaps, a slave.  He no doubt yearned for female companionship.  But he would never open his heart again to another woman.

Perhaps he did, though.  With Sally Hemings.  His slave.  His concubine.  If the allegations are true (DNA evidence cannot conclusively prove but indicates a high probability).  She looked after his daughters.  Sort of a mother role.  Perhaps she was a surrogate wife.  If so, perhaps it was less than rape.  Maybe there were mutual feelings.  Anything is possible.  But we’ll never know.  What we do know is that if anything did happen, they hid it.  Out of shame on one part.  Perhaps fear on the other.  She was, after all, only a concubine.  Property.  And being a concubine is not being a wife, wedded or common-law.  No doubt it was a complicated ‘relationship’.  If there was a ‘relationship’.

That said, he did do a lot of good.  He was one of the greatest champions of limited government.  He was one of the gentlemen of the Enlightenment.  And there was little to fear from them.  But some of these gentlemen wanted to give the new central government great power.  Because it was the dawn of a new era.  Where like-minded gentlemen would follow them and continue to govern with disinterest.  But Jefferson had his doubts.  He didn’t trust men with power.  He didn’t trust government.  And because of him, they’d keep the beast of Big Government at bay.  For a little while.

Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton had illusions of grandeur.  And this from a man who had done some fantastic things.  Still, he always wanted more.  He was a driven man.  Probably goes back to his illegitimate birth and abandonment.  He always had something to prove.  To himself.

Some feared him.  First Jefferson.  Then Madison.  They thought he was pulling the strings in the Washington administration.  When he proposed his funding, assumption and banking plans as Treasury Secretary, Jefferson & Madison were frightened by what they saw.  A way too powerful central government.  So they formed the opposition.  Thus American party politics was born.  But neither side was as bad as the other side thought. Still, it didn’t stop Jefferson from trying to destroy Hamilton. 

Hamilton had money from a successful law practice.  And he ran the treasury department.  Someone took notice.  A guy named James Reynolds.  A con man that was in Philadelphia preying on veterans.  His wife, Maria, was beautiful.  And quite the actress.  One sob story of an indebted husband who abandoned her with his debts later, she lured Hamilton into her home.  He brought money to help her settle her debts.  But they soon ended up in her bedroom.  Once they consummated their affair, Mr. Reynolds stormed in on cue and began the extortion of Alexander Hamilton.

Well, when Jefferson learned of this juicy little morsel, he leaked it to the press.  The newspapers attacked him.  Said he was stealing money from the treasury to pay his blackmailer.  He wasn’t.  They did look, though.  And how they looked.  When they couldn’t find the evidence they wanted to find, Jefferson said that was proof positive of what a good thief Hamilton was.

But Hamilton was no thief.  Say what you will about him, but he was a man of integrity.  And the father of American capitalism.  The American dream took root and grew largely because of him.  And his financial acumen.  You know what they say.  Money talks and bull [excrement] walks.  Jefferson could write and he wrote some good stuff.  But words don’t build a nation.  Money does.  Foreign credit.  And Hamilton delivered.

Flawed but Great

Flawed men, yes.  But compare them to our contemporary politicians.  To their flaws.  To their accomplishments.  Who were/are better?  And who were/are more flawed?  More corrupt?  The comparison is ridiculous.  For there is no comparison.  Our Founding Fathers, with all of their flaws, are THE greatest generation.

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And So it Begins

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 11th, 2010

Brett Favre came out of retirement.  And you know what that means.  The NFL season has started.

Sure, he’s good.  But so are the others.  Getting into the NFL isn’t easy.  It’s a pure meritocracy.  Only the best of the best get in.  I like that.  No quotas.  No affirmative action.  Just brains, guts and will.  It just doesn’t get better than that.

This is America at its best.  Not the game so much but getting into the game.  I mean, discovering that we shouldn’t drink the water we poop in probably did more for the human race than football.  But football is one of the last vestiges of the American Dream.  Liberty.  To be free to do what you want.  Regardless of who your father was.  For if you want it bad enough.  If you sacrifice enough for it.  If you study hard enough for it.  It can be yours.

Incidentally, it was the British who discovered that you got cholera drinking from the toilet.  They traced a cholera outbreak in London to a pump drawing drinking water from the Thames River.  Which was also the people’s toilet.  A little British ingenuity fixed that, though.  Now we have separate fresh water and sewage systems.  Think about that the next time you have a glass of water after using the toilet.  Or not.  I mean, if you want to really enjoy that glass of water.  But I digress.

NFL football is the greatest sport in the world.  And, yes, it’s better than soccer.  It’s like full-contact chess.  Or combat.  It requires extreme situational awareness, real-time information processing, constant communication and precision execution.  All while getting the crap beat out of you.  It’s so tough that the attrition does not allow a long season.  Now that’s dedication and love of the sport.  It’s hard to get in and once in the price to stay in is high.  How can you not admire these men?

Let’s just hope and pray that the powers that be don’t ruin this great sport with social engineering.  Let it stay a meritocracy.

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LESSONS LEARNED #24: “You cannot lobby a politician unless he or she is for sale.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - July 29th, 2010

BUILDING A RAILROAD ain’t cheap.  It needs dump trucks of money.  Especially if it’s transcontinental.  And that’s what the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific were building.  Starting during the Civil War in 1863 (the year Vicksburg fell and Lee retreated from Gettysburg).  The Union Pacific was building west from Iowa.  And the Central pacific was building east from California. 

For the most part, Protestant, English-speaking Americans settled Texas.  Mexico had encouraged the American colonists to settle this region.  Because few Mexicans were moving north to do so.   The deal was that the colonists conduct official business in Spanish and convert to Catholicism.  They didn’t.  These and other issues soured relations between Mexico and the American Texans.  The Republic of Texas proclaimed their independence from Mexico.  America annexed Texas.  Mexico tried to get it back.  The Mexican-American War followed.  America won.  Texas became a state in 1845.  And that other Spanish/Mexican territory that America was especially interested in, California, became a state in 1850.  Hence the desire for a transcontinental railroad.

The U.S. government was very eager to connect the new state of California to the rest of America.  So they acted aggressively.  They would provide the dump trucks of money.  As America expanded, the U.S. government became the owner of more and more public land.  The sale of new lands provided a large amount of revenue for the federal government.  (Other forms of taxation (income taxes, excise taxes, etc.) grew as the amount of public lands to sell decreased.)  Land is valuable.  So they would grant the railroad companies some 44 million acres of land (i.e., land grants) for their use.  The railroad companies, then, would sell the land to raise the capital to build their railroads.  The government also provided some $60 million in federal loans.

But it didn’t end there.  The federal government came up with incentives to speed things up.  They based the amount of loans upon the miles of track laid.  The more difficult the ground, the more cash.  So, what you got from these incentives was the wrong incentive.  To lay as much track as possible on the most difficult ground they could find.  And then there were mineral rights.  The railroad would own the property they built on.  And any minerals located underneath.  So the tracks wandered and meandered to maximize these benefits.  And speed was key.  Not longevity.  Wherever possible they used wood instead of masonry.  The used the cheapest iron for track.  They even laid track on ice.   (They had to rebuild large chunks of the line before any trains would roll.)  And when the Union Pacific and Central Pacific met, they kept building, parallel to each other.  To lay more miles of track.  And get more cash from the government.

PAR FOR THE COURSE.  When government gets involved they can really mess things up.  But it gets worse.  Not only was government throwing dump trucks of American money down the toilet, they were also profiting from this hemorrhaging of public money.  As shareholders in Crédit Mobilier.

Thomas Durant of Union Pacific concocted the Crédit Mobilier Scandal.  As part of the government requirements to build the transcontinental railroad, Union Pacific had to sell stock at $100 per share.  Problem was, few believed the railroad could be built.  So there were few takers to buy the stock at $100 per share.  So he created Crédit Mobilier to buy that stock.  Once they did, they then resold the stock on the open market at prevailing market prices.  Which were well below $100 per share.  Union Pacific met the government requirements thanks to the willingness of Crédit Mobilier to buy their stock.  The only thing was, both companies had the same stockholders.  Crédit Mobilier was a sham company.  Union Pacific WAS Crédit Mobilier.  And it gets worse.

Union Pacific chose Crédit Mobilier to build their railroad.  Crédit Mobilier submitted highly inflated bills to Union Pacific who promptly paid them.  They then submitted the bills to the federal government (plus a small administration fee) for reimbursement.  Which the federal government promptly paid.  Crédit Mobilier proved to be highly profitable.  This pleased their shareholders.  Which included members of Congress who approved the overbillings as wells as additional funding for cost overruns.  No doubt Union Pacific/Crédit Mobilier had very good friends in Washington.  Including members of the Grant administration.  Until the party ended.  The press exposed the scandal during the 1872 presidential campaign.  Outraged, the federal government conducted an investigation.  But when you investigate yourself for wrongdoing you can guess the outcome.  Oh, there were some slaps on the wrists, but government came out relatively unscathed.  But the public money was gone.  As is usually the case with political graft.  Politicians get rich while the public pays the bill.

(Incidentally, the investigation did not implicate Ulysses Grant.  However, because members of his administration were implicated, this scandal tarnished his presidency.  Grant, though, was not corrupt.  He was a great general.  But not a shrewd politician.  Where there was a code of honor in the military, he found no such code in politics.  Friends used his political naivety for personal profit.  If you read Grant’s personal memoirs you can get a sense of Grant’s character.  Many consider his memoirs among the finest ever written.  He was honest and humble.  A man of integrity.  An expert horseman, he was reduced to riding in a horse and buggy in his later years.  Once, while president, he was stopped for speeding through the streets of Washington.  When the young policeman saw who he had pulled over, he apologized profusely to the president and let him go.  Grant told the young man to write him the ticket.  Because it was his job.  And the right thing to do.  For no man, even the president, was above the law.)

THE FINANCIAL WORLD fell apart in 2007.  And this happened because someone changed the definition of the American Dream from individual liberty to owning a house.  Even if you couldn’t afford to buy one.  Even if you couldn’t qualify for a mortgage.  Even, if you should get a mortgage, you had no chance in hell of making your payments.

Home ownership would be the key to American prosperity.  Per the American government.  Build homes and grow the economy.   That was the official mantra.  So Washington designed American policy accordingly.  Lenders came up with clever financing schemes to put ever more people into new homes.  And they were clever.  But left out were the poorest of the poor.  Even a small down payment on the most modest of homes was out of their range.  Proponents of these poor said this was discriminatory.  Many of the inner city poor in the biggest of cities were minority.  People cried racism in mortgage lending.  Government heard.  They pressured lenders to lend to these poor people.  Or else.  Lenders were reluctant.  With no money for down payments and questionable employment to service these mortgages, they saw great financial risk.  So the government said not to worry.  We’ll take that risk.  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would guarantee certain ‘risky’ loans as long as they met minimum criteria.  And they would also buy risky mortgages and get them off their books.  Well, with no risk, the lenders would lend to anyone.  They made NINJA loans (loans to people with No Income, No Job, and no Assets).  And why not?  If any loan was likely to default it was a NINJA loan.  But if Freddie or Fannie bought before the default, what did a lender care?  And even they defaulted before, Fannie and Freddie guaranteed the loan.  How could a lender lose?

Once upon a time, there was no safer loan than a home mortgage.  Why?  Because it would take someone’s lifesavings to pay for the down payment (20% of the home price in the common conventional mortgage).  And people lived in these houses.  In other words, these new home owners had a vested interested to service those mortgages.  Someone who doesn’t put up that 20% down payment with their own money, though, has less incentive to service that mortgage.  They can walk away with little financial loss.

ARE YOU GETTING the picture?  With this easy lending there was a housing boom.  Then a bubble.  With such easy money, housing demand went up.  As did prices.  So housing values soared.  Some poor people were buying these homes with creative financing (used to make the unqualified qualify for a mortgage).  We call these subprime mortgages.  They include Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARMs).  These have adjustable interest rates.  This removes the risk of inflation.  So they have lower interest rates than fixed-rate mortgages.  If there is inflation (and interest rates go up), they adjust the interest rate on the mortgage up.  Other clever financing included interest only mortgages.  These include a balloon payment at the end of a set term of the full principal.  These and other clever instruments put people into houses who could only afford the smallest of monthly payments.  The idea was that they would refinance after an ‘introductory’ period.  And it would work as long as interest rates did not go up.  But they went up.  And house prices fell.  The bubble burst.  Mortgages went underwater (people owed more than the houses were worth).  Some people struggled to make their payments and simply couldn’t.  Others with little of their own money invested simply walked away.  The subprime industry imploded.  So what happened, then, to all those subprime mortgages?

Fannie and Freddie bought these risky mortgages.  And securitized them.  They chopped and diced them and created investment devices called Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs).  These are fancy bonds backed by those ‘safe’ home mortgages.  Especially safe with those Fannie and Freddie guarantees.  They were as safe as government bonds but more profitable.  As long as people kept making their mortgage payments.

But risk is a funny thing.  You can manage it.  But you can’t get rid of it.  Interest rates went up.  The ARMs reset their interest rates.  People defaulted.  The value of the subprime mortgages that backed those CDOs collapsed, making the value of the CDOs collapse.  And everyone who bought those CDOs took a hit.  Investors around the globe shared those losses. 

Those subprime loans were very risky.  Lenders would not make the loans unless someone else took that risk.  The government took that risk in the guise of Fannie and Freddie.  Who passed on that risk to the investors buying what they thought were safe investments.  Who saw large chunks of their investment portfolios go ‘puff’ into thin air.

SO WHAT ARE Freddie and Fannie exactly?  They are government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs).  They key word here is government.  Once again, you put huge piles of money and government together and the results are predictable.  In an effort to extend the ‘American Dream’ to as many Americans as possible, the federal oversight body for Freddie and Fannie lowered the minimum criteria for making those risky loans.  Even excluding an applicant’s credit worthiness from the application process (so called ‘no-doc’ loans were loans made without any documentation to prove the credit worthiness of the applicant.)  To encourage further reckless lending.  Ultimately causing the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. 

And, of course, members of Congress did well during the good times of the subprime boom.  They got large campaign contributions.  Some sweetheart mortgagee deals.  A grateful voting bloc.  And other largess from the profitable subprime industry.  Government did well.  Just as they did during the Crédit Mobilier Scandal.  And the American taxpayer gets to pay the bill.  Some things never change.  Government created both of these scandals.  As government is wont to do whenever around huge piles of money.  For when it comes to stealing from the government, someone in the government has to let it happen.  For it takes a nod and a wink from someone in power to let such massive fraud to take place. 

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