The History of Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army and the English Civil War were not that Distant
Benjamin Franklin said the first responsibility of every citizen is to question authority. That was kind of America’s thing. Giving the finger to the governing authority. Figuratively. And sometimes literally. Starting with King George III. One of our earliest flags said, “Don’t tread on me.” This flag had a coiled rattle snake on it. Franklin thought the rattle snake was a good symbol of the American people. If the British left us alone this snake would cause no harm. If you get too close this snake will warn you to back off by shaking its rattle. If you don’t heed this warning and threaten this snake it will strike you with lethal force.
This problem with authority almost lost the Revolutionary War for us. At first American soldiers didn’t like following orders. For if they could rebel against their king they could just as easily rebel against a commanding officer. George Washington stopped that. But this mistrust of authority was systemic. The state governments did not trust the Continental Congress. That distant central power. Anymore than they trusted that other distant central power. The British monarchy.
So the Continental Congress was woefully underfunded throughout the Revolutionary War. Finding it very difficult to supply the Continental Army. Or pay her soldiers. Something else the states didn’t trust. A standing army. For the history of Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army and the English Civil War were not that distant. Or the peace that followed. Where that army helped keep the new government in power. And unleashed great woe and suffering to the Catholics in Ireland and Scotland.
Kings don’t suffer Personal Attacks in the Newspapers like an Elected President Does
So the Americans stood up to that distant power. And to her ministers in the American colonies. Not afraid to speak truth to power. To speak out about the abuses of King George in the colonies. Which Thomas Jefferson summarized in the Declaration of Independence. They spoke contemptuously of the ruling British authorities. When they won their independence they transferred this contempt to the new federal government. The states trusted the new central authority in the United States little more than they trusted the one on the far side of the Atlantic. And many fought as passionately against it as they fought against King George.
Even those in the new central government didn’t trust each other. Political parties formed. Alexander Hamilton led the Federalists. Who wanted a strong central government. And Thomas Jefferson led the Republicans. Who wanted a weak central government. Keeping the power in the states. Hamilton and Jefferson hated each other. Despised each other. Believed that the other was everything that was wrong in the new nation. And they attacked each other viciously in the newspapers through their surrogates. Which were extensions of these political parties. So if you wanted fair and balanced news all you had to do was read at least two newspapers. Weigh the vitriol and lies in each to arrive at the truth. Which was somewhere in between.
And these papers were pretty nasty. Even attacking the most beloved man in the country. George Washington. Calling him old and senile. Secretly British. A mere puppet controlled by that evil puppet master Alexander Hamilton. George Washington could have been king with the blessings of the American people. Instead he chose to keep the United States a republic. And suffered horribly for it. For kings don’t suffer the personal attacks in the newspapers like an elected president does. This was representative government. Where the people are sovereign. And the president is a servant of the people. Not the other way around. Like in a monarchy.
You can call LBJ and George W. Bush Murderers but you can’t ask President Obama Questions he doesn’t want to Answer
People marveled at how George Washington stepped down from power after his second term as president. Even King George said that if he did that he would be the greatest man in the world. And he did. Proving the American system. But while others marveled about how he could give up power after so short a time in office Washington more likely marveled about how long he was able to stay in office. For he hated the politics. And the newspaper attacks. He was anxious to step down. He was giddy during the transfer of power. Happy to be going home. While poor John Adams had to deal with all the politics. The newspaper attacks. And the lies.
Contrast this to President Obama. Who gets treated by the media with kid gloves. Who don’t question him at all. Or his administration. It being more like a monarchy than a republic. After 4 Americans died in Benghazi the president offered no explanation. And the media did not pressure him for one. When Congress finally got to question the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, they asked her who was responsible for the failure to provide for the security for our diplomats in Benghazi? Who was responsible for not coming to their aid while they were under attack? And who was responsible for the lie about it being a spontaneous uprising in response to a YouTube video? She only yelled “what difference does it make?” And that was that. The media reported that the Republicans were mean to her. And never pressed her for answers. Or President Obama.
Even the people aren’t demanding answers. Which is sad. For once upon a time the people chanted, “Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?” Making the political pressure of the Vietnam War so unbearable that he refused to run for a second term. But where is this outrage over President Obama’s use of drones to kill terrorists as well as the innocent civilians and children around them? Or the targeting of American citizens without any due process? We hear nothing from the people. Or the media. The same people and media who wanted to try the 9/11 mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, in a U.S. court not far from Ground Zero during the Bush Administration.
Why the double standard? Why was it okay to question authority in the Sixties and Seventies? No matter who was in power. But after that it was only permissible to question authority when Republicans were in power? Why is it you can call LBJ and George W. Bush murderers but you can’t ask President Obama questions he doesn’t want to answer? When Dr. Benjamin Carson spoke truth to power at the National Prayer Breakfast criticizing Obamacare and the president’s economic policies the Left attacked him for not showing deference to the president. How dare he exercise free speech in a public setting they asked? A far cry from “Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?” No. This president we’re supposed to show deference to. As if he was a king. Why? Apparently now that the anti-establishment types are running government we are no longer to question authority but embrace it. So they can do whatever they want to do. And change the country however they want to change it. While that whole questioning authority thing was okay when they were on the outside looking in. But now that they are on the inside looking out we need to question less and obey more.
Tags: Alexander Hamilton, anti-establishment, Benghazi, Benjamin Franklin, central authority, central government, central power, Continental Congress, English Civil War, federal government, Federalists, George W. Bush, George Washington, Jefferson, King George III, LBJ, media, monarchy, New Model Army, newspaper, Oliver Cromwell, President Obama, problem with authority, question authority, Republicans, Revolutionary War, speak truth to power, Thomas Jefferson
Franklin understood Wealth was not Money but the Talent and Ability of the Entrepreneurs and Artisans
Benjamin Franklin was born into the middle class. A proud member of what he called the middling people. Entrepreneurs. And the very definition of what it meant to be American. Hard-working people. Who built success based on diligence, frugality and honesty. People who strived to live a virtuous life. Even if they sometimes faltered. Franklin believed doing good works led to salvation. He believed in God and was tolerant of all religions. Especially if they were charitable and helped others, making the world a better place. So when he could he gave back to his community. And to his country. He would die a famous rich man. But he always thought of himself as that middle class printer. Who worked hard. And tried to be virtuous. Sometimes he failed. But he did a lot of good along the way.
When he arrived in Philadelphia he had only one Dutch dollar. He secured employment with a printer where he worked with industry and frugality. From his first days as an apprentice. To when he was a small business owner. Later, on a return trip from London, he came up with four resolutions to live a better life. 1.) It is necessary for me to be extremely frugal for some time, till I have paid what I owe. 2.) To endeavor to speak the truth in every instance; to give nobody expectations that are not likely to be answered, but aim at sincerity in every word and action—the most amiable excellence in a rational being. 3.) To apply myself industriously to whatever business I take in hand, and not divert my mind from my business by any foolish project of suddenly growing rich; for industry and patience are the surest means of plenty. 4.) I resolve to speak ill of no man whatever.
When Franklin opened his own business with a partner he put in long hours. He worked late into the evening (even working overnight when the work required it). And started work before most others started their workday. Being a businessman he understood money. And the cost of borrowing. He favored the expansion of the money supply to lower interest rates to lower the cost of borrowing for business. However, he also understood wealth was not money. But the talent and ability of the entrepreneurs and artisans. Those middling people who worked with industry and frugality who offered goods and services for sale. Purchased largely by other middling people. The basic barter system improved by money.
Franklin believed in Limited Government and worried about too much Social Engineering
When Franklin became a newspaper publisher (i.e., writer/printer/marketer of a newspaper) he refused to become partisan. In part because he didn’t want to limit his income. But also for another reason. He believed in free expression. And said, “Printers are educated in the belief that when men differ in opinion, both sides ought equally to have the advantage of being heard by the public; and that when Truth and Error have fair play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter.” Words framed and hung in many a newsroom since. But he wouldn’t print everything. He refrained from printing things that were scurrilous. Immoral. Or might hurt someone personally.
Franklin believed in rugged individualism. He worked hard to acquire wealth. And after he did he helped his community. He helped organize volunteer fire companies. Suggested a progressive tax on property to pay for a full-time police force. Improved the post office. Organized the Pennsylvania Militia during King George’s War against the French and their Indian allies in America. (The local militia company elected Franklin to command it but he declined, saying he was unqualified and, instead, served as a common soldier.) He retired from his printing and media empire at 42. Set for life financially. Then he became a scientist. An inventor. Then statesman. With always an eye to detail. And favored being practical over being rigidly dogmatic.
Franklin believed in limited government. And had a problem with authority. But he also believed in order. And a place for government. He believed in public-private partnerships and created the matching grant (matching a sum raised privately with an equal sum from the government). He believed in charity. Offering a helping hand. And he was a civil activist. Always tried to improve his community. However, he worried about too much social engineering. And unintended consequences. Even worried that by helping the poor too much government could make them dependent. And lazy. For he built his wealth after arriving in Philadelphia with one Dutch dollar in his pocket. It was hard work that made his success. Not charity or dependence.
If Benjamin Franklin were here Today he would likely Endorse the Republicans in the 2012 Election
Franklin would go on to be one of the strongest supporters of Independence from Britain. He helped edit the Declaration of Independence. Sat in the Constitutional Convention. And signed both documents. As well as the Franco-American treaties bringing the French into the American Revolution. And the Treaty of Paris officially ending the American Revolution. He was a Founding Father. Perhaps as indispensable as George Washington. So if Franklin were here today what would he think about the country he helped create? And who would he endorse in the 2012 election?
First of all he would be appalled at the size of the federal government. Which would be unrecognizable to him from the limited government he helped create. He would find the taxes and regulations on business suffocating to the entrepreneurial spirit. Dissuading who knows how many from working those long hours. Like he did. He spent his time doing what he loved. Printing, publishing, writing, etc. Not hiring lawyers and accountants to help him pay his taxes and comply with regulations. He would like the cheap credit available to business but he would have been shocked by the level of government spending and the level of the federal debt. For the federal government is anything but frugal. And the size of the welfare state, the amount of people receiving federal benefits, would have confirmed his fears about too much social engineering. The blatant bias in the media would have disturbed his nonpartisan senses greatly. Finally, being someone who rose from the middle class and built his own wealth he would have been greatly offended by the class warfare in politics today.
So who would Franklin endorse in the 2012 election? Well, the Democrats want to make government bigger. They want to increase taxes and regulations. With Obamacare being a big one that will discourage many small businesses from growing. The current Democrat administration has been the least frugal of all administrations. Their spending having even caused a credit downgrade. Their stimulus bill did not benefit the middling people. Instead, most of that money went to rich Democrat donors. They want to increase an already immense welfare state. Which under the current administration has set a record for the number of people on food stamps. Other than one cable channel (FOX News) and talk radio most media has a liberal bias. Where truth and error do NOT have fair play. And it’s the Democrats that push class warfare. Who want to transfer even more of the tax burden to the wealthy. Even though the top 10% of earners are already paying about 70% of the taxes. While the Republicans want to cut taxes and regulations. Cut spending. Shrink the size of government. And provide a business-friendly environment. So others may start a business and rise up from the middle class. Who can then give back to their community. Like Franklin did. So it is likely that if Franklin were here today he would endorse the party that was closer to his political and business philosophies. The Republicans. And the Romney-Ryan ticket.
Tags: 2012 election, artisans, Benjamin Franklin, charity, class warfare, Democrats, dependence, entrepreneur, Franklin, frugality, good works, industry, limited government, middle class, middling people, newspaper, newspaper publisher, Philadelphia, printer, publisher, regulations, Republicans, rugged individualism, small business owner, social engineering, taxes, taxes and regulations, unintended consequences, virtuous, welfare state