FT218: “The withholding tax is the greatest sin government ever perpetrated against the people.” —Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 18th, 2014

Fundamental Truth

The tariff was the funding source for most of government for about a century.

Once upon a time there was no federal income tax.  No estate tax.  No gift tax.  No payroll tax.  No capital gains tax.  And no corporate tax.  Taxes we take for granted today didn’t exist a century or so ago.  The country was a lot leaner back then.  People kept most of their money.  And took care of their families.

The federal government used to fund everything thing they did with tariffs.  A tax on imports.  Paid in ports.  As ships unloaded their goods.  Far away from most people.  And few people complained.  Our first excise tax was a different story.  A 7 cent per gallon of whiskey incited the Whiskey Rebellion.  After fighting the Revolutionary War to escape the oppressive taxation policies of Great Britain the people were in no mood for a new tax.  The whiskey tax lasted for about a decade.  Then they repealed it.

This left tariffs as the funding source for most of government for about a century.  But even that grew controversial.  And began the divisions between North and South.  The North protected its industry with protective tariffs on iron products, textiles (wool and cotton) and agricultural goods.  Shipped from the more industrialized Britain.  Which Britain responded to with tariffs of their own.  On cotton and other agricultural products grown in the South.  So the more the North protected their industries the more difficult it made for the South to export their raw goods.

In 1913 the progressives reintroduced the income tax and taxed the rich at 1%.

This wasn’t the only difference of opinion the North and South had.  And their differences resulted in war.  The North was able to win the American Civil War with its expansive industry.  But the war devastated the country.  Especially the South.  Which lost about 8.6% of her population.  To get an idea of what an 8.6% population decline is consider this.  That percentage of the current U.S. population is approximately 27 million.  So the losses the South suffered were similar to what the Soviets lost on the Eastern Front during World War II.

The South may have lost more of its population.  But the North suffered nearly the same number of war dead.  She just had a larger population to begin with.  To run all of that industry that won the war.  America’s first modern war was a costly one.  And one that President Lincoln had to turn to a new source of revenue.  The federal income tax.  Which taxed the rich.  At 3%.  Then it taxed the super rich at 5%.  But after they paid down the war debt they repealed America’s first income tax.

Then came the progressives.  And their taxes.  In 1913 they reintroduced an income tax.  Taxing the rich at 1%.  And the super rich at 6%.  To fund an expanding federal government.  Then came World War I.  To fund the war they increased the tax rate on the rich to 15%.  And the super rich at 77%.  The top marginal rate fell during the Twenties.   But FDR raised it back up during the Great Depression.  Until it reached 94%.  Where for every dollar they earned in and above the top income bracket they got to keep only 6 cents.

Few would be able to write a check on tax day to pay their full tax bill.

Then came all the other taxes.  And they just kept coming. Our tax bill grew to staggering amounts.  Which posed a problem for the taxing authorities.  As people just didn’t keep that kind of money around.  They worked.  They raised their families.  And what little they had left they put into the bank for their retirement.  Making it very difficult for them to pay their tax bill when it came.  Especially when it was 30% or more of their entire income.  So what to do?

The Founding Fathers created a nation out of a tax rebellion.  And then when that nation levied its first excise tax they got a little rebellion of their own.  Being opposed to taxes is part of the American DNA.  So the taxing authorities had to somehow hide the large amount of taxes we were paying.  That is, they had to reduce the transparency of these taxes.  For if you don’t know what you’re paying in taxes you really can’t get mad at paying high taxes.

Enter the withholding tax.  The greatest sin government ever perpetrated against the people.  For it takes our money before we ever get it.  Conditioning us to accept ‘net’ pay as the norm.  And making ‘gross’ pay some meaningless payroll jargon.  Because you can’t spend ‘gross’ pay.  You can only spend ‘net’ pay.  Which is the only pay people care about.  Making it not only easier to hide the soaring amount of taxes people were paying.  But because it’s so easy to hide what we’re paying they could raise those taxes to confiscatory heights.  Because we never have that money in our hands.  We never see it.  It goes from our employer to the taxing authorities.  Which is the only way they could collect these soaring amounts.  For few would be able to write a check on tax day to pay their full tax bill.  As people just don’t keep that kind of money around.

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FT214: “The far left has been and always will be an aristocratic-thinking, privilege-seeking people.” —Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 21st, 2014

Fundamental Truth

Lawyers make a lot of Money without Contributing anything Tangible to Society

An attorney was sitting in his office late one night when Satan appeared before him.  Satan said, “I have a proposition for you.  You can win every case you try for the rest of your life.  Your clients will adore you, your colleagues will stand in awe of you and you will make embarrassing sums of money.  All I want in exchange is your soul, your wife’s soul, your children’s souls, the souls of your parents, grandparents, parents-in-law, the souls of all your friends and law partners.”  The lawyer thought about this for a moment then asked, “So, what’s the catch?”

That’s funny, isn’t it?  Lawyers.  Ambulance chasers.  The butt of so many jokes.  Why?  Well, some will say they deserve it.  Because they do chase ambulances.  And will pass out their business cards if they’re on a sinking ship.  Because sinking ships are good for lawsuits.  And lawyers love to sue.  For they can make a lot of money without contributing anything tangible to society.  All they do is get between two parties when large sums of money change hands.  And put a portion of that money into their pockets.  That’s how they earn their living.  Taking money away from others.  They’re parasites.  Just to get rich.  And the big tort lawyers (those who sue people and businesses) get really rich.  Allowing them to live very privileged lives.

Take a class action lawsuit.  Where they bring a lot of wronged people together to sue a large corporation.  The old David and Goliath thing.  A little person can never take on a big corporation.  But a whole class of them can.  When represented by a tort lawyer.  Who liken themselves as heroes of the little guy.  Taking the big corporation on to make them pay for all the horrible things they’ve done to their clients.  But who do they really help?  Let’s say they win a judgment from a big corporation of $250,000,000.  That’s a lot of money.  From that sum they take their cut.  Let’s say 50%.  Leaving $125 million for the people the corporation wronged.  That’s a lot of money.  So the people won, too, right?  Not really.  For there are a lot of people represented in these class actions.  Let’s say 5 million in our example.  So if you divide the $125 million by 5 million that comes to $25 per person.  So, again, who did the lawyers really help?  The lawyers.  Which is why there are so many lawyer jokes.

In the Private Sector if you want to spend Half of your Life Retired you have to Pay for It

Lawyers vote Democrat.  Because they like being privileged people.  They don’t want the laws changing that allow them to get so rich when money exchanges hands.  Which is why they donate heavily to the Democrat Party.  And don’t donate to the Republicans.  Who complain about the high costs of frivolous lawsuits to businesses in an overly litigious society.  It’s so bad that a footnote in the financial statements of a corporation about a lawsuit is not that big of a deal.  Why?  Because so many corporations are sued that investors are more surprised to see one that isn’t being sued.  This is why Republicans want tort reform.  And pass ‘loser-pays’ into law.  Like many other countries have.  Where the loser in court pays for the attorney fees for the side that wins.  Which would greatly cut down on frivolous lawsuits.  And cut the costs businesses incur from these frivolous lawsuits that they pass on to their customers.  So the lawyers donate to Democrats.  To prevent any tort reform that would change the easy way lawyers have of getting rich.

It’s the world’s oldest profession.  Screwing people for money.  But lawyers aren’t the only ones seeking privilege.  There are a lot of others, too.  Interestingly, they, too, support the Democrat Party.  Such as the United Autoworkers.  They donate heavily to the Democrat Party to keep labor laws favorable to unions.  To make it more difficult for their nonunion competition.  And to use the power of government to force people to pay may for a union-made car.  Allowing their union members to live better lives than those outside of the UAW.  And when even that doesn’t allow General Motors to pay its bills when selling a record number of cars the UAW goes to government for a bailout of their woefully underfunded pension fund.  So their union members can continue to have a more generous retirement at an earlier age than those outside of the UAW.

Teacher unions seek privilege, too.  You hear a lot about how the teachers don’t earn that much.  But then again, they don’t work that much.  Getting 3 months off in the summer.  So you can’t compare their wages to people who don’t get the 3 summer months off.  But for teachers it’s not so much about the paycheck.  It’s the benefits.  Very generous health insurance coverage.  And pensions.  Which have gone the way of the dodo in the private sector.  Because people are just living too long into retirement.  When they first set up these pensions people were dying in their sixties.  The actuaries never saw people living into their eighties as common.  So in the private sector if you want to spend half of your life retired you have to pay for it.  And you work as long as necessary to fund the retirement you want.  The union pensions just can’t work these days as they once did.  Which is why teacher unions like the United Autoworkers and lawyers support the Democrat Party.  They want to keep their privileged lives.

The Wealth Transfers of the Welfare State give Democrats Money and Privilege

Of course privilege is nothing new to the Democrat Party.  They have long stood for privilege.  Even now.  As the Democrats provide themselves all kinds of exceptions from the Affordable Care Act.  For more expensive and lower quality health insurance is good for the masses.  But not for the privileged elite.  Or their special friends who support them so generously with campaign donations.  Congress has had a history of exempting themselves from the laws they pass for us.  It took the Republican winning of the House in the 1994 midterm elections to change that.  The first Republican-controlled House since 1952 required Congress to be held to the same laws as the rest of us.  A bitter pill for Democrats to swallow.  For their feelings of privilege go way back.

The Democrat Party can trace its pedigree back to Thomas Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican Party.  The party of the slave-owning planter elite.  Who from day one fought for their privilege starting with the Three-Fifths Compromise.  To give them a greater say in the new national government than their voting population allowed.  The planter elite’s South turned into an Old World aristocracy.  With great manors for the landed aristocracy.  And vast lands worked by slaves.  Very similar to feudalism in the Old World.  And something they fought hard to keep.  Their privilege.  The Southern Democrats used the power of the national government (such as the Fugitive Slave Act) to interfere with state laws in the North.  To protect their feudalism by keeping slavery legal as long as they could while the north was industrializing and modernizing.  With paid laborers.  When they lost control of the House due to the growing population in the North they turned to war.  Saying that the national government was interfering with state laws in the South.  And getting poor southern farmers who owned no slaves to fight and die so the southern aristocracy could live on.

When the Southern Democrats lost the American Civil War they scrambled to maintain their privilege.  They unleashed a terror on the freed slaves and Republicans with the KKK.  The Democrats then wrote Jim Crowe Laws.  Separate but equal.  Government-enforced racial segregation.  During debate of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 Democrat and former Exalted Cyclops of the KKK Robert Byrd filibustered for 14 hours.  To keep the South segregated.  With power and privilege in a new aristocracy.  Centered not on land but political power and cronyism.  Even becoming the party for blacks as ironic as that is.  Trading government programs for votes.  And destroying the black family in the process.  Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) replaced black fathers with government.  And moved single mothers and their children into housing projects that became infested with drugs and crime.  But this large (and failed) welfare state transferred a lot of wealth to the Democrats.  Giving them money and privilege.   That they can use to maintain their power.  By taking care of those who take care of them.  Lawyers, the UAW, teacher unions and other privilege seekers.  For nothing has changed on the left.  They have been and always will be an aristocratic-thinking, privilege-seeking people who want to live better than the rest of us.  While we pay for their privileged lives.

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Abortion and White Supremacy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 27th, 2014

Politics 101

Slavery made the South more like an Old World Aristocracy than a New World Meritocracy

Democrats don’t like people of color.  Never have.  The Democrat Party’s lineage goes back to Thomas Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican Party.  Thomas Jefferson was one of our Founding Fathers who, as the Democrats love to remind us, owned slaves.  In fact, the Democratic-Republican Party was the party of the planter elite.  And of slavery.  While the opposition party, the Federalists, whose members included George Washington, John Adams and Alexander Hamilton, preferred manufacturing and commerce for the future of the United States.  Not just plantations and slavery.

It was these southern planters who made the Three-Fifths Compromise necessary.  Slaves couldn’t vote.  So the North didn’t want to count them in determining the number of representatives a state had in the House of Representatives.  The planter elite did not like this.  As the anti-slave North had more free people and would end up controlling the government.  Possibly passing anti-slave legislation.  Well, without the southern states there would be no United States.  So they compromised and counted some of their slaves.  Giving the planter elite greater power in the new federal government than their population would otherwise have allowed.  And to seal the deal they agreed not to discuss the issue of slavery again for 20 years.

The minority power in the South, the planter elite, who were Democratic-Republicans, brought a lot of slaves to the United States during that 20 year moratorium on the slavery issue.  Swelling the slave population in the South.  But once the 20 years were up Congress banned the slave trade.  So from that point forward all slaves would have to be born on U.S. soil.  But the minority power in the South had built their little fiefdoms by then.  Owning large estates.  With their lands worked by their large slaveholdings.  Making the South more like an Old World aristocracy than a New World meritocracy.  And the planter elite liked having so much power vested in so few of their hands.  From having their few numbers control the federal government.  To their absolute control of so many human lives on their plantations.  They were an elite few.  A superior people.  And they liked it.

The South used the Power of the Federal Government to Suppress States’ Rights in the North with the Fugitive Slave Act

Over time as the north pursued the dreams of Washington, Adams and Hamilton immigration began to swell the population in the industrial North.  Leading to the South losing their control over the House of Representatives.  And threatening their elitism.  By then the Democratic-Republican Party had become the Democrat Party.  Which pushed to protect the institution of slavery.  To protect their southern aristocracy.  And their elevated status as a superior people.  They used the power of the federal government where they could.  Such as passing the Fugitive Slave Act to force free states against their will to return free blacks in their states to slavery.  Then they argued that their states’ rights were at risk with all of the North’s abolition talk.  Where the North might one day do what the South did to them.  Use the federal government to force a state to do something against their will.  Such as they did with the Fugitive Slave Act.

Their fight for the Senate led to further compromises to keep the union together while accommodating the planter elite.  The Missouri Compromise (1820) had prohibited slavery in the new territory in the Louisiana Territory above approximately the southern border of Missouri (but permitted it within the borders of Missouri).  Each state gets two senators.  So with the House lost the Democrats needed more of the new states from the Louisiana Territory entered into the Union as slave states.  Even those above the southern border of Missouri. Which they did with the Kansas–Nebraska Act.  Which repealed the Missouri Compromise and replaced it with popular sovereignty.  Where the people would chose whether they wanted to be a slave state or a free state.  Setting off a mad rush by both sides to get to these territories so they could vote the slave status of these new states their way.  Leading to a bloody civil war in Kansas.

Then another blow fell to the southern aristocracy.  Abraham Lincoln.  With the election of Republican Abraham Lincoln the southern aristocracy lost not only the House of Representatives but the presidency as well.  Worse, the Republicans were an anti-slavery party.  So even if they were somehow able to hold onto the Senate the Republicans in power would challenge the planter elite’s supremacy.  Break up their fiefdoms.  And challenge their power.  Something this elite few were willing to fight to prevent.  Well, they were willing to have others fight for them.  To maintain the social order in the South.  Leading to cries about states’ rights.  And an over-powerful federal government.  Despite their having used the power of the federal government to suppress states’ rights in the North with the Fugitive Slave Act.

Democrats see Benefits for Blacks as a Necessary Evil to keep them in Power

Most southerners were poor farmers.  Who owned no slaves.  Yet they rose to fight for states’ rights.  And to protect the South from northern aggression.  At least, that was what the planter elite had them believe.  Who sent many of these poor farmers to their deaths in the American Civil War.  When it was over approximately 8.6% of the South’s population was dead.  By comparison World War II killed approximately 405,399 Americans.  However, if we had suffered the same death rate as the South did in the American Civil War our World War II dead would have totaled over 12 million.  This is what the southern aristocracy was willing to—and did—sacrifice to maintain their power and privilege.  Their supremacy over other people.  Especially over their black slaves.

Such a feeling of superiority allows you to do some pretty horrible things.  Just review the history of Nazi Germany to see some of the atrocities a ‘master race’ can do.  In the post-war South the Democrats did not lose with grace.  They resented the martial law in the South after the war.  And they hated Republican rule.  Protecting their former slaves.  Even allowing them to run for government office.  It was all too much for the fallen southern aristocracy.  To remind people of the proper order of southern society they formed the KKK.  And unleashed a terror across the South.  Killing their former slaves.  And Republicans.  To codify their white supremacy the Democrats turned to the legislature.  And passed laws to segregate the ‘inferior blacks’ from their superior selves.  Jim Crowe Laws.  Separate but equal.  With the emphasis on ‘separate’.  In time pressure grew against the southern Democrats.  But they held strong in Congress.  Fighting against any civil rights legislation.  Including the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Where Democrat Senator Robert Byrd (and former Exalted Cyclops of the KKK) filibustered against the Civil Rights Act for 14 hours and 13 minutes.  To keep the blacks segregated from their superior selves.

Things are a lot better these days.  But Democrat feelings of superiority die hard.  Even though they would have us believe they like blacks today.  Despite their past hatred of blacks.  And their seething anger of having lost them from their plantations.  But they found a way to ‘get them back on the plantation’.  By making them dependent on government.  In exchange for their vote.  Which keeps them in power.  Back where they believe they belong.  And are entitled to be.  Because they are a superior people.  So benefits for blacks are a necessary evil to Democrats.  For they still don’t like them.  As evidenced by where they live.  Where some of the richest Democrats (such as Nancy Pelosi) live in the whitest of neighborhoods.  And their apparent racial purification of society.  Through the guise of women’s rights.  The most important thing to women, according to Democrats, is abortion.  And they do their best to make abortion readily available.  Especially to women of color.  Like in New York City.  And Mississippi.  Where black women are having far more abortions than white women.  Making America whiter.  More like the neighborhood where Nancy Pelosi lives.  And more like the color Democrats have fought to keep America since the Three-Fifths Compromise.  The Fugitive Slave Act.  Popular Sovereignty.  The KKK.  And Jim Crowe Laws.

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Georgia Specialty Plate to Include Confederate Battle Flag

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 23rd, 2014

Week in Review

Between combat and disease the American Civil War claimed some 620,000 lives.  The bloodiest war in U.S. history.  Killing more than all the wars from the Revolutionary War through the Vietnam War.  The North lost about 360,000.  While the South lost about 260,000.  So the North suffered about 100,000 more dead than the South.  However, the population of the South at the end of the war was approximately 3,000,000.  While the north had about 29,000,000.  So as a percentage of their population the North lost about 1.3% of her population.  While the South lost about 8.6% of her population.  Which is why some in the South want to honor their war dead (see Group puts Confederate flag on Ga. specialty tag by AP posted 2/19/2014 on Yahoo! News).

Georgia officials have once again approved a specialty license plate featuring the Confederate battle flag, infuriating civil rights advocates and renewing a debate among those who believe the symbol honors Confederate heritage and those who see it as racially charged.

Southerners call the American Civil War the War of Northern Aggression.  In which they fought for states’ rights.  After their control of the federal government faded thanks to the population growth in the north.  They lost control of the House.  And the only way to keep control of the Senate was by admitting new states into the union as slave states.  Finally, the Fugitive Slave Law was the last straw for some in the north.  Requiring them to capture and return runaway slaves even though those slaves were legally free in those northern states.  So a large federal government was good when it helped southern slave owners.  And states’ rights were bad when it didn’t help southern slave owners.

The rich southern planters controlled the government in the South.  They had the wealth.  And the slaves.  Their lives were like the lives shown on the plantations in the movie Gone with the Wind.  A landed aristocracy.  Just like it was in feudal Europe.  Only with slaves instead of peasants.  Wealth and power were concentrated in few hands.  Creating great wealth inequality.  Most southerners were dirt poor and worked on family farms and were too poor to even own a slave.  But it was these people the rich planters used to fight a war for them to preserve their landed aristocracy.  Not the American dream the Founding Fathers envisioned.  Or the dream these dirt-poor southern farmers were trying to live.  The freedom to be left alone to work their own land.  Which is, of course, why they went to war.  Someone was invading their land.

No government is going to allow a Nazi swastika on a license plate to commemorate the SS.  Because the SS did some bad things.  Some would even say they were evil.  The Confederate soldiers, though, were not evil.  They were Americans.  Who were lied to by the planter elite.  So they could maintain their Old World aristocracy.  These men fought bravely in battle.  And suffered horrible casualties.  Even Abraham Lincoln held no ill will towards these men.  When a general asked Lincoln how the defeated Confederates should be treated he said, “Let ’em up easy.”  All they had to do was sign paroles saying they would no longer fight and they could go home and resume their lives.  There were to be no retributions.  For once the war was over they were fellow countrymen again.

So putting a Confederate battle flag on a license plate is less of a sign of racism and more of a remembrance for those who fought in the battlefields of the Civil War.  Especially for the 8.6% of the population who perished.  Leaving behind widows.  And orphans.  So many that it was hardly possible for someone in the South not to have lost someone in that war.

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How Christianity gave us the United States and made the World a Better Place

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 31st, 2013

History 101

The Pope kept European Rulers from Oppressing their People lest they get Excommunicated from the Church

In 39 AD the Romans crucified Jesus of Nazareth.  Because they said he called himself the King of the Jews.  Or rather those with political power who felt threatened by Jesus’ popularity said this.  His death was to protect power and privilege of those who had it.  Ultimately, though, His death would do more to destroy power and privilege.  For the Golden Rule allowed people to live together in peace.  To build communities.  And to help one another.

Emperor Diocletian split up the vast Roman Empire into four parts.  The tetrarchy.  The rulership by four.  Each of the four parts had its own emperor.  When Diocletian stepped down from power those emperors began vying for power.  By 312 two emperors were in open war with each other.  Constantine.  And Maxentius.  On October 28, 312, they met in battle near the Milvian Bridge over the Tiber.  On the eve of battle Constantine had a vision.  The Christian God would help him win the upcoming battle if he placed the Christian symbol on his soldiers’ shields (accounts differ it was either the Chi-Rho sign or the Latin cross).  He did.  He won.  And became Constantine the Great.  Sole ruler of the Roman Empire.  And because of his victory in the Battle of the Milvian Bridge he began his conversion to Christianity.  Making the Roman Empire Christian.

Christianity spread throughout and united Europe.  And the Pope kept European rulers from oppressing their people.  Lest they get excommunicated from the Church.  In time, though, some resented rule from Rome.  In particular when Pope Leo X sold indulgences (a way to help purify one from sin) to fund the rebuilding of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.  This was one of many problems that had many calling for a reform of the Church.  One in particular, Martin Luther, published his The Ninety-Five Theses in 1517.  Kicking off the Protestant Reformation.

Plymouth Colony succeeded when Communal Property became Private Property

Henry VIII, King of England, was a good Catholic.  But his wife wasn’t giving him any sons.  And he wanted a male heir.  So he asked the Pope for an annulment from his wife.  Catherine.  So he could marry Anne Boleyn.  The Pope refused.  So Henry left the Catholic Church.  And initiated the English Reformation.  Making England Protestant.  England would swing back and forth between Catholicism and Protestantism without being either but something in between.  Making a group of Protestants very unhappy.  As they felt the English Reformation did not go far enough.  A group referred to derisively as Puritans.  They were so hated that they were being persecuted along with the Catholics.  So they left England.  Landing in the Netherlands first.  Then they sailed across the Atlantic.  They sighted land on November 9, 1620.  They eventually came ashore and established Plymouth Colony.

About half of Plymouth Colony died within the first few years.  From disease.  And hunger.  The economic system they were using was killing them.  Communal property.  Everything the colonists produced belonged to everyone.  People produced according to their ability and took from the common store according to their needs.  A sort of Marxism.  Before there was even a Karl Marx.  To save the colony Governor William Bradford abandoned the idea of communal property in 1623.  Communal property became private property.  And the colony was saved.  As people worked twice as hard to produce more on their land than they did on communal land.  And because they did they replaced famines with bumper crops.  So instead of dying off the American colonies became the prosperous New World.

The Seven Years’ War (1756–1763) came to the New World.  By the time it ended Catholic France lost its North American possessions to Protestant Great Britain.  To pay off the enormous debt of that war Parliament decided to tax their British American colonists.  Who made out very well in the conflict without the costs the British incurred.  But they did this without discussing it with the colonists.  Treating them as second-class citizens in the British Empire.  Who had no representation in Parliament.  Which led to anger over taxation without representation.  Leading to the Boston Tea Party (December 16, 1773).  Which led to the Intolerable Acts and the Quebec Act (1774-1775).  Which led to the shot heard ’round the world.  The Battles of Lexington and Concord (April 19, 1775).  Which ultimately led to July 2, 1776.  When the Continental Congress voted to adopt the Declaration of Independence.  After a few revisions it was formally passed 2 days later.  On July 4, 1776.  Known forever after as Independence Day in the United States.

In the United States your Last Name does not Determine the Quality of your Life

The American Revolutionary War did not start out well.  As the British pushed them back with little effort.  Until Benedict Arnold (future traitor) did some superb soldiering.  Impeding the advance of General Burgoyne.  The Americans met him in battle for the last time on October 7, 1777.  On the second day of fighting in the Battle of Saratoga.  And won.  Forcing an army in the mightiest empire in the world to surrender.  Shocking the world.  And getting the French to take notice.  Who then entered the American War of Independence.  The turning point of the war.  And world history.  For France was anxious to get back what they had lost to the British.  As was Spain.  Who joined the conflict as France’s ally.  Turning the American War of Independence into a world war.  And a war of attrition.  As their new foes forced them to send British forces all around the globe.  Leaving fewer to fight in North America.  With a British public growing weary of the war in North America.

America won.  Eventually.  Taking 8 years until the Treaty of Paris officially ended the conflict (September 3, 1783).  And peace and prosperity followed.  Thanks in large part to Jay’s Treaty (ratified by the Senate in November 1794).  Which improved relations between Great Britain and the new United States of America.  And began a Special Relationship between two nations of a common people, culture, religion and tradition.  When the treaty expired there was a minor hiccup in that Special Relationship that resulted in war.  The War of 1812 (1812-1815).  But peace and prosperity soon resumed.  With the South having a larger say in the national direction thanks to the Three-Fifths Compromise in the United States Constitution (1787).  Giving the South greater representation in the House of Representatives as they counted 3/5 of each slave to determine their number of representatives.  As the North industrialized and immigration filled their factories and swelled her population the South was losing that larger say.  One thing led to another that eventually resulted in the American Civil War (1861-1865).

The agrarian South had more in common with feudal England than they did with the industrial North.  Rich landowners (the planter elite) comprised an aristocracy that controlled politics.  While peasants/slaves worked the land.  The South was holding onto the Old World.  Where there was power and privilege.  While the North was building the New World.  Though the South talked about states’ rights they used the power of the federal government wherever they could.  Such as the Fugitive Slave Act (1850).  When war broke out the South won most battles.  Until General Grant started his great advance down the Mississippi River.  With the Vicksburg Campaign (May 18 – July 4, 1863) culminating in the capture of Vicksburg.  And control of the Mississippi River.  Severing the Confederacy into two.  Pretty much guaranteeing a Union victory.  It was just a matter of time.  In the east the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1–3, 1863) also ended in a Union victory.  President Lincoln went to the Gettysburg battlefield for the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery there.  Where he gave his Gettysburg’s Address (November 19, 1863).  Which ended with “we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”  And so far it hasn’t.  Remaining that shining city upon a hill.  The destination of people everywhere yearning liberty.  And a better life.  Where all men are created equal.  And your last name does not determine the quality of your life.

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FT198: “Obamacare will fail because you can’t incentivize people to make their lives worse.” —Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 29th, 2013

Fundamental Truth

Stores used the Incentives of Black Friday to get People to do what they Wanted

A belated happy Thanksgiving.  And a belated happy Black Friday.  We say belated because Black Friday was already here by the time Friday woke from its sleepy slumber.  No more waiting in line Friday morning for those stores to open.  No.  Today if you snooze (i.e., spend Thanksgiving with the family at home) you lose.  Because it’s first come first served.  Which means if you wanted to get some of those deep discounts before they run out you didn’t let anything silly like celebrating Thanksgiving with the family get in your way.

Now everyone loves a bargain.  It’s why we scan the Sunday sales papers.  And search online for the best price.  But in the Obama ‘recovery’ there isn’t a whole lot of spending going on.  As there isn’t a whole lot of employment going on.  Since President Obama assumed office his policies have destroyed some 10 million jobs.  And one thing about unemployed people.  They definitely want a bargain.  Especially if they want a good Christmas for their family during the dark times of the Obama presidency.

But there is a greater lesson Black Friday can tell us other than President Obama is a bad president.  Especially in things economic.  Why are stores opening on Thanksgiving?  Because they’re cruel and evil forcing their workers to slave away during a holiday?  No.  It’s not that.  In fact, some employees love working on a holiday.  For they get paid more working on a holiday than they normally would.  Allowing them to earn extra money to give their families a good Christmas during the dark times of the Obama presidency.  As it turns out shoppers and workers alike like Black Friday.  For it allows each to have more for less.  And that is the great lesson of Black Friday.  Getting people to do what you want by offering them something they want.  Or, in other words, offering them an incentive.

The Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854 pitted Northern Republicans against Slave-Owning Southern Democrats

Slaves working in the planter South had no desire to be slaves.  Yet they were slaves.  Why?  There weren’t slaves in the North.  Only in the South.  The blacks in the north chose not to be slaves.  While those in the South had no choice.  The planter elite in the South, the ‘Old World’ planter aristocracy, used force.  And having a larger force in Washington than they normally would have (thanks to the Three-Fifths Compromise that counted slaves as three-fifths of a person for representation in Congress) they were able to use the force of government to continue to force blacks into slavery.  The Southern Democrats (i.e., the ‘Old World’ planter aristocracy) were able to keep the black man enslaved until the mid 19th century.  Even using the power of the federal government to override states’ rights in the North.  Using the Fugitive Slave Act to force northern states to return fugitive slaves to their Southern Democrat owners.  The ‘Old World’ planter aristocracy.

This is coercion.  This is how you get people to do what they don’t want to do.  Using the power of the federal government the Southern Democrats kept their slaves in bondage.  Also, using the power of the federal government they forced those in the North who wanted to help ‘fugitive’ slaves to stay free return their slaves or else.  That ‘or else’ being the full weight of the federal government coming down on them with extreme prejudice.  But when the North became more populated control of the House of Representatives favored the larger populated North.  Despite the Three-Fifths Compromise.  Which left the Senate.  And as each state got two senators how the new states entered the union mattered.  For the planter elite to hold their power over the United States.

The Missouri Compromise of 1820 was an early attempt to put slavery onto the path of oblivion.  Those in the North did not want it.  The planter elite in the South did.  So they compromised.  Slavery could remain in the South to appease the planter elite but the compromise prohibited slavery in the new Louisiana Territory that Thomas Jefferson purchased above the 36°30′ parallel (about the southern border of Missouri).  Except in the state of Missouri.  Then came the Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854 and the idea of popular sovereignty.  Throwing the Missouri Compromise of 1820 out the window.  These two states were both above the 36°30′ parallel.  The Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854 said the first people into the fledging states could choose for themselves if they would be a slave-state or a free-state.  Which led to a mad rush to Kansas.  And a bloody civil war there.  That eventually led to the American Civil War.  To settle once and for all the issue of slavery in America.  Would the Southern Democrats prevail and keep the black man in bondage?  Or would the Republicans free the slaves?

Obamacare is less like Black Friday and more like Slavery

Even if you flunked your history class you should know the answer to this.  Abraham Lincoln and his Republicans defeated the Southern Democrats and won the American Civil War.  Freeing the slaves.  Of course, the Southern Democrats were not good losers.  They gave us the KKK.  Then the Jim Crowe Laws.  The separate but equal nonsense that didn’t exist in the Republican North.  The old southern aristocracy were not huge fans of the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution.  All they wanted was privilege.  They wanted the Old World in the New World.  And the planter elite fought bitterly to keep that.  Well, not them as much as their fellow southerners they lied to about states’ rights.  Getting them (most of who were too poor to own a single slave) to fight and sacrifice their lives to maintain the institution of slavery.  To maintain the privilege of the southern aristocracy.

So there you have examples of incentive and coercion.  Black Friday incentivized people to hire in for seasonal jobs during the holiday season.  And brought people into stores with deep discounting.  Everyone got something they wanted.  And so they did what the store owners wanted.  People worked for them on Thanksgiving.  And people came into the stores on Thanksgiving.  Both of their own free will.  Now contrast that to slavery.  Where there was no free will.  Only the coercion of the federal government.  Where fear and intimidation compelled slaves to remain slaves.  And their only incentive was to obey their masters to avoid physical harm.

With the Supreme Court ruling the penalty of Obamacare became a tax.  Allowing the federal government to compel people to buy health insurance or suffer the consequences.  A ‘tax’ that will grow in time.  Buy insurance or else.  With that ‘or else’ being the full force and fury of the IRS.  Something most people would find more unpleasant than a colonoscopy.  Without any anesthetic.  No, a letter from the IRS is something no one wants to see in their mail.  For few things will fill you with fear and dread more.  This is the enforcement mechanism of Obamacare.  Which they need because people otherwise wouldn’t spend more for less.  Higher insurance premiums to cover things they will never need (a gay man will never need prenatal care).  And sky-high deductibles that will be like having no insurance.  As everything will be out of pocket until you reach that sky-high deductible.  Which few people will reach unless they have a catastrophic illness or accident.  This is why people are NOT signing up for Obamacare.  Because Obamacare ain’t no Black Friday.  Obamacare is offering nothing the people want.  At prices higher than they ever had to pay for health insurance before.  Leaving them with less to spend on their family.  Forcing them to cut out things they once enjoyed.  Which is why Obamacare will fail.  Because you can’t incentivize people to make their lives worse.  No, to do that you need the fearful power of the state.  Just like the Southern Democrats used to maintain the institution of slavery.

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Racist Democrats and Desegregationist Republicans

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 29th, 2013

Politics 101

The Way to Great Wealth in the South was King Cotton

At the recent 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech most if not all of the speakers were liberal Democrats.  As if the Republicans were not welcomed there.  Funny.  As it was the Republicans who battled the Democrats to end slavery, Jim Crowe Laws and discrimination.

America’s original sin, slavery, was a part of the Old World southern planters did not want to give up.  It was very similar to the manorial system of Europe.  Where peasants were tied to the land.  On a manor.  Unable to leave.  Land that a rich landowner owned.  The lord of the manor.  Property and status were hereditary.  And the peasants at the bottom of the ladder had neither.

The lords belonged to the aristocracy.  The nobility.  They lived in glorious mansions.  Gave magnificent parties.  And enjoyed the best of everything.  Courtesy of owning land.  The peasants worked the land.  And produced the greatest wealth in the kingdom for their lord.  Food.  In the American South this soon became cotton.  King Cotton.  The way to great wealth in the South was growing cotton.  And the more slaves you had the more noble your life was.

The Founding Fathers wanted to Eradicate Slavery at the Time of the Founding

Things were different in the North.  Years of growing tobacco had depleted the land.  So they diversified.  Grew different crops.  And rotated the crops around.  This required a more specialized workforce as things changed from year to year.  And few farms grew one large cash crop anymore.  So they turned to paid-labor.  Which was more efficient.  So while the South held on to the Old World the North became more egalitarian.

The Founding Fathers knew that a nation based on all men being equal could not include the institution of slavery.  They wanted to eradicate it at the time of the drafting of the Constitution.  But that created a problem with the South.  At the time of the Founding their economy was dependent on slavery.  And because it was they had more slaves than the North.  So freeing the slaves would not only destroy their economy it would force the South to live in a biracial society that was unheard of at that time.  Nowhere in the world were there biracial societies.  Not to mention the fact that the freed blacks would outnumber the whites.  The very same whites that once brutally oppressed the blacks.

To form a more perfect union they needed the southern states.  Which they had to take as-is.  With the institution of slavery.  It was a bitter pill to swallow.  As some of these Founding Fathers, especially the ones that didn’t own slaves, were conscious of the history books that would one day be written.  As well as being truly opposed to slavery.  But the choice was a new nation with slavery.  Or no new nation.  And continued sectional disputes.  Even hostilities.  Making them ripe for European intrigue.  Especially from the Old World Empires who wanted to expand their empires into North America.

The Republicans Freed the Slaves, Fought against Jim Crowe Laws and Desegregated the South

So the Founding Fathers tabled the subject of slavery for 20 years.  Sure that in 20 years time the South would adopt paid labor as they did in the North.  Sadly, a great invention changed all that.  The cotton gin.  Which could process cotton faster than slaves could pick it.  King Cotton promised more wealth than ever before.  All you needed was a lot of slaves.  Dashing the hopes of the Founding Fathers.

Wealth.  Nobility.  Life was good for the privileged few in the South.  The planter elite.  The southern Democrats.  Who used the power of the federal government to return fugitive slaves.  Then bitched about the federal government after they lost control of it.  The planter elite brought the nation to civil war.  To preserve the institution of slavery.  To keep the Old World in the South.  To keep the nobility in the South.  With them sitting at the top of the aristocracy.  But then came the Republicans.  And Abraham Lincoln.  Who issued the Emancipation Proclamation.  Freeing the slaves in the states in open rebellion.  Then Ulysses S. Grant won the American Civil War.  The Republicans pushed for and ratified the Thirteenth Amendment.  Abolishing slavery and involuntary servitude.  Then Republican President Grant sent federal troops into the South to protect the freed blacks.  As the racist southern Democrats resisted integrating the freed blacks into the South.  Eventually passing Jim Crowe Laws.  Making the freed blacks a permanent underclass with the Democrats’ separate but equal status of the freed blacks.

Democrat Storm Thurmond has the record for the longest filibuster in U.S. history.  He talked for 24 hours and 18 minutes in his opposition of the Civil Rights Act of 1957.  For he wanted to keep blacks separate but equal.  The southern Democrats opposition to civil rights was so strong that it prevailed through JFK’s administration.  Who did nothing for civil rights lest he go against the powerful southern Democrats.  Despite all the Republicans did the Democrats kept the black man down in the South.  Dr. King fought against segregation in Albany, Georgia, in 1962.  And suffered brutal police oppression in Birmingham, Alabama, that same year.  Things were so bad during JFK’s administration that Dr. King helped organized the 1963 March on Washington.  Where he gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.  But real change would have to wait until Republican Richard Nixon became president.  Who implemented the first large-scale desegregation of public schools in the Democrat-controlled South.  And Nixon implemented the first affirmative action plan.  The Philadelphia plan.

Yet despite all of this the Democrats claim the title of champion of civil rights.  And dominated the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.  Even though it was the Republicans who freed the slaves, fought against Jim Crowe Laws and desegregated the South.  While the Democrats fought them every step of the way.  Yet the Democrats are civil rights champions.  While Republicans are racists.  What’s wrong with this picture?

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Saint-Domingue Slave Rebellion, Great Migration and 1967 Detroit Race Riot

Posted by PITHOCRATES - July 23rd, 2013

History 101

The Brutal Slave Rebellion on Saint-Domingue created Haiti and opened the Door to the American West

Haiti was born from a slave rebellion.  Inspired by the French Revolution, which was inspired by the American Revolution, the slaves on Saint-Domingue could taste the liberty in the air.  The slaves outnumbered the whites on the island.  And when they rose in rebellion in 1791 their white overlords were powerless to stop them.  The slaves massacred the white planters.  Those lucky enough to survive fled the island.  The French tried to reestablish control.  Then they went to war again against the British.  Which complicated matters.  And led to a British invasion of Saint-Domingue.

Toussaint Louverture, a former slave, and educated, eventually led the now former slaves to victory.  And won the peace.  He invited the planters back.  Replaced slave-labor with paid-labor.  Reestablished trade with Great Britain.  And the new United States.  While the French did away with slavery in their colonial possessions.  For a while.  During the convulsions going on in France following the French Revolution there were many changes in government.  And the government in 1802 lent a sympathetic ear to the former white planters who wanted their plantations back.  And their slaves.  Napoléon Bonaparte, interested in reestablishing New France in North America, sent a military force to take back Saint-Domingue.  Who captured and sent Toussaint Louverture back to France.  But things did not go well for the French.

Jean-Jacques Dessalines continued the fight in Louverture’s place.  A determined enemy, and Yellow Fever, were too much for the French.  They pulled out their remaining soldiers.  Gave up on Saint-Domingue.  And on New France in North America.  Causing another exodus from the island.  And if you ever wonder why New Orleans is so French this is why.  A lot of those fleeing Haiti settled in New Orleans.  Doubling the city’s population.  Needing money to continue the war against Great Britain Napoléon offered to sell the Louisiana Territory, the thick center part of the United States between Texas and Canada, to Thomas Jefferson.  And did.  So the brutal slave rebellion on Saint-Domingue not only created Haiti.  It gave the Americans the Mississippi River and its tributaries.  The Mississippi Valley.  The Great Plains.  And opened the door to the West.

The Great Migration brought some 6 Million Blacks from the Rural South to Northern Factories

But that brutal slave rebellion did something else.  It made the southern planters nervous.  Over half of the 40,000 white colonists were killed during that slave rebellion.  A fact that weighed heavily on the minds of the highly outnumbered white planter class in the South.  Who lived in fear of a similar slave rebellion happening in the United States.  Which lead to a more oppressive control over their slaves.  So they could snuff out any rebellion at the first sign of trouble.  And there was a reversal of policy.  The Founding Fathers had shelved the issue of slavery for 20 years to get the South to join the new nation.  Believing that the institution of slavery would die out on its own.  And in the following two decades some slave owners were freeing a slave or two.  But that all stopped following the revolution in Saint-Domingue.  When the life of a slave went from bad to worse.  For the last thing the white planter class needed was a Toussaint Louverture in their midst.

By the time of the American Civil War the slave population had grown much larger.  Which added another element to the Civil War.  Especially for the South.  The North was fighting for a noble purpose.  To free the slaves.  And fulfilling the declaration that all men were created equal in the Declaration of Independence.  But what then?  What happens after the North wins the Civil War?  And they free the slaves?  Where are the slaves going to go?  Back to Africa?  Even the ones who have no idea what or where Africa was?  Having been born and raised in the United States?  No.  They weren’t.  They were going to remain in the South.  Nothing would change in the North.  But life in the South would be changed into something that just didn’t exist.  A biracial society.  Worse, this was going to be a biracial society where the majority was once brutally oppressed by the minority.  Thanks in large part to the slave rebellion on Saint-Domingue.

With this backdrop the odds for a peaceful reconstruction were slim.  The South did not adjust well to the new reality.  There were fears.  Anger.  And the old prejudices.  While in the North life went on as it always did.  Predominantly white.  And industrializing.  Creating more and more factory jobs.  That drew immigrants to the industrial north.  As it drew southern blacks.  Leading up to the Great Migration.  From 1910-1930.  Pausing during the Great Depression and World War II.  And picking up again from 1940-1970.  When some 6 million blacks left the rural south.  And headed to the jobs in the big cities in the Northeast.  The Midwest.  And the West.  Working and living in the big cities.  Like Detroit.

The 1967 Detroit Race Riot accelerated the White Flight from the City which decimated the Tax Base

Detroit dominated following the post-war period.  It was an economic powerhouse.  Thanks to a booming automotive industry.  And a war-torn Europe and Asia.  Whose industrial capacity suffered greatly from Allied bombing.  Leaving the motor city the auto capital of the world.  And making Detroit one of the richest cities in the nation.  With their population peaking in 1950.  As people came to the city for those manufacturing jobs.  But the housing did not keep up with the growth in population.  Blacks and immigrants often faced discrimination.  Getting the worst jobs.  And the worst housing.  Things that changed in the Sixties.  Thanks in large part to a shift of the auto industry out of Detroit.

Following World War II Packard, Hudson, and Studebaker went out of business.  And the Big Three went on a building spree.  In the suburbs.  And a lot of white Detroiters followed them.  Relieving the housing pressure a little.  Allowing a black middle class to grow.  But the suburbs kept growing.  As businesses moved their jobs to the suburbs that were a little more business friendly.  With sprawling spaces for new factories.  And a brand new interstate highway system to easily ship material and parts from one to another.  The same interstate highway system that converged four expressways in the city of Detroit.  Destroying a lot of neighborhoods.  Which were predominantly black.

Many of those displaced people moved to the 12th Street area.  An area that become twice as crowded as the city average.  Unemployment was rising.  As was crime.  Including prostitution.  Where white johns were coming to the neighborhood to solicit black prostitutes.  A big complaint of the black community.  So the police cracked down on prostitution.  And a black prostitute ended up dead.  The people blamed the cops.  The cops blamed a pimp.  Tensions were rising.  Then on July 23, 1967, the police raided a blind pig.  An unlicensed after-hours bar.  On the corner of 12th Street and Clairmount.  Where a party of some 80 people were celebrating the return of two soldiers just back home from the Vietnam War.  The cops arrested them all.  While they were waiting for the paddy wagon to take them away a crowd formed outside.  Someone threw a bottle at a cop.  And thus began the 1967 Detroit race riot.  Which only accelerated the white flight from Detroit.  Caused an exodus of jobs, too.  As businesses fled the city.  Which just decimated the tax base.  Accelerating the urban decay.  Soon the black middle class followed the whites.  In pursuit of those jobs.  And to escape the dying city.  Which it did in 2013.  Die.  Figuratively.  By filing the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.

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Slavery, the Cotton Gin, the Jacquard Loom, Punch Cards and Computers

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 12th, 2013

Technology 101

(Originally published December 7th, 2011)

African Slaves came to the New World because the Colonists needed Laborers

The Europeans didn’t invent slavery when they introduced it to the New World.  It’d been around since the dawn of civilization.  And it’s been a way of life in many civilizations for thousands of years.  Where no one was safe from the slave traders.  Some were born into slavery.  Some were simply soldiers captured in battle.  Even children were bought and sold.  Perhaps the saddest story is the Children’s Crusade of 1212.  When about 50,000 poor Christian kids walked from Central Europe to free Palestine from Muslim control and return it to the Christians.  They got as far as boarding ships in Italian ports.  But those ships did not deliver them to Palestine.  They delivered them instead into the Muslim slave markets of Northern Africa and the Middle East.  Where they were never heard from again.

African slaves came to the New World because the colonists needed laborers.  They tried enslaving the Native Americans.  But it was too easy for them to escape back into friendly territory.  And blend in with the indigenous population.  Not the case with black Africans.  Who didn’t know the surrounding country.  Or the languages.  What they knew was an ocean away.  Also, the locals had a tendency of dying from European diseases.  Especially smallpox.  Whereas the Africans were long exposed to smallpox.  And built up some resistance to this scourge of European colonialism.

So the New World colonies began with slaves harvesting their crops.  Slaves that the Europeans bought from African slave traders.  Who had long been selling captured Africans to the Arabs.  And had no problem selling them to the Europeans.  And so began the problem of slavery in America.

With the Cotton Gin Separating the Seed from the Cotton Fiber became not so Labor Intensive

When the British American colonists started talking about liberty the slavery problem was the elephant in the room that they were reluctant to talk about.  When Jefferson wrote that all men were created equal they knew that meant those enslaved against their will, too.  Yet here they were.  These liberty-seeking people were enslaving people themselves.  But there was a problem.  To form a united country the Founding Fathers needed the southern states.  Who used slaves as the basis for their economy.  And they weren’t going to join a union without their slaves.  So they wouldn’t talk about the elephant.  Instead they tabled that discussion for 20 years.  With the population growing they didn’t need slaves anymore.  There were few in the North.  And the South should follow suit.  It was inevitable.  Leaving just one problem to solve.  What to do with their slaves as they transitioned to paid laborers.  Which the Founding Fathers were sure the southern slave owners could solve within those 20 years.

Slave-labor was not efficient.  George Washington wanted to sell his slaves and replace them with paid laborers.  Because paid laborers cost less.  You only paid them for their labors.  And then they went away.  And if you changed your crops you could easily hire new laborers skilled in the new crop.  Not quite so easy with a large slave labor force.  So those in the North had good reason to believe that slavery would slowly give way to paid laborers.  Even in the South.  Or so they thought.  But one of the staple crops of the South started to shape events.  Cotton.

Cotton was a labor-intensive crop to harvest.  And separating the seed from the cotton was even more labor-intensive.  Until someone mechanized this process.  With a cotton engine.  The cotton gin.  Patented in America by Eli Whitney.  A hand-cranked device that used hooks to pull the cotton fiber through a screen.  The holes in the screen were small enough to let the cotton fiber through.  But not large enough for the seeds to pass.  With the cotton gin separating the seed from the cotton fiber became not so labor intensive.   In fact, these little machines could clean cotton faster than the slaves could harvest it.  Which meant, of course, there was a lot more cotton that could be grown and harvested.  Which created a new slavery boom.  And dashed all the hopes of the Founding Fathers.

Cheap Cloth Unleashed a lot of Economic Activity which Improved the Quality of Life

Many blame the cotton gin for extending the institution of slavery in America.  And the bloody American Civil War that ended it.  But apart from this the cotton gin was a fundamental step in modernizing economies everywhere.  And helped to spur the textile industry forward.   By creating an abundant source of material for weaving looms everywhere.

The textile industry was important because everyone wore clothes.  And we made clothes from cloth.  Once upon a time people made their own clothes.  Or spent a lot of money for store-bought clothes.  Leaving them with little time or money for other things.  So cheap cloth unleashed a lot of economic activity.  Which improved the quality of life.  The Chinese started this process.  By giving us an advanced loom that used foot-power to lift thread.  And the spinning wheel to make yarn.  All the weavers needed were abundant sources of fiber to feed these machines.  Such as American cotton.

The Chinese also made some beautiful silk tapestries with complex patterns.  Which were very difficult to reproduce by hand in the West.  Until the French automated this process.  When Joseph Marie Jacquard improved on the works of Basile Bouchon, Jean Baptiste Falcon and Jacques Vaucanson.  And created the Jacquard loom.  This automated the pattern process coming from those Chinese looms.  By using punch cards to automatically lift the proper threads to reproduce that complex pattern.  An impressive advance.  But one that did not impress the French.  Who were busier with revolution than fancy weaved patterns.  But the British were interested.  And they used the Jacquard loom in their booming textile industry.  Fed largely by that abundant American cotton.  Until the American Civil War, at least.

An Advanced Automated and Mechanized Economy has no Room for Slavery

The British also used this punch card idea to automate their shipbuilding industry.  To speed up the riveting process.  By automating riveting machines.  To make ships that carried immigrants to the new world.  Who swelled the American population.  Making the census taking more and more complex.  And another punch card system made counting these people simpler.  The tabulator.  Where an operator punched holes in a card to represent information for each person.  Age.  Marital status.  Country of origin.  Etc.  IBM would use this idea of punching information into a card later.  To program some of the first computers.  Machines that increased efficiencies further.  By replacing ever more people with machines.

So it is an interesting turn of events.  Eli Whitney created the cotton gin in America.  A machine that was part of a series of technological developments that increased efficiencies and reduced the number of workers needed to perform once labor intensive tasks.  All during this process fewer people were able to do more things.  Except one thing.  Planting and harvesting cotton.  That would take first a civil war.  And then steam-powered farming equipment.  To automate farming.  Which came later to the South than it did in the slavery-free North.  And other parts of the world.

Life got better for everyone the more advanced the economy became.  Sure, a lot of people lost jobs.  But that’s progress.  A few lost jobs is a small price to pay when the masses can enjoy a better life.  Thanks to automation and mechanization.  And that includes slaves.  Or, rather, former slaves.  For an advanced automated and mechanized economy has no room for slavery.

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2012 Endorsements: Abraham Lincoln

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 25th, 2012

2012 Election

The Slave Owners were the Social Elite and Holders of Political Power Similar to the Aristocracy in European Feudalism

General Motors (GM) required a government bailout and bankruptcy protection because of rising labor costs that prevented them from selling enough cars at a price to cover their costs while being profitable.  Their problem goes back to FDR.  During the Great Depression his government placed a ceiling on wages.  To encourage companies to hire more people.  By paying more people less money instead of fewer people more money.  So businesses had to do something else to attract the best employees.  And the employee benefit was born.  Pensions and health care benefits.  That were very generous when there was no competition and car companies could sell cars at whatever price they chose.  But that wasn’t the case in the 21st century.  Competition put great cost pressures on those companies with rising health care and pension costs.  And the job bank paying for workers who didn’t work.  Until they could be put back to work.  Adding a lot of costs to each car.  And sending GM into bankruptcy.

Slavery as an economic model had a similar problem.  High costs.  Which goes contrary to the public perception that slave labor was free labor.  George Washington wanted to sell his slaves and hire paid-laborers.  Because his slave families had grown so large.  So he had a growing slave population.  But they all weren’t working.  The young children could not do the work of a young man in his working prime.  Nor could the elderly.  Or the sick or infirmed.  (Who he couldn’t sell along with the healthier and stronger ones in their families.  So he kept his slaves, keeping those families together.  Freeing them upon the death of his wife.  And including provisions in his will to help them integrate into free society.  Giving them some job skills to help them find gainful employment so they could care for their young, elderly, sick and infirmed.)  Yet Washington was feeding them all.  While the growing amount of food they ate couldn’t go to market.  As the years passed his costs went up and his revenue fell.  Just like at GM.  For both had long-term labor commitments that became more inefficient over time.  Which is why slavery was a dying institution in the United States.  The industrial North was slave-free.  As they used more efficient paid-laborers.  Drawing a lot of immigrants to those northern factories.  And slavery was dying out in the South.  Until the cotton gin came along.  Allowing workers to comb (separating the seeds from the fiber) huge amounts of cotton at a time.  Greatly opening the market for that labor-intensive cotton crop.

The typical image of the South in 1860 is endless plantations each with hundreds of slaves working the fields.  Which is wrong.  Most people worked a small family farm.  In fact, most of the Confederate soldiers who fought in the American Civil War came from those small family farms and never owned a slave in their life.  The actual numbers of large slaveholders will probably surprise you.  Approximately 0.84% of the southern population owned at least 20 slaves.  Only 0.05% of the southern population owned at least 100 slaves.  And the number of big plantations owning at least 500 slaves?  Twelve.  So it was a very small population that had a vested interest in the institution of slavery.  Yet the South seceded from the union over the issue of slavery.  Why?  Because of who those slave owners were.  The social elite and holders of political power.  The Planter Elite.  People similar to the aristocracy in European feudalism.  An Old World nobility.  The very wealthy few who ruled the South.  And for awhile they ruled the United States thanks to an unfair advantage they had in the House of Representatives.  Where they determined their representation by not only counting the free population but by counting every slave as 3/5 a free person as well.  And this southern nobility was determined to maintain their aristocracy.

Popular Sovereignty created a Bloodbath in Kansas as ‘Free’ and ‘Slave’ People raced there to Settle the State

Which was easier said than done.  Because of that industrial growth in the north attracting so many immigrants that they swelled the northern population.  Transferring control of the House from the South to the North.  Which left only the Senate (and the presidency) for the South.  As each state got two senators the race was on to admit free and slave states to the union.  Which didn’t really solve anything.  It only made the differences between the North and the South greater.  And intensified the bad feelings between the North and the South.  The North was full of abolitionist busybodies trying to tell southerners how to live.  While the southerners were a bunch of immoral slaveholders.  Bringing shame to the nation that was supposedly a place where all men were created equal.   Words enshrined in the Declaration of Independence.  Words written incidentally by a southern slaveholder.  It was finally time to address the nation’s original sin.

Congress passed the Missouri Compromise (1820) after Thomas Jefferson bought the Louisiana Territory from the French.  Adding a lot of new land to form states from.  The compromise prohibited slavery north of the border between Arkansas and Missouri (except in the state of Missouri).  They added new states in pairs.  A free state.  And a slave state.  Maintaining the balance of power in Congress.  Then came Kansas and Nebraska.  Both above the Missouri Compromise line.  Well, that meant two new free states.  And a change in the balance of power.  Which the South couldn’t have.  So Senator Stephen Douglas introduced the Kansas-Nebraska Act.  And the idea of popular sovereignty.  The idea of letting the people in these new states decide for themselves if they should be a free state or a slave state.  Creating a bloodbath in Kansas as ‘free’ and ‘slave’ people raced there to settle the state.  Fighting and intimidating each other so they would be the ones to vote on making Kansas free or slave.  It was anarchy.

Abraham Lincoln had reentered politics in 1854 to campaign for fellow Whig Richard Yates.  Who opposed the Kansas-Nebraska Act.  Democrat Stephen Douglas was making a series of speeches in Illinois.  In response to one of Stephens’ speeches Lincoln gave his Peoria speech.  In commenting on letting slavery into Nebraska and Kansas Lincoln said, “I hate it because of the monstrous injustice of slavery itself.  I hate it because it deprives our republican example of its just influence in the world—enables the enemies of free institutions, with plausibility, to taunt us as hypocrites—causes the real friends of freedom to doubt our sincerity and especially because it forces so many really good men amongst ourselves into an open war with the very fundamental principles of civil liberty—criticizing the Declaration of Independence, and insisting that there is no right principle of action but self-interest.”

If Lincoln were Alive Today he would Likely Endorse the Republican Candidates Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan

The fallout from the Kansas-Nebraska Act splintered existing political parties apart.  Created new ones that disappeared later.  And gave birth to the new Republican Party.  The party of George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan and Abraham Lincoln.  Who became the leading spokesman of the party.  The Republicans lost the 1856 presidential election but won majorities in most of the northern states.  Tipping the balance of power further away from the South.  When Lincoln won his party’s nomination to run for senator in 1858 he gave his ‘House Divided Speech’ saying, “A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved—I do not expect the house to fall—but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other.”

When slave Dred Scott traveled to a free state with his owner his owner died.  Scott said he was then a free man.  The Supreme Court thought otherwise.  Saying that Scott was still a slave because neither Congress nor any territory legislature had the authority to change that.  Which meant no one could restrict the movement of slaves because no one had the right to restrict the movement of private property.  Thus opening all the new territories to slavery.  Making the South very happy.  While infuriating the North.  Who refused to enforce slave laws on the books like the Fugitive Slave Law.  A provision included in the Compromise of 1850 for the states’ rights South.  That called for the federal government to force northerners to return slaves or face arrest and penalties.  States’ legislatures in the North passed laws saying a slave living in a free state was a free man.  The Supreme Court struck down these laws.  Favoring southern states’ rights over northern states’ rights.  So the states just refused to help the federal government in any prosecution of a violation of the Fugitive Slave Law.  Then abolitionist John Brown’s failed slave revolt at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, further angered the South.

Then came the 1860 presidential election.  That Abraham Lincoln won.  Which was the last straw.  The South lost both Congress and the presidency.  Worse, the new president, though not an outright abolitionist, opposed the expansion of slavery.  Leaving the South with one last option.  Secession.  Which they did.  Leading to the American Civil War.  Which the South lost because of everything they believed in.  For an Old World nobility just could not defeat a modern industrial power.  Lincoln won because he had modern factories building whatever he needed.  The northern economy was large and diverse providing war financing.  Railroads crisscrossed the North.  A large navy controlled the interior rivers and blockaded the southern ports.  Cutting off the South from the outside world and starving it.  When the South desperately pursued the British for recognition Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.  Making it impossible for Britain to ally itself with a nation fighting for the institution of slavery.

No president entered office with a heavier burden than President Lincoln.  Standing on principle he made the hard decisions.  Becoming the most hated sitting president of all time.  He did not look for an easy solution like every other politician had up to his time.  Only making the inevitable solution more costly.  And more painful.  He would do what had to be done.  Regardless the price he would pay.  Politically.  Or personally.  A cost so high that it made him a one term president thanks to an assassin’s bullet.  He didn’t base his decisions on the polls.  Or populist movements.  But on principles.  Drawn from the Constitution.  And the Declaration of Independence.  As well as the Bible.  So if he were alive today who would he endorse in the current election?  He would, of course, support his party.  Out of party loyalty.  And because it tends to stand on principle more than the Democrat Party.  Which often used an activist Supreme Court to get what they couldn’t get in the legislature.  Which tends to use populist movements and character assassination to advance their agenda.  Such as the so-called war on women to scare women into voting Democrat because they can’t persuade them to based on a successful track record in office.  Also, the Republicans are more pro-business and more pro-military.  Which gives you the ability to win civil wars.  And other wars.  As well as protecting US security interests around the world.  Maintaining peace through strength.  For anything was preferable to the hell he went through during the four long years of the Civil War.  And to have so much blood on his hands.  The war being so horrific because of a policy of continued failed diplomacy when there was simply no common ground.  He said that there was only one of two possible outcomes.  All free.  Or all slave.  And he was right.  But it took someone willing to be the most hated sitting president to have the courage to act to bring about the inevitable.  So if Lincoln were alive today he would likely endorse the Republican candidates Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.  Not the party that wants to delay the inevitable by refusing to address the systemic problems of Medicare and Social Security.  And a growing welfare state.  Systems a declining population growth rate can no longer fund.  Because aging populations bankrupt nations with expanding welfare programs.  Just like an aging workforce can bankrupt a car company like GM.

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