Echoes down the Corridor

Scott Remer, Spring 2015

Compiled by Scott Remer, PC ’16, for the Spring 2015 Issue (PDF version)

There are two ideas of government.
There are those who believe that if you just legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous, that their prosperity will leak through on those below.
The Democratic idea
Has been that if you legislate to make the masses prosperous
Their prosperity will find its way up and through every class that rests upon it.”
(Cross of Gold speech, William Jennings Bryan, July 9, 1896)

“We all know the taxes, what he did with taxes. When Reagan came into office, the highest federal marginal income tax rate was 70 percent on unearned income. By the way, some of you know it’s a lot more difficult to earn unearned income than it is earned income. [Laughter.] Reagan dropped the highest federal marginal income tax rates from 70 percent to 28 percent. He cut the corporate tax rates, he indexed the personal tax codes, changing forever the taxes. Do you realize—I mean, it’s just amazing that I’m going on 67 years old today and the taxes on the ownership of capital are the lowest they have been in my lifetime. [Applause.] And that is because of Ronald Reagan and the supply side move that he and others have done.” (“The Four Pillars of Reagonomics,” Arthur Laffer, November 13, 2006)

We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace—
Business and financial monopoly,
Speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism,
Sectionalism, war profiteering.
(Madison Square Garden address, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, October 13, 1936)

“We have to tolerate the inequality as a way to achieve greater prosperity and opportunity for all.” (Brian Griffiths, Goldman Sachs International adviser, October 20, 2009)

Let us remember that,
If this financial crisis taught us anything,
It’s that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street
While Main Street suffers.
(Election Night speech, Barack Obama, November 4, 2008)

“Our whole plutonomy thesis is based on the idea that the rich will keep getting richer…
Furthermore, the rising wealth gap between the rich and poor will probably at some point lead to a political backlash. Whilst the rich are getting a greater share of the wealth, and the poor a lesser share, political enfrachisement remains as was—one person, one vote (in the plutonomies). At some point, it is likely that labor will fight back against the rising profit share of the rich and there will be a political backlash against the rising wealth of the rich. This could be felt through higher taxation on the rich (or indirectly though higher corporate taxes/regulation) or through trying to protect indigenous (home-grown) laborers, in a push-back on globalization—either anti-immigration, or protectionism. We don’t see this happening yet, though there are signs of rising political tensions. However, we are keeping a close eye on developments.” (Citibank report, “The Plutonomy Symposium—Rising Tides Lifting Yachts,” September 29, 2006)

They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as
A mere appendage to their own affairs.
We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as
Government by organized mob.

Never before in all our history have these forces been so united
Against one candidate as they stand today.
They are unanimous in their hate for me—
And I welcome their hatred.
(Madison Square Garden address, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, October 13, 1936)

“This president I think has exposed himself over and over again as a guy who has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture….I’m not saying he doesn’t like white people, I’m saying he has a problem. This guy is, I believe, a racist.” (Glenn Beck, of Barack Obama, July 28, 2009)

It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth—is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.

This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.

As our nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.
We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. ‘Necessitous men are not free men.’ People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.

In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed.

Among these are:
The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;
The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
The right of every family to a decent home;
The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
The right to a good education.

All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.
America’s own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for all our citizens.

For unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world. (State of the Union address, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, January 11, 1944)

“Today, because of Ronald Reagan, the minimum wage in the United States—the minimum wage relative to the average wage in the United States is the lowest it’s been in 50 years. It doesn’t get any better.” (“The Four Pillars of Reagonomics,” Arthur Laffer, November 13, 2006)

There can be no effective control of corporations while their political activity remains. To put an end to it will be neither a short nor an easy task, but it can be done. We must have complete and effective publicity of corporate affairs, so that the people may know beyond peradventure whether the corporations obey the law and whether their management entitles them to the confidence of the public. It is necessary that laws should be passed to prohibit the use of corporate funds directly or indirectly for political purposes; it is still more necessary that such laws should be thoroughly enforced. Corporate expenditures for political purposes, and especially such expenditures by public-service corporations, have supplied one of the principal sources of corruption in our political affairs. (New Nationalism speech, Theodore Roosevelt, August 31, 1910)

“While a single Bellotti footnote purported to leave the question open, 435 U. S., at 788, n. 26, this Court now concludes that independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption. That speakers may have influence over or access to elected officials does not mean that those officials are corrupt. And the appearance of influence or access will not cause the electorate to lose faith in this democracy. Caperton v. A. T. Massey Coal Co., 556 U. S. ___, distinguished. Pp. 40-45. (Syllabus, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Supreme Court of the United States, decided January 21, 2010)

The right to regulate the use of wealth in the public interest is universally admitted. Let us admit also the right to regulate the terms and conditions of labor, which is the chief element of wealth, directly in the interest of the common good. The fundamental thing to do for every man is to give him a chance to reach a place in which he will make the greatest possible contribution to the public welfare. Understand what I say there. Give him a chance, not push him up if he will not be pushed. Help any man who stumbles; if he lies down, it is a poor job to try to carry him; but if he is a worthy man, try your best to see that he gets a chance to show the worth that is in him. No man can be a good citizen unless he has a wage more than sufficient to cover the bare cost of living, and hours of labor short enough so after his day’s work is done he will have time and energy to bear his share in the management of the community, to help in carrying the general load. We keep countless men from being good citizens by the conditions of life by which we surround them. We need comprehensive workman’s compensation acts, both State and national laws to regulate child labor and work for women, and, especially, we need in our common schools not merely education in book-learning, but also practical training for daily life and work. We need to enforce better sanitary conditions for our workers and to extend the use of safety appliances for workers in industry and commerce, both within and between the States. (New Nationalism speech, Theodore Roosevelt, August 31, 1910)

“Every time you cut programs, you take away a person who has a vested interest in high taxes and you put him on the tax rolls and make him a taxpayer. A farmer on subsidies is part welfare bum, whereas a free-market farmer is a small businessman with a gun.” (Commonly attributed to Grover Norquist)

These are the gentry who are today wrapped up in the American flag, who shout their claim from the housetops that they are the only patriots, and who have their magnifying glasses in hand, scanning the country for evidence of disloyalty, eager to apply the brand of treason to the men who dare to even whisper their opposition to Junker rule in the United States. No wonder Sam Johnson declared that “patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.” He must have had this Wall Street gentry in mind, or at least their prototypes, for in every age it has been the tyrant, the oppressor and the exploiter who has wrapped himself in the cloak of patriotism, or religion, or both to deceive and overawe the people. (The Canton, Ohio Speech, Eugene Debs, June 16, 1918)

“I am in favor of cutting taxes under any circumstances and for any excuse, for any reason, whenever it’s possible.” (Milton Friedman)

Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society. (Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.)

“My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.” (Grover Norquist)

To those—to those who would tear the world down: We will defeat you. (Election Day speech, Barack Obama, November 4, 2008)