Monday, August 24, 2015

Unsanctioned Voice; Rose Wilder Lane; John L. Lewis, Resettlement Administration

Click these links for discussions of the Writer's Note , Chapters 1 and 2, Chapter 3, Chapters 4-6, Chapters 7-10 , Chapters 11 and 12 , Chapter 13 , Chapter 14 , Chapters 15 and 16 , Chapters 17-19 , Chapter 20 , Chapters 21 and 22 and Chapters 23-25 of Bruce Ramsey's Unsanctioned Voice.

Chapter 26 chronicles the relationship between Garrett and Rose Wilder Lane.

Ramsey describes a trip that Garrett and Lane took through the midwest in 1935. They visited farmers that the New Deal's Resettlement Administration wanted to "resettle" and "rehabilitate." [pp. 183-184] (quoting Garrett, Saturday Evening Post, "Plowing Up Freedom," November 16, 1935).

The trip was the basis of an article by Lane in the Saturday Evening Post which later influenced Lane's book, The Discovery Of Freedom. [p. 184]. Lane's prior books shared subject matters in common with Garrett's writings - Herbert Hoover and Henry Ford. [pp. 181-182].

Chapter 26 relies on a Lane biography, a collection of Lane letters and Lane's own books (in addition to Garrett's writings).

Ramsey reveals that Garrett was missing two fingers [p.184 and note 6] in the course of discussing an apparent brief romantic flirtation between Garrett and Lane [pp. 184-185].

Pages 186 and 187 describe (quoting Garrett's letters to Lane) Garrett's meeting with John L. Lewis of the UMW.

Ramsey also describes their differences of opinion [pp. 187-188].

Click here for a discussion of Chapters 27 and 28, including a discussion of Garrett's writings on World War II and the crackdown against anti-New Deal writers and publications.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Unsanctioned Voice; Fighting back against the New Deal; National Recovery Act (NRA); Frank Fetter; Alf Landon; Rose Wilder Lane

Click these links for discussions of the Writer's Note , Chapters 1 and 2, Chapter 3, Chapters 4-6, Chapters 7-10 , Chapters 11 and 12 , Chapter 13 , Chapter 14 , Chapters 15 and 16 , Chapters 17-19 , Chapter 20 and Chapters 21 and 22 of Bruce Ramsey's Unsanctioned Voice.

Chapter 23 describes Garrett's opposition to the New Deal policy of supporting minimum prices and wages.

On page 162, Ramsey describes the New Deal's NRA (National Recovery Act) as having been run by the general whose previous experience included drafting the conscription act in World War I. Under the NRA, new investment to expand industrial capacity could be accomplished by permission only. It was "sort of" voluntary (Ramsey's quote), but once enough businesses signed up, it became mandatory. Parades and public relations campaigns demonized those who did not comply. Ford was the only major automaker that did not join the NRA [p. 165]. The NRA would eventually be struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court [p. 164]. The blue eagle NRA symbol would later appear on the cover of Ramsey's Salvos Against the New Deal.

Garrett quotes FDR [p. 163] as referring to new industrial plant and machinery as "weeds." Saturday Evening Post, "Fifth Anniversary N.D.", March 5, 1938.

Garrett argued that prices and wages should be allowed to fall to encourage new investment, innovation and full employment. [pp. 162-166].

Ramsey briefly discusses the deepening of the Depression in 1937-1938 and Garrett's response to FDR blaming "economic royalists." [165]. Today, instead of blaming "economic royalists," FDR's intellectual heirs blame the "1%." Slogans change, but the policies remain the same.

Ramsey far too optimistically argues that modern Democrats have abandoned the idea of propping up wages and prices (citing advice by the Clinton administration to South Korea in 1997) [p. 166]. The Obama administration would later enact or advocate a number of programs designed to prop up prices and wages - cash for clunkers, first time home-buyer credits, stimulus bills, minimum wage increases, Obamacare, fossil fuel restrictions, etc. It is today far too common even among "conservative" businessmen to say that "we need a little inflation" in order to stimulate business. All of these programs and the thinking behind them reflect the opposite of what Garrett advocated in Chapter 23.

Chapter 24 is about two concepts. (1) Garrett specifies that his major reason for opposing the New Deal is the loss of liberty that the New Deal brings (as opposed to mere economic arguments). [pp. 167 - 170]. (2) "Fear" brought about by this new loss of liberty prevented long term investment and lengthened the Depression until the start of the war. [pp. 170 - 172].

Garrett wrote to Frank Fetter (p. 167) that arguing about "what works" ignores the basic issue of liberty. Austrian economist Fetter is introduced here and in footnote #1 (p. 173).

Ramsey summarizes the battle over the Commerce Clause, FDR's court packing plan and the agencies that still survive as the New Deal's legacy [pp. 167-169]:

Government power was sudden and threatening, its purpose transformative. And it was new. People read about it in the same newspapers in which they read of Hitler's belligerence and Stalin's show trials. The destination was not clear.

p. 169. Ramsey makes the same mistake as many political commentators when he argues that government power since the New Deal has rarely been "in leftist hands" because "[b]usiness has large influence over it." [p. 169]. As we have seen numerous times, business owners can be and often are leftist.

Ramsey includes a Garrett quote in which Garrett argues that we should not expect the New Deal to make economic sense or to be consistent on economic grounds. All of the New Deal actions (and those of government since that time) are consistent in that they support increased government power (except in those rare cases where some old right winger manages to repeal something). Garrett quotes FDR to the effect that the New Deal would shackle liberty if such power were in someone else's hands. But FDR stressed that the power was held in his own hands. (pp. 169-170).

Garrett concludes prophetically:
. . . conquest of power for purposes of all-doing . . . would involve many inconsistencies of immediate policy, because the peaceable course to the seizure of great political power is a zigzag path.

Saturday Evening Post, "National Hill Notes," February 29, 1936 [quoted by Ramsey, p. 170].

Ramsey concludes the chapter with a discussion of the "fear" that gripped investors over the sudden increase in government power. While short-term investment returned in the mid-1930's, long-term investment did not [pp. 170-171]. The reason that long-term investment did not return was the political instability that the New Deal created. Investors feared their government and viewed long-term investment as unsafe.

Chapter 25 discusses the election of 1936, and the advice Garrett gave to Alf Landon (pp. 175-177). He advised Landon to challenge the very idea that a recovery had taken place:
There has been no recovery . . . Recovery, with ten million unemployed? Recovery, with money at one per cent? The cheapness of money is a sign of disease. It means we have ceased to perform creative works for the future. It means we are creating no new industry.
[p. 176].

Garrett's advice was of little effect, as Landon did not directly challenge the New Deal. Garrett felt that each piece of advice to Landon was being dropped ". . . down a dry well. There is no splash." [p. 177]. H. L. Mencken shares Garrett's concerns. [p. 177].

Ramsey quotes at length from Garrett's correspondence with Rose Wilder Lane, including those letters revealing Garrett's despair after FDR's reelection in 1936. [pp. 177-180].

Garrett understood the stakes and the natural base that each side would rely on:
It is the hardest intelligence test we have ever faced. Roosevelt will get the entire moron vote. Most intelligent Republicans will have to vote the Republican ticket in spite of Landon. I am sick with disappointment. All he has said is that he will go on doing as much for people as they expect the New Deal to do for them, only in a Constitutional manner, and it will cost less. Merdes.
[p. 178.]

The post-election letters are valuable for understanding how socialism wins so many votes, despite such a miserable record [pp. 179-180]. Garrett's explanation ("They want manna and water out of the rock" (pp. 179-180)) is a precursor to certain ideas that would later appear in People's Pottage.

Click here for more detail about Garrett and Lane in Chapter 26.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Unsanctioned Voice; The New Deal transition; The Driver; Henry Galt; Gold; Austrian Business Cycle theory

Click these links for discussions of the Writer's Note , Chapters 1 and 2, Chapter 3, Chapters 4-6, Chapters 7-10 , Chapters 11 and 12 , Chapter 13 , Chapter 14 , Chapters 15 and 16 , Chapters 17-19 and Chapter 20 of Bruce Ramsey's Unsanctioned Voice.

Chapters 21 and 22 show, through Garrett's writings, the transition from the pre-New Deal depression era to the New Deal itself. The New Deal was the most momentous event in the history of the modern world. Because of the New Deal (and its more consistent counterparts of that era in Europe) millions have died, were never born, were born to different parents in different places and/or lived under tyranny (or the threat of tyranny) over the past 80 + years. Most importantly, the most prosperous and free nation in the history of the world (and western civilization itself) will die a premature death - thus bringing on chaos, tragedy and worldwide misery that will eclipse that associated with the fall of Rome. Garrett had a greater grasp of the significance of these events than most writers of his (or any) day. These chapters (and the articles they cite) give us a glimpse into the world at that transition point.

Chapter 21 features Garrett's articles advocating economic solutions that are based on individual investment and capital accumulation. Without citing The Driver (1922) specifically, Garrett recommended the actions taken by Henry Galt (pp. 148-149). Garrett proclaimed essentially that a downturn is the time to buy. Click here for a discussion of The Driver and its resolutions to the Panic of 1893 (including a lengthy quotation from Henry Galt).

While the idea of "buy low, sell high" is accepted as obvious by today's investors, it is implicitly rejected as a solution on a national scale. Instead, we let the government take actions that keep prices high and then wonder why recovery is slow or nonexistent while industry continues to disappear.

Chapter 21 recounts briefly a meeting with President Hoover where Garrett's ideas were ignored (p. 149).

Ramsey briefly identifies Garrett's theories as most closely (but not completely) associated with the Austrian school of economics (p. 145). Chapter 21 thus reminds one that while Garrett serves an invaluable role as a journalist and historian, only actual economists such as Mises can thoroughly diagnose business cycle theory from an economic perspective. (Garrett's acquiescence to the idea of a central bank (p. 145) came before the Austrian business cycle theory was known in America (see below)). Writers like Garrett, Rand, etc. provide both a philosophical justification for the economic theory of the Austrians and historical context that demonstrates our slide into tyranny.

Austrian Business Cycle theory:

Garrett's explanation of the Panic of 1893:

Ramsey notes on p. 151 that "The people were ready for the New Deal" (based on a Garrett article from October 1932). This point is debatable, as I do not believe that a people can ever be truly "ready" for tyranny until after it is imposed and takes effect. Only through the creation of dependence does a formerly free nation come to accept tyranny. Opposition to tyranny had been softened by economic conditions, but was the country really "ready" for what followed? What would Americans of 1932 say if they could see the U.S. of 2015 (and all that has happened in between)? It depends on what one means by "ready".

Chapter 22 explores briefly Garrett's opposition to the New Deal. The passion of Garrett's opposition comes through (p. 154) without the lengthy discussions that one will find in Ramsey's Salvos Against the New Deal. The discussion in Chapter 22 focuses mainly on the New Deal's seizure of gold and subsequent use and manipulation of fiat money (pp. 155-159).

Garrett foresaw the connection between fiat money and the ultimate loss of trust and character that would plague all human interaction in the United States. If money is not real and does not maintain a stable value, then contracts do not mean what they say and words themselves cannot be trusted:

All our economic undertakings above the level of solitary savage existence come to rest at last upon the security of words. Hence the importance of documents, bonds, statute books and records, lest people should dispute afterward what the words were. Then what if a sense of security in words should fail? What if it were no longer possible to trust the word of a government, that of your own or of any other; or to trust the word of a bond, the word of the law, the word of a contract, the word of a platform? . . . It requires no reflection to be able to say what the effect of this would be upon the sense of economic security.

Garrett, "The Great Moral Disaster," Saturday Evening Post, August 18, 1934 (as cited by Ramsey, p. 157).

Page 155 contains (citing a letter from Garrett to Rose Wilder Lane) Garrett's explanation of the purpose of the "Gold standard." Garrett's explanation is not fully "Austrian," but it is based on the same basic principles.

The discussion on page 157 is an abbreviated explanation of the debt crisis of the 1920's and 1930's as it related to World War I loans and reparations. A more thorough explanation appears in Garrett's Bubble That Broke the World.

Click here for a discussion of Chapters 23-25 and Garrett's opposition to the New Deal.

Labels: , , ,

Locations of visitors to this page