Friday, May 16, 2008

What are we to do about wealth? Teddy Roosevelt says let's not go to extremes.

Governor Roosevelt says that some people want government to confiscate all the wealth from corporations. They seem to think that "it is the duty of all railroad corporations to carry everybody free and give him a chromo." And then there are those other people — "scarcely less primative" — who don't think corporations should pay any tax at all. This is an especially stupid position because it "inevitably tends to produce the man who occupies the first position." So "the worst enemy of property" are those who think property is untouchable by government. Worse of all are the legislators, those who say:

"I am against corporations; ain't going to give them any powers."

And those who say:

"The corporations — they want this? What will they pay for it?"

Let's hope the New York governor gets his way.

THE YEAR THAT BLOG FORGOT IS: 1899.

19 comments:

bearbee said...

Link error message

Ann Althouse said...

Sorry. Fixed.

Headless Blogger said...

TR lost me at chromo. He couldn't mean an Aussie prostitute. I did learn a new word today.

bearbee said...

Cannot get to article. Keep getting error. I even cut and pasted link.

Oh, well.

Ann Althouse said...

So frustrating!

I have a workaround. Try it now.

Ann Althouse said...

Chromo = chromolithograph. A colored print.

Paddy O. said...

This is great stuff:

I am going to speak, as you would have the right to expect me to speak, of what affects us at the present moment here in this State—of one of those problems with which we, who are for the time being your servants and representatives in public life, are trying to deal.

Now, take the very question that you have seen advocated and which you will see advocated some more during the next fen days—the question of the taxation of franchises. On the one hand we have the perfectly simple savage who believes that you should tax franchises to the extent of confiscating them, and that it is the duty of all rail¬road corporations to carry everybody free and give him a chromo. On the other, we have the scarcely less primitive mortal who believes that there is something sacred in a franchise, and that there is no reason why it should pay its share of the burdens at all.

Wow, gentlemen, remember that the man who occupies the last position inevitably tends to produce the man who occupies the first position, and that the worst enemy of property is the man who, whether from unscrupulousness or from mere heedlessness and thoughtlessness, takes the ground that there shall be something sacred about all property—-that the owners of it are to occupy a different position in the community from all others, and are to have their burdens not increased, but diminished, because of their wealth.


Can I vote for him?

This is an interesting article especially in this present moment. What are the obligations of the New York Times and the expectations we should have on them to release their property for our benefit? Clearly, they are a corporation, and to continue they need to have the ability to make money off their property. And yet, they are not only a corporation but a public repository of historical documents.

Surely the content that appeared 10, 20, 30 years ago has already paid for itself, making significantly more profit for the corporation than what is presently being produced. So we are not asking the Times to provide purely out of its own largesse. Instead we are suggesting what is mentioned in that great last sentence, that holding onto all the property merely because they can in fact incites attempts to undermine the what should be held.

This is most clearly evident in the illegal downloading of music and movies.

It is also the case that the Times seems to follow a policy of advocating others to be free with property when they themselves are miserly. Bitterness and frustration and beginning to look for other resources results, thus diminishing the property even more.

Not to jump subjects but this is happening with oil too. By having too high of costs the property owners are driving technology to discover alternative forms of transportation that will undermine oil altogether. Those who hold too tight create those who want to rid themselves of the burden of property owners whether through direct action or by negating the property altogether.

This was the genius of the homestead act. The United States was rich in land. And it made use of that land by both giving and receiving, encouraging a wealthy nation of free men and women.

paul a'barge said...

Headless, what did you find out about chromo?

Paddy O. said...

Oh, and cut and paste provided by Abby FineReader.

Headless Blogger said...

Paul - AA provided the answer above. I eventually found it here.

http://www.wsu.edu/~campbelld/engl302/paper5.doc

Chromo was apparently a very common term in the late 19th century. Twain used it in 1883, and Teddy in 1899.

bearbee said...

Quick, send copies to all candidates as well as to all Congresspersons!

bearbee said...

Thanks for workaround.

bearbee said...

"I wish I could warn all my countrymen against that most degrading of processes-the process of deification of any man for what we are pleased to term smartness; the deification of mere intellectual acuteness, unaccompanied by moral responsibility, wholly without reference to whether it is exercised in accordance or not in accordance with the elementary rules of morality."

bearbee said...

One should not deify...anyone...period!

Headless Blogger said...

bearbee - The quote that you posted could be pointed at Van Hise and the other UW intellectuals who advised LaFollette around that time. The chronology is a bit off, but between the Wisconsin Idea (the deification of mere intellectual acuteness) and Van Hise's promotion of eugenics (unaccompanied by moral responsibility); TR's words could be a criticism of Fighting Bob, his (future?) rival.

bearbee said...

Was there a danger of a La Follette 'deification' similar to Senator O?

Headless Blogger said...

Was there a danger of a La Follette 'deification' similar to Senator O?

Yes. We have worshipped at the alter of RMLaF, Sr. for over a century in this state. Even today.

I take issue with the application of that passage to BO. He is anything but an intellectual. He sounds good, but his words are dopey. There is no thought behind them.

I won't make judgement of his morality, but nothing he's done really jumps out that I consider far from his stated Christian beliefs.

Paddy O. said...

"I won't make judgement of his morality, but nothing he's done really jumps out that I consider far from his stated Christian beliefs."

And I'll bet there won't be any pictures found of Michelle O riding a bicycle.

MarkW said...

TR lost me at chromo. He couldn't mean an Aussie prostitute. I did learn a new word today.

The other place I remember hearing that word is in 'North by Northwest' in the art auction scene where Cary Grant insults one of the works of art being auctioned by calling it a 'chromo'.