Monday, January 12, 2009

Today In History: It's like a preview...

On this date in 1942, President Roosevelt (the bad Roosevelt) established the National War Labor Board, a committee authorized to set labor wages for any industry deemed necessary for the nation, from digging ore out of the ground in Minnesota to turning it into Jeep fenders in Detroit to telling people how many fenders had been made over the telephone.

Actually, I should say that FDR re-established the Board, as it had originally been formed in 1918 by that laissez faire friend of freedom, Woodrow "Benito" Wilson.

For some reason, copies of the Constitution were in short supply back then; probably they were being used to line ration boxes for the War Effort. (Nowadays, Congresscritters don't actually need paper copies of the Constitution; they can just keep it on .pdf files on their laptops. Sometimes the various x-ray and magnetometer security devices in Washington corrupt the "constitution.pdf" files, but them's the breaks. There's a war on, and all.)


Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

"President Roosevelt (the bad Roosevelt)"

For me the formulation is "Roosevelt (the bad one in the wheelchair, not the good one who hunted bears)..."

I think I got that from PJ O'Rourke.

Anonymous said...

There's a good Roosevelt?!? Zut alors! Where's rigorous conservative thinking when we need it?

Tam said...

Yes, but that's not funny.

Also, the only way I'll accept the label "conservative" is if you're using it in the sense of "not a hippie". If you're using it in the sense of "stick-up-the-ass Republican", you're on the wrong blog. ;)

Anonymous said...

>>Also, the only way I'll accept the label "conservative" is if you're using it in the sense of "not a hippie". If you're using it in the sense of "stick-up-the-ass Republican", you're on the wrong blog.

Stealin' that.

karrde said...

The more I discover about T. Roosevelt's policies, and the ways in which he echoed (and competed with) Woodrow Wilson in attempts to change the old structure of American Politics into a newer, more modern, and President-centered structure, the less I think of him as a conservative.

Or even libertarian.

Admittedly, the effects of his policies seem less. But there was a massive land-grab in his creation of National Parks.

His anti-trust legislation sounds good on paper, but the rationale always felt poorly-worked-out. And the ways in which anti-trust law was ignored for political purposes, and alternatively used by one large company to hurt its competitors, make it seem to be a precursor to all modern .gov-interferes-in-the-market movements.

Tam said...

No, even the "good Roosevelt" was a proto-Progressive. He'd be more accurately called the "not-quite-as-bad Roosevelt", which is awkward off the tongue. And "worse Roosevelt" for FDR just doesn't scan.

I cut Teddy some slack for being a product of his times and generally meaning well. I think if he'd known where Progressivism would lead, he'd have sworn off the stuff and just gone and shot some more lions instead.

brbiswrite said...

WTF? Good Roosevelt, Bad Roosevelt?
I thought we won.


Tam said...

Yes, but we apparently had to burn the village to save it...

Anonymous said...

I go about as far to the small l libertarian side of things as is possible and still have room for things like traffic lights, standardized gasoline blends, and sewers in urban areas. More or less a minarchist, if such a flexible definition can be used as a label.

However, as an engineer, I'm also a pragmatist. I work with what I have, and don't really care why it works. I leave that up to the scientists.

Consider. The plethora of labor laws that can be traced back, at least in embroyo, to TR's manipulations, make labor unions essentially redundant.

Now if we can get a Republican presidential candidate to repudiate the Republicrat Bushies and say just that, with facts and figures to back it up, we might get a federal right to work law in every state.

A step backwards, in the sense that we want less government involvement in our lives, not more.

But potentially two steps forward, as it would destroy the unions, and their ability to sway elections with money, political blackmail, and large numbers of unpaid volunteers.

Until we get the laws off the books, let's use them to set the stage. And it would make us a bit more competitive financially in the mean time. The better fed Joe Six-Pack is, the less likely he is to vote Socialist.

Too Machievellian? Perhaps.

A good question to posit: How does a political group remain flexible enough to play the game, giving ground to the inevitable, advancing when they get the chance, and yet remain cohesive,focused on their original goal?

The Republicans that wrote the Contract with America meant what they said, and passed most of it.

But they fell apart when Gingrich got chopped by the media for not keeping it in his pants (a charming bit of hypocracy on their part, considering who was POTUS at the time), and they began to play the same game as the Demoncrats.

It didn't work, because the slugs realized that however much the Republicans offered them for their vote, the Democrats would pay more.

And yet the holy, sanctimonious left has always been able to keep the pressure on, from the 1920's to the 21st century.

Much of it is simply the fact that there are a lot of simple people out there, and simplistic ideas like a benevolent big brother playing Robin Hood for their benefit is about the most complicated form of government they can comprehend.

But the cretins have votes, not organization. What combination of naivete, self serving bureaucrats, elitist snobbery, dabbling plutocrats, and yellow press is it that makes up the witch's brew we call American leftism? If we really knew our enemies, we could begin to devide and conquer.

I feel a book coming on, if I can get someone to stretch the day another few hours.

This might make a good forum. How do we turn Nancy Pelosi (her husband ownes a big chunk of Star-Kist) against PETA and their "Sea Kittens" (Tam, I worship at your feet for introducing me to that one)? How do we play off the alcohol producing farmers against the Goreites? The "Open Borders" types against protectionist labor unions, the affirmative action machos against poor whites?

Yes it's cynical and manipulative. It's called politics, "war by other means". The only option is old fashined war, and I'm about two decades past thinking that would be fun.

Perhaps a simple minimalist declaration by a seed group of Republican congressmen, held up as an idea to work toward. The exact wording would be something to ponder. Any ideas?

Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

"I think if he'd known where Progressivism would lead, he'd have sworn off the stuff and just gone and shot some more lions instead."


CastoCreations said...

I'm reading The Forgotten Man by Amity Shlaes (or however you spell it) and I am horrified by how much I was NOT taught in school ... FDR was a nightmare for our economy - as were his quasi-Commi advisers (who thought Stalin's USSR and Mussolini's Italy were model countries that we should use as examples for transforming the US). It is an incredible book.

Anonymous said...

Tam sez:

No, even the "good Roosevelt" was a proto-Progressive.

Well, he was a Progressive, in the late 19thC/early 20thC definition of the word - some time before it became a codeword for Communist. Progressive then meant food regulations, child labor laws, etc.; the sort of stuff that modern unions try to take credit for to distract from their current massive failings. TR was, in the end, rather middle-of-the-road compared to his contemporaries: Wilson to the left, Taft (and later Harding) to the right.

(Right and left are really oversimplified here (Taft was a conservative Progressive pacifist, who favored laissez-faire business regs, for example). 19th/20thC American politics was rather fractious compared to now, even with the then-dominance of the Rs & Ds. Lots of party infighting. Conventions meant something then.)

Tam then sez:

I cut Teddy some slack for being a product of his times and generally meaning well.

Yep, what she said.

Some TR to chew on:

"The pacifist is as surely a traitor to his country and to humanity as is the most brutal wrongdoer."

"The man who loves other countries as much as his own stands on a level with the man who loves other women as much as he loves his own wife."

"We can have no "50-50" allegiance in this country. Either a man is an American and nothing else, or he is not an American at all."

"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."

"When they call the roll in the Senate, the Senators do not know whether to answer 'Present' or 'Not guilty.'"

And my favorite:

"The things that will destroy America are prosperity-at-any-price, peace-at-any-price, safety-first instead of duty-first, the love of soft living, and the get-rich-quick theory of life."

wv: 'squett'. Ew.

Anonymous said...

Wow, let's do our homework on TR, shall we? Not every bear-shooter is one of the good guys.

Jesus Christ, Tamara, what a gaping blind spot there.

Tam said...

Wow, like, I have!

Jesus Christ, did you read the comments prior to this one or just skip to the bottom and start typing?

Anonymous said...

Graduated income tax.
Breaking up businesses.
Drug prohibition.
Eminent domain on a biblical scale.
Real imperialism,
not just coaling stations.

"...if he'd known where Progressivism would lead"?
It didn't need to lead anywhere beyond his own administration.
He accomplished it all.
And he "meant well," too!