March 29, 2010
"At the time I became President I had grown to feel --antri deep intensity of conviction that governmental agencies must find their justification largely in the way in which they are used for the practical betterment of living and working conditions among the mass of the people. I felt that the fight was really for the abolition of privilege; and one of the first stages in the battle was necessarily to fight for the rights of he workingman. For this reason I felt most strongly that all that the government could do in the interest of labor should be done. The Federal Government can rarely act with the directness that the State governments act. It can, however, do a good deal." -- Theodore Roosevelt (autobiography)
Chew on that a moment, ThreeSourcers. I just finished President Theodore Roosevelt's autobiography. I recommend it highly and it is available free on Google Books (I have a SONY eReader that displays Google Books -- you could also read onscreen).
We had words once about TR. I had a pretty negative opinion based mostly on Gene Healy's The Cult of the Presidency and Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism. Reading through the presidents, I have tried, where I have a strong opinion, to read at least one book from the other side. So for TR I read his autobiography, William Roscoe Thayer's highly complimentary autobiography and I am partway through TR's "Through the Brazilian Wilderness."
It is impossible to not appreciate his patriotism, integrity, and the intensity of his personality. One can quickly see why Senator McCain and Governor Charlie Christ call themselves "Teddy Roosevelt Republicans." He truly looms larger than life: his Rushmore image.
He addresses accusations of executive overreach. He claims correctly that he represents the "Jackson-Lincoln" view of executive power. In a masterful, world class display of spin, he refers to objectors as the "Taft-Buchannan" view of Executive Power. Me = Lincoln, Jackson; Taft = Buchannan.
And yet -- for all my appreciation -- I see him not as much a continuation of Lincoln-Jackson but more as a precursor to Wilson-FDR-LBJ-Obama. He turns the Tenth Amendment on its ass like some rhino he has shot in his pajamas:
in such cases it is the duty of the President to act trppii tin theuiy llial he'is Llie steward of the people, aficHftatlhfe' proper aTT.itildeJtM>-4nm^to take is that haTfe bptinci"to"assume that he has the ]epa1 right to do whatever the needjTbf the people demand, unless the Constitution or the laws explicitlv torhirt him To do it
Google Books are scanned and occasionally wig out like this. It is rare that it is that bad. I did not want to cleanse it and change the actual quote -- but I think you all get the drift. He looks to the Constitution for a list of enumerated proscriptions -- and, not finding it, carries boldly on.
As you can imagine, much ink is devoted to trust-busting. The Sherman Antitrust act was turned over in US v EC Knight but President Roosevelt forced an almost identical case through a year later and got it overturned.
I'll even cede that TR and his administration may have been in the right on some of their forays against the right to contract. But he did not see what his philosophical heirs would do 100 years later. Clinton's DOJ's attack on Microsoft, the impedance on the Sirius-XM merger, &c.
The list goes on and on. Today you can add DuPont vs. Monsanto. In case you are wondering which one of the adjudicants is "the little guy," that would be DuPont. Poor fledgling child that it is, it requires gub'mint help to stop Monsanto's monopolistic practices. As Dave Berry would say, I am not making this up. The WSJ Ed Page points out that the Obama Administration is on the case:
In fact, DuPont holds a slight edge in soybean seed sales, and each company represents about one-quarter of the soybean seed market. Competition is strong in the seed industry, where Monsanto lost market share as a result of its decision to license its soybean technology to other seed producers.
Had Mister Roosevelt left things to property rights and market forces, the ills he fought would have worked themselves out through unions, state regulations, and consumer preference. By creating a government panel for Ms. Varney and Ag Chief Tom Vilsak to sit on, this insane charade continues unabated,
Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at March 29, 2010 10:39 AM