March 28, 1936 - Article - The Lost American, by Garet Garrett
For people to forsake a vision of their own greatness, unwilling to meet its demands upon their courage and powers, is not historically uncommon. But seldom if ever before has it happened that such a vision was dragged in the mud.
Ten years ago, we were at the mountaintop of the world. Our recollections of the view are somewhat bedimmed; many of them are disputed. If we turn to the record of what we were thinking and saying about it at the time, the echoes are strange. But take it only as it was in the eyes of others.
In the year 1927, a series of articles entitled The American Book of Wonder appeared in The Saturday Evening Post, reciting the prologue of these current facts:
"Why has the sign of world supremacy passed to this hemisphere? Other people are asking - most anxiously the people of Europe, because world supremacy in one hand or another had been so long a possession of theirs that they had come to think of it as a natural right. Engineers, bankers, economists, trained observers and various missions under private and public mandate have been sent hither to discover the sources and secrets of American power.
What they have found and reported in every case were the effects. Wealth, prosperity, method - these are the functions of American power.... Wipe them out entirely and they will presently appear again for the same first reason and in the same meaning. No foreign analysis of American conditions has discovered that reason or that meaning.
"The German investigators, with no word in their language for what we mean when we say prosperity, have been deeply impressed by the rationality of our mechanical and methodical procedures; they have already produced a literature on the rationalization of industry, , which is now having vogue throughout Europe....
"A London newspaper sent a delegation of trades-union people on a voyage of discovery. They visited many works, touched the fur coats and silk garments in the individual lockers of American industry's women workers, stared at the wage earner's motorcars parked by the hundreds around the factory, talked a great deal about wage-rate systems and the different theories that govern them - and went home no wiser. Their report was a tale of wonder.
"Two British engineers produced a sensation with a book on the dynamics of American industry. More mechanical power, keener instruments, better method, and mass production at low costs - there was the secret. Let England mind. But here again the mistake of taking effect as cause. Multiple production, now called mass production, is as old as industrial machines. Great Britain had it first. What makes it so astonishing to them as they now see it in the United States is the degree of its development, which is merely an effect.....
"Then a royal British delegation was appointed by His Majesty's Government to study and report on industrial conditions in the United States. It did a typical British job, full of excellence, and reported, among other discoveries, that:
"The workpeople accept experiments towards reduced costs of production, as they have always found that the result of lower costs has been increased consumption and consequently more employment.'
"The British point of view is explicit in the tern workpeople.' It is thereafter implicit in the assumption that when costs are reduced and consumption consequently has been increased, the blessing of it to the workpeople is simply more employment.
"Lastly the League of Nations decides to make a careful study of American industry in contrast with that of Europe in order to see if it will be possible, quoting the words of Monsieur Loucheur, to transpose certain parts of the American system into the European system....'
What parts of it, as parts, Europe would like to transpose are not hard to guess. One of the French explorers was André Siegfried, an eminent economist, who wrote a book entitled American Comes of Age..... But as to the American industrial system, touching the same idea that now animates the economic mind of the League of Nations, Monsieur Siegfried says:
"One is almost tempted to state that Europe, with her intelligence, technical perfection and high civilization, could adopt the same policy and also profit from her lower wages and less pretentious mode of living.'
"Which is only to show just how far he had missed it - the secret they all come seeking.
"They see in the American system low costs of production, high wages, high standards of common living; and they think: If only we had those low American costs with out low European wages, how profitable that would be......'"
That was ten years ago.
Suppose now that those same visitors return. Something else has happened to us and they wish to explore it. To begin with, they will listen to what we are saying about ourselves. They will listen most attentively at first to what officials of the Administration are saying, for they will take that to be the voice of government.
And what is the voice of government saying?
It is saying that what these European visitors thought they witnessed ten years ago was a delusion. It was the last phantasm of a monstrous social principle, sometimes called rugged individualism and sometimes by the foreign name laissez faire. It was all unreal. People were not prosperous. They had only been made to think they were.
It was worse than unreal. It was prepared, iniquitous deception. As it concerned people, who mistook the ecstasy for the substance of well being, it was unreal; but those who did this thing to the people, those who produced the extravaganza and made the people act in it, they were purposeful. They knew what they wanted.
And what did they want? The President says what they wanted, and it was diabolical. They wanted, he says, "power for themselves and enslavement for the people."
Who were they who would hold out to the people an illusion of prosperity in order to enslave them? The President again speaks. He says they were the "forces of entrenched greed," constituting a wicked "economic autocracy."
Mr. Farley, a member of the President's Cabinet, who speaks with the voice of government, is a little more definite. He does not name any names, but he tells where the wicked sat. He says: "These United States were governed by a small coterie of unprincipled brigands ensconced in luxurious offices in the skyscrapers of Manhattan, Pittsburgh and Chicago."
Mr. Ikes, another member of the President's Cabinet, also speaking with the voice of government, defined them. They were "the exploiters, the industrial Simon Legrees, holding to their tasks men, women and children too weak too defend themselves," men bloated with "incomes ill-gotten from the drooping bodies of little children." All the while, he adds, the rich were growing richer and the poor were growing poorer, and it was altogether, "a system of industrial serfdom," managed by "a cruel ruthless exploiting class." (pp. 8-9)
The voice of government is continually saying that people must believe in themselves. But people who are cynical about one another cannot believe in themselves. Again, the voice of government is continually saying that the Government believes in the people. But how can the Government believe in the people who cannot believe in themselves? In fact, the Government divides the people, and find itself believing in only one part of them - namely, what it calls the underprivileged or weaker part. The contradiction is that its attitude toward this weaker part in paternal. This means that the Government believes in itself, not people - certainly not in the people to the extent of supposing that they can solve their own troubles and take care of themselves. The people who respond to paternal government and want it are people who have lost rugged faith in themselves, and a paternal government assuming to underwrite their daily welfare and their economic security in one that has no rugged faith in them. (pg. 9)
The Government must say how the national income shall be divided. There is no other way. The Government takes and the Government gives. Then you have government by gift giving. That is bad for government. It is worse for the people, for it will destroy them as American people. They will be of another kind. (pg. 114)
Comments: The people in the Unites States are indeed a different people today. Before the New Deal of the 1930's, as I must emphasize again, working people received their wages free from taxation. This was the cornerstone of the free labor market that used to exist before the labor Cannibals took over power in Government. Today, however, most people look with contempt upon those who do not file and pay income tax on their labor. This proves that a different way of thinking has been implanted in the minds of most people. Is today's prosperity real or is it an illusion? Are people today free or have they been made to feel that they're free? Do people really own different forms of property today? - Or does credit merely give them the privilege of using different forms of property as long as they can make the payments? FDR said that the "economic autocracy" back in his day was trying to enslave the people. Let's examine this logically. Justice McLean, in the Dred Scott case, stated that:
It is immaterial whether a system of slavery was introduced by express law, or otherwise, if it have the authority of law. There is no slave state where the institution is not recognized and protected by statutory enactments and judicial decisions.
So it is the law supported by judicial decisions that gives slavery its force, and recall that Justice Curtis, in the Dred Scott case, said that it is "the compulsory power of directing and receiving the fruits of his [the slave's] labor" that determines the status of slavery. These people that were branded as the "economic royalists" back then were employers that paid wages to their employees. How could employers be directing and receiving the fruits of the labor of their employees if those wages were paid in full free from any taxes or fees? However, the Government today, at both the Federal and state levels, on a massive scale, imposes taxes and fees on the wages of employees, so that the employees only receive an allowance from their labor. In doing this, is not the Government directing and receiving the fruits of the labor of working people? It is the Government that imposes the status of slavery on the employees, not the employers, for it is the Government that makes the laws that operate upon labor and enforces them. How today's rulers refute slavery arguments is also of interest. One web site that is 100% pro-income tax is www.quatloos.com. The site says that it is: Financial & Tax Fraud Education Associates, Inc., a Non-Profit Corporation. They believe that there is no argument on the face of the earth that is valid against the income tax. I sent them an email once sharing with them the fruits of my research and asked them about the slavery questions when it came to taxing human labor. Here's the response I got.
Thanks for your message. We have found the "slavery" argument to be one of the dumbest of the many dumb arguments put forth by tax protestors. The reason is stunningly simple: How can people be said to be "slaves" when they are totally, 100% free to leave the U.S. at any time and travel to any one of a number of countries that have no income tax, like Costa Rica or Haiti? The reason that people will not travel to Costa Rica or Haiti or other countries where there is no income tax is twofold: (1) the average standard of living in those countries doesn't even begin to approach that of the U.S.; and (2) even those countries impose other taxes (which are worse than income taxes) to finance their governments.
The person that responded did not reveal his/her name. That's one interesting thing about the quatloos web site, you don't know who the people are, but they sure think you're dumber than dumb to oppose the income tax on labor. They appeal to the standard of living argument; that the average standard of living in the U.S. is better than most countries in the world. They say you are free to leave the U.S.. These facts negate the slavery arguments, in their opinion. What do you think? Either your labor is free or it is bound to some degree of servitude. That's the way it's always been throughout history. William Channing, back in pre Civil War times, saw what arguments the slaveholders were making to justify their institution of slavery. In 1839, in his Remarks on the Slavery Questions, Channing stated:
Wherever the subject is discussed, we are told, that through the lenity of the master, the slave suffers less than the laborer in most other countries. He has more comforts, we hear. He is happier. To this refuge the slaveholder always flies.
The slavery back in Channing's day couldn't be denied. After all, it was actual bondage; a form of slavery where slave property [property in human labor] was sold on the open market, such as at public auctions. But whether it be in the form of Bondage or Cannibalism, it uses the same old worn out logic to justify its power over the labor of multitudes. The only difference today is that those who support the system will deny that any servitudes exist at all and they'll use quatloos logic to defend their position.