Mitt, My Good Man





Romney: Rivals’ attacks a ‘good warm-up’

copyright © 2012 Betsy L. Angert.  Empathy And Education; BeThink or  BeThink.org

Dearest Mitt . . .

I am unsure if we have had the pleasure of an in-person exchange.  I too travel in political circles.  However, I do not recall.  Perhaps we met in the past.  I trust I have done business with you and your firm, Bain Capital.  Bravo on your successes.

Please allow me to introduce myself by way of this letter.  This morning, I caught a glimpse of your Today Show interview with Matt Lauer.  I heard you speak of the exaggerated envy now heard on the campaign trail.  Oh, my friend Mitt, how I relate. If I might; well stated my man. People do want what they do not have. First Bain, then the White House.  Indeed, one Chief Executive position ensured that you were a world power.  The other is but a natural transition. Instead of having a seat at the table of global influence, as President of the United States, you, old man, will own the table.

I concur with the thought expressed in the title of a Wall Street Journal Mitt.  The Bain Capital Bonfire. Romney has a good story to tell, if he’s willing to tell it. Might you have read the account my friend?  The treatise speaks of the gains and losses, signature events in our glorious Capitalist system.  You know the tale dear Mitt and I trust you will articulate it well. I look forward to the day when you share it with me personally; perhaps, over dinner.  Until then, may I offer my own anecdote.  It speaks of why I do not envy you.

Mitt, my man, I am an extremely wealthy individual.  Granted, financially, I have had my share of ups and downs.  At birth, I was born into money.  My father, Michael, had been a very poor young man.  One of thirteen children, the son of first generation Americans, Michael had to work his way to the top.  

Michael enrolled in University. He may have been the first in his family.  He completed his degree in Accounting.  Michael sought and realized Certification.  Then, “visionary” that he was Michael opened his own business. The man was an expert at making money.  He made millions for his client and much for himself.  Ultimately, his firm grew and grew.  

At the time of my birth, my parents lived in a large house on a hill.  The estate was built only a year before.  “Mother” designed the private residence herself.  She chose the neighbor and the acreage.  It was a beautiful plot of land, rolling hills, a deep forest to roam through.  I used to  wander the woods for hours on end.

As a seedling, conceived in a Waldorf Astoria Hotel suite, you might correctly imagine that, as  a child, my clothes were all New York designer collections.  My backyard playground was furnished with the finest swing sets.  We had two.  Sliding boards, climbing bars, and seesaws as well.  Among my favorite toys was not a plaything at all.  Made of wood, large and spacious, a cabin graced the grounds.  Outside of my little log home was a sandbox.  The container for tiny grains did not sit on a lawn. No. the box was built deep into the soil. When I sat within, a portion of my body might appear buried below the surface of the land.  Did I mention the whirly-bird? Oh, Mitt, my life was a child’s delight . . . or so it might have appeared.

I trust any child would have been envious of me, all that I had, and did daily. We vacationed often. A skating weekend here, days away at a resort . . . Sun and fun. Snow and frolic.  ate at the best restaurants regularly. My “father” owned one, that is, in name only.  The Penthouse was an investment made on a client’s behalf.   Taxes, title exchanges. . . shelters and such.   I am sure you understand old man.

My Mom too lived a lovely life. She had no need to work.  Philanthropic endeavors were her want.  Dressed to the nines, she volunteered hither and yon.  At times, the women would play. Bowling. Cards. Shopping.  Mommy was active in many an organization.  Religious affiliations were a wondrous source of shared pleasure.  Father’s career was furthered through the associations.  Mother made friends with the women during daylight hours.  In the evening, the men would join their wives at a club.  On countless occasions, a bigger bash was planned.  

Often, my parents hosted these.  The best china, the finest crystal, and oh the food.  Catered gourmet delicacies filled every room.  As a tot, I would sneak out of my room and “steal” a snack. Sure to be noticed, I was met with a smile and “Is she not so cute?”

Cute? Charming? Endearing? So it might seem. Reason for envy? Absolutely!  That is, if it were true.  Yes, the tale is accurate.  The account is my life.  However, as blissful as it might sound, as beautiful as it might be or have been, it was not.  There were hidden hurts.  

I was a spoiled child. Not spoiled, overindulged or a tike with too much.  I had nothing! There was no love. My parents had no time for me. The two hired a woman to raise me before I was born.  I was given everything, anything my little heart desired, except a connection.  Try as I might, I could not bond with my parents.  I had elder sisters. However, they too abandoned me prior to my first appearance in their home.  

The pair was forever busy.  Each had friends who were surely more fun than a baby sibling.   Fine fabrics hung in their closets and were worn on their backs.  Their bedrooms were as full as their lives without me.  While it may seem that only I was unhappy in this home, in this family, at the age of eight and one half, I discovered the truth.

Ten days after my parents wedding anniversary, my Mom walked out!  I was eight.  My sisters were much older.  It was a Sunday. The five of us were it the same eatery we dined at each Sunday, just as we had for years.  We just ordered dinner when my eldest sibling asked for her allowance.  Mother said she could not have it until she cleaned her room.  Father, on the other hand, assured her she would never need to clean.  He would forever furnish her with a Maid and of course, her pocket money  

I will not bore you with the details or the drama, my friend.  Suffice to say, my mother looked across the table at her selfish children, her moneyed husband whose sincerest interest was to have more, and decided she wanted none of it.  Mommy rose from the table.  Walked towards the door and then, through it.  She left!  Stunned, the rest of us sat there for a minute.  I wonder; was my father thinking of the food that had yet to arrive, or . . .

I will never know. He never spoke to me much.  The next day he did tell us to clean our rooms. We did, but it was too late.  Mother was determined to make a life for herself and any of us who wished to join her.  For a time, there were two of us children.  My eldest sister and I elected to be with our Mom and her new husband, the man I finally felt I could call Dad.

While Mommy was awarded child support and alimony, she refused each.  Barbara wanted none of Michael’s “Dirty Money!” She had had enough of what she characterized as “ill gotten gains.”  That was the reason she chose to give it all up.  We moved to another State and to other than a wealthy suburb.  Our family of four lived a far different life than the one we had always known.  We were poor, dirt poor.

Living on $1500 a year . . . Yes, you read that right. Fifteen-hundred a year for a family of four.  Welfare knocked on our door and said, “You need to apply for financial assistance.  You are eligible.” However, my parents refused.  Mommy wanted no handouts.  Daddy yearned to make it on his, our own.  Mommy gardened.  Daddy did all our household repairs.  Logan returned to school and also worked for meager wages.  Mother too secured a position.  You might recall the once vibrant five and dime, W.T. Grant and Company. Mommy’s employee  discount helped.  The woman who for a score purchased her lingerie at Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord and Taylor, Bonwit Teller’s and other  exclusive establishments bought my first brassiere at Grant’s.

As a child in this newer reality, I was allowed one new outfit in the Fall of the year, for the first day of school and one in the Spring.  Chic, expensive, exceptional and elegant designs? Not anymore.  There were no dollars for such fabulous duds.  Next to nothing at little cost would have to do.  This was true in every aspect of life.

Mommy grew vegetables. Daddy helped.  All our produce was fresh grown.  Breads, pies, cakes and cookies all came out of the family oven.  Store bought goodies were a luxury we could not afford.  Later, Daddy took up fishing.  Even before that, all our entrees were prepared from scratch. Meals were a time for conversation and connections. At last, I was connected!!!!!  That is rich; a richness I envied whenever and wherever I saw it.  Ultimately, I had it! With not a dime to my name, I had love!  I was loved!!!!!!  Mitt, I trust you likely think you have love as well, and money, and that is the reason others feel envious.  Again, I relate to your reality my friend Mitt.

Over the years, wealth once again became part of my life, or perhaps more accurately, in my Mom’s life, by extension, I too had enough. The family moved to another magnificent house.  A panoramic window looked out onto the ocean. The neighbors were highly educated, esteemed, experts in their respective fields.  You know Mitt; they were our kind of people.

While our life was similar to what it was in earlier, years it was not as it had ever been. The difference; this time was our greenbacks were clean!  We laughed often at our lot in life as we do now upon reflection.  So my friend, I do not envy you.  I have and want not.  Oh certainly Mitt, I, as most humans might, enjoy nice “things.”  I acknowledge that is far easier when earnings are great.  However; while I never expected to quote Governor Rick Perry, in this moment I will.  “There is a real difference between Venture Capitalism and Vulture Capitalism.”  My personal experience Mitt is: A vulture capitalist eats children and families.  A venture capitalist feeds people so that they might prosper.  A free market Entrepreneur wishes to ensure that every person, one and all, have the earnings necessary to live well.

References and Resources . . .

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Capitalism; Dead, Alive, and Broken

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copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

For but a moment, whilst the Group of 20 [G20] met in London’s ancient financial capital, ,”The City,” the roars of remorse, could be heard.  Words of woe had been whispered in hushed tones for quite some time.  Scholars spoke of various possibilities on occasion.  Whether Senior Economic Fellows from various think-tanks thought a system to be dead, alive, or near doomed, there was perhaps a bit of agreement.  “I see what you mean.  It is broken,” Economist Mark Thoma mused more than a year ago.  

The public screamed out in pain for decades; however, few cared about the cries of countless common folks.  Those who argued against principles that place profits before people were easily ignored for they had no power and less influence.  Much to the chagrin of corporate titans, even Economists warned; this could be the end of Capitalism.  Yet, until early in the day, only weeks ago, no one paid much attention to what has become a customary declaration for everyday workers.  Morning has broken, and Capitalism is shattered as well.  

America adopted and advanced a system that was unsustainable..  More than once, “systemic failures” revealed the folly of free enterprise principles.  Nonetheless, worldwide people were convinced to purchase damaged goods and premises.  Yet, as Journalist Professor, Robert Jensen contends, “most notably those in the business world and their functionaries and apologists in the schools, universities, mass media, and mainstream politics” do not want to admit that this is so.

Wanted; Dead or Alive

The evidence is everywhere.  What was a question rarely uttered, “Is Capitalism Dead?” has become a statement, or perhaps the dream of those who have been severely affected by this most devastating downturn.

Wealthy watch breathlessly as stock markets crash.  Banks fail.  Blue Chip companies crumble.  Foreclosures flourish, and people, those once thought prosperous, pour out onto the avenue in search of a job, or some sense of stability.

Perhaps, that is why, average citizens felt a need to break the silence, to speak of the broken Capitalist system.  In the shadow of powerful and prosperous Presidents and Prime Ministers, who gathered together for the G20 Conference, 4,000 demonstrators pleaded, not for pity, but for relief from a fiscal system that requires poverty.  

Frustrated and forlorn by an attitude that fosters further advancement of free market principles, at least in the United Kingdom, dissenters shouted in disgust.  It would not be wise to work within an economic structure that changed the global culture in ways that ultimately brought international institutions down.  

On a fateful day, early in April a young girl in the crowd, Aeyla Windridge pleaded.  I want “the death of Capitalism.”  The twelve-year-old spoke to what Heads of State had not for centuries.  “Capitalism isn’t in crisis, capitalism is the crisis,” so said another activist.  

Recovery, Reinvestment, and Rescue

Few of the principal players, those who represented the twenty participant countries were willing, or able to acknowledge the free market theory is flawed.  Most of the prominent Heads of State were, and continue to be, content with sanguine assessments.  Up to 85 percent of global gross national product comes from the shores of but a score of countries.  Eighty [80] percent  of world trade comes from these territories.  Americans, who might be thought of as the authors of Capitalism, saw and see no reason to change the status quo, at least not substantially.

Borrow and spend had worked well in the past for the superpower, or so the US government attempted to advocate.  While the President poses this philosophy cannot stand, America must move away “from an era of borrow-and-spend to one where we save and invest,” in the same breath, the Chief Executive who represents the country that gave birth to free enterprise, endorses the framework, just as those who preceded him did. (Please peruse the text What Ever Happened to Free Enterprise, By Ronald Reagan)

Capitalism, the Obama Administration states, was not the cause of the planet-wide monetary collapse.  Only greed, excesses, and a lack of regulations brought about the demise of the dollar, and the rate of exchange.  As he addressed other world leaders in attendance at the G20 Conference President Obama conceded, “the crisis began in the United States.  I take responsibility even if I wasn’t even president at the time.” However, Mister Obama contends all countries must be accountable for this massive macro-breakdown.  America’s Chief Executive proposes plans intended to strengthen a Capitalist structure.

In his April 4, 2009 Action to Address to the Global Economic Downturn, President Obama encouraged more regulations in an attempt to expand a consumer-based Capitalist theory.  With little regard for how the American way of life, which the President does not apologize for, cripples common, people throughout the world, Mister Obama declared.

“(W)e know that the success of America’s economy is inextricably linked to that of the global economy. If people in other countries cannot spend, that means they cannot buy the goods we produce here in America,  . . . if we continue to let banks and other financial institutions around the world act recklessly and irresponsibly, that affects institutions here at home as credit dries up, and people can’t get loans to buy a home or car, to run a small business or pay for college.

Ultimately, the only way out of a recession that is global in scope is with a response that is global in coordination.”

One is reminded of why, in earlier years, no one spoke vociferously of the crisis that is Capitalism.  Ordinary people were busy.  For centuries, regular folks worked day and night only to bring home a nominal paycheck.  Even in prosperous nations, people could barely afford to put food on the table.  People took trivial jobs just to secure shelter.  Millions felt forced to pursue professional paths that offer few rewards.  The only goal for the average Joe and Jane was to stay afloat.  Few have had the time or energy to protest their circumstances, or what the powers-that-be had and have imposed internationally.  Today, and in the past, worldwide economic slavery has sufficed.  That is until now.  

Lest the President and Prime Ministers elsewhere forget, in the States, and abroad, people are out of work.  The promise of an ownership society,where “people, from all walks of life,” would open the door of their private residence and say, “Welcome to my home” proved to be but a myth.  The pledge of plump stock portfolios for everyone through Capitalism was a claim never substantiated.  Contrary to the oft-voiced assurances, the American Dream could be achieved anywhere on Earth If people only invested in a free market economy, this current fiscal crisis has shown the world, words were but wishes promoted by the prosperous.

Regardless of how average people are punished by a fiscal formula that requires there be poor people, the current President intends to preserve the Capitalist principles that govern a global economy.  While Mister Obama may not profess a commitment to an “ownership society,” he too wishes to encourage people to possess what they cannot afford.  

Broken Beyond Benevolence

In contrast, more than a few Economists have begun to contemplate the wisdom of a system based on constant consumption.  Experts in monetary movements examine, What went wrong and, rather more importantly for the future, what did not. Other statistician who study the social science of fiscal affairs suggest there is ““Good Capitalism, (and) Bad Capitalism.”  Certainly, no matter the belief, with cause, “Capitalism is under fire.”  

William Pfaff, the author of eight books on American foreign policy, international relations, and contemporary history has pondered the depths of a paradigm profoundly broken. Mister Pfaff offers a perspective less limited than the simpler theories often presented by Administrations and Academics.  The  observer of intercontinental issues writes . . .

The essential question is, what capitalism are we talking about? Since the 1970s, two fundamental changes have been made in the leading (American) model of capitalism.

The first is that the “stakeholder,” post-New Deal reformed version of capitalism (in America) that prevailed in the West after World War II was replaced by a new model of corporate purpose and responsibility.

The earlier model said that corporations had a duty to ensure the well-being of employees, and an obligation to the community (chiefly but not exclusively fulfilled through corporate tax payments).

That model has been replaced by one in which corporation managers are responsible for creating short-term “value” for owners, as measured by stock valuation and quarterly dividends.

The practical result has been constant pressure to reduce wages and worker benefits (leading in some cases to theft of pensions and other crimes), and political lobbying and public persuasion to lower the corporate tax contribution to government finance and the public interest.

In short, the system in the advanced countries has been rejigged since the 1960s to take wealth from workers, and from the funding of government, and transfer it to stockholders and corporate executives.

There is ample evidence to support the author’s contention.  In 1970, the recipient of a Nobel Memorial Prize on Economic Sciences, Milton Friedman, encouraged an emphasis on corporate earnings. A culture that creates a vibrant community, Friedman insisted is counter to “The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits”

Decades later, his disciples of sorts, Presidents Ronald Reagan,  George Herbert Walker Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush, each implemented plans that increased earned income for the influential and decreased available dollars for the already disadvantaged.  Policies designed to protect and promote an American entrepreneurial taxonomy, or Capitalistic interests, were proposed as a means to spread democracy.  Planet-wide, people and economic practices were transformed.

The second change that has taken place is globalization.  The crucial effect of this for society in the advanced countries is that it puts labor into competition with the poorest countries on earth.

We need go no further with what I realize is a very complex matter, other than to note the classical economist David Ricardo’s “iron law of wages,” which says that in conditions of wage competition and unlimited labor supply, wages will fall to just above subsistence.

There never before has been unlimited labor.  There is now, thanks to globalization – and the process has only begun.

The variance is vast.  Those who have possess so much.  The portion of population that owns little, have far less than even an average individual might imagine.  The wealthy cannot conceive of a life where food might be the most valuable commodity.  A world in which water is worth more than gold seems unthinkable to those who thrive in “civilized” communities,  Yet, this reality may come to towns in a Capitalist country.   Indeed, in some American communities, this truth appears today.

Nonetheless, agreements secured at the G20 summit ensure the adoption of a debt-driven American-style “democracy.”  An arrangement, in which all are not created equal, will continue to be the practiced and preferred economic system planet-wide.  People will once again forget assessments presented less than a decade ago.


Many of the radicals leading the protests may be on the political fringe.  But they have helped to kick-start a profound re-thinking  about globalization among governments, mainstream economists, and corporations that, until recently, was carried on mostly in obscure think tanks and academic seminars.

The reassessment is badly overdue.  In the late 20th century, global capitalism was pushed by leaps in technology, the failure of socialism, and East Asian’s seemingly miraculous success.  Now, it’s time to get realistic.  the plain truth is that market liberalization by itself does not lift all boats, and in some cases, it has caused damage to poor nations.  What’s more, there’s no point denying that multi-nationals have contributed to labor, environmental, and human rights abuses as they pursue profits around the globe . . .

(After a ten-year expansion of market capitalism around the world, as of the year 2000) The World Bank figures the number of people living on a $1 a day increased to 1.3 billion, over the past decade.

The extremes of global capitalism are astonishing . . .  If global capitalism’s flaws aren’t addressed, the backlash could grow more severe.

Indeed, the repercussions have been relentless.  Near a century of consumption, solely for the sake of profits, has weakened the world.  The current fiscal crisis reveals Capitalism was never the cure for what ails the people on this planet.  Persistent poverty, and the threat of increased insolvency, born out of a free enterprise system is an expense few, if any, can afford.  One need only look at Capitalism, and what it has wrought.  Acquisitive individuals may acknowledge one reaps what one sows.  Independently, or collectively, as a global community anyone might come to understand, “If my brother is poor, I/we too will suffer.  Ultimately, I/we will pay for the poverty I/we accept.”  

Without such a realization, and inspired by the spirit of an individualism that has flourished amongst free-marketers, people may, as President Obama proclaimed.  Worldwide, or here at home, we “want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that [has] been missing.”  However, it is not another glorious “morning in America.”  Nor is it a beautiful day in most neighborhoods.  Were the clouds to clear, globally people might avow, authentically, there need be an actual new dawn.  It is time to dream of economic structures that have never been.

The majorities in the States, and throughout the globe, are no longer silent.  Common folks have spoken.  Capitalism is broken.  It is not wanted, dead or alive.

Sources for economic and empathetic structures . . .

The Free Market

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copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

A child shrieks.  Her fever is high; it has been for days.  As the time passes, her condition worsens.  Blood, sweat, and tears roll down the little girl’s cheek.  Her mother gently, strokes the tot’s forehead.  The loving parent, who lost her job a month earlier, knows there is little else she can do.  Spare dollars, she has none.  Change has not come.  Without health insurance or an income, this woeful woman believes she can only lean forward and say, “Honey, everything will be all right.”  The free market will take care of us.

The mother recalls the sentiment of her former employer.  Reluctantly, as the reality of the recession set in, he closed the shop he owned for more than two decades.  He tried to console his tearful staff and himself.  Sorrowfully, he said, “The free market will take care of us.”  

Would the free market care for a sick child or a workforce ill with grief?  Might the free market offer job insecurity, a benefit lost long ago?  Could or would the free market ever calculate the  number of unemployed and underemployed who do not appear in the statistics sited.  American society is economically sick.  Spare dollars, we have none.  Change has not come.

In America, an adult man cries out in pain.  Emotionally he is distressed, economically depressed.  Although he is highly educated, and was esteemed in his field, today, he too cannot claim to be gainfully employed, at least not any more.  Ego aside, monetarily he has lost it.  He never imagined he would be out of work, let alone for this long.  On the radio and television he hears, Republicans in Congress feel they were “left out” when the economic jobs bill was drafted.  He knows not whether to laugh or cry.  

“No one asked me if I might be included in decisions that directly affect my life,” the woeful, out of work mister muses.  “Left out?”  The man, who once made a six-figure salary, is now left out in the cold.  This once successful gentleman cannot pay his mortgage.  The bank has foreclosed on his home.  His future is grim.  Spare dollars, he has none.  Change has not come.

Yet, persons sheltered from a physical and financial storm speak of the extraordinary system that made America a superpower.  Those opposed to the stimulus package proposed by the President of the United States believe the free market will take care of us.  Nothing needs to be done.  The job market will improve some time soon.  This crisis is but a blip.

Information from the Conference Board, a global, independent membership organization that delivers knowledge about management and the marketplace, is but a sign of our current recession.

Two million job losses are predicted for 2009; 2.6 million were lost in 2008.  There is no need to worry.  For now, spare dollars, Americans have none.  Change has not come.  Nonetheless, we can be certain Centrists and those on the Right believe, “The free market will take care of us.”  

Those most affected by a long time lack of regulations, the people who did not benefit from a free market mentality, whimper, and wail.  For them, this economic crisis began near a decade ago.  Deregulation dominated and a monetary downfall was delivered.  Those desperate for change to come understand, citizens of what was once one of the wealthiest countries in the world, lost employer benefits years before they received a pink slip.  

Few average Americans have been able to send their children to college for decades.  Without constraints, the cost of a University education has increased 268 percent over the last thirty years.  

The housing bubble did not suddenly burst this past September.  The fragile foundation that held up the American economy was shaky long before the commercial real estate market felt the quake.

These common folks plead with the Administration.  They say, as they did during the two-year Presidential campaign,  “Spare dollars, we have none.  Change has not come.”!

Faces flushed with despair delivered their message this Fall.  They waited to vote.  When the free market did not take care of them, they elected an Administration they hoped would.  

Today, these persons wail.  The woe has worsened.  The White House hears their cries.  The new President asks Legislators to shed a tear for their constituents.  Each Senator and Congressperson swears they do.  However, some howl for voters who live in luxury homes.  Others sob for those who have nothing left.  Each declares; spare dollars, we have none.  Change has not come.

In quiet moments, anyone in this country might be victim to the inertia weighing heavily on Americans.  No one is sure what tomorrow might bring, monetarily.  Countless workers fear they may be next in an unemployment line.  Small business owners, squeezed, ponder the possibility of a financial failure  Even bellwether Blue Chip companies feel the pinch.  Dividend dollars will not be paid to investors.  More companies are likely to fail.  Reports are fifteen (15) Companies Might Not Survive 2009.

Throughout America, tears and fears flourish.  The free market has taken care of us all.  It is debatable whether a lack of government regulations has done this country well.  Indeed, those in Congress deliberate.

In the countryside, there is agreement; misery multiplies.  Most would say “There is no pain-free cure for Recession.”  Consensus amongst the citizenry and members of Congress could be, “It is time for all of us to tighten our belts.”  Americans now spend less, save more, and sob as they anxiously await relief.  

Wunderkinds on Wall Street maintain; “This too shall pass.”  Persons on Main Street are concerned that they, or their progeny, might pass before any evidence of prosperity is realized.  Centrists in Congress crouch in the corner.  They remain proud, possibly calmed by the knowledge that they can insist that the Administration must, as Nobel Prize recipient, Economist, Paul Krugman states be  “comforting [of] the comfortable while afflicting the afflicted.” Thus, “the Destructive Center,” also a term coined by Mister Krugman, will preserve the status quo, and stimulate a more catastrophic economic slump.  

In the name of the free market, more taxes will be cut.  Less regulations on businesses and banks will be realized.  Average Americans, in greater numbers, will walk to soup kitchens, sell trinkets that were once treasures, tend to loved ones who are injured, ill, and without medical coverage. Common citizens in the country will cry out.  Rather than hear the pleas of the poor and the newly impoverished, members of Congress, those who are well-off, the financially secure, and steadfast will say, “The free market will take care of us all!”

References for Recession . . .

How Might I Honor Free Market Economist, Milton Friedman? ©

I was participating in what some economists might consider the “free market” society when I heard the news on the radio.  I was out shopping.  My experience of going to the market, or bazaar has long been truly bizarre.  I know that economists speak of “supply and demand” and how this principle governs the marketplace.  Experts claim the consumer perceives a need and the corporations then deliver.  Companies provide the products people prefer; however, that is not my perception.  Nevertheless, I digress.

The broadcaster announced that Milton Friedman had passed.  A long eulogy followed.  I listened intently, for I knew I would wish to pay homage to this man.  Nobel Prize winner Friedman played an important role in Economic Science and in American life.  Actually, his influence is felt worldwide.

I am still grappling with my own guilt; I did not write of John Kenneth Galbraith when he passed and I was raised on his teachings.  Perchance, I will need to correct that omission, for it may haunt me forever.

Yet, here I sat, listening to the reports, reflecting, and knowing it would be challenging for me to pay homage to a man whose policies, practices, and philosophies were so far from my own.  I do believe, from all I ever read and heard his marriage was a very happy one.

I pondered; what might I say.  I recall even those that differ with me have made statements I admire.  Perhaps, I could offer a notable citation or two.  I discovered one that resonated within me; “The power to do good is also the power to do harm.”

I contemplated Milton Friedman’s own words, “In the realm of policy, I regard eliminating the draft as my most important accomplishment.”  As I studied this construct, I discovered his influence was not as strong as his words might suggest.  There were others, even a nation crying out for change.  From the time the President’s Commission on an All-Volunteer Force met, till the time of deliverance, the draft ended, three years passed.

I did discover that Milton Friedman was very influential in advancing this transition.  Still, I did not believe that this issue could be my focus.

I pursued further, feeling frustrated and yet acknowledging what is true for me.  Differences need not divide us.  Among humans, there are similarities that lay beneath the surface.  Therefore, I continued to ask myself, “How might I honor a noteworthy man?”  Then I found this

“Alcohol and tobacco cause many more deaths in users than do drugs.  Decriminalization would not prevent us from treating drugs as we now treat alcohol and tobacco: prohibiting sales of drugs to minors, outlawing the advertising of drugs and similar measures.  Such measures could be enforced, while outright prohibition cannot be.  Moreover, if even a small fraction of the money we now spend on trying to enforce drug prohibition were devoted to treatment and rehabilitation, in an atmosphere of compassion not punishment, the reduction in drug usage and in the harm done to the users could be dramatic.

This plea comes from the bottom of my heart.  Every friend of freedom, and I know you are one, must be as revolted as I am by the prospect of turning the United States into an armed camp, by the vision of jails filled with casual drug users and of an army of enforcers empowered to invade the liberty of citizens on slight evidence.”
~ Milton Friedman, in a 1990 open letter to Bill Bennett, another conservative.

I understand the oft-stated qualms for decriminalization; I have my own.  Nevertheless, for me, the waste when we focus on punitive measures is enormous.  I truly believe only preventative procedures will assist society as a whole and individuals at large.

Oh dear Milton, as I consider your life I realize that what I believe is true.  Foundations are often more similar than facades.  I do not struggle with your love of freedom; I embrace it.  I believe in free speech, freedom of religion, and a free press.  If the “free market” society or “free enterprise” ever truly addressed the needs, wants, and desires of people, perchance I would support that philosophy as well.  I do not experience that “free markets” as they exist or endorsed promote equality.  I experience that unless we are all equal, none of us is authentically free.  Perchance we can discuss this when we are together again, in the after life.

Until then, I offer my reverence for your Earthly life.  I appreciate your accomplishments.  I am grateful that you cared to create change and that you were active in your pursuits.

We may not share a belief in what is best for America; nonetheless, I truly appreciate that you were never apathetic.  For me, that was your greatest teaching.  You showed a nation of people how to make a difference.  You were the personification of government, of, by, and for the people.

Following Friedman . . .

  • pdf Milton Friedman, 94, Free-Market Theorist, Dies, By Holcomb B. Noble.  New York Times. November 17, 2006
  • Milton Friedman, 94, Free-Market Theorist, Dies, By Holcomb B. Noble.  New York Times. November 17, 2006
  • Milton Friedman, right or wrong? Guardian Newspapers. November 18, 2006
  • An Evening With Milton Friedman, By Seth Lipsky.  New York Sun. June 24, 2005
  • Rose and Milton Friedman Marriage Profile, By Sheri and Bob Stritof. About.com
  • John Kenneth Galbraith: His Life, His Politics, His Economics, By Richard Parker
  • Galbraith and Friedman on the Draft, By Greg Mankiw.  May 02, 2006
  • Thank You, William H. Meckling, David R. Henderson, Ph.D. Economics.  Red Herring Magazine. January 1999
  • It’s Drafty in Here, By Matthew Yglesias.  The American Prospect October 13, 2004
  • The Daily Dish. By Andrew Sullivan. November 16, 2006
  • Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman Dies. Cato Institute
  • Cruisin’ With Miltie, By Eric Alterman.  The American Prospect  November 16, 2006
  • GOODBYE UNCLE MILTIE, By Max Sawicky. MaxSpeak. November 17, 2006
    tags technorati : Milton Freidman, Free Market, Economy, Draft, Drug Decriminalization, Tributes