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« Pete Boettke - Leading the Austrian Revival | Main | The Contemporary Relevance of Robert Taft »


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Steve, I'll go out on a limb: Warren Harding.

Well, since you ask I infer the answer is a surprise. There is a poke at Republicans, so I assume it's a Democratic politician. The sentence structure and reference to steam shipping suggest a date somewhere between 1900 and 1940 with the 1930s being the most likely. I'll guess FDR.

You know I almost put an elipse in for the line about the Republicans for just that reason. Yup, that's FDR in his Commonwealth Club Address 9/23/32. Good work Roger.

Well, that´s certainly a surprise. Those claiming that Roosevelt (i.e John T. Flynn) had absolutely no clue about economics seem to be exaggerating a bit. :-)

Obviously, it should have read "Those claiming (i.e John T. Flynn) that Roosevelt had absolutely no clue about economics seem to be exaggerating a bit. :-)

Actually, Matej, if you keep reading that speech and especially if you read his commencement speech at Oglethorpe U a few months before, you'll see plenty of economic ignorance. Roosevelt had the rationalist/planning illness for sure. I also think Flynn was right to make the Fascism comparison. If you read FDR's calls for national sacrifice (the equivalent of war), "cooperation", and the evils of self-interest on top of the planning stuff, it sounds awfully Italian.

Honestly; didn't Obama say similar things?

It´s not that FDR didn´t suffer from economic ignorance, it´s just that his ignorance perhaps wasn´t as deep as is often claimed. On the other hand, his fondness for NRA and business -- government cooperation indicates that he didn´t take his own words to heart.

"it sounds awfully Italian"

Ehi! Wait! I don't want FDR, Berlusconi & Prodi are already too much! :-)

And, of cource "Super Mario" Monti ... :-)

Were it not for the steamship reference I might have entertained an Obama guess because of how frequently the speaker tosses rhetorical bones to his critics.

"I also think Flynn was right to make the Fascism comparison. If you read FDR's calls for national sacrifice (the equivalent of war), 'cooperation,' and the evils of self-interest on top of the planning stuff, it sounds awfully Italian."

I don't know about that. This article by Paul Gottfried sheds some light on that comparison:


"Even then the Communists and their allies correctly viewed the fascists as sham revolutionaries, who introduced only minor welfare measures once they came to power. In contrast to the dreams of the Left, the fascist revolution stressed hierarchy and the glorification of one’s nation and its antecedents. While the Left took from the French Revolution a model for sweeping social reform, the Italian fascists admired the Revolution’s appeal to classical antiquity and military heroism."

"Some critics of FDR and the New Deal, such as Garrett Garet, Isabel Paterson, and John T. Flynn, believed that the American welfare state was the equivalent of the Italian fascist and later German Nazi regimes. But there is no reason to yield to their flawed judgments. These writers made the unwarranted leap from thinking that all forms of economic planning were unacceptable to believing that all were virtually identical."

In other words the things you cite are too generic to yield the "fascism" tag. One has to dig deeper.

I've come to the believe that Fascism is precisely what Mussolini installed and he and Gentile theorized, and nothing else. I'm not much a fan of the concept of "generic fascism."

That´s a very interesting article. Quote:

"America’s major parties support a far more economically intrusive government than any that Dollfuss, Mussolini, or other non-Nazi right-wing corporatists tried to put into operation between the world wars."

What do you think of it?


I think that without including the subsequent text someone may think it's more incendiary than it really is:

"Until the outbreak of World War II, the Italian fascist government took a smaller percentage of income from families than American households are now required to fork over to our regime."

His first point is probably correct, but since total output has increased it's arguably less consequential. But whereas the scope and complexity of government's functions today probably surpasses that of the Nazis and Fascists, their actions were particularly heavy handed and blunt. The democratic welfare states are far more indirect (and not garrison states).

As an aside, Gottfried is a conservative enamored of the "managerial state." No doubt such a state has become ever more refined - see the concept of the "therapeutic state" described almost daily over at Spiked! online - in theory and practice, and it's part of what Gottfried is getting at by making the claim for an especially intrusive modern government.

Regarding land grants to railroads, to what extent were they actually subsidies? Since governments can only claim to hold (or own) land, but not actually own it in a libertarian sense, these grants might have been examples of enabling private enterprise to have legal title to it, while putting it to productive use, something the State didn't do.
The only alternative would have been for the railroads to steal someone else's land, with the State being the "broker."

Did FDR write his own speeches? I don't know what he understood about anything.

The railroads which needed to be subsidized destroyed all their investor's value by going bankrupt. The one transcon which didn't go bankrupt didn't get any subsidies: Hill's Great Northern.

Bill, it seems like the alternative would have been for the railroads to homestead previously unowned land. Instead, the state engrossed the land without anyone's having to homestead it and then passed it on to the railroads.


To the best of my knowledge, FDR did not write most of his own speeches.

(He was too busy playing with his stamp collection.)

Richard Ebeling

It's not that I'm in disagreement, but it kind of annoys me when I see the burden of proof being reversed on big businesses. Until proven otherwise success doesn't necessarily mean that you've petitioned for privileges.

A careful read reveals this speech to have an essentially Libertarian bent. It quite properly argues against government intrusion of all sorts.

Ergo, if a President gave this speech, I would guess it to have been one Republican or another -- maybe Reagan, maybe Paul Ryan. If not that, then perhaps a Libertarian -- Ron Paul? Rand Paul?

Okay, I cheated. I Googled.

Let's just say the quote was rather severely taken out of context. It is also fair to say that this excerpt reveals the boundless duplicity of the individual quoted. For that, I am grateful.

FDR's election platform included some elements of economic rationalism, pitched as criticism of the interventionism of Hoover. Don't know how that got in. Did someone mention the word duplicity?

Before reading others' comments and guesses, I'm going to go with: one of the Koch brothers.

They're relevent and in the news recently, and it fits their ideology. That said I'm probably wrong and Steve is probably throwing us a curve ball of which we'll be surprised at the answer.


My guess is Calvin Coolidge. I didn't look at any of the posted comments.

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