Teddy Roosevelt: Filthy Commie

If the rich cannot buy America and bend the poor and weak to their will (or just make sure they are never born), then we might as well be living in North Korea.

Speaking of which, here is an excellent piece from the American Conservative that reflects what real conservatism (the kind that conserves what is good out of Western Civilization, including the Sermon on the Mount’s defense of the poor from the depradations of the rich and powerful).  It’s called “The Revolt of the Rich” and describes the way in which “the super-rich have achieved escape velocity from the gravitational pull of the very society they rule over. They have seceded from America.”

You now live in a country in which the elites think patriotism and love of country is either a quaint superstition or a useful tool for manipulating you.  But they themselves have no interest in the country and have already effectively seceded from it.

And so our troops go to fight wars for these people and when the time comes for one of them to make his grab for power, he doesn’t even bother to acknowledge their existence.  Meanwhile, the other Lizard keeps them out there in harm’s way and cuts their benefits.

Our Ruling Class serves our Ruling Class.  They don’t care about you. As a reader says:



Just a reminder:  All that crap about private vs. public sector, there being private organizations that will stand up to the state, is just crap.  At the levels of American society where large decisions are taken, there is no line between private and public.  American politics is merely a discussion about how to obliterate that line for everyone and in everything.

Catholics need to wake up to the fact that Jesus is the One who cares about us, not Caesar or Mammon.  Hoping that, this time for sure, Caesar and Mammon will not betray you and will finally give you the happiness you seek is the biggest waste of time in the world.  They don’t care about you except insofar as you are useful and you are their enemy insofar as you place  God ahead of them.  Face that and live in accordance with that reality.

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  • Mark, this time you’re way off. (well, on the first half, obviously the 2nd half is right) Here’s one quick rebuttal on “let’s oppress corporations”:

    Then there’s just all the cans of worms you open up with the question. After all, many individuals are incorporated in their own business for tax purposes. You believe their political speech should be suppressed? On a fundamental, practical level, corporations are just people pooling money & resources together. What separates one from say… the Catholic church? (as far as the government & law is concerned) Just a registration form. How long do you think that would remain the case if the government was given carte blanche to repress corporations? (just imagine, declare the Catholic church a corporation and then you can do whatever you want to Her)

    I haven’t got to read the article yet, but just the quoted: “the super-rich have achieved escape velocity from the gravitational pull of the very society they rule over. They have seceded from America.” makes me leery. Yes, it may be personally sickening to watch that happen, but that’s the price of a free society, people can do things one may not approve of. What’s the alternative? Build a big wall (literally or figuratively) around the nation? Maybe design it like that one they had in Berlin? If we want to be free, then people should be free to leave if they want. I certainly don’t think the rich are saints, but they are people too with souls (which means that Jesus must love them too, right?) and with as much vilification they receive per day… well heck I can understand wanting to take off and leave.

    Finally, Teddy isn’t considered communist among libertarians and other conservatives, but fascist. That’s another post, though.

    • Blog Goliard

      “Yes, it may be personally sickening to watch that happen, but that’s the price of a free society, people can do things one may not approve of. What’s the alternative?”

      I think the only decent alternative involves combating this with moral arguments, by advancing the true non-prosperity-worshipping Christianity, by trying to turn private organizations towards an awareness of the problem, and by doing whatever one can in one’s personal life to build community and serve others.

      This is not a political project–or at least, not a national-scale political project. All we can do in that realm is vote for the candidates likely to leave the most space in our society for free people and intermediary organizations to operate.

      (So, reason #5,372 why one could not possibly vote Democratic this year.)

      • Here here to that! A toast to you good sir.

      • Actually there is at least one other alternative and that is to stop coddling the politically connected rich over the ambitious who want to replace them. When your profits aren’t guaranteed by government contracts and your companies aren’t protected by bureaucratic rules that tilt the playing field, you know that you can and many of your colleagues actually are losing their fortunes in a yo-yo movement up and down that is more meritocratic, then you are reconnected because being in need of assistance at the bottom once again becomes a possibility for you and yours. This is the heart of the small government conservative solution and one that used to be reality in this country but has not been since the Gilded Age.

    • MarylandBill

      I would say that corporations are more than just people pooling resources together. Corporations also shield those people from some of the legal liability for the actions that the corporation takes. In practice also, relatively few people actually get to control those resources. In some cases, some of the “owners” of said corporation are explicitly prohibited from having a say in how said corporation is run.

      My primary objection to corporations being treated as “people” with respects to rights, is that rights come from God while corporations are a human construct. It is never a corporation that speaks, it is merely the tool of those who run it.

      • I am strictly playing devil’s advocate here. (please keep that in mind) but…

        My primary objection to corporations being treated as “people” with respects to rights, is that rights come from God while corporations are a human construct. It is never a corporation that speaks, it is merely the tool of those who run it.

        A lot of people (particularly secularists) say the same thing about churches and the like.

        Though to express my own view, true it may not speak, but if it’s used as a tool to help someone speak, then should it still be suppressed? (or to use a metaphor, would it be suppressing speech if the government to smash a man’s megaphone as long as they didn’t harm the man himself?)

        • MarylandBill

          Personally, I don’t have an objection to using a corporation to deliver the message. After all, if I did, then newspapers, television and even the internet would have to block political speech. There are several things I do object to with corporations. What I object to is the notion that the corporation is a person entitled to speak for itself… even to the extent that it can be used as a way for its owner to skirt limits on campaign contributions (since both the owner and the corporation can donate at the same time), or hide the source of donations.

    • Irenist

      T.R. is a problematic figure in our history, true, the first of the Nobel prize-winning militarists of whom Obama is the latest example. Mr. Winchester, you write, “On a fundamental, practical level, corporations are just people pooling money & resources together. What separates one from say… the Catholic church? (as far as the government & law is concerned) Just a registration form.”
      Correct, but the registration forms make a quite logical and easily upheld distinction between 501(c)(3) non-profits like the Church, “a corporation no part of the income of which is distributable to members, directors, or officers,” and for-profit entities like S-Corporations, C-Corporations, and various partnerships, all of which have as their primary legal purpose the generation of shareholder/owner value, which leads them, in turn, to behave in a sociopathic, profit-maximizing way as a structural matter. See, e.g., Dodge v. Ford Motor Company, 170 N.W. 668 (Mich. 1919) (now outmoded, but a good statement of the idea that profit maximization is what for-profit corporations are for, period). Admittedly, Adam Smith taught us that the market functions as if an invisible hand were conducting all this sociopathic profit-seeking into something like a symphony. And this is true–as regards the market. Whether, however, lobbying of Congress to allow rent-seeking to replace competition should be allowed merely because, in its proper market sphere, monomaniacal focus on profit can be useful, is another, more fraught question. The vice of greed is a dangerous tool. We’ve built our economy on it in the last few centuries and it has flourished far more than in the days of Scholastic suspicion of usury, raising the living standards of even the poorest myriadfold–as Mises was wont to wisely remind us. Perhaps, though, we shouldn’t build our government on the foundation of a deadly sin, too.
      A prudently captained State is like baseball: if too many homers are disrupting the balance of the old game, it’s time to raise the pitcher’s mound. Prudent “governance,” which shares an etymology in the Greek “kubernetes” (“helmsman”) with the “cybernetics” of thermostats, is ever a matter of small, careful compensating adjustments to keep the ship of State from foundering on either the Scylla of ochlocracy or the Charybdis of plutocracy. If the mob were overrepresented, the prudent, Catholic, Tory reform to preserve the representative democracy of our republic would be one that empowered the propertied classes to protect themselves from redistributive predation. In our time, however, when the lobbyists and campaign advertisers for the Whig oligarchs of Congressional pork-subsidized mega-corporations ride roughshod over fair-playing small business owners and non-unionized employees alike, the prudent reform would seem to be one that checks and balances the plutocrats’ power; this is a core Chestertonian insight. The ostracism (in the Athenian sense) of the overmighty merchant houses of the Fortune 500 might be the compensating adjustment our times call for. What else is there to do when “sheep are eating men”?

      • Correct, but the registration forms make a quite logical and easily upheld distinction between 501(c)(3) non-profits like the Church

        Well, yes. Now is the key point. What I pointed out was that if you give the government a way to silence people (that probably wouldn’t work, since then the corporations could just use a go-between individual), it will then have incentive to use it against the Church. (heck, there are already people upset at the religious exemption you pointed out)

        As for the rest, I think we agree? I’ll have to reread it a few times. 😉

        • Irenist

          I think we may agree on all of it, from your most recent comment. Cheers.

    • Ted Seeber

      Individuals who are incorporated *ALWAYS* have the choice of giving privately. Becoming incorporated for business doesn’t mean that you’ve incorporated your membership in the Church.

      • Linebyline

        Besides, I thought the point of incorporating is so that you were separate from your business, whereas in a single proprietorship, you and your business are one and the same as far as anyone who wants to sue either is concerned.

  • Confederate Papist

    TR was a prog/fascist…that is true.

    The super-rich [many of whom are huge dem supporters, btw, i.e. Buffett, Gates, Hollyweird, etc.] are not of this world. The elite have always been for the elite, even if they’re on opposing teams. Sorta like being allies with Stalin during the War Against Fascist Aggression [WWII] but then after the war is over they resume “cold” hostilities.

    There will be a fracturing of what you call the “United States” regardless of who wins the election. The military is weary of being used as pawns, the people are tired of getting stepped on and being marginalised by the Central Government, and the States are tired of having their sovereignty eroded. The only question is, “when”?

    • Confederate Papist

      BTW, just because I mentioned super-rich support dems, that doesn’t mean there are those amongst the super-rich that support the republicoms either.

      • Confederate Papist

        Boy oh boy….fingers are failing the brain this morning!

        Super-rich love dems.
        Super-rich love repubicoms.

        Simple is better sometimes..

  • Dear Mark,

    You really nailed it again in relation to our current political state (ruling class vs. the rest of us). So true! My soap box issue today is the why behind the what. The WHAT is a repeat of what you have been talking about for a long time. Catholics are continuously taken in by politician’s promises only to be disappointed in the end. Why – because we don’t think. We refuse to properly form our conscience. Catholics refuse to think critically about how our faith intersects political ideology. Faith is the lens THROUGH WHICH we are to make our political (+ other) decisions. Faith and Reason is not an either or proposition. It’s both / and!

  • Salvatore Spatafore

    I’m not sure if you’re trying to be sarcastic or serious, but if your point is to defend Teddy Roosevelt I think you’ve gone off the deep end. TR formed the progressive party, and was a huge class warfare proponent. Methinks turning people against each other based on so-called “class” is not something we should support as Catholics.

    • Confederate Papist

      TR was not a big fan of Italian immigrants either….okay…he hated them.

    • Mark Shea

      What do you make of “Blessed are you poor/Woe to you who are rich”?

    • Ted Seeber

      Teddy Roosevelt did not invent class warfare, it existed before he was president. The problem is that the rich never seem to recognize the fact that in any class war, they seem to always fire the first shot.

  • Mark you are dead on the nose. The super rich are International in every way. They bear no loyalty to any country. They feel no love for the flag nor patriotism for the nation (except Israel, of course.) They neither serve in the military nor care about the fates of those who do. When Mitt Romney was enlistment age he made a fun game of protesting the anti-war protesters but he certainly did not go to Vietnam any more than Joseph Smith was a really prophet or even a Christian. Good essay!

    • str

      This is so detached from reality that I want to throw up. Who are these people you are talking about? Ever considered them as people and not as an amorphous mass of vice?
      “No loyalty to any country … (except Israel)” already points towards the obvious parallel. But anti-semitism is not the only one, things like “Catholics can never be trusted to keep their word” and the like.
      To complain about “the rich” (supposedly) not joinging the army is also absurd given that the US have a volunteer army. You can’t have it both ways!

  • John

    Teddy Roosevelt was a progressive of the time, as quaint as that platform was in the early 20th century: Women’s Suffrage and Women’s minimum wage, 8 hour workday, national health insurance, primary elections, registration of lobbyists, and strict limits on campaign contributions, a federal securities commission, and more.

    Sometimes I am frustrated with Mark when he chooses to demagogue issues about the GOD KING, such as yesterday’s “Embassy Apology”, other times, like today, I’m reminded that he can be more open, and thoughtful to the fundamental problems we face as a society. Which is why I keep coming back. Mark posted something, which I believe was in response to an earlier post by me listing the right’s strawmen arguments against Obama, and my own frustrations with the standard right wing looney Obummer nonsense. He said I really didn’t know him. Well, I don’t. Sometimes I think I get him. Sometimes I don’t. Either way it is a distraction from the major issues of the day.

    With that said, unfortunately, there is a CLASS WAR going on in this country, and the Super Rich are winning. It has been going on since the dawn of time. As a country we’ve worked to make it better for all. Sometimes sucessfully, sometimes not. But, right now there is a massive income redistribution that has occured over the last 30 years. What some would like us to believe is that our President is going to take from all of us. That may be true, but I don’t believe it to be the case.

    For every Buffet, Gates and Soros, there is a Koch brother or two, and a Sheldon Adelson. It is not a party issue. It is BOTH parties, and they both have their bogeymen. And, boy do we love to see a good bogeyman. And, those bogeymen play both sides hard.

    For decades, as a country, we’ve demonized the poor. Every politician does it. Some more overtly. I remember Reagan talking about the WELFARE QUEEN from the SOUTH SIDE OF CHICAGO. And, many of us buy into it. We hear that dog whistle, and you have to have your head in the sand to not be able to understand what is being said. We believe we’re better, work harder, and provide some benefit to society far beyond what we really do. A lack of humility, and recognition of ALL who make up our society. We all have our place.

    I sometimes am disappointed by the lack of recognition to the result of policies that make life easier for us, but harder on other people. Our propping up of dictators in the Middle East is a fine example. We all know why it was done. Because we like…no, we love our cheap oil. We can’t live without it. Every president since Nixon has talked about ending our dependency, but nothing ever really changes. When a President like Carter, or Obama push for some green energy solutions they are beaten back. Because we want the Mubaraks in charge in those countries. We need the Saudi Royal Family to hang in there. When we took out Saddam Hussein, I’m not sure that we gave any thought to the vacuum in the balance of power in the middle east, and who would fill it, as the Iranian’s have done. Secondarily, as Mark will point out these “rulers” execute horrible atrocities on their citizens. But, it’s all for the cheap oil. We all have blood on our hands.

    My two cents. I’m sure I will be blasted again for being Captain Coexist. So be it. I said what I wanted to say. And, I will stand behind the Vatican’s stance yesterday as Catholics, we must be builders of peace, and respect for other religions.


  • CJ

    Arent you glad Mark decided to find something else to talk about? I know I am.

  • While it sounds really nice the logistics of actually prohibiting corporations from contributing to campaigns are in all likelihood, insurmountable. Corporations are made up of people so how do you reconcile prohibiting political involvement based on a particular association without trampling freedom of association? How do you avoid trampling freedom of speech? What about non-profit groups which, other than in name, function in fundamentally the same way as corporations? If we don’t prohibit non-profit groups from participating in their political process then what’s to stop corporations from simply donating to like-minded non-profit groups or creating their own? If we do prohibit non-profits as well then where do we draw the line? Can no association of individuals ever make a donation? Can only individuals? Is it not more dangerous to abridge people’s ability to form groups in defense of a cause they believe in than to allow free associations to donate? What about the risk of politicians abusing such a good-intentioned law by creating loopholes for their friends but prohibiting their enemies. Who should we fear more? Corporations or the politicians ultimately responsible for every law or regulation that tramples the outsiders, steals from them and gives to the insiders? What about those who take this argument a step further and argue that the only way to ensure “fair” elections is to eliminate all private donations and provide equal funds for both major parties through taxes? Imagine the GOP and Dem pageants (I mean conventions) paid for by taxpayers, oh, they already are. This would be the most unfair way to proceed because it locks us even more surely into the two-party system and an oligarchy.

    It seems to me that, in effect, any attempt to further regulate who can contribute and who cannot will only serve to further cement the oligarchy of political and corporate elites in place. We need to fight the corporate inside class but this is not the way to do it, no matter how well-intentioned.

    • Irenist

      The logistics would be remarkably simple: “501(c)(3) nonprofits may contribute. S-Corporations and C-Corporations, along with LLC’s and partnerships, may not.” The problem would lie more with corporations creating shell 501(c)(3)’s to which they could “donate” as a way to launder their campaign cash.

      • And the answer to that is equally obvious: no corporation is allowed to make donations to any non-profit without the non-profit losing its rights; and no non-profit is allowed to receive more than 25% (or a similar reasonable limit) of its donations from a single source or from sources traceable to a single origin (to avoid ACME Godcorp Ltd. from setting up 10,000 bank accounts in the name of private persons). Violations of these limits will be penally punishable, with a minimum non-negotiable jail sentence of at least two years to be inflicted on the CEO of the guilty corporation (to give them a good incentive not to play clever)/

        • First, that doesn’t address the possible unconstitutionality of the issue. Second, do you really think that Congress would ever actually bite the hand that feeds them when they could instead write up 1,000 pages of regulations with loopholes and opt-outs where only the largest corporations would find it worthwhile with their much greater resources to wade through the mountains of paperwork necessary to exploit such loopholes, essentially leaving moderate to small businesses without a voice while the mega-corporations continue on with business as usual? That’s how most regulations in the marketplace work nowadays: they increase the cost of business for everyone, essentially choking out the small businessmen who don’t have the capital on-hand to meet all the additional costs and still compete with their larger competitors. Idealism aside, this is what’s more likely to happen in the real world. Our legislators already have a long history of screwing over small business with their regulations, even when those regulations were meant to make things more fair and level the playing field. Replace every member of Congress with men and women of true integrity, little to no prior experience in politics to corrupt them, and a proper understanding of economics and social justice then maybe it would work. But then, if we had such saints in congress then we wouldn’t have to worry about big business lobbyists bribing them in the first place.

          • Irenist

            “First, that doesn’t address the possible unconstitutionality of the issue.”
            I think a constitutional amendment might be necessary to overturn Citizens United.
            “Second, do you really think that Congress would ever actually bite the hand that feeds them”?
            No. Campaign finance is unlikely to be reformed any time soon.

        • str

          And redefine. And penalise. And redefine. And all much ado about practically nothing. Don’t you think the rich and powerful will still find means of making their riches and power being felt?

  • str

    I am not here to defend the behaviour of rich elites, but:
    1. the dichotomy between the evil rich and the good or at least decent masses is foolish! It is not the “rich elite” that makes sure someone is never born. They may allow that but that bloody decision is made by somebody else, most of them not rich. The same goes for all the other examples where everything that’s bad is attributed to “the rich”, including wars.
    2. I don’t see where the sermon on the mount defends “defense of the poor from the depradations of the rich and powerful” (or where the Lofgren article argues that) – “the poor” appear once in the sermon in the famous line “Blessed are the poor in spirit” – the poor are blessed but to turn that blessing into vitriol is missing the mark.
    3. I can understand the animus against letting corporations spend their way to political power. However, where to draw line? What about non-profit organisations (including churches). Why should corporation money be bad but a billionaire’s money unproblematic. But with the latter you are already infringing on a person’s rights – not so much to free speech (spending isn’t speech) but to spend as he/she pleases.

    • Mark Shea

      I am not here to defend the behaviour of rich elites… You should have stopped there, since the rest of what you wrote is a defense of the rich elites.

      • str

        It wasn’t a defense of the rich but a rejection of the “thinking ourselves better”!

        • Mark Shea