Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Keep The Chippers At Bay

"It is sobering to reflect that one of the best ways to get yourself a reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating the very phrases which our founding fathers used in the struggle for independence."

Charles A. Beard (1874-1948)

If you are a fan of history you know about Dr. Beard.  He is a professor and historian of long repute, and wrote especially about the rise of the American experience and the economics surrounding it.

This quote interests me for so many reasons.  It seems so current!

And it goes to show that some things are a great circle of recurrence.

This was said during the early days of the Depression when the country was experiencing what he saw as dramatic, wasteful spending increases.  He wrote that little economic "stimulus" would be the result, and he was right. 

He would be so condemning now of our reckless gubment spending, and would be derided because of his position.

We hear so often that the Founding Fathers are old, dead, white guys.  And had no understanding of our day.  And created a document that might have been fine for the past, but things are modern now, there are many more people, and so the things they said and did are no longer applicable.


The Founding Fathers were concerned with tyranny.  They wanted a republican government that allowed for citizen participation through representation, the rule of law and voicing opinion.  They were exceptionally schooled in world history and how civilizations rose and fell.  And they were familiar with and understood human nature.

The Founding Fathers left us words, documents, ideas and experience that were based in principles that are applicable forever.  Principles don't fail.  They are the base upon which what follows it built.

Hence the name FOUNDING Fathers!  They provided us a FOUNDATION!

And Dr. Beard is right!  He himself was a "dangerous citizen" because if you read what he wrote about history and his times, he was not afraid to bring the FOUNDATION of this country into play.

The FOUNDATION of this country is not a radical idea!  It is sound!  That is why it endures.

And it will continue to endure, unless, of course, those who think they are smarter than the Founding Fathers' valued principles chip away enough of their bequeathed FOUNDATION that it falls.

Republican gubment keeps the chippers at bay!  We are the people.  We must protect ourselves for surely if we do not act for ourselves we will be acted upon.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

"Everything Is Possible To Him Who Dares"

"The genius of our institutions is democratic - Base Ball is a democratic game."

Albert Goodwill Spalding (1850-1915)

Without knowing his full name, everyone knows of Al Spalding.

When I was 11 years old I desperately wanted to play on a little league baseball team.  But that required that I have a baseball glove.

The one I really wanted was a Spalding glove.  But it cost $10 and my mother thought that was too expensive and "fancy" for a beginner.  So I got a cheaper glove.  It wasn't as good as the Spalding, but such is life.

We associate the Spalding name with sports - equipment, balls, endorsements, you name it. 

The Boston Herald in 1880 said that next to George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, Al Spalding was the next most famous name in literature!  He really made his mark.

What does he mean by the democratic institutions comment?  Probably that baseball is a team game.  It is made of individuals.  Some will shine and star, others will complete the team.  But that all work together for the common goal.  If individuals don't work together the ultimate potential cannot be reached. 

Albert Spalding began his professional baseball career in 1871 as a pitcher for the Boston Red Stockings.  He was a straight-armed, UNDERHAND pitcher!  And he was good!  He played for them from 1871 to 1875, leading the league each year in pitched victories.  In 1874 he pitched in ALL of Boston's games and went 57-5 in 1875.  He also batted .320.  He was quite an athlete.

In 1876 he helped organize the National League of baseball, consisting of 7 teams in the east and as far west as Chicago.  However, pitching so often he blew out his arm and retired in 1877 at the age of 28. 

Playing his last year of 1877 in Chicago, in 1876 he and his brother started a sporting goods company where, according to the Chicago Tribune, it was "a large emporium in Chicago where he will sell all kinds of baseball goods and turn his place into the headquarters for the Western Ball Clubs."  He called it A. G. Spalding & Brothers.

One thing he sold was a leather baseball glove of his own design.  In 1877, while not pitching but playing first base, he wore the glove.  He had an ulterior motive in doing so - it advertised the glove, and as one of the sport's biggest stars it drove buyers to his store!

His store became the dominant sporting good store of the era.  It is still dominant today!  His company standardized the first baseballs and pioneered the modern design for the baseball bat, with it's bulging end.

A fierce businessman, he began allowing other retailers to buy directly from his catalog in 1899.  He also instituted a corporate policy of "quality, fixed retail prices, a fair profit to retailers, and consumer satisfaction." For a few years there he managed what could really be called a little monopoly!  It was short lived, however.

It seems he was a wholesaler and retailer at the same time!  

His company slogan became "Quality First."  

His company is a fine example of free enterprise finding its niche and employing itself in growth and opportunity.

The game game of baseball began losing favor among fans, called kranks.  And so, as owner of the Chicago White Stockings from 1882 to 1891, he instituted policies to clean up the game.  He forbade gambling, drinking of alcohol among players, and any form of player collusion.  By 1888 the game began to shine again.

In 1911 he wrote and published America's National Game, which is still considered the first scholarly account of the history of baseball.

Today Spalding is known for its baseball equipment, particularly balls, basketballs as the official NBA supplier since 1983 and was the first company to sign a professional to an endorsement in 1951.

Albert Goodwill Spalding was elected to the Baseball Hall Of Fame in 1939.  He became the free market example of his personal motto:  "Everything is possible to him who dares." 

That philosophy is the essence of free enterprise, a free-market economy and the kind of individualism that helped this country grow.  It cannot be created by gubment policy.  That motto's fulfillment is not possible in any other economic system.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

You Don't Work, You Don't Eat

  "When our people were fed out of the common store, and laboured jointly together, glad was he could slip from his labour, or slumber over his taske he cared not how, nay, the most honest among them would hardly take so much true paines in a weeke, as now for themselves they will doe in a day:  neither cared they for the increase, presuming that howsoever the harvest prospered, the generall store must maintaine them, so that wee reaped not so much Corne from the labours of thirtie, as now three or foure doe provide for themselves."

Captain John Smith (1580-1631)
Jamestown Virginia

On 10 April 1606, the Virginia Company of London was granted a charter by King James to establish a colony in Virginia in North America.

In December three ships were dispatched with 104 settlers, including one Captain John Smith. 

Establishing the colony in 13 May 1607, they named it Jamestown, in honor of the king.  It was the first permanent settlement of England in North America.

The colony was originally governed by a council of seven men, with Captain Smith named as one of them.

They set up a common system whereby each would work for the good of all, and each would receive what they needed from a common store.  Things did not go well, for many years.  Sooner or later, as we know and are taught by Socialism, you run out of other people's Corne...

The colony suffered from food shortages, unhealthy drinking water, disease and attacks by the pesky, nearby Powhatan Indians.  It was during a small expedition into one of the Powhatan villages, in a desperate search for food, that Captain Smith was captured.  It was on this expedition that Captain Smith was saved from execution by the daughter of Chief Powhatan, named Pocahontas, and was released to return to James Fort.  When he got back there were only 38 settlers left alive.

Smith returned in January with food sent by the Chief, but misfortune struck and part of the fort was lost to fire.  Smith found the settlers engaged in searching for gold and idling their time.  He immediately took action.

Quickly elected president of the settlement, Smith instituted his famous "if ye shall not worke, ye shall not eate" edict.  Success ensued, the death toll dropped, food was harvested in abundance, a well was dug, houses were built and the colonists made pitch, tar and soap to return to England.

Captain John Smith wrote about this turn around in his autobiography, with one quote recorded above.  When each colonist was given his own plot of land to farm, and earn a return from, and was forced to work for his own welfare, the profit that followed literally saved the colony from ruin.

Phillip L. Barbour, a Smith biographer, wrote, "Captain John Smith has lived in legend even more thrillingly than even he could have foreseen.  Let it only be said that nothing John Smith wrote has yet been found to be a lie."

This, by the way, is the same experience as was had, and written about, by William Bradford in New England.  The story we hear about "the first Thanksgiving" is NOTHING like what really happened.  The "First Thanksgiving" was rather a celebration of the successes of capitalism which Bradford instituted there, as did Smith in Virginia.  We know this from Bradford's own journal!  It's as if Bradford learned from the Virginia experience!

It reminds me of the sixth chapter of Proverbs, where six different things that are hated are written about.  Look at verses 6 - 8:  "Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways and be wise:  Which having no guide, overseer or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer and gathereth in the harvest."

That's right, idlers do not contribute.  In fact, when there are idlers expecting an entitlement from the "common store" (meaning from the work of others), everybody suffers. 

The free enterprise of providing for oneself and contributing in that way is the true principle, demonstrated by and practiced in nature.  When one is providing for oneself, there is no need of a boss or directive telling how one must work.  One sinks or swims.

The people of Jamestown learned to develop their own capital and contribute what capital they could not simply for personal profit and gain, but for the gain, and survival, of the whole. 

And the colony of Virginia survives, even today!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Monstrous Monopoly

"Governments institutionalize something for nothing."

James Cook
Investment Consultant

Now that's a statement that can be taken a couple of ways!

First, in the free lunch sense.  The famous cliche that there is no such thing as a free lunch.  Well, there isn't!  Someone has to pay for everything.

So, if a gubment program is "institutionalized," are there people who think it's free?  And if so, why do they think that?  And if they think that, why do they think the money comes from "the gubment?"  Why don't they realize it comes from their neighbor?

They don't think that because they have been trained not to think that.

Another way the statement can be taken is in the sense of efficiency.  Gubment programs do get institutionalized!  They become "the norm."  They become "the way."  Some people think some of these things always were.

Aside from defense, which could not be provided by anything but central control (although control in this country is very decentralized centralized), what gubment program has not become unimaginably large, inefficient, intrusive and consuming?

At the point that a program becomes so consuming of treasure and citizenry, what is the benefit?  Is it for the ultimate good or for naught?  Truly it has become institutionalized.  But for nothing.


So why would or could our country be any different?

Bureaucracies, in effect, become monopolies.  If you don't think "health" care, with its hundreds of bureaucracies already written into its organizational chart (if THAT could ever be drawn up), will not grow to be the biggest monster in the world, think again. 

And it will consume this country's treasure and citizenry.

When the market demands something and the market gets it, that thing grows in importance.  But only so far!  It never consumes treasure and citizenry.  Why not?

Because in a free market a monopoly can never be!  Why?

The product market cycle!  Or product differentiation!  Or diminishing returns!  Economics!  Basic economics is the reason!

Bad products are removed and replaced!  Necessarily.  Do the scammers and hucksters get their way?  Yes, maybe, but only for a while.  Truth overtakes them and they go away.

There is a particular company out there that tries to push out the product market cycle with the phrase "new and improved!"  They want us to think that this product, or these products, that have been around for so very long, are different, truly new and improved.  They don't want to be overtaken by another similar product and its differentiation.  They are trying to bump out their market cycle a bit further.

Everyone is waiting for the new search engine, television, software, smart phone characteristic, sound system or portable computer device.  And we want it to be cheaper and cheaper!  Differentiation is happening so fast in so many things that we can't keep up with them all!  When we buy something it is already obsolete!  Or so it seems. 

But bureaucracy is different.  It is the supergigantosaur which will never get smaller, never become prehistoric, and never go away.  And each one will get more and more and more inefficient.  Each one will consume more and more and more treasure and citizenry.  Instead of getting cheaper, as it grows monstrously, it is fed with more and more dollars that are getting cheaper!


And, as Mr. Cook says, people get an institutional something for nothing.

But NOT a free lunch!