Sometimes it’s good to revisit the past, especially for columnists. For example, none of my own preferences for US president came to pass: first Michele Bachmann, now unfortunately retiring from politics; then Newt Gingrich; and finally, originally reluctantly, Mitt Romney as a huge improvement on the Marxist-in-Chief.
Stocks v gold
But one thing I was right about was investments. I am no great investor and certainly no financial advisor, but my column Surviving the Democrat Downgrade: Stocks or Gold?, August 26, 2011, has been vindicated. Almost two years ago, I argued that stocks were the best long-term investment, because when it’s done properly, it means profiting from the prosperity unleashed by capitalism. At the same time, I cautioned that gold was being hyped incessantly as a “safe” investment. In reality, gold produces no income, and it has been a losing proposition over the long term.
So let’s look at these almost two years later. The major stock market indices on August 26, 2011, the Dow Jones closed at 12,501.30, and S&P 500 at 1,331.94. Gold was $1,746 per ounce, as documented in my column. But at the time of writing (June 6, 2013), Dow Jones was 15,040.62 (up 20.3%), S&P 500 at 1,622.56 (up 21.8%). But gold was now $1,379.04—this ‘safe’ investment was now down 21.0%.
The big lesson here should be what I said in the previous column, “One rule of thumb is that if everyone is talking about a boom, the average person has already missed it, and we are actually in a bubble.” As shown, this applies to gold as much as to anything else. Patriots should watch for similar signs of a bubble, regardless of the investment, whether gold, housing, or indeed the stock market.
Third party voting
In my last column before the election, Vote Romney/Ryan: a final plea for principle and realism, I showed that an imperfect Republican like Romney (is there a perfect Republican?) would be so much better than Obama. Thus it would be the height of irresponsibility to stay home or waste a vote on a third party. But the “there’s no difference” types ignored my warning, much to the delight of liberal Democrats. I warned that the dangers of third party voting that would just allow Obama to be re-elected. And now with all the scandals, we are seeing what a big difference it makes.
I also pointed out the idiocy of the “send a message” nonsense. Obviously, the “message received” by such a blunt instrument as voting will be vastly different from that “sent”. For example, since Obama won the election despite Obamacare, many Republican governors have “got the message” that Obamacare is a good thing.
Hence the widespread surrender by Republican governors to the most destructive government program in American history.
Another sad irony is that many homeschoolers have been taken in by the destructive third-party self-righteousness. But their votes helped to re-elect Obama, and therefore his corrupt minion Eric Holder. And as we know, Holder just loves illegal immigrants—unless they happen to be Germany homeschoolers seeking asylum from Germany’s Nazi-era law banning homeschooling. In that case, Holder worked overtime to try to deport them, saying explicitly that homeschooling is not a parent’s right. Clearly, if Holder gets his way, homeschooling would be illegal in this country as well, so children would be forced to attend the Democratic indoctrination centers called ‘government schools’. This is a rather high price to pay for a misguided and pharisaic ‘voting on principle’.
The lesson here is the perennial principle, often expressed by the great defender of liberty, Dr. Milton Friedman, “the best is the enemy of the good.” His student-then-colleague Dr. Thomas Sowell said this meant, “that attempts to achieve an unattainable ideal can prevent us from reaching good outcomes that are possible in practice.” Applying this to the last election, a misguided attempt to vote for a ‘better’ third-party candidate led to throwing away a chance of an immense improvement: getting rid of the current corrupt administration.
Great and disastrous presidents
More to the point about “revisiting the past”, we can go back much farther in learning from presidents in the distant past.
In a 2011 column, Remembering Calvin Coolidge: how he rescued America from a Depression, I lamented how this great president and his deeds are almost unknown today. Even many Republicans would prefer to forget Coolidge, since they are almost as addicted to taxing and spending as the Democrats. Yet Coolidge stood up to the unions, cut tax rates, and reduced government spending. And the result was slashing both unemployment and national debt, and the economic boom called ‘the Roaring Twenties’.
But now the libertarian author Amity Shlaes has remedied this. Previously she wrote The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression. This excellent book exposed how disastrous Obama-like policies of tax-hiking, big-spending economic interventionist presidents caused then prolonged the Great Depression (see also my column Hoover and FDR: big government Presidents who prolonged the Depression). And this year, Shlaes has come out with a huge and long-awaited biography of Coolidge.
Later, another biography of a fine but forgotten president was published (only in Kindle, unfortunately): The Forgotten Conservative: Rediscovering Grover Cleveland, by John Pafford. Actually, he was a Democrat president—the last good one—but was actually closer to the Tea Party and the Founding Fathers than most Republican politicians are today.
A man of great integrity, he fought against the same sort of cronyism we see in today’s desecrated White House. For example, Cleveland kept the then very effective and honorable Republican Teddy Roosevelt in his position in the US Civil Services Commission. Cleveland, like Coolidge, also had the quaint idea that the Constitution was important! In the column, NO to Chris Christie in 2016!, we document how Cleveland vetoed Federal aid programs for disaster relief, simply because the Constitution did not enumerate such a power for the Federal Government. Indeed, he vetoed 414 spending bills and saw the US economy boom as the Fed got out of its way.
Instead, Cleveland demonstrated the genuine compassion that contrasts with the fake compassion of modern Dems. That is, real charity is demonstrated by generosity with one’s own money, not with money forced from other people. In fact, the latter “weakens the sturdiness of our national character.”
In conclusion, past history has many lessons to teach us today. It was Santayana who said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned