View Full Version : My history teacher is for bigger gov. Can I get some help combating these arguements?

02-10-2012, 02:00 PM
I wrote an essay about the depression of 1893. Long story short, I scored well, but the teacher has lectured me on the value of big gov(LOLOL) can anyone help me combat his points? I would love some assistance :-)

Note this is an excerpt from an ongoing email conversation. Thanks in advance for those who post some stuff to aid me. You can see the big gov love in a bunch of his sentences LOLOLOL

There was much to respond to in your comments but one thing that got me a little:

(quoting his past comments)"Adherence to the gold standard resulted in contraction of credit that, in turn, constrained industrialism and helped only the creditor class--this led to the Depression of 1893."

(Me)How so? The Silver Purchase Act of 1890 says we were NOT on the gold standard? I am confused. Also, I disagree heavily. I believe it was railroad speculation driven higher by government intervention by stipulating an expansive credit policy for railroad companies, much like the bubbles we have had in the last decade such as the housing crisis/bubble. Railroads expanded past the demand for them, like the housing market and suffered a fatal burst that brought down the market. Over stimulation of credit provided by the government intervention via the Homestead act was the fault of the gov and therfore the exact opposite of a laissesz-faire policy, exactly like the housing market. if it wasnt, please make it clear how it wasnt. Otherwise I am confused by conflicting sources of information on this.

(His response)My point was that using only gold to back the currency constricted the issue of paper money and coinage--you are right that the SIlver Purchase Act added silver to the equation, but in a very limited way--but, essentially, the idea was that fiat currency like Greenbacks, with no specific backing, inflated the currency and expanded the availability of money for the payment of debts, and they had been the rule during and after the Civil War, and the return to a gold standard, before the inclusion of silver, hurt the farmer--the Silver Purchase wasn't soon enough or large enough to keep the Depression from happening--farmers were hurt by the contraction of credit and the little bit of easing from silver was too little too late. We were on a bi-metal standard--silver at 16:1 to gold was introduced but was far from the mark, and creditors and merchants may have accepted silver-backed money, but at a very unfavorable rate if they could, by raising retail prices--bankers were stuck with accepting US currency for debts, and they brought immense pressure to get rid of silver.

(His response)Government policy to sell or give away land was designed to encourage the settlement of the "vacant" land in the west pure and simple--before the substantial presence of the US in the world market and the more lucrative tariffs, the only national wealth was land, so in a way it was an infusion of value to the people. But there was no one competing, so no prices were driven down--no one but the US owned the land out west and most people who went out could never afford even the $160 price of a homestead, so the government grant was the only way to go. The same with the railroads--the government owned the land, they gave it to the RR's in exchange for building out into territory that was economically unattractive to the RRs (no customers for hundreds of miles until the settlement fanned out)--this means of inducing expansion was the only way they knew to fill the empty territories and bring them into the union to settle the country and encourage trade. I think you know all that--so in a republic--which is what we are, a res publicae--a thing owned by all--the means of doing projects bigger than one person or one company could afford was to let the government do it. THis had a long tradition and endorsement from the time of Hamilton.

(His response)Now as far as railroads expanding beyond their useful, profitable range, isn't that much like building more and more expansive housing than the market could bear. That is a corporate decision and an unwise one. Once the railroads pulled back, the subsidiary industries also laid people off, but the only government inducement I see was the free land. If a railroad was built too close to a competing line and by competition was driven out of business, or it was built and there was an inadequate market for the service, well, that reflects bad corporate judgment.

(quoting his past comments)"The reason that the farmers and workers, and especially the Populists and Coxey came to Washington is not that 'government was the problem' but that they felt that government could be the solution! "

(Me)I know that, I dont know if I was clear enough but I thought I mentioned that it seemed to be a bit ironic(to me). lol The premise of the statement also suggests that the government intervention is neccessary in a free market, which I also disagree with.

(His response)One of the things that came out of the Gilded Age and its veneration of money and greed was studies like the ones done by a breed of progressives called New Economists--An American with the unlikely name of Thorstein Veblen took the old assumptions about "free market" and pointed out that it was anything but free, that the market was very narrow, the promise of anyone competing with the big boys (I was going to say fat cats) was rigged. Here you can find some of what he said:


(His response)Our problem now in this new Gilded Age we are in, is that, as of old, the Wall Street robber barons are admired as they were during the time we are reading about--stories like the Horatio Alger stories kited up the notion that anyone could get rich with a little luck and "pluc"--the old word for daring. We still believe that nonsense, and on the out chance we could be obscenely rich, we don't want any of the 1% to be limited by oversight, an untoward sense of decency, or too much concern with the lowest 7%--we want Lady Luck to come our way, and how can she if we have some sort of socialist guarantee of basic human needs which takes a little of the wealth from the richest and hands it to those undeserving slackers? (We have never loved socialists and if you brand Obama a socialist, you can get many, many Americans to suck in their breath and call for his head!)

(quoting his past comments)"Each section of the country seemed to have its solution to this disconnection between government and the people's well-being and how to fix it"

(Me)Correct me if Im wrong, but isnt that why we have a Constitution that gives powers to the states? Each section/state SHOULD have different ideas. In fact, I thought that was the point. States are a self correcting form of government, the federal branch is not. Once a bad federal law is passed it can be years, decades, even NEVER(see: Drug war) that it gets repealed, whereas the state can act much quicker to either correct or implement laws at a local level(See medical cannabis).

(His response)If what you suggest about the states were true, then we would have 50 different countries instead of one, and some would have the African Americans still in bondage or as second class citizens--more than they are right now despite all sorts of federal efforts. No, remember--and this is going to drive you around the bend--the Constitution was established by a coup d'etat against the state-centered Articles of Confederation--the Constitution sets the federal government up above the states in most things--those nice guys who met in Philly behind closed doors, in secret session trashed the constitution for which the revolution had been fought and set up the republic we have now--"if we can keep it." They set up a constitution which then was immediately amended 10 times and now an additional bunch up to our own time. If you leave various things like social well-being to the states, then where is there any guarantee that life and liberty could be secured for all Americans. Mississippi is so poor that they would be a plantation economy, but now, they do get a share of everything on the basis of the power of their congressmen and senators and the way US federal largesse is distributed. And states are much easier to influence--read: buy off--than the Fed, although we are now seeing money so huge and powerful that it is subverting the Congress.

(His response)Well, I appreciate your questions, and I doubt I have convinced you of anything, but do make it your practice to read beyond your comfort zone always--I would suggest watching and reading the site http://billmoyers.com , among others, and giving what he and his guests have to say a fair hearing. Then, if you still feel that Rick Santorum or Mitt Romney or Ron Paul have the answer, at least your vote will be informed.

(quoting his past comments)"But it did not end there: the type of capitalism that had characterized an agrarian society needed to evolve into a new industrial capitalism and this would require government intervention and regulation of businesses. Wealth was too unequally distributed--the game was rigged."

(Me)While I can understand the premise of this, I will never, ever, EVER, be for wealth redistribution. I cannot go to my neighboors house with a gun and say "GIVE TO CHARITY!!!" Because that is immoral and wrong. The same applies to the government. (See Non aggression principle) All Im saying is that the federal government is not the cat's meow. I dislike the practices of big business as much as anyone else, but big gov is not the answer. Big gov has led to the current sitatution with endless money printing, endless wars, continual inflation, and has allowed both the gov and big business to partner up and rob us blind everyday.

(Me)Perfect example: Monsanto, the same corp that the left want regulated to the moon and back. So what does the fed gov do? Gives the power of regulations to monsanto!! Big gov, can not and never will be, the solution to our problems. This is just my opinion, and you definitely seem to feel differently(at least much of what you said did anywho). I disagree with the use of force as a matter of principle because, primarily, I am libertarian. :-) (See Non Aggression principle)

(Me)Please do not lower my grades because you and I may disagree on some things. I mean no disrespect or anything close to it. Just note that I am very stubborn about what I believe, because long story short, I really dislike the federal government. lolololol Maybe we should debate a little LOLOLOL XD

(His response)I would never lower anyone's grade for disagreeing with me--I celebrate your having a different opinion and being willing to express it. What I am sorry for, though, is that your libertarianism is the result of the dismay I share with you over the corruption of government and by government. But where I cling to the hope that government can and should be brought back around to being the arm of charity, the guarantor of fairness and equality--as it was meant to be in the Progressive Era and the New Deal--you have been disillusioned to think any government intervention is dangerous and misguided. If we dispense with government as the arbiter or justice and peace, we revert to the war of all against all, and we won't come out of that alive, no matter how clever we think we are. When that happens, we risk inviting in another Hitler to solve our problems and return "our share" to us at any cost. See Sinclair Lewis's It Can't Happen Here.

Also read this article in the NY Times (heaven forbid!) to get some perspective on our precious constitutional legacy.




02-10-2012, 03:39 PM
"The federal government has hit the limit of what it can borrow, and still plans to spend 40% or more than it takes in in revenues every year. In order to fund this spending it has already begun to cannibalize federal employee retirement money.

What do you think the odds are of you receiving your pension as promised, in a currency that can buy something?"

02-10-2012, 03:49 PM
One thing you should definitely do is familiarize yourself with the common myths that he is likely to have been indoctrinated into believing.

Standard Oil, Industrial Revolution, Robber Barons, minimum wage, child labor, etc.