Page 22


Andrew Jackson was a leader! In one of his speeches he said something that bears repeating over and over again: “It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes.” In support of these words let me point out just a few examples of legislation that has been enacted these last years. Giant American corporations were able to add to their financial balances over four hundred billion dollars because legislation was enacted that charged them a minimum tax instead of the regular tax. It cost the American public over $100,000,000,000.00! Truly an outrage. Probably 95 percent of the American people don’t even know what happened. They just go merrily on their way, and they are seemingly undisturbed by the enactment of legislation that prevents the government from negotiating with pharmaceutical companies for lower drug prices. We passed energy bills that enable the giant corporations to further increase their financial positions, all of which adds up to making certain that the monopolistic trend will accelerate. What better proof than what has occurred in the price of a gallon of gas? Max Weber, over a hundred years ago cautioned us that democracy and freedom might not be maintained in the long run under the dominance of advanced that they could be maintained, “Only if a nation is always determined not to be ruled like a herd of sheep.” Yes, like a herd of sheep. President Jackson liked rugged individualism. He was for capitalism. He wasn’t worried about polish. The smoothly polished society of today is committed to a society without limits. Yes, CEOs are getting five-, ten-, or even fifty-million-dollar bonuses. In some cases their performance wasn’t even satisfactory. So how does it happen? The Board of Directors authorizes the payment. It doesn’t come out of their pockets. Stockholders pay for it. Adam Smith was the father of theoretical capitalism. He believed it is the only viable economic system that comports Andrew Jackson, Where Art Thou? by BERNARD RAPOPORT with the greed instinct and provides for the protection for the populace. He perceived that competition would be the regulator. He never came to grips with the possibility of monopolism. I think he had the understanding that when too few have too much and too many have too little, the result could be a fascist or communist country. Benito Mussolini said that corporatism plus government was indeed fascism. In Jackson’s inaugural speech, his speechwriter, Amos Kendall, extracted these words from Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration: “When the laws undertake to… grant titles, gratuities and exclusive privileges to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of societythe farmers, mechanics and laborers who have neither the time nor the means of securing like favors to themselves, have a right to complain of the injustice of their government.” Then Jackson continued with a sentence that I think is so revealing: “There are no necessary evils in government. Its evils exist only in abuses. Many of our rich men have not been content with equal protection and equal benefits, but have besought us to make them wider by Act of Congress.” To our discredit, we live in a society where increasingly too much is not enough. There’s a small group that wants it all. Refer back to the illustrations in the opening of this essay of a few of the bills that Congress has passed. Let me reiterate that one of the bills to which I referred cost taxpayers over AD COURTESY OF THE BERNARD AND AUDRE RAPOPORT FOUNDATION 5400 Bosque Blvd., Suite 245 741-0510 Bernard Rapoport Chairman of the Board $100,000,000,000.00. I talked to one of my very good friends who is a great senator. I asked him why he voted for the recently passed energy bill. He knew that I was not in favor of it. He said, “Well, B, all I can tell you is this: It was 30 percent good and 70 percent bad.” Those are odds that are against the majority. It gave too much to those who already have. It would be humorous if it were not so tragic: Forty million Americans without health insurance. These are folks who do not have medical care when they need it. Drugs cost more than many people can afford. What does Congress do? It passes legislation that prohibits our government from negotiating with pharmaceutical companies for better pricing. Could this be what Weber had in mind when he said, “like a herd of sheep?” Now, think about this. Jackson was President from 1829 to 1837; even then these injustices were becoming embedded in our social fabric. I didn’t know all that much about President Jackson, but he catapulted to the top of my list after reading some of the axioms he held so dear. In his Bank Veto message, he said: “We can at least take a stand against all new grants of monopolies and exclusive privileges, against any prostitution of government to the advancement of the few at the expense of the many…” Well, my frustration is that it seems like we get mad at the insignificant and accept unconsciously or in reality those things that ensure a decreasing opportunity for a meaningful democracy! President Jackson might well have disapproved when President Bush signed an energy bill in August 2005, containing an estimated $14.5 billion in tax breaks to encourage oil production and the search for new supplies of coal and nuclear power. Well, generally when you or I invest in a project, we expect to make a profit, but whatever we pay in order to get the opportunity, we have to repay. There’s no such provision in this particular bill; it’s just a gift. It’s your money and mine for the oil companies. They really need help, don’t they? Gasoline is up to almost $3 a gallon! So the question: President Jackson, Where Art Thou? OCTOBER 7, 2005 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 13