American Elephants


The Founding Fathers Understood Bureaucracy Better Than Today’s Liberals. by The Elephant's Child

The story of the Taylor family, just below, is an excellent example of Statism, Progressivism or just bureaucracy in general.  Centralized government, by its very nature is one-size-fits-all government. All goes well until your case is a little different, until the one-size doesn’t fit you. Centralized government runs by regulation, and making regulations for over 315,000,000 people just isn’t going to fit a significant number of people.

The Taylor family’s only hope to avoid FEMA regulations is by getting Congress to pass some kind of exception to the regulations. How would you like your future dependent on getting Congress to pass a law just for you. It happens, but for some Congress cannot rescue you.

The Founding Fathers understood this. Their regulations came from the British government 3,500 miles away, with the fastest communication by sailing packet. And the British government was not shy about regulating. Americans got fed up with bureaucratic regulation that had no real understanding of the realities in the colonies. So the colonies revolted against the crown. The American people’s distaste for bureaucracy is real and longstanding.

In 1651, long before the Revolution, England began passing a series of Navigation Acts to regulate the trade of its American colonies. John Steele Gordon explained:

These acts restricted the colonies to using ships built, owned, and manned by British subjects. The Dutch, far more efficient merchant mariners than the English in the mid-seventeenth century, were able to profitably ship the tobacco of the Chesapeake to Europe for as much as a third less than English ships could. But as the English merchant marine grew and as New England became a major shipping center in its own right, shipping costs declined even without Dutch competition.

The Navigation Acts also required that certain commodities exported by the American colonies could be shipped only to England. Many of these commodities —tobacco, rice, sugar, indigo, furs, copper, and naval stores, tar, pitch and turpentine —were reexported to continental Europe. This assured both that these commodities passed through English customs and were taxed, and that English merchants handled the trade with Europe. Other colonial exports, such as flour from the middle colonies and pig iron, could be exported by the colonies directly to whatever markets could be found.

Third, the Navigation Acts required that European goods imported to America had to pass first through England, and of course, English customs, except for certain products of southern Europe that England didn’t produce in the first place, such as wine from Spain, Madeira, and the Azores. The main purpose of this legislation was to protect the American market for British manufactures. But as Britain quickly became the most efficient producer of these goods in Europe, British manufacturers almost always offered better prices anyway.

Those who are placed in a position of power can seldom resist the temptation to tell everyone else what to do. And that is a pleasant power. What fun to be able to arrange  things to suit yourself. The colonies remained dependent on the mother country to provide those goods and services which they could not provide for themselves. All well and good, but British law effectively forbade the establishment of banks in the colonies, and forbade the export of British coinage from Britain to protect its own money supply. Money speeds up transactions in a barter economy, and its lack is beyond inconvenient.

With the prohibition on export of British coins, the colonies had to find some other source. In 1652, Massachusetts began making its own coins, the pine tree shilling. People had to bring in their own silver and have it assayed before being made into coins. That was illegal, but successful, and the Massachusetts economy prospered, so the British didn’t interfere. The rest of the colonies turned to the Spanish dollar, which accounted for about half the coinage in the colonies. It was chopped into eighths or ‘bits’ from whence came the designation of our quarter as ‘two bits’, but since nothing much costs a quarter any more, the term may be completely unfamiliar to our younger citizens.

That’s just a small sample of the bureaucratic complications of being a colony of a mother country intent upon maintaining America as a colony. America got fed up with regulations coming from 3,500 miles away, and communication that took as long as three months.

Those progressives that are so sure the Constitution is outdated, not up-to-date enough for modern people like themselves may assume that the Declaration and the Constitution, dusty old documents, were dashed off by old white men with no understanding the needs of truly modern men, and a modern age. But the Founders understood centralized government and bureaucracy probably better than we do. They understood human nature, and did their best to set up a government with checks and balances that would prevent or at least slow down its excesses. Pity that the Progressives have so little understanding of history and so little respect for its lessons.




Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,432 other followers

%d bloggers like this: