Like most Americans, I understand the rancor of the recent political atmosphere on many levels – from an ideological standpoint to a rational view of what I believe is best for the people of our country and also in a very raw, personal way. Of late, I’ve received several political text messages from an extended family member. Heretofore the topics discussed with this person have ranged from fond family memories to Grandma’s recipes. So, I was more than a bit taken aback when the following messages landed on my smartphone this week:
“I hope you and your kind are happy."
“Thank you and your sister and brother and sons for voting for Trump to kill me.”
Friends and associates have relayed many a story about families and politics circa 2016: one said that his in-laws had planned on skipping Thanksgiving, refusing to sit at the same table with Trump supporters until their grandson shamed them into coming; another had a life-long friend berate her publicly on Facebook. But I had never experienced this divisiveness personally – until now.
The sad thing is that, at a core level, this family member and I have much on which to agree. We both want a better economy to produce well-paying jobs. We both want affordable healthcare. We both would like to see a restoration of small decaying Pennsylvania steel towns brought back to life.
Where we part ways, I suppose, is the methodology this nation must employ to get there. If the past is indeed a capable teacher, it would seem there is much to be learned from America’s industrial lions of the early 20th century – people like Andrew Mellon, Henry Ford, and Andrew Carnegie.
Most men today do not argue that as the 49th U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Andrew Mellon knew more than his fair share about the philosophies and policies needed to stoke the engines of economic prosperity. It was Mellon, more than almost any other, who put the economic roar into the Roaring 20’s. And he did it by employing the business theories espoused by Adam Smith.
More than a century before, Smith – an economist, author, and philosopher – poured the concrete foundations for what would become classical free market economic theory. In “The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression,” author Amity Shlaes quotes a passage from Andrew Mellon’s book that harkens back to Smith and rings forth to us today:
“Does anyone question that Mr. Ford has made more money by reducing the price of car and increasing his sales than he would have made by maintaining a high price and a greater profit per car, but selling less cars? The government is just a business.”
Free market economic theories have just as much to teach us in the Twenty-first Century as they did in the Twentieth during Mellon’s day and the Eighteenth Century of Smith. You don’t have to be an economic genius to grasp Mellon’s principles: lower taxes allow business to expand. When a business expands, it hires, it produces things, it essentially puts money in the pockets of its people.
Intuitively, Americans know this. We love a bargain; lower prices equal more sales. And so, when we transfer these ideas to the behemoth now known as the American economy, we can and should expect positive results.
This week a new health care plan comes before Congress. It may not be perfect, but it’s obvious to all that the old one was crumbling before our very eyes – and in a very short time.
As well, a new budget is put before lawmakers. Yes, there are cuts involved. But anyone who is in debt up to their ears knows that at some point the belt must be tightened. And right now, the United States of America has unimaginable debt. The gross U.S. federal government debt is estimated to be $20.1 trillion, at the end of the fiscal year 2017.
I’m not advocating on behalf of either of these pieces of legislation. But I am saying we should look at what has worked for us in the past. The American economy is the proverbial Titanic. It will take a long time to turn it around, but heaven forbid we don’t see the iceberg ahead and at the very least try and avoid it.
So, if all politics is personal, my family member and I may not agree how to turn the ship around, but we both instinctively know that we are not headed in the right direction. The only question then becomes: Do we turn right or left to avoid hitting that wall of ice?
Leesa K. Donner is Editorial Director of Liberty Nation. Her writing has been published in American Thinker and CNS News, among others. She previously worked in the broadcast news industry as a television news anchor, reporter and producer at NBC, CBS and FOX affiliates in Charlotte, Pittsburgh and Washington, DC. Leesa is the author of “Free At Last: A Life-Changing Journey through the Gospel of Luke.”