Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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The Founding

Coolidge and the 4th of July

Leon Kass reflects on Coolidge and the 4th, and so does Steve Hayward at Powerline.  Read the whole thing, of course, but here is the pregnant paragraph from Silent Cal's 150th anniversary of the Declaration speech, in case someone you know isn't clear on the connection between natural rights and natural right:

"About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful.  It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning cannot be applied to this great charter.  If all men are created equal, that is final.  If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final.  If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final.  No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions.  If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people.  Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress.  They are reactionary.  Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers."
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During Coolidge’s administration, 1923-29, the bottom 93 percent of earners saw their real disposable income decrease; a tiny number of millionaires did become zillionaires, though, in part because industrial wages went up only 8 percent even though corporate profits soared 80 percent during the ’20s. Farmers did even worse; their share of US income plummeted from 15 percent to 9 percent in that decade, while the value of their land plunged 30 percent. Coolidge was sent two bills intended to boost sagging farm prices; he vetoed both bills. The construction boom ended under Coolidge, in 1928. Coolidge left office in March ’29 and three months later, US production and personal income fell off a cliff. Simultaneously, wild speculation on Wall Street — stock prices soared 40 percent and volume doubled between May ’28 and Sept. ’29 — continued, as giddy Americans threw fortunes at promises on paper, tacitly and ironically encouraged by the longstanding laissez-faire policies of this otherwise stoic, sensible New Englander. Coolidge didn’t cause the Great Depression; he just didn’t do nearly enough to stop that ball from careening downhill. That’s why the vast majority of historians give him mediocre marks.

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