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Archive for July 10th, 2011

I’ve already pointed out the two nicest things ever said about me. One was intentionally flattering, as Dick Armey mentioned in his book that I was one of the few people to take a principled stand against the TARP bailout back in 2008. The other was meant to be negative, as a left-wing English journalist said that I was “a high priest of light tax, small state libertarianism.” But I thought it was a wonderful endorsement.

Now the time has come for me to confess the nastiest things ever said about me. But I’m not thinking of the people who occasionally rip me in the comments section of this blog or attack me in the comments section of my videos.

Instead, I think it’s terrible when people say things that imply I might be getting soft and selling out.

This happens a lot in Washington, so much that free-market supporters call it the “strange new respect” award – a term that became infamous in certain circles after the Washington Post used it to applaud former Senator Bob Dole for acquiescing to the left on some issue.

Simply stated, if some statist person or institution is saying nice things about you, that probably means you’re doing something very bad. With that bit of background, here are the two awful things that were written about me.

o Albert Hunt used to write a weekly column for the Wall Street Journal, and was also a regular on CNN’s Capital Gang.  He was a scion of establishment left-wing thinking, so I was horrified in 1994 when he wrote that I was a “responsible economic expert on the right.” After all, left wingers usually say people like me are “responsible” if we are willing to roll over and surrender.

o More recently, Nicholas Shaxson just wrote an anti-tax haven book called Treasure Islands. In one of the chapters, he wrote that I was one of the “noisiest and most active defenders” of low-tax jurisdictions. That was fine, but then he cold-cocked me by writing that I was “a man of striking warmth and great personal charm.” It goes without saying that this means I wasn’t vigorous enough in my defense of liberty during our meetings.

I don’t know if there’s a three-strikes-and-your-out policy, but I will work diligently to make sure I don’t receive any more praise from the wrong people.

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I had some fun at Andrew Sullivan’s expense a couple of weeks ago, mocking him for asserting that spending cuts today would be repeating the mistakes of Herbert Hoover. That was a rather odd thing for him to write since Hoover boosted the burden of government spending by 47 percent in just four years.

Since it is notoriously difficult to educate Obamaphiles, I’m guessing that he (and others) need some supplementary material.

How about the words of a key aide to Franklin Delano Roosevelt? Would that be considered a legitimate source? One would think so, which means this excerpt from a 2007 book review (the same statement was also cited by PBS) is rather revealing.

FDR aide Rexford Tugwell would claim in a 1974 interview that “practically the whole New Deal was extrapolated from programs that Hoover started.”

The fact that Hoover and Roosevelt were two peas in a big-government pod may be of interest to economic historians, but the real lesson is that interventiondidn’t work for either one of them. That’s what Andrew Sullivan and others need to learn. But since people like that probably won’t listen to me, maybe they’ll be more willing to accept the confession of Roosevelt’s Treasury Secretary.

FDR’s Treasury Secretary, Henry Morgenthau, wrote in his diary: “We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. … We have never made good on our promises. … I say after eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started … and an enormous debt to boot!”

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