Skip to comments.Can You Name the Greatest President of the Past 100 Years? (Cato Inst. says it's Calvin Coolidge)
Posted on 10/19/2010 7:07:22 AM PDT by WebFocus
It’s tempting to say that Ronald Reagan was the best U.S. president of the past century, and I’ve certainly demonstrated my man-crush on the Gipper. But there is some real competition. I had the pleasure yesterday of hearing Amity Shlaes of the Council on Foreign Relations make the case for Calvin Coolidge at the Mont Pelerin Society Meeting in Australia.
I dug around online and found an article Amity wrote for Forbes that highlights some of the attributes of “Silent Cal” that she mentioned in her speech. As you can see, she makes a persuasive case.
… the Coolidge style of government, which included much refraining, took great strength and yielded superior results. …Coolidge and Mellon tightened and pulled [income tax rates] multiple times, eventually getting the top rate down to 25%, a level that hasn’t been seen since. Mellon argued that lower rates could actually bring in greater revenues because they removed disincentives to work. Government, he said, should operate like a railroad, charging a price for freight that “the traffic will bear.” Coolidge’s commitment to low taxes came from his concept of property rights. He viewed heavy taxation as the legalization of expropriation. “I want taxes to be less, that the people may have more,” he once said. In fact, Coolidge disapproved of any government intervention that eroded the bond of the contract. …More than once Coolidge vetoed what would later be called farm allotment–the government purchase of commodities to reduce supply and drive up prices. …Today our government has moved so far from Coolidge’s tenets that it’s difficult to imagine such policies being emulated.
But if you don’t want to believe Amity, here’s Coolidge in his own words. This video is historically significant since it is the first film (with sound) of an American President. The real value, however, is in the words that are being said.
CLICK ABOVE LINK FOR THE VIDEO
I like Cal.
I’m not saying he was the greatest but far too little attention has been paid to President Harding and we could certainly use some of his wisdom today!
Warren Harding and the Forgotten Depression of 1920
Coolidge was too busy getting the policy correct to do the communications right?
In biology and psychology, the term “Coolidge effect” describes a phenomenonseen in nearly every mammalian species in which it has been testedwhereby both males and females exhibit continuous high sexual performance given the introduction of new receptive partners.
He and the first lady were touring a chicken farm. The farmer got embarrassed in front of the first lady when a rooster made a big production out of having his way with a hen.
“How many times a day would you say that rooster has his way with a hen.” she asked.
“About twenty times a day.” the farmer answered.
“Be sure to point that out to the President” she told him.
When he told the President he asked “Every time the same hen?”
Farmer answered “Every time a different hen.”
He concluded “Tell THAT to the First Lady!”
Either Harding or Coolidge, because they did the best at keeping the government’s hands off the free economy.
Read her book, The Forgotten Man.
You will Obamao channeling all the worst thinks FDR did TO America.
I like Coolidge a lot. I like Reagan also. I think Reagan could have done a better job on immigration, so my first instinct was to put Coolidge as #1 — but raising my eyes up from the domestic scene, I recall that Reagan also won the Cold War and so I’ll say Reagan was #1.
i’d go with Silent Cal...
Some of Calvin Coolidge’s quotes giving insight into his thinking (All during the roaring 20’s):
1) “I want the people of America to be able to work less for the government and more for themselves. I want them to have the rewards of their own industry. This is the chief meaning of freedom.
Until we can reestablish a condition under which the earnings of the people can be kept by the people, we are bound to suffer a very severe and distinct curtailment of our liberty.”
2) “The wise and correct course to follow in taxation is not to destroy those who have already secured success but to create conditions under which every one will have a better chance to be more successful.”
3) “I agree perfectly with those who wish to relieve the small taxpayer by getting the largest possible contribution from the people with large incomes. But if the rates on large incomes are so high that they disappear, the small taxpayer will be left to bear the entire burden. If on the other hand, the rates are placed where they will produce the most revenue from large incomes, then the small taxpayer will be relieved.”
4) “The fundamental characteristics of humanity are not going to be changed by substituting government action for private enterprise. The individual who manages the one, with all his imperfections and his selfishness, will have to be employed to manage the other.”
5) “If the Government gets into business on any large scale, we soon find that the beneficiaries attempt to play a large part in the control. While in theory it is to serve the public, in practice it will be very largely serving private interests. It comes to be regarded as a species of government favor and those who are the most adroit get the larger part of it.”
6) “The country is in the midst of an era of prosperity more extensive and of peace more permanent than it has ever before experienced. But having reached this position, we should not fail to comprehend that it can easily be lost...
Peace and prosperity are not finalities... It is too easy under their influence for a nation to become selfish and degenerate. Our country has been provided with the resources with which it can enlarge its intellectual, moral, and spiritual life. The issue is in the hands of the people.”
7) “We do not need more material development, we need more spiritual development. We do not need more intellectual power, we need more moral power. We do not need more knowledge, we need more character. We do not need more government, we need more culture. We do not need more law, we need more religion. We do not need more of the things that are seen, we need more of the things that are unseen.
It is on that side of life that it is desirable to put the emphasis at the present time. If that side be strengthened, the other side will take care of itself.”
8) “America has but one main problem — the character of the men and women it shall produce.”
9) “Perhaps one of the most important accomplishments of my administration has been minding my own business”
So how did Hoover mess up which led to the Great Depression? Silent Cal leaves office on March 4, 1929 and the stock market melts down on October 24th, 1929.
I am currently reading Reich’s latest “masterpiece”, and he claims income inequity led to both the Great Depression and the “Great Recession”. Reich’s contention is that since the poorer boats do not rise as fast and they should rise as fast, that American consumers take on debt to make sure they rise as fast as the rich. The rich, needing places for their ill gotten wealth speculate and create the Crash bubbles (partially fueled by the inability of the middle class to service their debt). Same scenario repeated in 2008.
RE: Either Harding or Coolidge
Unfortunately, Harding’s administration was tainted by scandal and corruption (although his economic policies were correct. He got us out of what could have been a depression in 1920. Had FDR or Hoover been president then, the great depression would have started in 1920 ).
But it doesn't compare with the sorry legacy of LBJ/Nixon/Ford and Carter which Reagan was forced to clean up.
Nothing Calvin Coolidge accomplished came close to the fall of the Iron Curtain. Plus he had a cooperative congress his entire administration. Reagan did not and had to go over their heads constantly to appeal to the American people.
Well, if your sole focus is taxes/economics (expected from Cato), then Coolidge is “a contendah”. But Coolidge had it pretty easy as there were no real external threats to the US in his day. But both Roosevelt and Reagan have to be ranked as high, or higher, as both confronted and overcame belligerent external threats from socialism. I’d put Reagan ahead of Roosevelt, because Reagan didn’t have to go to global warfare to “get it done”.
Well, at least that didn’t say it’s Obama and his highly productive congress.
My list since 1900 in order — From Great to “Helped Destroy the Country.”
Harding (only because of Tea Pot dome, otherwise he’d be #1)
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