23A002 America in 1923 by Jim Davies, 1/10/2023


Although 2022 was a relatively good year, the past century as a whole has been terrible. America was very far from perfect 100 years ago, but was a whole heap better then today. Consider how much this society has degenerated since!

H L Mencken was at the peak of his productive popularity as a journalist in 1923, equal in influence to Ed Murrow, Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather in their times and a great deal better anchored to common sense and distrust of government. His dictum

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary

is even more true today than it was then. He worked at the Baltimore Sun, located close enough to Washington to see clearly what was going on, but far enough away not to be sucked in to the vortex of its influence. Yet today, the MSM never sees a government narrative as a "hobgoblin" but as true and trustworthy as tablets handed down from the mountain. Rather than ascerbic analysts, reporters have become subservient stenographers.

Ayn Rand was 18 in 1923 and, following the Bolshevik confiscation of her father's retail pharmacy, was planning an escape from the USSR - which she carried out in 1925. In America she perfected her English and became a writer, turning political philosophy on its head a couple of decades later, providing a good part of the intellectual groundwork for the Libertarian movement - while never quite letting go of her illusion that government was needed for justice and defense.

Despite that shortfall her influence on the 20th Century (and the 21st!) is immense; and the saga began just one century ago. I wonder whether, after the rejection of modern Russia by the West, that society will re-invent itself using the insights of this Russian American.

Calvin Coolidge presided, doing little and saying less - and if one has to have a President (one doesn't) such virtues are notable. Unfortunately he took the do-nothing idea too far; while skeptical of Prohibition, four years old in 1923, he did nothing to get it repealed. The result, during his term, was a dramatic rise in violent crime and the establishment of the Mafia as a long-term influence - and, worse yet, an army of government spies to monitor what we drink and smoke. Only the brave actions of a series of jurors later in the decade, in refusing to convict obviously guilty liquor traders, got that atrocious law nullified.

He also did nothing, alas, to stop the illegal collection of income tax, which the Supremos in the previous decade had made clear was a tax only on corporate profits. During the 20s the collectors ignored that, and a repopulated Court reversed the finding (without ever saying so clearly) as a result of which Americans are now enslaved for 20% of our working week.

Prosperity was exploding, in 1923; and while some of it was illusory due to the unprecedented expansion of the money supply (something else do-nothing Cal didn't try to stop, and which caused the 1929 collapse) a lot of it was real. Radio was bursting on the scene, with an impact comparable to that of the Net 75 years later. Refrigerators were transforming kitchens. Vacuum cleaners were making healthier homes. Fortunes continued to be made, and any lack of compassion by the very wealthy was being tempered by the gentle scorn of Scott Fitzgerald.

Thanks to the vision of Henry Ford and his rivals, automobiles were being offered at prices plain folk could afford. That too changed social life for ever. It's too bad the car-makers left to government the job of building roads along which their vehicles could travel. Instead of investing in them for profit (via tolls or just as image-advertising tools, as in "Ford Freeway" or "Buick Bridge") they surrendered a huge chunk of the economy to politicians. It's still there, and crumbling as I write.

Just think how far this rising and widely-spread prosperity would have gone, if the 1929 stock market crash, caused mostly by the presence of bogus "money," had been left alone to cure itself, as all others had before. Instead, the FedGov intervened repeatedly for 12 miserable years, fabricating poverty when little need have arisen and polishing off the process by provoking a major, needless war.

Ours is the opportunity to get America back on the growth curve of a century ago by eliminating the parasites and enabling prosperity such as has never been seen and hardly dreamed about. The whole system is abominable; government is at the root of it all and it has to go, completely.

That's the task and yes, it can certainly be done. The Freedom Academy, with its one-on-one approach to exponential growth, is how.

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