President Obama has been reading a lot of Lincoln. Perhaps he should take a little bit of time (I mean, heck, he must be rolling in the stuff…) and read a little bit of Teddy and Harry:
For the managers of the elevated railroads I have as little feeling as any man here. If it were possible, I would be willing to pass a bill of attainder on Jay Gould and all of Jay Gould’s associates…I regard these men as furnishing part of the most dangerous of all dangerous classes, the wealthy criminal class.
Teddy Roosevelt quoted in David McCullough’s Morning on Horseback, (page 269).
We worship money instead of honor. A billionaire, in our estimation, is much greater in these days in the eyes of the people than the public servant who works for the public interest. It makes no difference if the billionaire road to wealth on the sweat of little children and the blood of underpaid labor. No one ever considered Carnegie libraries steeped in the blood of the Homestead steelworkers, but they are. We do not remember that the Rockefeller Foundation is founded on the dead miners of the Colorado Fuel & Iron Company and a dozen other similar performances. We worship Mammon: and until we go back to ancient fundamentals and return to the Giver of the Tablets of Law and His teachings these conditions are going to remain with us. It is a pity that Wall Street, with its ability to control all the wealth of the nation and to hire the best law brains in the country has not produced some statesmen, some men who could see the dangers of bigness and concentration of the control of wealth. Instead of working to meet the situation [the Depression], they are still employing the best law brains to serve greed and self interest. People can stand only so much and one of these days there will be a settlement…
B.F. Skinner once observed that, in five thousand years every thing about man has changed about man but man himself. Ditto the last hundred and fifty. Alan Greenspan could spin all he wanted about “new economies” but, underlying (and undermining) the “new” economy have be the same old denizens of the wealth criminal classes who brought us the Jay Gould financial swindles of the 1880s, the Savings and Loan swindles of the 1980s and that little “situation” Truman spoke of. And what would Truman observe were he to see some of the mega-temples of the Giver of the Tablets of Law and His teachings which have evolved over the last fifty years to preach not the Gospel of Charity and Blessings of the Poor but instead the Gospel of “Pray and God will get you that SUV” ?
The outgoing president always compares himself to Harry Truman. I doubt George W. Bush ever read Truman and that, if he were around today, Harry would much enjoy the comparison. John McCain claimed to be a Republican of the TR ilk. Obviously John M. isn’t much of a reader, either.
But Barack Obama is. And he should read a bit more of both Roosevelt and Truman, both of whom came to political power in ages very similar to our own.
Sometimes you’ve got to pray in the Temple. Some times you’ve got to cleanse it. Now looks like a time for a good cleansing, both of our temples of Mammon and of our national temple of the Public Good.