“I think he cares for his country, don’t get me wrong about that, but I think he truly misunderstands what this country was based upon, the values that America was based upon, which was free enterprise and having the ability to risk your capital and having a chance to have a return on your investment,”
These are the garbled words of Rick Perry who is referring to President Obama whom he calls, in the same interview, a “socialist.” I have spoken about scare words like “socialist” in an earlier blog, so I won’t go there. I would prefer to reflect on the longer comment about the values Perry thinks this country was founded upon. One must wonder whether he ever read any of the founders’ words! Almost to a man, even the staunch Federalists had deep reservations about unbridled capitalism. They tried in any number of ways to put reins on human greed and see to it that no one became so wealthy they were a threat to found a new aristocracy.
One of the most common steps taken by every colony was to write into law prohibitions against “primogeniture”: the ability of a father to pass along his entire wealth to his eldest son. By the time of the Revolution all of the colonies had outlawed this practice, choosing instead a more equitable distribution of wealth through wills — what was called “partible inheritance.” The idea was to spread the wealth as much as possible and not allow it to accumulate in the hands of a few who would then become powerful, or worse yet, aristocratic. It didn’t always work that way, of course, but the point is that the values this country were founded upon are not to be found in raw, unbridled capitalism. Though most of the founders were not Puritans, they espoused largely Puritan values — such things as industry, courage, charity, and thrift. That is, the values that were prominent in the eighteenth century were other-directed and most assuredly unrelated to the “return on your investment.” Perry is deluded and is simply trying to re-write history as he slanders the President. What he says is hogwash.
When we take these words together with candidate Michele Bachmann’s praise of the residents of New Hampshire for the courage their ancestors showed in the local battle of Lexington and Concord, we must assume that the corporations who back these candidates don’t choose them for their intelligence and knowledge of history, but for their malleability. It would be wise to brace ourselves: there will be more of this sort of nonsense in the coming months, not less.