Churchill on the Buffett Rule

Since I was a couple days late with last week’s helping of Winston, I might as well do this week’s a day or two early, especially since I was reading the source material for this one just this morning—WSC’s 1937 essay about Franklin Roosevelt.  Obama (and Buffett the Buffoon) ought to read this warning, one of several, that Churchill offered about the New Deal:

A second danger to President Roosevelt’s valiant and heroic experiments seems to arise from the disposition to hunt down rich men as if they were noxious beasts.  It is a very attractive sport, and once it gets started quite a lot of people everywhere are found ready to join in the chase.  Moreover, the quarry is at once swift and crafty, and therefore elusive.  The pursuit is long and exciting, and everyone’s blood is infected with its ardour.  The question arises whether the general well-being of the masses of the community will be advanced by an excessive indulgence in this amusement.  The millionaire or multi-millionaire is a highly economic animal.  He sucks up with sponge-like efficiency money from all quarters.  In this process, far from depriving ordinary people of their earnings, he launches enterprise and carries it through, raises values, and he expands that credit without which on a vast scale no fuller economic life can be opened to the millions.  To hunt wealth is not to capture commonwealth.

This money-gathering, credit-producing animal can not only walk—he can run.  And when frightened he can fly.  If his wings are clipped, he can dive or crawl.  When in the end he is hunted down, what is left but a very ordinary individual apologizing volubly for his mistakes, and particularly for not having been able to get away?

But meanwhile great constructions have crumbled to the ground.  Confidence is shaken and enterprise chilled, and the unemployed queue up at the soup kitchen or march out upon the public works with ever-growing expense to the taxpayer and nothing more appetizing to take home to their families than the leg or the wing of what was once a millionaire.  One quite sees that people who have got interested in this fight will not accept such arguments against their sport.  What they will have to accept is the consequences of ignoring such arguments.  It is indispensible to the wealth of nations and to the wage and life standards of labour, that capital and credit should be honoured and cherished partners in the economic system.

If this is rejected there is always, of course, the Russian alternative.  But no one can suppose that the self-reliant population of the United States, which cut down the forests and ploughed up the soil and laced the continent with railways, and carried the wealth-getting and wealth-diffusing to a higher point than has ever been reached by mankind, would be content for a week with the dull brutish servitude of Russia.

On second thought, no wonder Obama sent the Oval Office Churchill bust back to London.