Freeman

OUR ECONOMIC PAST

Freeman articles on American Presidents

FEBRUARY 17, 2011 by TSVETELIN M. TSONEVSKI

Selected from The Freeman Archives:

Our Presidents and the National Debt, By Burton Folsom

During the last 75 years the United States has failed to balance its annual budget over 90 percent of the time. What’s worse, the government has spent money so recklessly that we now owe over $8.2 trillion, and Congress recently raised the debt ceiling to $9 trillion.

Thomas Jefferson: Liberty and Power, by Clarence Carson

There should be no doubt, either, that Jefferson believed that government was the greatest, if not only, threat to individual liberty. He wrote that “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.” This is so because those who gain positions of power tend always to extend the bounds of it.

My Kind of President, by Lawrence W. Reed

[Grover] Cleveland took a firm stand against a nascent welfare state. Frequent warnings against the redistributive nature of government were characteristic of his tenure. He regarded as a “serious danger” the notion that government should dispense favors and advantages to individuals or their businesses.

Teddy Roosevelt and the Progressive Vision of History, by Burton Folsom

The shift from the individual rights of the founders to the community rights of the Progressives was a watershed transition in American thought in the early 1900s. But Roosevelt needed a federal income tax to help him redistribute wealth in the national interest. The title “New Nationalism” reflected his view that he and other leaders could determine the national interest and redistribute wealth and power accordingly.

Two Presidents, Two Philosophies, and Two Different Outcomes, by Burton Folsom

If we compare the attitudes of Woodrow Wilson and Calvin Coolidge on the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence we can see how their views on government intervention were a logical outcome of their conceptions of these documents.

America’s Engineer, by Sheldon Richman

History has treated Hoover curiously. His enemies see him as the heartless leader who stood by as the population was ravaged by the Great Depression. His admirers see him as the last lion of laissez-faire individualism, valiantly resisting the tide of statism that washed over America in the 1930s.

Nixon’s New Economic Plan, by Robert Higgs

Like most incumbent politicians, Nixon gladly took advantage of crises to augment his power, but he did not simply sit waiting for an emergency to come along. For him, the risk that he might not be reelected was crisis enough.

ABOUT

TSVETELIN M. TSONEVSKI

Tsvetelin Tsonevski is director of academic affairs at FEE. He holds an LL.M. degree in Law and Economics from George Mason School of Law.

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