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Francis Schaeffer on the Origins of Relativism in the Church

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Fly in the Apothecary's Ointment

In an otherwise excellent and highly recommended column (Truthfully; Dr. Adams is one of my favorite writers, and in this column, save for this one thing, I think he is spot-on), Dr. Adams wrote:
Herbert Hoover made FDR’s New Deal possible with protectionist policies following the stock market crash of 1929.
Why, you ask, might I say that this is a fly in the ointment? Because, very simply, high tariffs--protectionism--was the policy of every Republican president before Hoover, as well, right on back to Lincoln. To say that Hoover's protectionism was somehow "unprincipled" and paved the way for the New Deal is absurd, unless you want to similarly charge all those other Republicans as well, and somehow the idea that it took from from the 1860s to the late 1920s for that pavement to be laid and the New Deal to come to fruition seems less than tenable to me.

Not coincidentally, in my opinion, that same period of time saw the United States grow from a principally agricultural nation to the mightiest industrial power the world has ever known.

Once, high tariffs were an integral part of Republican policy. Starting with the Eisenhower administration, they were gradually repudiated, until now, many Republicans react as though they were being whacked with a red-hot poker if you so much as mention the idea of, say, withdrawing from NAFTA. I do not know why, unless it's that they've been convinced that the Smoot-Hawley tariffs were somehow responsible for the Great Depression. But that idea doesn't hold much water, either, and for similar reasons. To my mind, the hive-mind of opinion on Smoot-Hawley seems to be the result of decades of indoctrination rather than of reasoned analysis. Again, for those interested, peruse the relevant chapter of The Great Betrayal. It's available used for such a low price that there's no excuse for not buying it, even if all you do is read that one chapter.

Fortunately for all of us, there is an excellent alternative to both the income tax (the only real alternative to consumption taxes, that is, it's pretty much consumption taxes--tariffs and the Fair Tax--or income taxes: take your pick) and tariffs: The Fair Tax, which I happen to know Dr. Adams supports. I can't help but note that the Fair Tax achieves one of the principal objectives of a tariff, though--that is, they both create a tremendous tax advantage to manufacturing in the United States--and find it slightly amusing that the Fair Tax is gaining ground amongst conservatives, whilst tariffs have an undeservedly miserable reputation.

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