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There They Go Again - The Anti-Reality Peepul

Professor Frary has watched the economic fantasies of the welfare statists wax and wane for 40 years - and there is truly nothing new under the sun.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.

That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,

And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

Rudyard Kipling, "The Gods of the Copybook Headings."

I believe there was a consensus among the liberal intellectuals at the end of World War II that the United States was doomed to sink back into a depression unless we adopted a rational, centrally planned economy after the Soviet model. They foresaw eleven million servicemen and women dropping back into the job market along with more millions rendered jobless by a sharp drop in demand for tanks, planes, and guns. The free market couldn’t possibly cope.

Frary with Artist
Young Frary's Budget Policy

I cannot assert that this consensus was a certain fact. I was five years old at the time and my limited funds were largely invested in licorice sticks rather than treatises by learned liberals. All the same, a lot of unsystematic reading since then inclines me to believe that it existed.

In any case, the drumming for government planning died down as the US economy started humming along, but yearning for central planning lived on and revived when the USSR sent the first satellite aloft, JFK fabricated a "missile gap" in the 1960 campaign, and bogus statistics of a Soviet economic growth were being viewed with alarm on every side. By that time I had lost my taste for licorice and began a life-long study of the liberal mind. I remember even now an article in the New York Times Magazine by the eminent historian, Arthur Schlesinger, explaining how the best minds in the Soviet Union were put to work directing economic development from the Olympian heights of central planning boards, while America’s talent was set to work selling Florida real estate.

Liberal delusions about the Soviet economic achievements persisted right up to the 1980s despite all the contradictory evidence. When that "amiable dunce" Ronald Reagan dismissed the Communist system as a failed experiment destined for the dust-bin of history, sophisticated liberal academics scoffed at his simplistic ignorance. Consider these example of their superior wisdom:

A passage from Schlesinger’s Journals, after a ten-day visit in 1982: "I fear that those who think the Soviet Union is on the verge of economic and social collapse are kidding themselves."

Sovietologist Seweryn Bialer of Columbia University in 1982: "The Soviet Union is not now nor will it be during the next decade in the throes of a true systemic crisis, for it boasts enormous unused reserves of political and social stability."

John Kenneth Galbraith, Harvard economist, in 1984: "That the Soviet system has made great material progress in recent years is evident both from the statistics and from the general urban scene.. . Partly, the Russian system succeeds because, in contrast with the Western industrial economies, it makes full use of its manpower."

Paul Samuelson of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1985: "What counts is results, and there can be no doubt that the Soviet planning system has been a powerful engine for economic growth. . . . The Soviet model has surely demonstrated that a command economy is capable of mobilizing resources for rapid growth."

Lester Thurow, MIT economist, in 1989: "Can economic command significantly . . . accelerate the growth process? The remarkable performance of the Soviet Union suggests that it can. . . . Today the Soviet Union is a country whose economic achievements bear comparison with those of the United States."

However, we must give credit to Robert Heilbronner, the most intelligent, knowledgeable and prolific advocate of a government directed economy. He, at least, acknowledged after the collapse of the Soviet system that Friedrich Hayek, the foremost critic of the planned economy had been right all along.

The 1980s saw another burst of enthusiasm for a government-directed economy, in the guise of "Industrial Policy." For a while the mighty Japanese economy, directed by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, was held up as a model fit to be followed. Authorities on Japan’s history, who knew nothing about economics, explained its advantages. Liberal economists, who couldn’t speak a word of Japanese, explained it further. Fritz Mondale, running for president, adopted a book by Robert Reich, the future Labor Secretary in the Clinton administration, as his guide for imposing an industrial policy on the US. Then Fritz went down to abject defeat, Japan sank into a fourteen-year recession, and very phrase "industrial policy" all but disappeared from public discourse.

Now we read that Sen. Obama proposes to spend $150 billion on a green-energy plan. He wants to establish an infrastructure investment bank to the tune of $60 billion. He wants to expand health insurance by roughly $65 billion. He intends to regulate the profits for drug companies, health insurers, and energy firms. He wants to establish a mortgage-interest tax credit. He wants to double the number of workers receiving the earned-income tax credit and triple this benefit for minimum-wage workers.

Same old sour wine in new bottles. Faith in the power and wisdom of government to direct the economy remains unabated. There’s nothing to be learned from experience. Friedrich Hayek, could explain the problems, but Barack Obama has never read any of his books and never will. Hope triumphs over experience.

This is easily explained. Go back and read the Kipling quote.JOHN N. FRARY


Amazingly, I’ve been getting hostile messages accusing me of arrogance. This is great nonsense and requires a reply.

There is, in fact, an abundance of evidence that I am the humblest man in the entire Second Congressional District of the State of Maine. Back when I was in New Jersey people used to charter buses to come around and watch me being humble on my front porch. During March 1998 a team from the Forschungsamt fuer Bescheidenheitswissenschaft (Research Office for Modesty Science) visited me to study my methods in order to improve Germany’s national humility standards.. No need to take my word for it. All this, and more, is covered in Prof. Henry Hamster’s 'John Frary: A Glittering Beacon of Humility' in the International Journal of Humble Studies, Vol. 23 (Fall, 2002). Look it up to yourself.

Young Frary
Frary: Outdoorsman

I don’t write this to boast about my humility, impressive as it is. It’s a political necessity. In America candidates are supposed to show how humble they are. Hilary Clinton, a millionaire Yale grad guzzles a shot and beer for TV to show that she is just ordinary folks. Not to be over-humbled, Barack Obama a millionaire Harvard grad, goes bowling before the cameras like the simple fellow he is at heart. Tom Allen goes prancing about with a chain-saw just like the common ordinary citizen of Wytopitlock. Mike Michaud flourishes a lunch bucket, to remind us that he was a mill worker.

So was I a mill worker, recruited into the ranks of Frary Wood Turning Co. at age twelve to work the sorting benches. And so I continued, off and on, for thirteen years gradually working my way up to minimum wage, sticking squares, stacking edgings and wrestling bolter logs onto sledges and trailers in the mill-yard with a birch-hook. In time, by talent, ambition and parental command, I worked my way from the bench-saw and drill-press to a paycheck above minimum wage operating the spindle lathe, a brace of automatic lathes, and the hand-lathe in turn. I won’t say I was the best lathe-hand in the mill, but I do claim I was about average.

At age sixteen my father decided that my grades did not justify continuing my high school career and I went to work full-time for a year operating the automatic lathes. During this time I awoke to two important facts. First, I noticed that I was one of the few men in the mill with all ten fingers. Second, I figured out that a college professor never gets sawdust down the back of his collar in July where it mingles with sweat and itches damnably.

These revelations changed my life. I did not become a teetotaler, but I found more useful ways to spend my earnings than illicit beer, gin and rum. I hired Frau Spies to tutor me in German, purchased the Encyclopedia Britannica set, and bought George Ostrogorsky’s History of the Byzantine State. I was soon on my way to knowing more about Byzantine history than any lathe operator in the State of Maine.

All of which goes to show that every father with an obnoxious, self-indulgent teen-age son ought to have a wood-turning mill. It could make all the difference.

The fact remains that after thirty-two years in the classroom tormenting undergraduates, I’m no more a mill worker than Mike Michaud is after thirty years as a politician. My manual skills have deteriorated so much that it would be dangerous to place any tool more complicated than a screw-driver in my hand. There are thousands of people in the second district who know how to do things, make things and understand things about which I remain completely clueless and totally incompetent.

How’s that for humble?


I don’t have all the data before me, but I’m guessing that politics in Augusta were once more bi-partisan because there were a significant number of Democratic legislators with business backgrounds.

However that may be, there are very few with such backgrounds today. The data found in the 2008 Register of Maine 123rd Legislature and A Citizen’s Guide to the 123rd Maine Legislature tells the tale. Consider our Senate.

Bill Diamond stands out as a Democrat with an extensive business background and he stands out also as one who Republicans can work with seriously on business issues.

John Martin, the Grand Turkey of Eagle Lake, has been rotating crazily in political circles since 1964. There’s convincing evidence that he understands and appreciates his own business very well, but not much that suggests that he has much interest in business issues which yield him no profit. Word reaches me that he has threatened dire punishments for any Democrat who as much as allows a MERI representative across his or her threshold.

Sen. Bartlett is a lawyer specializing in workman’s compensation and civil litigation—clearly a man who feeds off businessmen professionally.

Sen. Brannigan works for a non-profit organization.

Sen. Bromley’s experience and education is in providing therapeutic services. One can’t help but suspect that she hopes to profit from the policies she advocates by driving large numbers of businessmen into therapy.

Bruce Bryant is a Union robot.

Dennis Damon is all over the place and represents himself as an entrepreneur as well as a schoolteacher—some ambiguity there.

Beth Edmonds was a librarian for 28 years. Nothing in her record suggests that she spent much time in the stacks where books on business economics were to be found.

Lisa Marraché is a physician. That should be good for some insight and understanding.

Elizabeth Mitchell served as Maine General Health Director—a professional and habitual government bureaucrat.

John Nutting owns a herd of Holsteins. That’s promising, but there’s more than a hint in his record that he views businessmen as so many milch cows.

Joe Perry is a rental property owner and business owner. He shows some sense from time to time, but will be leaving office after this term.

Margaret Rotundo works at the Bates College Center for Service Learning.

Elizabeth M. Schneider is one of those mutants known as "activists." Sad. Such a wasted life.

Nancy Sullivan is a school marm and a servant of the MEA.

Ethan Strimling—quick, make the sign of the cross and drape yourself in a necklace of garlic. We need speak no further of him.

The House Democrats are an even less encouraging group. A Hannaford retail clerk, a canine trainer, an innkeeper—that sort of thing, and not many of them. Very little heavy duty business background.

Although, or rather because, I spent 32 years as a drover of undergraduate I find the number of educators alarming. The majority of professors I’ve known think the economy is just something that happens—and then a bunch of greedy businessmen come along and take more than their "fair share." Quite a number seriously believe that corporations routinely clear 100% in profit!

Most ordinary citizens are not that dumb. Even so, a MERI survey shows that a majority of Mainers believe businesses are operating with 36% profit margins on the average. But then a majority of Mainers, like a majority of Democratic legislators, have never been in business.

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