Monday, April 5, 2010


"Surrender of Cornwallis"

I live in a unique place. It reminds me somewhat of Dicken's "A Tale of Two Cities." In fact, the small city in which I live is more than a little divided. You see there are two historical events and places connected to this area which represent the opposite sides of our current national struggle.

One is just west of town, a national military historical park commemorating the Battle of Kings Mountain, a major turning point in the Revolutionary War. The other one, the Loray mill, is on the west side, in town. There sits a dilapidated building that is the remnant of a large textile mill where, in 1929 a union strike fueled by Communists took place and two people were shot. The irony for me is that one place is the remembrance of how our freedom was defended, while the other place represents a tragedy of how communism influences labor unions.

Kings Mountain National Military Park commemorates the bravery of patriot mountain men, in 1772, who triumphed over Cornwallis' troops led by Patrick Ferguson, and made them turn back. The Battle of Kings Mountain was a decisive rout for the patriots and Cornwallis was stunned. King George was learning that the cause of freedom would not be turned back in America.

The other place is a sad story of how poor mill workers were used by Communists to foment a riot. The police were called in and a woman was shot to death. Somehow the police chief was shot to death, possibly by accident by his own forces. The National Textile Workers Union, a communist labor union, was led by a man named Fred Beal. He was released on bail after subsequent trials following the strike and he promptly fled to the Soviet Union. He became disillusioned in the Soviet Union and returned to the United States, surrendered to North Carolina authorities, but was later pardoned. The strike was not successful and the methods of the labor unions and communists were, henceforth, very unpopular in the South.

So now and again someone makes some big deal about the Loray Mill. It has been put on the National Register of Historic Places, all because of a communist plot to wreck the textile business and ruin the owners. The textile industry created a lot of wealth for this area of the country. In fact, our small city would not have thrived at all were it not for the textile industry. A thriving industry is a point of pride for those who own it and those who put their labor to work for it. The Loray mill is now a large brick building with broken glass windows and it sits like an empty ghost of the tragic events. The city leaders are always looking for some developer to come in and turn the place into some fabulous condos or commercial, mixed use development, but at the same time they want it to be a symbol of "the workers' unions" and their ability to demonize those bad mill owners. So far no deals have come through. There are people in town who think this relic is a monument to the struggles of humanity. It is often written about in the local paper as if this 1929 event was some great and glorious thing that we should all have tatooed on our hearts.
The Loray Mill may become the largest tax credit project in the state. Our small city has no other major ties to history than this one dismal event, so it is looked at as something to commemorate.

No, I don't support the abuse of employees. And I do support employment safety laws that have been put in place to protect people to a reasonable degree. Laws have been put in place preventing labor abuses in the United States. But, here we are. From the Revolutionary War to the Marxist revolution, today we exist in the middle of divergent paths and will either emerge victorious on the side of our Constitution or be consumed by some collectivist, mistaken theory of utopia that cannot work.

Two historical events. Two sets of ideology. One for freedom. One for collectivism. One event fought for liberty. One event fought for mob tyranny. One fought for the opportunity to create wealth. The other fought for despising that wealth and forced wealth distribution. One side fought for property rights. The other side fought for the destruction of property rights. One hundred and fifty seven years apart. Just a few miles apart. These places might as well be light years apart. Encapsulated in one community lies the metaphor for our time. Do you celebrate the creation of industry and wealth which brings jobs and livelihoods to our people? Or do you celebrate the collective destruction of industry and wealth? If you are trying to attract industries to take root in our area, are you really thinking that celebrating a communist labor union is a good enticement? Is that a statement of support for industry? Or is it a statement that industries better beware, that this community doesn't like wealth creation with the attached work force to go with it? It's a choice. When faced with a decision on what history to celebrate, would you decide to celebrate communism or a victory for human freedom?

Lastly, I believe that if this community would take a stand for freedom, self-determination, and encouragement of wealth creation, industries would flock here. Our unemployment rate is 14.5%? Do you think that might have something to do with what our community supports and celebrates? What attitudes prevail here? What private ownership would want to buy a property in a depressed area that commemorates a communist ideology? Maybe there are some, but isn't there a conflict of purpose in this? If you want to find the answer to why industries are leaving the United States and why our area, in particular, is floundering, you just might want to ask yourself what ideology you are promoting. Communism or freedom? Collectivism or property rights? When you realize that individuals create wealth, that freedom promotes industry, and that collectivism destroys all of it, maybe you will be able to celebrate a real and sustainable prosperity. Until then, we are stuck in a self-defeating spiral of debt and poverty, looking for tax credits to develop property and, thereby, turning private property into a collective, communist project.Let’s decide which history we defend and celebrate.


  1. Individuals do not create land, nor do they create nonrenewable natural resources. Individual landholders do not increase their own land value. We all create land value, by our presence and our activity, and those who seek to profit from rising land value are privatizing wealth which rightly should be treated as our common treasure. Individuals absolutely have a right to use land, but it ought to be after they've compensated their community for its annual value.

    I realize this will sound alien and different to many people's ears. But until we begin to treat that which is rightly our common treasure -- the value of land and natural resources -- we cannot begin to treat that which is legitimately private -- that which individuals and corporations DO create -- as private.

    Might I suggest that you take a look at an essay called "Henry George and the Reconstruction of Capitalism." It makes some important distinctions that our current form of capitalism, in my humble opinion, doesn't handle justly. If we are serious about treating everyone as if we believed we're created equal, this is a vital part of making that real.

  2. O.K. I quickly scanned through the article you suggested and, though interesting, it does not marry the concepts of capitalism and socialism in some superior way as you assert. It distorts the defined concept of property ownership that would only end in chaos.

    Owners already compensate the community for land values by paying property why are you saying "after they have already compensated their community for its annual value?" What do you think property taxes are?

    I don't believe the article addresses the stewardship of land the way you describe and I cannot come to the conclusion that land is always and fundamentally commonly held because it is "God's" creation. In George's scenario, dividing the land from its capital improvements blurs the distinctions of land values. Combining common and private ownership in one space of land is, in effect, making taxpayers subsidize a private investment. Giving politicians the power to use taxpayer money to co-mingle with private sector money, rather than allowing the private sector to determine the values and own property, is a recipe for disaster and annihilates the purpose of property ownership.

    While you may determine that the space of land on the planet is finite, I'm not sure I agree that there is such a thing as a "non-renewable" resource other than minerals and rocks. Natural resources can be abused and wrecked, no doubt, but nature itself is a lesson in renewal. If you watched the doomsday scenario put forth by the History Channel on what happens to earth without people, you will see that nature takes its course and renews everything to some "natural" state. If you have ever walked past an abandoned parking lot, you will see plants coming up through the cracks.

    You are obviously someone in the "social justice" camp, and you and George misunderstand the meaning of equality. People were not handed the equal ownership of all things. God did not hand over the earth to be divided up equally by each and every person. People were given by our Constitution, and by divine guidance, the equal opportunity to rise to the maximum of each of their abilities, and to be treated as equal under the law, the law which protects private property rights. When confusing ownership, as we have with GMC and the banks...we are subsidizing with taxpayer money that which should stand on its own. In effect, I have no interest in paying for GMC, but now I am forced to subsidize that company whether I want to or not, including the car lots on which they stand.

    If what you are promoting were the law of the land (as it is becoming, unfortunately) I have no right to protect and defend my property because the land I "own" belongs to you and everyone else. One more thought...if the land produces a vegetable, who owns the vegetable? Soviet farms anyone?

    There are others such as yourself who do not believe in property rights and who have co-opted the words justice and equality to mean something they do not mean. Being created equal in the eyes of God does not mean that you have an equal right to the fruits of my labor, which includes the stewardship of my land.

  3. I'm in 100% support of property rights in that which you produce, I produce, others produce. But in order for each of us to have 100 rights in what we DO produce, we cannot claim as our own that which nature provides or the community creates. Which would you rather give up? The right to what you produce, or your claim to however much you can grab of what all of us create together? My thought is that our current system encourages the latter behavior, permitting the grabbiest to parade as "self-made men" and denigrate those who don't grab more than their share of the commons as shiftless losers. I'd rather protect the right of each person to that which they create, while enforcing the notion that the community finance its common spending by recycling the value that its common spending creates! Seems just and sustainable to me.

    You might be interested to know that the board game Monopoly is based on an earlier game called The Landlord's Game, which was designed to teach these ideas. It came with 2 sets of rules -- one similar to the rules of Monopoly as we know it today, which produce lots of losers and one big winner, and the other, called the Prosperity rules, which produced a sustainable economy and society. Dull game -- no big winners, no losers -- but a better model for each person being rewarded according to their effort, not according to what privileges and monopolies they can grab for themselves.

    You're perfectly entitled to prefer the winner-takes-all mode. That's what we've got today. 10% of us have 72% of the wealth already. It sounds to me as if you kind of like that situation, and would like to see the concentration continue. But it doesn't seem to me to be consistent with the notion that we all come into the world equally entitled to a bit of the earth. And 10% of us get 47% of the before-tax income; 20% of us get over 70% of the pre-tax income. Does this seem to you to be consistent with how hard ordinary people work, or how much of our natural resources and monopoly power some small segment of us have managed to grab for their own benefit? Should we be encouraging these kinds of privileges which permit some to reap what all of us sow, or ought we be to seeking to make it possible for all to sow, and all to reap what they sow?

    I think I know your answer, but maybe you'll surprise me.

  4. You do not in any way express support for property rights, so don't be silly. If you are using a game of Monopoly to support your argument, I take it you have little real facts or history to support your communal assertion.

    Further, you are using the words, "entitle," "just," and "sustainable," which are code words for the socialist left to try to propagandize their mission for control of the resources of the United States.

    The Founders, who you no doubt dismiss as antiquated boobs, believed in property rights. The right to own property was, rightly, the cornerstone of liberty. Owning property makes a person independent of others. If you are dependent on someone else for your living and financial well-being, then your ability to exercise political freedom is circumscribed. Owning property gives people a stake in society and a greater interest in public policy. Property rights encourage the public oversight of government necessary for the maintenance of free institutions. In other words, without the ownership of property, you have no liberty. Economic liberty creates individual wealth, something you evidently don't like.

    You cannot divorce natural resources from the goods of man. Synthetic fibers are made from oil derivatives. Fabrics are made from all kinds of natural resources, bamboo, cotton, etc. Metals from the earth. So if I own a shirt and a car, do you think you are "entitled" to take them or share them or own them in common?

    As long as you bring up a "winner takes all" attitude, I suggest you look at some of the hypocritical advocates of your socialist view. Do you suppose George Soros, founder of Socialist International, is about to give up his billionaire lifestyle to live the life he proposes for the minions? Do you see Michael Moore slimming down his obese hulk and turning away the millions he has made through capitalism, making movies denigrating America? Do you notice Al Gore trading in his jets and mansion for a shack and a donkey cart? Do you notice the Kennedy's and the Rockefellers giving up their fortunes in order to live the lifestyle they profess for the rest of us? How about the Annenburgs? These are people who wish to control populations and own the resources, however they profess all others give up ownership of anything. You need to look behind the curtain and find out who is leading you down the path of good intentions straight into hell. Demonizing successful business owners as greedy is just ridiculous. You have much more to fear from government than some business owners...because you can take your business elsewhere, but you can't avoid the force of government.

    I am concerned that you have been duped into thinking that America is a cause of ruined lives, when in fact the U.S. Constitution is the only government in history which has created the highest quality of life for more people, a larger middle class than any other. If you would take the time to study history you would find that America has/had the only government that rewarded the individual for his / her work, by allowing each to flourish to the best of their abilities. How did you miss that? Listening to MSNBC?

    The only surprise here is that there are those, such as yourself, who ignore truth and the wisdom of history in order to create something that is proven to fail. And finally, frankly, if you despise our government and way of life here in America, why don't you pick up your little life and move to some other country where socialism / communism is all the rage. North Korea maybe?

  5. Tell me more about America's middle class. Depending on what definition of "middle" you choose, they currently (2007) have 13% of net worth and 35% of before-tax income. That's the broadest definition of "middle" -- the middle 20% of us have 11% of the income.

    Data at

    (Tell me again about how wonderful a place America is to be Middle Class, Lenny.)

    It is a GREAT place for those who capture our best land or our natural resources: the top 10% of the income spectrum received 47% of the income; the top 10% of us had .... 71% of the aggregate net worth. Tell me again about what a great place this is to be middle class, and what the returns are to those who work.

    And not only do our shareholders reap America's natural resources, they also capture significant amounts of the resources of other countries, causing people around the world to love and respect us.

    19% of us consider ourselves to be in the top 1%, and I'm guessing that you might be in that group, or be sure that you will be soon. I wish you well with that, I guess. You'll get to be a reaper of what others sow, and even get to call yourself self-made, and disparage others as threats to your privileges.

    We ought to be seeking a government which strips privileges from those who somehow manage to grab them. I don't want a government which reinforces such privileges.

    Please tell me how large you think the middle class is, and how it is defined, in terms of our distributions of income and wealth. The middle 10% of us? 20%? 40%? 50%? The 50th to 90th percentiles? I'll be interested to hear your answer and your logic. See data at

  6. The founders were landholders -- big time. Did they think others had just as much right to land as they did, or was others' access based only on paying rent into the pockets of landholders? (or working for the landholders on the landholders' terms. He who has the land makes the rules.)

    Even if genuinely well-intentioned for the equal rights of ALL, I doubt that many of the founders had the capacity to think ahead far enough to imagine the level of urbanization which would occur within just 100 years, much less 200 or 300 years. Those who pocket the urban land rent are wealthy indeed, guaranteed a comfortable life, while others are taxed on their labor and purchases to support the goods and services which make that rent higher next year. Ditto with our Jed Clampetts, individual and corporate. Remember Leona Helmsley's statement: "WE don't pay taxes. The little people pay taxes." She wasn't describing tax evasion; she was telling us how things are structured. Warren Buffett noticed, too.

  7. Listen, Lvtfan, you don't know me and I don't know you. I have no idea why you decided to come to my blog and pick an argument with me. And I don't know what your problem is except you are holding some insanely severe resentment against successful people. Why aren't you yelling about Ted Turner who owns half of Montana? Go yell at him. Don't yell at me. Are you mad at Hollywood? There are a lot of rich people there. Go yell at them.

    Just get it through your head that equal rights does not mean you can have what others have earned or own. Period. The people who are not paying taxes are the near 50% in this country who are suckling on the teat of the nanny state. If you think robbing Peter to pay Paul is the mantra for your life, then that is your problem. I take it you despise landowners? Why? You don't like renting? If you want so much to own land, why aren't you saving your money to do just that? And while we are on the subject of urbanization and land rent, why don't you do a google search of Valerie Jarrett, a slumlord / queen in her own right. Again, look behind the curtain to see who you are supporting.

    The tax system is broken and is a far cry from what the founders intended, I will be the first to admit that. You can thank FDR for starting that boondoggle. (Flat tax anyone?) Fixing the system does not mean you start stealing from people who created successful businesses, as Obama did when he broke the contracts of auto dealers and shut them down.

    To answer your question, the middle class is shrinking by the minute thanks to Obama's policies. By the time he gets through, there will be no middle class, just two classes; those on the dole and those in the stratosphere. His policies aren't hurting the hedge fund managers. His policies are destroying the middle class.

    Since you think redistribution works so well, perhaps you need to look into how Jimmy Carter set up the CRA through Fannie and Freddie, which, after Clinton put it on steroids, eventually took down the entire banking system. Redistribution certainly works great in social security and medicare, both completely bankrupting the country. Now there's a great idea. More entitlement programs....yeah, that is just what we need. Now, because of redistribution, the middle class will be slapped with a VAT tax on top of all of the other taxes, thanks to the redistribution of wealth in DC. Believe me, redistribution is not going to save this country. It will be the ruin of it.

    You are barking up the wrong tree here, lvtfan. There are plenty of bad people, both rich and poor, in every walk of life. It doesn't do you any good to harbor hate for one group or another. If you would look at people individually instead of in lumps, you would find that there are some really great people, both rich and poor....and maybe then you would see that class envy doesn't matter a whit. What matters is what you do with the little time you have in this life....and griping about rich people will not provide you with anything but the reputation of a whiner. From the sound of it, it would not matter what country or era you were part of, you would just resent the hell out of anyone who has more than you do. Sorry way to go through life, if you ask me. And you did.

    Now go have an argument with someone else.

  8. The data about wealth and income distribution is from 2007, before Obama was elected. This has little or nothing to do with him or his policies; for that matter, I don't think the D's are much -- or any -- better than the R's.

    I'm not interested in demonizing individuals. The issue is with a *structure* that enriches some and deprives others. If it works for you and to your benefit and the benefit of those you care about, I'm truly happy for you. But that doesn't make it right.

    At some point, maybe some part of this will resonate with you. I wish you well, whether it does or doesn't.

    Incidentally, your blog popped onto my screen because of one of my standing google alerts. Nothing personal; it appeared you were interested in a topic that I'm interested in.

  9. At last, something on which we agree. The D's and the R's are equally to blame for ignoring the Constitution and wrecking a system that gave us all equal opportunities, a system that worked for everyone. (aside: I am not discounting the struggle against slavery.) The problem between you and me is that I believe the U.S. Constitution is the answer and it hasn't been respected since the early 1900's....and you want some sort of socialist solution that doesn't work for anyone. Think about socialism as grading on the curve. The high achievers are punished by the low achievers, a system that is no incentive to anyone. Talk about a system that rewards some and deprives others...that would be socialism. It rewards those who do not produce and punishes those who do.

    You keep talking about grabbers...who are these grabbers? If you are referring to people who have rigged the system, ignored the Constitution, and taken advantage of people, I agree there are such people in our country. Most of them are politicians. Some of them are hedge fund managers, short sellers, etc. Some of them are slumlords. Examples abound. But if you are talking about titans of industry, inventors and successful entrepreneurs, I disagree with you. Does Bill Gates deserve his fortune? Does Steve Jobs? Does Donald Trump? There are ethical people who have made fortunes here...all because of economic freedom. (I do not refer to the robber barons, however they did contribute to the economic wealth and the culture of America.) I mentioned Obama, not because he is the first to try to wreck America, but because he is the latest and the most destructive so far. He has the help of many corrupt people who do not believe in America. He is surrounded by Marxists who really hate America. His interest is not "fairness" or "justice." It is theft. His buddies see America as a vulture sees carrion. Soros, Moore, Ayers, the Annenburgs, on and on.

    If you are looking for a structure that works for need not look further than the U.S. Constitution and the Federalist Papers. The ruination you are witnessing is because of "progressives" (Marxists), nothing else. Capitalism is not the problem. Marxism is the problem, and it has been incrementally wrecking America for a hundred years now.

    My suggestion, assuming you would take it, is for you to read Thomas Sowell's essays. His link is on the right side of my blog. His insights are genius. A black, Jewish man who understands very well the plights of the downtrodden and victims of immoral governments. Also, Walter E. Williams whose link is also on the right side bar. Both of these men bring enlightenment to our discourse. Enjoy...