Emerson cherished gold standard, limited government

Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s writing is popular among progressives, who often share his criticisms of materialism, simony, and intolerance.  When I began reading his complete works, I wrongly expected to see “progressive” economic and political views; I did not.  I was surprised to learn that, regarding the size and scope of government, Emerson is at odds with progressives; when they use his words, they abuse his philosophy.  Emerson not only advocates the idea of limited government, but holds the political philosophy of no-government.  He certainly did not believe in what Joe Biden incorrectly calls “fairness.”

Emerson is no critic of capitalism or free markets; he sees injustice in fiat money, and cherishes the gold standard.  Logically, then, the progressive who defames the gold standard shows more respect to the economic philosophy of Richard Nixon than that of Ralph Waldo Emerson.  If Emerson were to have a conversation with Barack Obama about economics, he would probably conclude that Obama is either poorly educated, or educated to think poorly.  Emerson, being a good assessor of fitness, would probably find Obama unfit to govern in a free society.

Relative Emerson quotes:

“We live in a very low state of the world, and pay unwilling tribute to governments founded on force.”

“It is not the office of a man to receive gifts.  How dare you give them?  We wish to be self-sustained.  We do not quite forgive a giver.  The hand that feeds us is in some danger of being bitten.  We can receive anything from love, for that is a way of receiving it from ourselves; but not from any one who assumes to bestow.”

“Necessity does everything well.”

“All public ends look vague and quixotic beside private ones.  For any laws but those which men make for themselves are laughable.”

“The less government we have the better.”

“Money, which represents the prose of life, and which is hardly spoken of in parlors without an apology, is, in its effects and laws, as beautiful as roses.  Property keeps the accounts of the world, and is always moral.  The property will be found where the labor, the wisdom and the virtue have been in nations, in classes and (the whole life-time considered, with the compensations) in the individual also.”

“Since we are all so stupid, what benefit that there should be two stupidities!”

“The laborer is a possible lord.  The lord is a possible basket-maker.”

“The English dislike the American structure of society, whilst yet trade, mills, public education and Chartism are doing what they can to create in England the same social condition.  America is the paradise of the economists; is the favorable exception invariably quoted to the rules of ruin; but when he speaks directly of the Americans the islander forgets his philosophy and remembers disparaging anecdotes.”

“The ambition to create value evokes every kind of ability.”

“Another machine more potent in England than steam is the Bank.  It votes an issue of bills, population is stimulated and cities rise; it refuses loans, and emigration empties the country; trade sinks; revolutions break out; kings are dethroned.  By these new agents our social system is molded.”

“It is rare to find a merchant who knows why a crisis occurs in trade, why prices rise or fall, or who knows the mischief of paper money.”

“What befalls from the violence of financial crises, befalls daily in the violence of artificial legislation.”

“How did our factories get built?  How did North America get netted with iron rails, except by the importunity of these orators who dragged all the prudent men in?  Is party the madness of many for the gain of the few?  This speculative genius is the madness of a few for the gain of the world.  The projectors are sacrificed, but the public is the gainer.”

“I have never seen a man as rich as all men ought to be, or with an adequate command of nature.  The pulpit and the press have many commonplaces denouncing the thirst for wealth; but if men should take these moralists at their word and leave off aiming to be rich, the moralists would rush to rekindle at all hazards this love of power in the people, lest civilization should be undone.”

“Wealth brings with it its own checks and balances.  The basis of political economy is non-interference.  The only safe rule is found in the self-adjusting meter of demand and supply.  Do not legislate.  Meddle, and you snap the sinews with your sumptuary laws.  Give no bounties, make equal laws, secure life and property, and you need give no alms.  Open the doors of opportunity to talent and virtue and they will do themselves justice, and property will not be in bad hands.  In a free and just commonwealth, property rushes from the idle and imbecile to the industrious, brave and persevering.”

“Friendship buys friendship; justice justice; military merit, military success.  Good husbandry finds wife, children and household.  The good merchant, large gains, ships, stocks and money.  The good poet, fame and literary credit; but not either, the other.  Yet there is commonly a confusion of expectations on these points.  Hotspur lives for the moment, praises himself for it, and despises Furlong, that he does not.  Hotspur of course is poor, and Furlong a good provider.  The odd circumstance is that Hotspur thinks it a superiority in himself, this improvidence, which ought to be rewarded with Furlong’s lands.”

“The true thrift is always to spend on the higher plane; to invest and invest, with keener avarice, that he may spend in spiritual creation and not in augmenting animal existence.”

“To detach a man and make him feel that he is to owe all to himself, is the way to make him strong and rich.”

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: