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Letters by a modern St. Ferdinand III about cults

Plenty of cults exist - every cult has its 'religious dogma', its idols, its 'prophets', its 'science', its 'proof' and its intolerant liturgy of demands.  Cults everywhere:  Islam, the State, the cult of Gay and Queer, Marxism, Darwin and Evolution, 'Science', Globaloneywarming, Changing Climate, Abortion....a nice variety for the human-hater, amoral, anti-rationalist to choose from.  It is so much fun mocking them isn't it ?

Tempus Fugit Memento Mori - Time Flies Remember Death 

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Gerald Ford - a mixed legacy with important lessons

Be very skeptical when the media romanticizes over a 'moderate'.

by StFerdIII

Honoring a former President is a necessary part of the myth and lore of statehood. It is not advisable for most states to neither mock their former Presidents nor diminish their stature in death. To do so would only impair the myth creationism that is a part of a vibrant nation’s culture. With Gerald Ford the congenial, slow talking Mid-Westerner and former sports star, the media’s approbation is apt, but misplaced. Many outlets including Fox News ruminate about Ford’s ‘moderate Republicanism’ and wistfully wonder whether anyone of his moderate stature will ever again lead the Republicans. With all due respect let’s hope not. We actually need the opposite of Ford ‘moderates’ in power today.

Ford’s record was decidedly mixed. Coming into office in 1974 Ford inherited a shambles: the Vietnam withdrawal which led to millions being murdered in South East Asia; Nixon’s decoupling of the US dollar with the Gold standard which led to inflation; the Oil crisis aftermath of 1972; Soviet aggression worldwide; and a declining economy not to mention Nixon and the Watergate fiasco. Ford’s legacy is that the US economy, its political theatre and his own party did not suffer a complete break down. Pardoning Nixon was necessary though it cost him the 2006 election. Indeed many analysts credit Reagan’s rise upon Ford’s stabilization of the US economy and his perceived ‘decency’ in the aftermath of the Nixon scandal and then the disastrous Carter years.

When Ford took office unemployment neared 9 percent, inflation was destroying wealth running at a 12 percent annual rate, and GDP was flat or declining. Energy prices had soared thanks to the oil crisis of the early 1970s and the Vietnam conflict had riven American society to a far more dangerous degree than what exists today. Thanks to Alan Greenspan, [then chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers and later Federal Reserve chairman], Ford was persuaded that the most pressing problems were unemployment and sluggish economic growth, not inflation.

Ford, with pressure from the Democratic Congress, implemented increased spending and cut taxes to stimulate economic growth. "When the chips were down, in the interest of providing stimulus, he agreed to a tax cut and other measures that helped the economy recover from the 1975 recession," said Charles L. Schultze, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Jimmy Carter. "He came around to realize that the economy would be better off with a stimulus than without one." Ford also instituted tax credits; increased standard tax deductions and gave firms a better investment tax credit. It was the right set of policies.

By 1976 when Ford ran for president, the economy was showing signs of recovery. Unemployment had dropped to about 7 percent, inflation had abated to 4.8 percent, and GDP was above 3.5 %. The stock markets responded rising 60% in 2.5 years. Ford offered a long list of deregulatory measures, for industries ranging from stock trading, to trucking, to airlines, as a way to make the economy more efficient. These ideas were implemented by Reagan. Small investors today should thank Ford as should those that fly the cheaper and friendlier skies.

On foreign affairs Ford’s legacy is less robust. As Christopher Hitchins writes in theslate.com Ford sold out US interests abroad and did nothing to defend freedom. Ford allowed Suharto and the Indonesians to murder 300.000 Christian East Timorese by agreeing not to intervene and even to supply Indonesia with weapons. The Americans under Ford sold out the Kurds when they rebelled by withdrawing support and arms in their struggle against Hussein. Ford snubbed Solzhetnisyn the Soviet human rights fighter at a critical moment in the Cold War when dissidents needed support. And he championed Arab claims over Israeli in the denouement and political realignment effected by the poor showing of the Israeli army in the Yom Kippur war. Ford certainly did not stand tall for US or moral interests world-wide.

The current media’s rapture over Ford’s ‘moderateness’ should serve as a clear warning. In today’s parlance a moderate is a centrist populist meddler in economic affairs; a fainéant appeaser in foreign affairs; a Euro-phile socialist on domestic affairs; and a secularist in moral affairs. In analyzing Ford’s career we can say the following: supply economics works; a strong monetary policy is vital for national economic health; supporting your foreign allies in times of war is vital for credibility and to save the lives of thousands if not millions of people; and morality and character in high office matter. It is perhaps the first and last of these elements that give Ford a positive historical review. But in today’s world we need an immoderate dash of all of them in government.

When the media lionizes a moderate be skeptical. In trying times we need immoderate greatness and consistency. That is perhaps the best lesson from Ford’s presidency.

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