Judeo-Christian Culture Bible Quotes: Be Courageous

Judeo-Christian Culture Bible Quotes:

Be Courageous

Deuteronomy 31:6

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Judeo-Christian Culture: Bible Scriptures Object Lesson

Judeo-Christian Culture:

Bible Scriptures Object Lesson

Hear the Sound of the Trumpet

 

This instrument can teach us about the role of prophets and how we should treat their words.

“If when [the watchman] seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people;

“Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head.

“… But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul.”

Ezekiel 33:3–5.

Trumpet

Probably the oldest and most common instrument in ancient Israel (and certainly the one most frequently mentioned in the Bible) is a trumpet made of a ram’s horn, called a shofar in Hebrew. Sometimes it was heated to soften it so that it could be straightened or shaped. Its sound was unusual and easily recognizable. As an instrument, it was simple, producing only two or three notes.

Bible Facts

  • In ancient Israel, the shofar was blown to send an alarm or signal a gathering of the people. This was done in times of war (see Judges 3:27; 6:34; Nehemiah 4:18–20) as well as at times of celebration, such as a feast or the anointing of a king (see Leviticus 25:9; 1 Kings 1:34; 2 Kings 9:13; Psalm 81:3).
  • The Lord asked that a trumpet (ram’s horn) be sounded to gather the people of Israel around Mount Sinai when He would appear to Moses there (see Exodus 19:5–13). But when the time came and the trumpet sounded, the people removed themselves rather than come to the mountain to be in the Lord’s presence (see Exodus 20:18–19).
  • The shofar is still used in modern Jewish religious practice.
  • A few Old Testament verses also mention a trumpet made of bronze or silver (khatsotrah). It was short and straight, with a four- or five-note range in a bright tone, and was played by the priests. Its purpose was to gather the congregation to the tabernacle or temple (see Numbers 10:2–10). It was among the sacred utensils of the temple (see 2 Kings 12:13–14).

What We Can Learn

A trumpet:

Has a simple, unmistakable sound. Nephi said, “I glory in plainness; I glory in truth” (2 Nephi 33:6). Prophets teach the Lord’s word with clarity. As the Apostle Paul said, “If the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” (1 Corinthians 14:8).

Calls the Lord’s people to gather. We gather to seek refuge and strength. Our meetinghouses, temples, and homes can be places of gathering to hear God’s word so that we can combat evil and rally around the “ensign on the mountains” (Isaiah 18:3).

Warns of coming danger. The watchmen of Israel would raise the alarm by blowing the trumpet. Prophets give us clear warnings of spiritual perils in our time. And we should also remember that “it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor” (D&C 88:81), “in mildness and in meekness” (D&C 38:41).

Calls to remembrance, celebration, and praise. Prophets also invite us to remember the Lord and His goodness. They call upon us to praise and thank Him and to “make a joyful noise” (Psalm 98:6) through our own prayer and testimony.

Gospel Teachings: Symbolism of Eagle Wings

Gospel Teachings:

Symbolism of Eagle Wings

eagles-wings-revisedWings of Eagles “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

Isaiah 40:31

Eagles’ Wings

Wing type: Broad and long, with long, slotted feathers.

Wingspan: Between 6 feet (1.8 meters) and 9 feet (2.7 meters).

Eagles’ wings are built for soaring and gliding on updrafts of warm air (thermals). The long feathers are slotted and can separate to allow air to flow smoothly and to prevent the eagles from stalling when flying at slower speeds.

The outermost wing feathers display gradual narrowing (emarginations) or abrupt narrowing (notches) toward the tip of the feathers to create greater lift during flight.

Eagles and other soaring birds have been seen at heights of over 20,000 feet (6,100 meters).

Eagles’ bones, while strong, are hollow, making up less than 10 percent of their total body weight. This, of course, makes it easier for them to fly.

The slow gliding and soaring facilitated by eagles’ wings enable eagles to spot prey from afar with their keen eyes.

Bible Facts

The generic Hebrew word for eagle used in the Old Testament (nesher) could refer to a number of different soaring birds, including the golden eagle, the imperial eagle, or the griffon vulture.

The figure of eagles’ wings was also used in the Old Testament to represent the strength and loving-kindness of the Lord in delivering His covenant people (see Exodus 19:4; Deuteronomy 32:11).

Anciently there was a popular (though erroneous) belief that eagles would molt and replace their feathers in old age, receiving renewed strength.

What We Can Learn

Having “wings as eagles” helps us:

quote-Isaiah-eagles-wingsRise toward the heavens. When we “wait upon the Lord” by patiently trusting in Him and keeping our covenants, He blesses us with His divine help. In His strength we are lifted up so that we can receive “peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come” (D&C 59:23).

Move away from the earth. When we turn to the Lord, obey His commandments, and keep our covenants with Him, we separate ourselves from the world. We are less weighed down or heavy laden and are able to obtain a higher and more advantageous perspective—an eternal perspective. God blesses us with the Holy Ghost, and we feel our spirits rise above the trifling concerns of worldly living.

Find nourishment. Just as eagles’ ability to soar on their wings can help them use their eyesight to receive their nourishment, we receive spiritual nourishment as we keep our covenants and stay alert to the things of the Spirit. We see this truth particularly in the ordinance of the sacrament as we partake of bread and water and renew the baptismal covenant.

Sanctifying Renewal

“I know that in times of fear or fatigue, ‘they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint’ [Isaiah 40:31].

We receive the gift of such majestic might and sanctifying renewal through the redeeming grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. He has overcome the world, and if we will take upon us His name and ‘walk in His paths’ [Isaiah 2:3] and keep our covenants with Him, we shall, ere long, have peace. Such a reward is not only possible; it is certain.”

Jeffrey R. Holland

Culture Wars: Jesus, Charity Organizations, and Role of Government

Culture Wars—

Dinner Topics for Thursday

Jesus, Charity Organizations, and Role of Government

My Questions on Jesus and Charity

Rush Limbaugh

Jesus-question-charityRUSH:  Ladies and gentlemen, I have a question, maybe a couple of questions here, and I ask these questions simply because I would like the answers.  And these questions derive from what I have heard on television today during our obscene profit time-outs here. I very rarely do this, but I turned the audio up, I actually listened, and I’ve caught a couple of guests on Fox and they’ve been asked, “Are you aware that people like Rush Limbaugh are calling the pope Marxist?”

“Oh, yeah, yeah, we’re aware of that, and the pope is clearly aware of it, too, but like the pope said on the plane yesterday, he’s not a leftist.  It’s just a misinterpretation.”  And this one guest said, “There’s nothing liberal about the pope. He’s just a good Catholic.” He started rattling off charity and concern and all these other things that define Christianity and said that’s all the pope is.

Okay, so I have a question, because this seems to be a major point of contention.  I have long maintained that whenever it happened in our welfare state, and we could probably find this with enough deep research.  When welfare became or started to become categorized as charity is when liberalism began to be attractive to churches.  Churches quite naturally are big on charity both as recipients for distribution and donors.  They do both sides.

So along comes this pope now and his not apologists, but the people translating for him or explaining, interpreting, “Oh, no, no, no, this ideological, pope is not liberal, no, no, no, no, no.  Don’t be so silly.  Don’t be so foolish.  Don’t be so small-minded.  He’s simply a Catholic, simply Christian, this is what Christians and Catholics do.”  And then, “It’s what Jesus did, simply what Jesus did.”  So my question is this.  I need some legitimate help on this.  I know that Jesus preached charity.  Did Jesus tell people to give their money to the Romans so that the Romans could then distribute it?

In other words, did Jesus tell people to give their money to whatever governing entity there was, or entities there were at the time, or did he preach charity as an individual thing?  In other words, was Jesus a big-government charitable advocate?  It seems to me that it might have been the opposite, that Jesus had some problems with governments.

These are just open-ended questions to which I’m asking if people have the answer.

These are not rhetorical questions.

welfare-government-charity-madisonWell, I don’t think there’s anything offensive about these questions.  One, I’m trying to understand, because it’s come up today.  One of the undeniable truths in our culture is that the modern day Democrat Party does not like religion.  They don’t like Christianity.  That’s not even arguable.  (interruption)  Well, certain big government didn’t like Jesus, but my point is when it comes to chair, the pope seems to be advocating that governments need to do all of these big things, and our interpreters on TV are saying, “Yep, that’s what Jesus did.”

Is that right?  I am not a theologian.  I have never used this program to preach or proselytize.  As you well know, I don’t go into any of these arguments. Faith is a deeply personal, private thing. That’s why I don’t even condone arguments about it on this program, so I’m just asking here.  (interruption)  No, I’m not asking if… (interruption)  When Jesus told people to be charitable, was he telling them to pay higher taxes and let the Romans take care of it?  (interruption)  He wasn’t, right?  The Romans ran the show. 

I mean, the Romans were the government then.  They were the federal government.  There might have been some local pretenders and so forth, but that’s all I’m asking.  He said render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, but he also then had a qualifier after that which made it clear that Caesar was not entitled to everything.  I mean, you can interpret it, “Yeah, pay your fair tax and get the hell out of Dodge.”  But this is why I’m asking the question, because it’s being interpreted today.  The left — I find this fascinating.  The left, which does not hold any really great love for the Catholic Church or organized religion at all is now all of a sudden trying to portray themselves as Christ-like. 

And it’s all in the name of big government, all in the name of trying to portray now what the Democrat Party’s doing, the American left is doing as Christ-like, taking advantage of the visit of the pope in order to create that impression with people.

Culture Wars: Socialism Kills Life Itself

Culture Wars:

Socialism Kills Life Itself

Rush Limbaugh

Thanks to A.F. Branco at Comically Incorrect  for his great cartoons

We keep hearing that the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh at the Supreme Court’s gonna result in people dying. Terry McAuliffe yesterday, governor of Virginia, said “millions will die.” Nancy Pelosi said it is “the end of civilization as we know it.” I asked Vice President Pence yesterday… He was on in the second segment, the first hour.

I said, “What is your timeline for ending civilization, and just how many millions of deaths are you calculating and what’s your timeline for that?” He, of course, chuckled, knowing the absolute stupidity and deranged, delusional nature of such comments — and yet the left keeps making these comments. “People are gonna die! Millions of people are gonna die! We’re gonna have massive civilizational collapse because…” They’ve been doing this for 30 years, and I’ll tell you what’s happening. It’s starting to fall on deaf ears.

You can’t tell people for 30 years that conservatives rising to power is going to end life on earth and be believed if life continues on earth. They have been shouting these dire warnings for 30 years, and they never happen, and I think people have become immune. But let me address this directly. Leftists say that people are gonna die because of Kavanaugh.

How many have died because of Republican Policies?

  • How many have died because of Neil Gorsuch being confirmed to be on the Supreme Court and now having decided some cases? Has anybody seen any reports of death attributable to Neil Gorsuch being on the Supreme Court?
  • How many people have died since tax reform was signed into law? How many people have perished and on the death certificate it says, “Killed Due to Trump Tax Reform Act”? How many people have died since we repealed the Obamacare personal mandate? They told us people were gonna die if we did away with the mandate, the mandate requiring people to have health insurance. How many people have died because of that?

None.

  • How many people have died since net neutrality was erased?How many people have died since net neutrality was ended?

Answer: zero.

  • How many people have died since Donald Trump called out North Korea? How many people have died since Donald Trump had the summit with Kim Jong-un in North Korea?

 Zip, zero, nada.

How many people have died from Trump being tough on the G7 or any other globalist organization and meeting? How many deaths, how many people have died since Kavanaugh was nominated a couple days ago? How many injuries? How many deaths?

This is what they’re claiming is gonna happen. Meanwhile, while there are no deaths associated with conservative policies such as nominating and confirming Gorsuch, passing tax reform, getting rid of the Obamacare mandate, wiping out net neutrality, having an arrangement with North Korea… There aren’t any deaths associated with any of those policies.

However, how many deaths are associated every year with abortion? (Gasp!) Sorry. How many deaths are associated every year with women’s reproductive freedom?

The answer: 1.3 million.

It’s 1.3 million.

People die, literally die when liberal policies are implemented and maintained.

Illegal immigration.

How many innocent people have died at the hands of criminal illegal immigrants wandering free in our country? The best number we have is 4,380 Americans murdered annually by illegal aliens.

Roughly 22,000 Americans have been murdered by illegal aliens since September 11th, 2011.

How many people have died from leftist immigration policies, open borders? In 2016, more than 63,000 drug overdose deaths in the United States. How many of those deaths due to Democrat open-border policies — and, I should say, Republican.

Socialism Kills

There are many mainstream Republicans who favor open borders as well. So the point is, liberalism kills. Socialism kills. How many people are dying in Venezuela? How many people are dying in Cuba? How many people are dying in North Vietnam? How many people are dying in ChiCom China?

Wherever you find liberalism, socialism, communism, death is a common occurrence.

 

It’s not a common occurrence with conservatism or Republican policy, and yet look at the campaign to defeat Kavanaugh.

“Millions of people will die!”

“Civilization will end as we know it!”

Patriotism Book Review: Rush Revere and the Star Spangled Banner

Patriotism Book Review:

Rush Revere and the Star Spangled Banner

Rush Revere and the Star Spangled Banner

By Rush Limbaugh and Kathryn Adams Limbaugh

Winner of the 2014 Children’s Choice Book Award for Author of the Year

 

It’s the dawn of an important new day in America. Young readers, grab the reins and join Rush Revere, Liberty the horse, and the whole time-traveling crew in this patriotic historical adventure that takes you on an exciting trip to the  past to see our remarkable nation’s most iconic symbols up close and personal!

1787—that’s where we’re rush, rush, rushing off to next with our enthusiastic young friends in the Time-Traveling Crew (but not before causing a major security incident at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.!)

A funny case of mistaken identity and a wild chase through the busy streets of Philadelphia will ledad us to the famously introverted Father of our constitution, James Madison and the heated secret debates over the Constitution and the Bill  of Rights. Fast-forward a few years, and we’ll help his brave wife, Dolly, risk her life to save an important portrait from the White House as the British set Washington afire!

What greater symbol of our exceptional nation’s hard-won freedoms than the Star-Spangled Banner, sewn by American icon Betsy Ross?

Perhaps Francis Scott Key can explain what inspired him to pay tribute to our glorious flag by writing our beautiful national anthem. But watch out for the bombs bursting in air, because when we reach 1814, we’ll be front and center at a major battle to defend our liberty.

Jump back in the saddle with me, Rush Revere, and the Time-Traveling Crew, as my trusty horse, Liberty, takes us on another flying leap through American history into a past teeming with heroes and extraordinary citizens who have so much to teach us about patriotism.

All you need to bring is your curiosity about the birth of our democracy—I’ve got plenty of tricornered hats for everyone!

 

Go back in time to experience fht fight for American freedom firsthand, on the floors of Congress and the battlements of Fort McHenry, and ask:

What do the words of the national anthem really mean?

Who created the first flag of the United States?

What did Dolley Madison rescue when the British burned the Capitol?

Where is the U.S. Constitution kept?

Why was George Mason upset at the Constitutional Convention?

Why was the War of 1812 fought?

How did James Madison become the Father of the Constitution?

 

US Constitution Series 7: Free Enterprise vs. Free Stuff

Dinner Topics for Thursday

US Constitution Series 7:

Free Enterprise vs. Free Stuff

From The 5,000 Year Leap—A Miracle that Changed the World

By W. Cleon Skousen

keyThe utopian schemes of leveling [redistribution of the wealth], and a community of goods [central ownership of all the means of production and distribution], are as visionary and impracticable as those which vest all property in the Crown. [These ideas] are arbitrary, despotic, and, in our government, unconstitutional. ~Samuel Adams (p.119)

 The Proper Role of Government is to Protect Equal Rights, Not provide Equal Things

Equal Opportunity, Liberty of Enterprise, NOT Equal Income, NOT Free Stuff

redistsocialismillustratedIn Europe, during the days of the Founders, a popular idea was that government should take from the “haves” and give to the “have nots” so that all might be truly “equal.” However, the American Founders believed that this idea contained a huge fallacy.

Suppose a kind-hearted man saw that one of his neighbors had two cars while another neighbor had none. What would happen if, in a spirit of benevolence, the kind man went over and took one of the cars from his prosperous neighbor and generously gave it to the neighbor in need? Obviously, he would be arrested for car theft. No matter how kind his intentions, he is guilty of flagrantly violating the natural rights of his prosperous neighbor, who is entitled to be protected in his property.

What if the “kind-hearted” man got the government to force the prosperous car-owner to give a car to his pedestrian neighbor?

A Lesson from Communism

hammerandsickleWhen the communists seized power in Hungary, the peasants were delighted with the “justice” of having the large farms confiscated from their owners and given to the peasants. Later the Communist leaders seized three-fourths of the peasant land and took it back to set up government communal farms. Immediately the peasants howled in protest about their property “rights.”

Those who protested too loudly or too long soon found that they not only lost their land, but also their liberty. If they continued to protest, they lost their lives.

Equal Rights Doctrine Protects the Freedom to Prosper

The policy of the American Founders was to guarantee the equal protection of all the people’s rights and thus insure that all would have the freedom to prosper. There was to be no special penalty for getting rich. (pp. 115-117)

 

Making the Whole Nation Prosperous

wealthspreadworkethicThe Founders felt that America would become a nation dominated by a prosperous middle class with a few people becoming rich. As for the poor, the important thing was to insure the freedom to prosper so that no one would be locked into the poverty level the way people have been in all other parts of the world.

Some would prosper more than others. Some would prosper because of talent, some because of good fortune, some because of an inheritance, but most would prosper because of hard work.

Where people suffered the loss of their crops or became unemployed, the more fortunate were to help. And those who were enjoying “good times” were encouraged to save up in store for the misfortunes which seem to come to everybody someday. Hard work, frugality, thrift, and compassion became the key words in the American ethic. (p. 118)

Why the Founders Made European Theories Unconstitutional

America soon became the most prosperous and best-educated people on earth. The key was using the government to protect equal rights, not to provide equal things. Samuel Adams said the ideas of a welfare state were made unconstitutional:

The utopian schemes of leveling [redistribution of the wealth], and a community of goods [central ownership of all the means of production and distribution], are as visionary and impracticable as those which vest all property in the Crown. [These ideas] are arbitrary, despotic, and, in our government, unconstitutional. ~Samuel Adams (p.119)

Founders’ Formula for Compassion

Benjamin Franklin wrote:

wealthredistribute1To relieve the misfortunes of our fellow creatures is concurring with the Deity; it is godlike; but, if we provide encouragement for laziness, and supports for folly, may we not be found fighting against the order of God and Nature, which perhaps has appointed want and misery as the proper punishments for, and cautions against, as well as necessary consequences of, idleness and extravagance? Whenever we attempt to amend the scheme of Providence, and to interfere with the government of the world, we had need to be very circumspect, lest we do more harm than good. (Smyth, Writings of Benjamin Franklin, 3:135)

Highlights from the writings of the Founders suggest the following:

1. Do not help the needy completely. Merely help them to help themselves.

2. Give the poor the satisfaction of “earned achievement” instead of rewarding them without achievement.

3. Allow the poor to climb the “appreciation ladder”—from tents to cabins, cabins to cottages, cottages to comfortable houses.

4. Where emergency help is provided, do not prolong it to the point where it becomes habitual.

5. Strictly enforce the scale of “fixed responsibility.” The first and foremost level of responsibility is with the individual himself; the second level is the family; then the church; next the community; finally the county, and, in a disaster or emergency, the state. Under no circumstances is the federal government to become involved in public welfare.

wealthprivatesectorThe Founders felt it would corrupt the government and also the poor. No Constitutional authority exists for the federal government to participate in charity or welfare.

(pp.120-121)

US Constitution Series 6: All Men are Created Equal—Law, Liberty, and Socialism

Next Principle 8: Men are Endowed by their Creator with Certain Unalienable Rights

History Facts: Economy, Taxation, and Integrity

History Facts:

Economy, Taxation, and Integrity

Calvin Coolidge represents the exact opposite of Left-wing politics.. Coolidge had integrity. He deserves a lot more respect than he ever got. ~C.A. Davidson

“Reprinted by permission from Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale College.”

key“We must have no carelessness in our dealings with public property or the expenditure of public money. Such a condition is characteristic of undeveloped people, or of a decadent generation.” ~Calvin Coolidge

Senator Selden Spencer once took a walk with Coolidge around the White House grounds. To cheer the President up, Spencer pointed to the White House and asked playfully, “Who lives there?” “Nobody,” Coolidge replied. “They just come and go.”

It is much more important to kill bad bills than to pass good ones. ~Calvin Coolidge

Amity Shlaes
Author, Coolidge

calvincoolidgeCalvin Coolidge and the Moral Case for Economy

AMITY SHLAES is a syndicated columnist for Bloomberg, a director of the Four Percent Growth Project at the George W. Bush Presidential Center, and a member of the board of the Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation. She has served as a member of the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal and as a columnist for the Financial Times, and is a recipient of the Hayek Prize and the Frederic Bastiat Prize for free-market journalism. She is the author of four books, Germany: The Empire Within, The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression, The Greedy Hand: How Taxes Drive Americans Crazy and What to Do About It, and Coolidge.

The following is adapted from a talk given at Hillsdale College on January 27, 2013, during a conference on “The Federal Income Tax: A Centenary Consideration,” co-sponsored by the Center for Constructive Alternatives and the Ludwig von Mises Lecture Series.


WITH THE FEDERAL DEBT spiraling out of control, many Americans sense an urgent need to find a political leader who is able to say “no” to spending. Yet they fear that finding such a leader is impossible. Conservatives long for another Ronald Reagan. But is Reagan the right model? He was of course a tax cutter, reducing the top marginal rate from 70 to 28 percent. But his tax cuts—which vindicated supply-side economics by vastly increasing federal revenue—were bought partly through a bargain with Democrats who were eager to spend that revenue. Reagan was no budget cutter—indeed, the federal budget rose by over a third during his administration.

An alternative model for conservatives is Calvin Coolidge. President from 1923 to 1929, Coolidge sustained a budget surplus and left office with a smaller budget than the one he inherited. Over the same period, America experienced a proliferation of jobs, a dramatic increase in the standard of living, higher wages, and three to four percent annual economic growth. And the key to this was Coolidge’s penchant for saying “no.” If Reagan was the Great Communicator, Coolidge was the Great Refrainer.

Enter Coolidge
Following World War I, the federal debt stood ten times higher than before the war, and it was widely understood that the debt burden would become unbearable if interest rates rose. At the same time, the top income tax rate was over 70 percent, veterans were having trouble finding work, prices had risen while wages lagged, and workers in Seattle, New York, and Boston were talking revolution and taking to the streets. The Woodrow Wilson administration had nationalized the railroads for a time at the end of the war, and had encouraged stock exchanges to shut down for a time, and Progressives were now pushing for state or even federal control of water power and electricity. The business outlook was grim, and one of the biggest underlying problems was the lack of an orderly budgeting process: Congress brought proposals to the White House willy-nilly, and they were customarily approved.

The Republican Party’s response in the 1920 election was to campaign for smaller government and for a return to what its presidential candidate, Warren Harding, dubbed “normalcy”—a curtailing of government interference in the economy to create a predictable environment in which business could confidently operate. Calvin Coolidge, a Massachusetts governor who had gained a national reputation by facing down a Boston police strike—“There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, any time,” he had declared—was chosen to be Harding’s running mate. And following their victory, Harding’s inaugural address set a different tone from that of the outgoing Wilson administration (and from that of the Obama administration today): “No altered system,” Harding said, “will work a miracle. Any wild experiment will only add to the confusion. Our best assurance lies in efficient administration of our proven system.”

One of Harding’s first steps was to shepherd through Congress the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921, under which the executive branch gained authority over and took responsibility for the budget, even to the point of being able to impound money after it was budgeted. This legislation also gave the executive branch a special budget bureau—the forerunner to today’s Office of Management and Budget—over which Harding named a flamboyant Brigadier General, Charles Dawes, as director. Together they proceeded to summon department staff and their bosses to semiannual meetings at Continental Hall, where Dawes cajoled and shamed them into making spending cuts. In addition, Harding pushed through a tax cut, lowering the top rate to 58 percent; and in a move toward privatization, he proposed to sell off naval petroleum reserves in Wyoming to private companies.

Unfortunately, some of the men Harding appointed to key jobs proved susceptible to favoritism or bribery, and his administration soon became embroiled in scandal. In one instance, the cause of privatization sustained damage when it became clear that secret deals had taken place in the leasing of oil reserves at Teapot Dome. Then in the summer of 1923, during a trip out West to get away from the scandals and prepare for a new presidential campaign, Harding died suddenly.

Enter Coolidge, whose personality was at first deemed a negative—his face, Alice Roosevelt Longworth said, “looked as though he had been weaned on a pickle.” But canny political leaders, including Supreme Court Justice and former President William Howard Taft, quickly came to respect the new president. Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes, after visiting the White House a few times that August, noted that whereas Harding had never been alone, Coolidge often was; that whereas Harding was partial to group decisions, Coolidge made decisions himself; and most important, that whereas Harding’s customary answer was “yes,” Coolidge’s was “no.”

The former governor of Massachusetts was in his element when it came to budgeting. Within 24 hours of arriving back in Washington after Harding’s death, he met with his own budget director, Herbert Lord, and together they went on offense, announcing deepened cuts in two politically sensitive areas: spending on veterans and District of Columbia public works. In his public statements, Coolidge made clear he would have scant patience with anyone who didn’t go along: “We must have no carelessness in our dealings with public property or the expenditure of public money. Such a condition is characteristic of undeveloped people, or of a decadent generation.”

If Harding’s budget meetings had been rough, Coolidge’s were rougher. Lord first advertised a “Two Percent Club,” for executive branch staffers who managed to save two percent in their budgets. Then a “One Percent Club,” for those who had achieved two or more already. And finally a “Woodpecker Club,” for department heads who kept chipping away. Coolidge did not even find it beneath his pay grade to look at the use of pencils in the government: “I don’t know if I ever indicated to the conference that the cost of lead pencils to the government per year is about $125,000,” he instructed the press in 1926. “I am for economy, and after that I am for more economy,” he told voters.

Coolidge in Command
“It is much more important to kill bad bills than to pass good ones,” Coolidge had once advised his father. And indeed, while Harding had vetoed only six bills, Coolidge vetoed 50—including farming subsidies, even though he came from farming country. (“Farmers never had made much money,” he told a guest, and he didn’t see there was much the government could rightly do about it.) He also vetoed veterans’ pensions and government entry into the utilities sector.

Thanks to A.F. Branco at Legal Insurrection.com for his great cartoon

The Purpose of Tax Cuts

In short, Coolidge didn’t favor tax cuts as a means to increase revenue or to buy off Democrats. He favored them because they took government, the people’s servant, out of the way of the people. And this sense of government as servant extended to his own office.

Senator Selden Spencer once took a walk with Coolidge around the White House grounds. To cheer the President up, Spencer pointed to the White House and asked playfully, “Who lives there?” “Nobody,” Coolidge replied. “They just come and go.”

But as unpopular as he was in Washington, Coolidge proved enormously popular with voters. In 1924, the Progressive Party ran on a platform of government ownership of public power and a return to government ownership of railroads. Many thought the Progressive Party might split the Republican vote as it had in 1912, handing the presidency to the Democrats. As it happened, Progressive candidate Robert LaFollette indeed claimed more than 16 percent of the vote.

Yet Coolidge won with an absolute majority, gaining more votes than the Progressive and the Democrat combined. And in 1928, when Coolidge decided not to run for reelection despite the urging of party leaders who looked on his reelection as a sure bet, Herbert Hoover successfully ran on a pledge to continue Coolidge’s policies.

Unfortunately, Hoover didn’t live up to his pledge. Critics often confuse Hoover’s policies with Coolidge’s and complain that the latter did not prevent the Great Depression. That is an argument I take up at length in my previous book, The Forgotten Man, and is a topic for another day. Here let me just say that the Great Depression was as great and as long in duration as it was because, as economist Benjamin Anderson put it, the government under both Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt, unlike under Coolidge, chose to “play God.”

Lessons from Coolidge

Beyond the inspiration of Coolidge’s example of principle and consistency, what are the lessons of his story that are relevant to our current situation? One certainly has to do with the mechanism of budgeting: The Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 provided a means for Harding and Coolidge to control the budget and the nation’s debt, and at the same time gave the people the ability to hold someone responsible. That law was gutted in the 1970s, when it became collateral damage in the anti-executive fervor following Watergate. The law that replaced it tilted budget authority back to Congress and has led to over-spending and lack of responsibility.

A second lesson concerns how we look at tax rates. When tax rates are set and judged according to how much revenue they bring in due to the Laffer Curve—which is how most of today’s tax cutters present them, thereby agreeing with tax hikers that the goal of tax policy is to increase revenue—tax policy can become a mechanism to expand government. The goals of legitimate government—American freedom and prosperity—are left by the wayside.

Thus the best case for lower taxes is the moral case—and as Coolidge well understood, a moral tax policy demands tough budgeting.

Finally, a lesson about politics. The popularity of Harding and Coolidge, and the success of their policies—especially Coolidge’s—following a long period of Progressive ascendancy, should give today’s conservatives hope. Coolidge in the 1920s, like Grover Cleveland in the previous century, distinguished government austerity from private-sector austerity, combined a policy of deficit cuts with one of tax cuts, and made a moral case for saying “no.” A political leader who does the same today is likely to find an electorate more inclined to respond “yes” than he or she expects.

Coolidge and Moral Economy, complete article