The Futility of Voting

It has always mystified me why anyone would place any faith in the efficacy of voting in a large republic. Why would anyone believe that campaign promises or party platforms would be adhered to after the election? Sure, there are rare occasions where the voters recall being betrayed and exact retribution at the next election, but in general, the voters either forget or are satisfied with the pork used to bribe them.

In “Monetary Central Planning and the State, Part 13: FDR’s New Deal” professor Ebeling cites the 1932 Democratic party platform that FDR pledged to uphold.

“1. An immediate and drastic reduction of government expenditures by abolishing useless commissions and offices, consolidating departments and bureaus, and eliminating extravagance, to accomplish a saving of not less than twenty-five percent in the cost of federal government.

“2. We favor maintenance of the national credit by a federal budget annually balanced on the basis of accurate executive estimates of revenues.

“3. We advocate a sound [gold] currency to be preserved at all hazards.

“4. The removal of government from all fields of private enterprise except where necessary to develop public works and natural resources in the common interest.

“5. We condemn the extravagance of the [federal] Farm Board, its disastrous action which made the government a speculator of farm products, and the unsound policy of restricting agricultural products to the demands of domestic markets.

“6. We condemn the Hawley-Smoot Tariff Law, the prohibitive rates of which have resulted in retaliatory action by more than forty countries, created international economic hostility, destroyed international trade, driven our factories into foreign countries, robbed the American farmer of his foreign markets, and increased the cost of production.”

The Democratic Party platform stated:

“In conclusion, to accomplish these purposes and to recover economic liberty we pledge the nominees of this convention the best efforts of a great party whose founder [Thomas Jefferson] announced the doctrine which guides us now in the hour of our country’s need: Equal rights for all; special privileges for none.”

Let us see what FDR actually did upon gaining office.

… from the day FDR took the presidential oath of office on March 4, 1933, he moved America in a direction exactly opposite of the promised “covenant with the people to be faithfully kept by the party entrusted with power.

Instead of “an immediate and drastic reduction of government expenditures … to accomplish a saving of not less than twenty-five percent in the cost of federal government,” between 1933 and 1936, government expenditures rose by more than 83%. To cover this massive increase in government spending, Roosevelt’s administration ran huge budget deficits. In 1933, deficit financing covered 56.5% of government expenditures. For 1934, 1935, and 1936, the figures for deficit financing for were, respectively, 54.6%, 43%, and 52.3% of government expenditures. In four years, the federal government’s debt went from $19.5 billion in 1932 to $33.8 billion in 1936, representing a 73.3% increase.

Instead of ending the “disastrous action which made the government a speculator of farm products and the unsound policy of restricting agricultural products to the demands of domestic markets,” the federal government intervened in the affairs of the farming sector to a greater extent than ever before. On May 12, 1933, the Congress passed the Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA), giving the government wide powers to fix the prices of farm products, purchase agricultural surpluses over an increasing number of crops, and pay farmers to reduce acreage in various lines of production.

On May 18, 1933, the Congress passed the Tennessee Valley Act, giving the federal government authorization for the undertaking of a massive public works project for the construction of dams and electrification in the southern states. It was nothing less than socialist planning for land use, conservation, and supplying of energy for a vast subsection of the country.

The AAA also gave the Roosevelt administration the authority to reduce the gold content and value of the dollar by up to 50%. Then, in contradiction to the promise that “a sound currency [would be] preserved at all hazards,” on June 5, 1933, Congress passed a resolution voiding the gold clause in all government and private contractual obligations, as well as requiring all Americans to turn in their privately held gold for Federal Reserve Notes, under penalty of confiscation and imprisonment.

Instead of a “removal of government from all fields of private enterprise,” on June 16, 1933, the Congress passed the National Recovery Act (NRA) providing for total federal government control of the industrial sectors of the U.S. economy. Mandatory “codes of fair competition” were established for each sector of the economy, establishing pricing and production regulations for almost every manufactured good in the country. Every retail store in America was encouraged to display the NRA “Blue Eagle” emblem in its store windows to assure people that the stores were “doing their part.”

On March 29, 1933, the Civilian Conservation Corps was established, putting government in the business of creating work for America’s youth. On May 12, 1933, the Unemployment Relief Act was passed, which later became the Works Progress Administration, which provided direct employment of millions on federal “public works” projects.

On July 5, 1935, the National Labor Relations Act was passed, making the federal government arbiter over the private workplace. The Minimum Wage Act was passed on June 25, 1938. The Social Security Act was passed on August 14, 1935, making government responsible for the retirement planning of the American people.

And rather than renounce “the prohibitive [tariff] rates” which had “resulted in retaliatory action by more than forty countries, created international economic hostility, [and] destroyed international trade,” the Roosevelt administration scuttled the London Economic Conference of June 1933 that could have reestablished stable foreign exchange rates on a gold basis and helped to end the tariff wars between nations. Instead, FDR sent a message to the London conference that the goal of his administration was to manipulate the U.S. dollar’s value for purposes of internal national planning.

So, a politician enacted policies 180 degrees different than those promised during the campaign. His actual policies consisted in dispensing vast amounts of pork to purchase the good will of the voters. As he knew from the beginning, buying votes works as long as it is done on an enormous scale backed by propaganda. Thus, despite boldly lying to the public, the politician essentially established a life position in an elective office.

However, representative democracy is clearly heaven on earth.

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