Thursday, November 03, 2016

Teddy Roosevelt for President!

Teddy Roosevelt's birthday was earlier this week.

Not only is Teddy one of three terriermen on Mount Rushmore (George Washington and Lincoln are the other two), but he is also the father of public lands conservation in the U.S., the creator of both the National Forest and National Wildlife Refuge system, and a great expander of the National Parks system as well.

During his term in office, Teddy Roosevelt set aside 194 million acres of public land for permanent conservation and protection in this great country of ours.

Teddy Roosevelt was also the putative originator of the American Rat Terrier -- a dog formally launched onto the national stage when Teddy picked up a small feist from John Goff while on a bear-hunting expedition out West. Teddy grew very very fond of this dog with which he hunted rats in the basement of the White House, and though it died while he was in office, Teddy later had the dog dug up and reintered at Sagamore Hills so it would still be close to him, even in retirement.

Teddy Roosevelt, of course, was more than a hunter, conservationist and a lover of working terriers. He was also a consummate politician who framed up the "Square Deal" which was aimed at helping America's middle class being bled dry by Wall Street financiers.

Roosevelt's Square Deal plan called for a progressive tax system of the very kind decried by John McCain.

Teddy Roosevelt thought such a system was the hallmark of patriotism and common sense.

The goal, said Roosevelt in words later to be echoed by Barack Obama, was to "pass prosperity around."

In a 1910 speech entitled
New Nationalism, republican president Teddy Roosevelt set out an agenda which, nearly 100 years later, is just about as current as this morning's headlines:

"We grudge no man a fortune in civil life if it is honorably obtained and well used. It is not even enough that it should have been gained without doing damage to the community. We should permit it to be gained only so long as the gaining represents benefit to the community. … The really big fortune, the swollen fortune, by the mere fact of its size, acquires qualities which differentiate it in kind as well as in degree from what is possessed by men of relatively small means. Therefore, I believe in a graduated income tax on big fortunes, and … a graduated inheritance tax on big fortunes, properly safeguarded against evasion, and increasing rapidly in amount with the size of the estate."

Teddy Roosevelt went on to talk about the economic panics of his day:

"The people of the United States suffer from periodical financial panics to a degree substantially unknown to the other nations, which approach us in financial strength. There is no reason why we should suffer what they escape. It is of profound importance that our financial system should be promptly investigated, and so thoroughly and effectively revised as to make it certain that hereafter our currency will no longer fail at critical times to meet our needs.

Finally, Roosevelt turned to his first love: the land, and our duty to protect it. He said:
"I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use the natural resources of our land; but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob, by wasteful use, the generations that come after us. I ask nothing of the nation except that it so behave as each farmer here behaves with reference to his own children. That farmer is a poor creature who skins the land and leaves it worthless to his children. The farmer is a good farmer who, having enabled the land to support himself and to provide for the education of his children, leaves it to them a little better than he found it himself .... Conservation is a great moral issue, for it involves the patriotic duty of insuring the safety and continuance of the nation."

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