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The World's Only Fo' Liberal. Several weeks ago I drove my one and only son up to Milwaukee to start his first year in college.Looking east from route 94 I saw a sign on a dilapidated barn that suggested I study natural law.A hundred yards further or so I saw a sign for University Lawsonomy and realized with a thrill of horror that here was the last center of study for one of the stupidest economic theories in modern history, a theory which, if it were known wider, would also be one of the most hated.
At the University of Lawsonomy they teach Lawsonomy, the physical, biological and economic theories of Alfred William Lawson (1869-1954).The basic principles of Lawsonomy are obvious and unassailable, if a little vague.Lawson writes, “If it isn’t real; if it isn’t truth; if it isn’t knowledge; if it isn’t intelligence; then it isn’t Lawsonomy.”But from there Lawson travels to positions that are almost identical to positions Fox News regularly slams. I want to make clear that I have no respect for Fox News.I think the network should be called Fo’ news, pronounced as “Faux” meaning false.Fox News commentators and news people (it is hard to tell them apart) often slam the positions of liberals, without ever giving examples of people who hold the positions they oppose.I would argue that there are no liberals in the sense Fo’ News uses the term—with the exception of Alfred William Lawson.The sidebar is a reproduction of Chapter 9 of Alfred Lawson’s book, “Direct Credits for Everybody” which I offer as proof that Lawson is a liberal in the Fo’ News misuse of that word. What is even scarier than the existence of a Fo’ news liberal is the fact that Lawson’s Direct Credits Society once had tens of thousands of followers.(I suspect that the school now has no students at all.)According to the great Martin Gardner, the world’s leading authority on crackpots, in Lawson’s book Fifty Speeches, “There are several hundred photographs of mass meetings, parades, lecture halls, office fronts, bands, and DSC officers wearing a special white uniform and cap, and a diagonal red sash.” Gardner has a chapter on Lawson in his book, Fads & Fallacies in the Name of Science. Lawson even had the arrogance conservative commentators so often attribute to liberals.Lawson writes, “I sometimes think I was born ten or twenty thousand years ahead of time.”Some of this arrogance was earned, by the way.Lawson was an early pioneer in the Aircraft industry.He may have even invented the term, “Aircraft.”He would have probably retired very, very rich—if one of his airplanes hadn’t crashed. Lawson presents an important lesson for investors.I can’t tell you how many hedge fund managers I have worked with who want to act like some of the famous ******** in our industry.Barton Biggs tells story after story of rich and arrogant hedge fund managers in his book Hedgehogging.My favorite story of his is his meeting with Alfred Jones, the man who invented hedge funds.Biggs writes that Jones asked, “When you go to pee in a restaurant urinal, do you wash you hands before or after you pee?” I was stunned.“Afterwards, sir.” He looked at me sourly.“That’s the wrong answer.You’re a conventional thinker and not rational.I always wash before rather than after.”
This kind of arrogance and bad manners is all too common in our industry.Much more to the point, while it is sometimes the behavior of winners like Jones, but it is also the behavior of nutcases like Lawson.If you want to know what works it is not enough to look at what the winners do.You also have to look at what the losers do, too.
I am old now and my manners are much, much better now than they were when I was young.If someone did to me now what Jones did to young Biggs I would confront him, get up and leave or, perhaps, just ignore his bad manners, if I thought he really had something to say.If Jones had done to me what he did to Biggs when I was Biggs’s age, I would have stood up, unzipped my instrument, peed on him, told him that I had to go wash and left.Sometimes I miss being young and badly mannered.
Direct Credits for Everybody By Alfred Lawson
Changes That Must Be Made
The changes that must be made in the financial system so that everybody will get a chance to succeed, resulting in better living conditions that will improve everybody physically, mentally and morally, are as follows:
1. Gold must be abolished as money and everybody prohibited from using it to pay for anything.
2. Paper currency must be made the standard of exchange and issued in sufficient quantities for all purposes.
3. Interest, and all other forms of payment for the use of money must be abolished and prohibited.
4. Control and supervision of money must be by the government, who will operate all banks and other financial institutions. Private banking must be prohibited.
5. All financial loans must be made by the government. Private loans in business transactions must be prohibited.
6. All credits must be issued by the government direct to everybody.
7. Everybody must be entitled to basic equal credits given by the government.
8. Everybody must perform actual service in return for credits.
9. Limited credits must be issued to everybody without security.
10. Credits must be issued for the upkeep and education of children up to 21 years of age, to be voluntarily repaid by them, if possible, at some future and convenient time.
11. Credits must be issued to everybody past 65 year of age for living expenses, if wanted. The size of such credits to be proportionate to the value of the service rendered by the beneficiary prior to that age.
12. Charity must be abolished and justice take its place. Credits must be issued to the sick and lame. Doctors nurses and practitioners will be paid by the government both in money and honors. They must treat all patients with equal consideration.
13. All controversies must be settled by Courts appointed by the government, who will also furnish lawyers for both sides of the case. These lawyers will be paid by the government and prohibited from taking private fees of any nature whatsoever. Disbarment, disgrace, imprisonment or worse, will be the punishment for lawyers who misrepresent anything in connection with a case they are handling.
14. Everybody must furnish sworn statements periodically, showing the amount and character of wealth possessed and the manner in which it was obtained.
The general purpose of changing present financial procedure is to strengthen our economic system to such a extent that everybody will be afforded equal opportunities to succeed, as well as to make each person responsible for individual success, and give all a chance to earn wealth honestly. It must be made easier to be honest than dishonest.
The newer methods will also afford those lacking average ability a chance to give such services as they are capable of to general production for which they must be given sufficient compensation to meet expenses necessary to live decently and honorably.
Under such conditions, charity and idleness would become a public disgrace for those who tried to live that way. It would be harder to live without work than by work.
Naturally those with greater ability, ambition and a desire to work hard, will not only aid more in general production, but will also acquire more wealth and better living conditions than those who are lazy, or lack ambition, or waste their time in the pursuit of pleasure.
Likewise, those who are more industrially inclined and have more ambition and ability, will rise above the average in station and become leaders in every line of human effort. The fittest will assume authority.
Everybody's Plan will take nothing away from anybody, nor will it give anything to those who are able but unwilling to work and earn for themselves. It will give everybody an honest chance to receive just what everybody is capable of earning, which is not possible under the present racketeering system.
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"If your mother says she loves you, check it out." --Old reporters' motto; also our motto. Copyright (C) 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 Fred Gehm. All rights reserved.