Quotes Suitable for Framing: Calvin Coolidge

Thursday, September 24, AD 2015

The immigrant who comes to us from a life of oppression must be made to realize that he assumes an obligation; otherwise, he is not wanted. Either he must live with us in the light of the highest citizenship, or else society will impose upon him the very restrictions he has sought to escape by coming here. It is the wolf in sheep’s clothing who has cast a slur on immigration. There are many who land here who really never get to America. They become Americanized in everything but in heart. To teach the foreigner English is a necessary step; but it is not an end in itself; it is merely one of the implements of Americanization. This may hold divers peoples together for a while, just as economic opportunity and financial reward may cover their isolation. But unless, in their living—rather than in then livelihood—they daily exercise the principles on which the Republic rests, we have among us a shell of citizenship liable to explode at the least upsetting of economic balance, rather than the vital spirit which is at the basis of American life.

Calvin Coolidge

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State of the Union Speech 1924

Wednesday, January 21, AD 2015

 

 

Although known as Silent Cal, Calvin Coolidge when he gave a speech made certain that each word he uttered was for a purpose.  In 1923 he gave the first State of the Union speech that was broadcast on radio.  His 1924 State of the Union hit hard what was for him a burning passion:  economy in government.  His views are so at variance to what passes for popular wisdom these days, that they deserve to be remembered.  Here is the portion of his speech dealing with controlling debt and the growth of government:

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2 Responses to State of the Union Speech 1924

Mercedes and Food Stamps

Saturday, July 12, AD 2014

19 Responses to Mercedes and Food Stamps

  • “You should have sold the Mercedes prior to sponging off the government”

    No, I absolutely don’t agree at all. If they were down on their luck enough to apply for WIC or food stamps, they probably didn’t have enough spare cash to buy a used car without borrowing money and the LAST thing they needed was to take on more debt. Perhaps they could have gotten by on one car (her Honda), but if he was out going to job interviews, trying to get freelance work, etc. and she was trying to take their babies to doctor appointments, shopping, etc. at the same time, that might have been a problem. Perhaps one of them could have used public transportation, but we don’t know what options were available to them, how much it cost or whether the routes and schedules took them where they needed to go. And expecting people whose income is low enough to qualify for food stamps to pay for taxi service — no way. Have you ever tried doing your grocery shopping on a city bus because you have no car and can’t afford to pay for a taxi? I have — for two whole months — and I really don’t want to do it again.

    “When a man has a family he has a duty to support that family, and if that means taking a job outside of his field, that is what you do.”

    Assuming that anyone was willing to hire him outside of his field. The article doesn’t say how many or what other type of jobs he applied for. Nowhere does it say that he was “content to have his family take welfare benefits” in the meantime.

    At least no one told her “you shouldn’t have had kids if you couldn’t afford them,” or if anyone did, she doesn’t mention it. Of course, when she concieved those children she and her fiance were still employed and they COULD afford them — something that the people who berate single mothers on food stamps, welfare, etc., don’t seem to take into account.

    All that said, I think people are misinterpreting the point of her article. I don’t think she’s trying say that being forced to drive a used Mercedes is the end of the world; she’s simply pointing out that it is possible for hard-working, respectable, well-educated, middle class people to find themselves in a situation where they need the very benefits they scorn others for taking.

  • And no, I DON’T think this article is at all funny or “hilarious.” I suppose having lost a job in the journalism field myself and having to get by on half the income I had before for two years afterward, kind of takes the humor out of it.

  • Now, after watching the After Hours clip I am way more ticked off by THEIR smugness and judgmental attitude than I am by Cunha’s! They do make some valid points — for example, why is she thanking Obama, rather than her family, friends and neighbors, for the help she received? — but them accusing her of being judgmental is, in my opinion, a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

  • How did he afford a Benz on a journalist’s salary? That’s a vehicle for real-estate developers and senior corporate executives who’ve got a megawad of spare cash sloshing around. And what’s the point of owning one? A car needs to be reliable enough in your climate to get you from point A to point B. If you want something handsome to own, go to a convention, buy a 1931 Packard, and teach yourself to repair it.

  • Keep the Mercedes–it probably runs well, and go get a job at Wal-Mart. I know a professional to lost his job, who (although he didn’t have a Mercedes) went to work at Wal-Mart. Alternatively, keep the Mercedes and move to North Dakota and work in the oil fields.

  • “they probably didn’t have enough spare cash to buy a used car without borrowing money”

    I represent the major dealership in my town. They routinely will swap used low end cars for high end used cars with a cash payment to the seller in addition to the low end car. The low end cars have a one year warranty. This isn’t rocket science and I am constantly surprised in my practice that more people can’t think up fairly simple stratagems like this on their own to get cash and cut expenses.

  • “Assuming that anyone was willing to hire him outside of his field.”

    Unless he is a drunk or a druggie, I could have found him a job in 60 days. He would not have liked the job I would have found for him no doubt, but he would have been employed and been able to use his own funds to support his family rather than relying on the largesse of Uncle Sucker.

  • “Elaine Krewer on Saturday, July 12, A.D. 2014 at 10:12am (Edit) And no, I DON’T think this article is at all funny or “hilarious.””

    Tastes will vary Elaine. I think it takes a heart of stone not to laugh at this over educated twit with a sense of entitlement a mile high. My Dad didn’t finish high school and my mom had a high school degree, and both of them would have preferred to eat ground glass than rely upon government assistance. No doubt Ms. Cunha and her spouse would have looked down their noses at the blue collar jobs held by my parents, so infinitely more respectable to be the recipients of handouts.

  • They should have been able to find some sort of work without resorting to welfare.
    One was a TV producer and the other was a journalist. They should have been able to find something, be it a manager at Dunkin Donuts or work the floor at Home Depot or some similar work. Were they willing to move?

    This couple sounds like they were lifelong East Coast residents who think the world ends on the other side of I-95 and they weren’t about to sully themselves by moving west.

  • I lost a fairly well paying job in the journalism field in 2004. At the time my husband was the stay at home parent homeschooling our daughter, but he found a part time job immediately, and we hastily enrolled our daughter in public school, while I looked for other employment. Out of the same old-fashioned sense of shame that your parents’ generation, and mine, had — “we’d rather starve than take a government handout” — I jumped on the first job that was offered to me, despite the fact that it paid only half of what I was earning before, and paid LESS than what I was getting in unemployment compensation.

    In retrospect, I believe that might have been a mistake, since hastily taking on that job and its attendant expenses (e.g. a long commute) left us even worse off financially (even though we sold our home and moved to a new city) and caused us to incur debt that took years to pay off. If I had it to do over again I would have held out longer and kept looking for something better, instead of letting my pride get in the way too quickly. I should add that I never applied for food stamps or TANF even though we probably could have qualified for them — again, because I didn’t feel we really needed them and didn’t want to live off the government dole more than we already were.

    Yes, I understand that we do not want to encourage people to spend their whole lives on the government dole, but is one really morally obligated to give up or refuse benefits for which one has LEGALLY qualified (whether or not the benefit programs in question are too generous or unsustainable is an issue that government officials and voters have to determine) in order to take any job at all, even if it leaves your family in a bigger financial hole than before?

    Also, selling off certain assets like a reliable car in order to exhaust the proceeds before resorting to government assistance can be counterproductive. For example, what if you need the car to get to work or to job interviews? Is giving it up in favor of a “beater” that breaks down constantly and leaves you stranded with no way to fix it (Ms. Cunha drove her husband’s Mercedes to the WIC office ONLY because her Honda would not start that day) really going to help you get off the dole quicker?

    The same applies to people who insist that food stamp recipients should not have internet access or cellphones — OK, I agree they don’t need the latest version of every smartphone, but there are quite a few jobs for which one can ONLY apply online and which expect you to be reachable at all times. I just don’t see the wisdom or virtue in selling off a FULLY PAID FOR asset that could legitimately be used in a job search or to perform the duties of a job that could be offered. Even if Ms. Cunha and her husband were a bit too picky about maintaining the lifestyle to which they had become accustomed, and even if her embarrassment at driving to the welfare office in a Mercedes was appropriate, I still think there was nothing wrong with letting them keep it.

  • Penquins Fan,
    Many poor work and are still living in shelters. I saw one lady on tv who had three children, three bottom rung jobs, and she and the children lived in a shelter. Often they are in cities wherein low cost housing is taken quickly by their poor competitors and that leaves shelters or rents designed for the middle class jobs.
    Here is a lady working two jobs and still in a shelter which is a form of welfare:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/18/nyregion/in-new-york-having-a-job-or-2-doesnt-mean-having-a-home.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

  • “Yes, I understand that we do not want to encourage people to spend their whole lives on the government dole, but is one really morally obligated to give up or refuse benefits for which one has LEGALLY qualified (whether or not the benefit programs in question are too generous or unsustainable is an issue that government officials and voters have to determine) in order to take any job at all, even if it leaves your family in a bigger financial hole than before?”

    For many reasons I think any type of honest work Elaine is better than relying on government assistance, not least of which is the impact it has on a person’s self respect. If it has zero impact on a person’s self respect than the self respect has already vanished. This of course does not apply to people who through no fault of their own are unable to work, or are in a catastrophic situation, like a child having liver cancer, where some form of government help cannot be avoided. However, these type of situations are the exception and not the rule for the vast majority of people currently taking the myriad of government benefits available today for simply existing.

  • Another detail that seems to have been overlooked is that Ms. Cunha did NOT sign up for “food stamps” or SNAP; she enrolled in WIC, a different program that is open only to pregnant, postpartum and nursing mothers and to children under age 5 who must prove, among other things, that they would be in danger of being malnourished without it:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WIC

  • True Elaine, although I think it is a distinction without a difference. Of course I assume that she is the one who chose to entitle her post:

    “This is what happened when I drove my Mercedes to pick up food stamps”,

    so I assume she must not think there is much, if any, difference either.

  • Also — and I promise to shut up after this — if you look at pictures of a 2003 Mercedes Kompressor online, it looks like a run of the mill mid-size sedan that would not be out of place in any middle-class suburban garage. Not flashy or ostentatious.

  • The problem isn’t the Benz. It’s that unlimited government (interfering in markets causing misallocations of economic resources; crony-corporate welfare; excess regulations; high taxes) has destroyed millions of middle class families.

  • Bill,

    I know that there are working poor – poor people who take any job they can get and still don’t have enough. My paternal grandparents found themselves in such situations, although they never had to live in shelters. One of the gentlemen who took care of my dad when he was in a respiratory rehabilitative clinic was just such a man. He was a wonderful person, drove a 30 year old car and came to my dad’s funeral.

    My point is that a journalist and a TV producer could have found other work. I stand by that.

  • Elaine-
    that you missed some considerations when you chose an offer to take doesn’t mean that it’s a bad idea to find work ASAP, it means you need to pay attention to those considerations. Part of why I’m a house-wife is that it would make no economic sense to do otherwise.
    .
    This woman is whining about people asking why she’s driving a car with a high value and taking other people’s money, when a quick check of KBB contrasting the expensive car (I don’t care what it looks like, I’m looking at the trade-in value) is half again as much as a similar Kia.
    Dang straight people feel “entitled to share” when they are funding your life style.

  • I should note, I told KBB to check the trade-in value for the most basic Mercedes, and the sale value of the Kia; had it do a “standard equip” for both and copied the automatically guessed mileage to the Kia.

Coolidge on the Declaration

Tuesday, February 26, AD 2013

We live in an age of science and of abounding accumulation of material things. These did not create our Declaration. Our Declaration created them. The things of the spirit come first. Unless we cling to that, all our material prosperity, overwhelming though it may appear, will turn to a barren sceptre in our grasp. If we are to maintain the great heritage which has been bequeathed to us, we must be like-minded as the fathers who created it. We must not sink into a pagan materialism. We must cultivate the reverence which they had for the things that are holy. We must follow the spiritual and moral leadership which they showed. We must keep replenished, that they may glow with a more compelling flame, the altar fires before which they worshiped.

Calvin Coolidge

Calvin Coolidge was born on July 4, 1872, the only President to be born on the Fourth of July.  It is therefore fitting that he gave one of the more eloquent speeches ever given on the Declaration.  This was on the 150th anniverary of the Declaration on July 5, 1926.  Coolidge was one of the last presidents to write his own speeches, so this is pure Coolidge.  In reviewing this very thoughtful speech I can see why this nation became great and why we are going through a spirtual depression now to match our economic depression.  Time, past time, to end both.  Here is the text of Coolidge’s speech:

We meet to celebrate the birthday of America. The coming of a new life always excites our interest. Although we know in the case of the individual that it has been an infinite repetition reaching back beyond our vision, that only makes it the more wonderful. But how our interest and wonder increase when we behold the miracle of the birth of a new nation. It is to pay our tribute of reverence and respect to those who participated in such a mighty event that we annually observe the fourth day of July. Whatever may have been the impression created by the news which went out from this city on that summer day in 1776, there can be no doubt as to the estimate which is now placed upon it. At the end of 150 years the four corners of the earth unite in coming to Philadelphia as to a holy shrine in grateful acknowledgement of a service so great, which a few inspired men here rendered to humanity, that it is still the preeminent support of free government throughout the world.

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Mister, We Could Use a Man Like Calvin Coolidge Again

Monday, February 18, AD 2013

A wholesome regard for the memory of great men of long ago is the best assurance to a people of a continuation of great men to come, who shall still be able to instruct, to lead, and to inspire. A people who worship at the shrine of true greatness will themselves be truly great.

Calvin Coolidge

Time for my usual Presidents’ Day rant.  Although still officially Washington’s Birthday this day has become commonly known as President’s Day.  I see no reason to honor the various incompetents, low lifes, grifters and public thieves who have too often sat in the Oval Office on the same day that should be reserved for truly great Presidents like Washington, Lincoln and Coolidge.  Coolidge?  Yep, Silent Cal was a truly magnificent President and in this post we will examine why he deserves to be ranked among the very best of our Chief Executives.

Born on the fourth of July in 1872, in Plymouth Notch in the Green Mountains of Vermont, John Calvin Coolidge, (he was always called Calvin by his family so his first name fell by the wayside) was a rock-ribbed Vermont Yankee descended from a line of Yankees that had first set foot in New England in 1630.  Thrift was not a virtue in the Coolidge family, but a way of life.  His mother died when he was twelve.  He would carry a locket with her portrait until the day he died.   “The greatest grief that can come to a boy came to me.  Life was never to seem the same again.”  His beloved sister died only five years later, not the last loss of a loved one that would come to Calvin Coolidge.  Graduating from Amherst College, he took the advice of his father and skipped law school, too expensive, and became an attorney through the traditional route of “reading law” under an experienced attorney.

In 1898 he opened a law office in Northampton, Massachusetts and gradually attracted business as a transactional attorney rather than an attorney who did litigation in court.  He met his wife Grace, a teacher at a local school for the deaf, when she spied him one day in 1903 through an open window at the boarding house where he was staying.  Coolidge was shaving, and was wearing his long johns and his hat.  (He later explained to her that he used the hat to keep his unruly hair out of his eyes while he was shaving.)  In this case opposites did attract, and for life.  Grace was talkative and lively, Coolidge quiet and withdrawn.  They had a very happy marriage that was blessed by two sons.  Shortly after their marriage Grace was presented by Calvin with a sack with fifty-two pairs of hole filled socks in them.  She asked him if he had married her so she would darn his socks.  He replied no, but that he found it mighty handy that she could darn his socks!  (And she did not kill him!)

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5 Responses to Mister, We Could Use a Man Like Calvin Coolidge Again

  • Great article, Donald. Thank you very much for posting it. I’m looking forward to sharing some of your insights with my US History class in a couple of weeks, as we hit the “Roaring 20s”.

    BTW, have you read Amity Shlaes’ book on Coolidge? I enjoyed her treatment of the Great Depression, The Forgotten Man, and was considering getting this one.

  • I picked it up last week Nicholas although I haven’t done much more than glance through it at the present time.

  • ” He cut Federal spending to the bone. For Coolidge this was not just a fiscal matter, but a moral matter:

    ‘I favor the policy of economy, not because I wish to save money, but because I wish to save people.

    The men and women of this country who toil are the ones who bear the cost of the Government.

    Every dollar that we carelessly waste means that their life will be so much the more meager.
    Every dollar that we prudently save means that their life will be so much the more abundant.
    Economy is idealism in its most practical form.’ ”

    Carelessly wasting dollars, and ideals, is the modus operandi in this administration.

    ” Our problems today are not larger than those that confronted Coolidge. Unfortunately our leaders lack the persistence, determination and honesty that Coolidge brought to the tasks that he confronted. May our nation know his like again. ”

    “… and honesty …” Good hope in the last sentence. Thing is that ‘honesty’ is becoming an unknown from a young age due to the quality of public education.

    All these ‘racism’ epithets thrown at the very people (Republican) who worked against racism – and most ironically from whom they, the Republicans, protected from the Democrat oppression.

    Grim looking posterity developing in Federal government.

  • Reportdly a revial preacher was coming to town and his wife wanted to here him, but she came down with a cold. She sent Cal instead,

    Q. how was it?

    A. he preached for 3 hours.

    Q. what did he talk about.

    A.Sin.

    Q. What did he say apout it.

    A. He’s against it.

Coolidge Speaks!

Friday, May 11, AD 2012

Ironic that the president who has the reputation for being the most taciturn man to ever occupy the White House is also the first president to ever appear in a “talkie” in the above video.

Coolidge is a fascinating man and in future posts I will have much more to say about him.  One fact I will note now is that he was ever a friend of Irish Catholics in his home state of Massachusetts and fought against the discrimination they frequently endured.  Most Irish Catholics were Democrats, but that did not stop Coolidge from standing up for them.  As mayor of Northampton, Massachusetts he developed a life long friendship with Father Joseph Gordian Daley who shared Coolidge’s love of Latin and Greek.  Coolidge helped Father Daley build a mission church in Northampton.  There was a great deal of compassion to this dry, unemotional Yankee.

It is not a myth that Coolidge was tight-lipped.  The archetypal example is when a young lady encountered him at a White House reception and said that she had bet a friend of hers that she could get him to speak three words to her.  “You lose” was Coolidge’s terse response.  As the video indicates Coolidge was not a scintillating speaker, droning monotone being a better description.  However, in his writings Coolidge indicates that lack of verbal expression did not indicate a lack of thoughts on the issues of his day, and many of which are quite relevant to our day:

There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, any time.

I favor the policy of economy, not because I wish to save money, but because I wish to save people. The men and women of this country who toil are the ones who bear the cost of the Government. Every dollar that we carelessly waste means that their life will be so much the more meager. Every dollar that we prudently save means that their life will be so much the more abundant. Economy is idealism in its most practical form.

If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final.

We live in an age of science and abounding accumulation of material things. These did not create the Declaration. Our Declaration created them. The things of the spirit come first. Unless we cling to that, all of our material prosperity, overwhelming though it may appear, will turn to a barren scepter in our grasp. If we are to maintain the great heritage bequeathed to us, we must be like minded as the Founders who created. We must not sink into a pagan materialism. We must cultivate the reverence which they had and for the things that are holy. We must follow the spiritual and moral leadership which they showed. We must keep replenished, that they may glow with a more compelling flame, the altar fires before which they worshipped.

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.

The government of a country never gets ahead of the religion of a country.  There is no way by which we can substitute the authority of law for the virtue of man.  Of course we endeavor to restrain the vicious, and furnish a fair degree of security and protection by legislation and police control, but the real reform which society in these days is seeking will come as a result of our religious convictions, or they will not come at all.  Peace, justice, humanity, charity—these cannot be legislated into being.  They are the result of divine grace.

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7 Responses to Coolidge Speaks!