Greedy Blog

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Worst President Ever
Comic Book Guy intended.

These are my bottom 5 presidents:
43. LBJ
42. FDR
41. Carter
40. Johnson
39. Jackson

For the most part, I look at how they impact me. Hence, the Great Society programs and Vietnam war, both huge blunders in my opinion, make LBJ the worst. WWII might balance out the New Deal (I don't think so), but the implications of the New Deal (unrestrained federal power) certainly outweighs anything else he did or didn't do. Carter was astonishingly bad in terms of stagflation and bungled foreign policy. I don't know much about Johnson, but I think he is universally regarded as horrible. Jackson screwed the South and passed awful amendments without the consent of even a majority of states. Note that I might have Andrew 7 and Andrew 17 backwards.

Also, in general, I don't think the president really impacts the economy. While there are definite Laffer correlations to tax rate and federal tax revenue (indicating GDP), I think the economy will go in its cycle regardless of economic policy unless there are undue burdens (taxes and regulations). Thus, increase taxes and regulations can hurt the economy and the reverse can help, but are typically only passed and only help in small increments. More roughly, I think that the length and depth of the highs and lows might be controlled, but not the general cycle. In fact, I think low points are necessary to do away with excesses (even if that sadly includes excess human capital).
As for foreign policy, that truthfully doesn't impact me that much. I haven't served in the military. I don't have any relatives in the military that would be sent overseas. Living in the middle of TX, I am unlikely to be the target of a terrorist attack. However, I would like to think that I can think on a broader scale. That is, what is bad for NY or CA or Chi is bad for the US, and thus is bad for me. Therefore, I try to look at dealings with other countries objectively. For instance, I think that by any objective measure the UN is a failure in terms of peace keeping and protecting human rights. It might be good for things like trade, but that's what GATT and NATO and NAFTA are for.

I think the best president ever might be Harrison. Why? He didn't do anything to screw me over, or even to affect my life. Things like Teapot Dome, Watergate, and Monica were stains on the office, but really don't affect me much personally. Sure, the integrity of the office is nothing to sneeze at, but I'll take a huge scandal over a huge domestic program any day. One lasts for a few years, but the other lasts until there is political clout to repeal it (that is, forever).
After Harrison might be Reagan, although I don't like the increased spending. Perhaps that can be blamed on the Dem Congress (although he had veto power). Iran-Contra was bad, but really, we got the hostages back.
I like Bush's and Kennedy's tax cuts, but both expanded the size of the federal government. If not for raising taxes and putting up walls between intelligence departments, I might actually like Clinton.
Lincoln was ok (sadly, I don't know a whole lot). However, being a Federalist (or, more accurately, an anti-federalist), I might have sided with the South. I really hope that slavery would have gone away as it did in every other modernized Western country (although, as Thomas Sowell often points out, Africans were enslaving Europeans even into the 1900s and it is still going on today on some parts of the world, so maybe not). There is probably a good analogy about the South resisting what the North wanted to foist upon it more than they would have resisted had the same idea come from within, but analogies aren't my strong suit. Other things I know about Lincoln aren't especially great. For example, the Emancipation Proclamation is famous, but really he just said that the slaves of the country he was at war with (the South hadn't surrendered at that point) were free. He had no more power to do that than to raise property taxes in Florida. Maybe I just need to learn more.
Washington did a lot for the country (hell, he freed it) and as a president (set many precedents on what the duties of the office entail). However, he was a Federalist (in reality meaning that he favored a strong central government, which I'm against more than anything).
Maybe Jefferson. I agree with most of his positions, but again don't know that much about accomplishments (aside from the obvious LA purchase, etc.).

Posted by Gel 9:15 PM Post a Comment

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