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Andrew Jackson, Socialist Hero

| 04.21.2016 |

Last year, there was an attempt by the Obama administration to remove Alexander Hamilton, founder of the American capitalistic system, from the $10 bill. This column took a leadership role in fighting to defend the legacy of this extremely important Founding Father, insisting that Andrew Jackson should be replaced instead.


It is to be lamented that American history is no longer adequately covered by our public schools. Few today realize the importance of Hamilton, a self-made man who believed in hard work and free-markets. Likewise, too many buy into the propaganda surrounding Jackson, a socialist who relied on paranoia and racial tension to gain power. It is fortuitous that a musical on Hamilton's life rose to popular accord and secured his legacy.


But the poisonous control the Jacksonians have over the American imagination still runs deep, and there are many trying to defend his awful legacy. They claim Jackson was an "anti-crony capitalist," yet nothing can be further from the truth. Instead, he was a crony capitalist, a distributor of nepotistic riches, and he rose to power through an anti-capitalistic populism that is akin to the the demagoguery of Bernie Sanders.


Banks are necessary to the flow of money, and a national bank in some form is necessary for the regulation and control over currency. Since they contain and control money, banks are the target for the anti-capitalist's paranoia and the first to be demonized. Numbers and figures free from bias are transformed into a rigged system that is intentionally keeping the poor from succeeding. The anti-bank demagogues throw away the basics of economics and ignore the idea of profit and loss to transform banks into a system of power that wishes to suppress.


In Jackson's "Veto Message" of a bill that would have reauthorized the Bank of the United States, he makes his socialistic intent clear: "Every monopoly and all exclusive privileges are granted at the expense of the public, which ought to receive a fair equivalent. The many millions which this act proposes to bestow on the stockholders of the existing bank must come directly or indirectly out of the earnings of the American people."


The bank, which would have people invest money and receive interest in return, would be making a profit supposedly belonging to "the public." Profits do not belong to the capitalist, and any profit is theft. However, the real attack is on the concept of loans in general. "It has been urged as an argument in favor of rechartering the present bank that the calling in its loans will produce great embarrassment and distress," Jackson stated. "The time allowed to close its concerns is ample, and if it has been well managed its pressure will be light, and heavy only in case its management has been bad. If, therefore, it shall produce distress, the fault will be its own, and it would furnish a reason against renewing a power which has been so obviously abused."


To Jackson, the lending of money by the bank is returning the money to the people, and the bank has no right to the return of the loan. If the bank is unable to have the loan paid off because of the government interference, then Jackson blames the bank itself. This is the same problem that led to our current banking crisis; the government pressured banks to issue bad loans and attacked those same banks when the loans failed. This is an anti-capitalistic argument based on a notion that corporations at all times are evil.


The rambling paranoia increases when Jackson starts to claim that international corporate greed would steal money from the poor: "Thus will this provision in its practical effect deprive the Eastern as well as the Southern and Western States of the means of raising a revenue from the extension of business and great profits of this institution. It will make the American people debtors to aliens in nearly the whole amount due to this bank, and send across the Atlantic from two to five millions of specie every year to pay the bank dividends."


The predatory international capitalists will control the United States and hold them hostage through the bank, Jackson claimed: "This act authorizes and encourages transfers of its stock to foreigners and grants them an exemption from all State and national taxation... it is calculated to convert the Bank of the United States into a foreign bank, to impoverish our people in time of peace, to disseminate a foreign influence through every section of the Republic, and in war to endanger our independence."


The attack on the rich takes a more philosophical tone near the conclusion of the message: "It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes. Distinctions in society will always exist under every just government. Equality of talents, of education, or of wealth can not be produced by human institutions."


It is Jackson's belief that the rich and powerful ensure that true equality can never be realized. They corrupt human institutions and ensure that the people are suppressed. Allowing banks to operate is described as stealing money from the poor, either by directly taking their money or by limiting the enjoyment of the bank's income to investors and workers directly involved.


He continues, "In the full enjoyment of the gifts of Heaven and the fruits of superior industry, economy, and virtue, every man is equally entitled to protection by law; but when the laws undertake to add to these natural and just advantages artificial distinctions, to grant titles, gratuities, and exclusive privileges, to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of society-the farmers, mechanics, and laborers-who have neither the time nor the means of securing like favors to themselves, have a right to complain of the injustice of their Government."


This same ideology was used to justify the forcing of banks to issue loans to those with poor credit and no ability to pay them off. Why should the rich, with a steady income and liquidity, be able to get loans when the poor, with no income, cannot? The only answer is a conspiracy among the rich to keep the poor down, instead of basic logic.


Jackson's only justification for the war against the supposedly evil capitalist is the notion of equality: "There are no necessary evils in government. Its evils exist only in its abuses. If it would confine itself to equal protection, and, as Heaven does its rains, shower its favors alike on the high and the low, the rich and the poor, it would be an unqualified blessing."


To the socialist, everyone has an equal right to money, to riches, and to spoils regardless of effort or work because it is the easiest way to blame others for the poor being poor. It is a system of envy and desire, blaming others for your own financial situation. The socialists hate capitalism because it is a competitive system that allows the hard worker get ahead.


Instead, the socialist Jackson dismisses hard work and innovation as keys to success, and believes prosperity can only come from corruption: "Many of our rich men have not been content with equal protection and equal benefits, but have besought us to make them richer by act of Congress. By attempting to gratify their desires we have in the results of our legislation arrayed section against section, interest against interest, and man against man, in a fearful commotion which threatens to shake the foundations of our Union."


Is there the potential for the rich to corrupt and abuse? Yes, always, but there is even more of a potential for them to abuse under a socialistic system. History has shown that Jackson's administration was filled with unqualified individuals hired due to nepotism. The federal government was merely a jobs program to redistribute wealth from the hard working businessmen and funnel it to cronies.


Banks are the core of capitalism because they allow for liquidity that is not present otherwise. The anti-capitalists target banks with claims of conspiracies and abuses while appealing to the poor. Over time, these socialistic messages have infiltrated popular sentiment and taken hold.


While corruption, abuse, or bad policy can and should be discussed, caution must be taken when it comes to the banking system. One can criticize the Federal Reserve for quantitative easing, inflationary policies, and fiat currency without attacking the idea of banking. The anti-capitalist suggests otherwise, because they seek the destruction of the whole system.


Banks, including a central bank, are a necessary component of government and capitalism. They are not a "necessary evil" or evil in any regard. They are not responsible for the poor being unable to succeed.


Jackson was an anti-capitalistic, pro-slavery, vicious individual with a history of abuse and disgraceful behavior. He should not be honored in any way. He did whatever he could to destroy our economic system, and his legacy was restored by anti-capitalistic groups during the early 20th century for this very reason. Neither Jackson nor those who share his anti-banking, anti-capitalism views should be enshrined as heroes.


Jeffrey Peters is an Annapolis, Md.-based writer and political consultant.