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Economic History 101, Individual Vs. Government Initiative: The Great Leap Forward

The agricultural economy of the late 1950's largely resembled that of the Nationalists prior to Mao's ascension to power, characterized by peasant farmers tilling small plots on which they had some form of claim of ownership or tenancy, the latter of which dated from the time of China's last dynasty, the Qing line. All that changed in 1957 with the policy known as the Great Leap Forward, its major policy elements being the redirection of labor Read More »


Was Joe Paterno Really That Generous?

Many of those defending Joe Paterno's legacy point to his involvement in and giving to many projects at the University. At the press conference of the Penn State University Board of Trustees on the release of the Freeh Report, Trustee Kenneth Frazier was quoted as saying, that the report found "inexcusable failures on the part of Joe Paterno and others to protect children. But I'd also say Joe Paterno did a lot of tremendous things in Read More »


Ford and the Auto Bailout…

The visit of President Barack Obama to Detroit yesterday gave the Administration ample opportunity to crow about the Government led auto bailout of 2008. "If it was up to the Republican Party, Chrysler and General Motors would not have been here," UAW Secretary-Treasurer Dennis Williams told the crowd of thousands "If it wasn't for President Obama, we would not have the opportunity to once again build the best cars and trucks in the whole world." I should Read More »


Obama and Motown….

President Obama apperared today in my hometown, the city of wheels, Detroit, MI. Although in the grand and beautiful state of Michigan for the Labor Day weekend, I did not venture into the Motor City to hear the President speak, instead choosing to stay in a quintessentially Michigan setting near a lake and tune into it on C-Span. What I was treated to via the helfpful public affairs channel was vintage Barack Obama at his Read More »


AT&T and T-Mobile: Troubled Reasoning Despite Good Policy

While I applaud the decision of the Department of Justice to file suit to block the merger of AT&T and T-Mobile as a sound free-market and pro-competive decision, recent quotes from Administration officials leave us to believe that this positive and constructive move may be more of a case of a blind squirell finding a nut than any sort of visionary and sound policy posture. Moreover, in reading the reviews of this action, I Read More »

Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Book Review: The March of Folly

March of Folly, Tuchman

I am aware that the subject for my first book review on the site, Barbara Tuchman’s, The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam, may result in derision.  After all, the book was first published in 1984 and seemed particularly timely in light of the end of the Vietnam conflict occurring roughly ten years earlier, but why review a book published in 1984 now?

There are really two answers to that.  The first is the decline of Borders Books and their subsequent closing and going out of business sales which encouraged me to pick up on some books I have long wanted to own.  The second, very simply, is that Tuchman’s scintillating and entertaining analysis of the persistent folly of Government’s throughout history is particularly relevant today.

I became an enormous fan of Ms. Tuchman after reading The Guns of August, an account of August 1914 leading up to the commencement of World War I, many years ago.  Her decidedly anti-ideological perspective of history and her balanced approach that downplayed persistent views of an era being calamitous and inevitable was, to me, the proper perspective on events.  The Guns of August, of course, won the Pulitzer Prize for history, as did her phenomenal Stillwell and the American Experience in China.  The March of Folly was one of her last two works, the other being The First Salute which was her overview of the American Revolution.  It is, for me, a quintessential work of an intellectual that, having reflected on a lifetime of research and writing, had arrived at a moment of serendipitous enlightenment of the culmination of her work on its ultimate meaning.  In Tuchman’s case, that enlightenment is that Government’s, despite short periods of admirable performance, are doomed to folly.

In fact, the opening of The March of Folly is as follows:

“A phenomenon noticeable throughout history regardless of its place or period is the pursuit by governments of policies contrary to their own interests.  Mankind, it seems, makes a poorer performance of government than of almost any other human activity.”

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