Notes on Rush Limbaugh

(Attribution: Brandon Paddock, Microsoft Engineer and colleague of Paul Gusmorino III)

The best story I’ve heard this week by far was told today over lunch.  Apparently, a co-worker of mine named George listens to the Rush Limbaugh show in his car, and yesterday heard him discussing Barack Obama’s comments about similarities between the recent housing crisis and the lead-up to the Great Depression (link goes to transcript).  I imagine the comments were referring to the obvious similarities between those who obtained ridiculous sub-prime loans and those in the 1920s who bought stock they couldn’t afford on margin.  However, Limbaugh decided that Obama’s comments were the result of a crazy “liberal education” – and even remarks how “lucky” he is that he didn’t graduate from college, thus allowing him to escape the perils of actual knowledge.

To prove his point, Rush says he did some Google searches for “Great Depression” and then proceeds to attack each of the results as liberal propaganda.  Because we all know that college professors teach straight off of Google results pages.  So my friend is listening and hears something rather striking… the name of one of our mutual colleagues – Paul Alexander Gusmorino (“The Third!” – I love the way Limbaugh says that).

Limbaugh found among the top results an essay written by Paul, entitled “The Main Causes of the Great Depression,” (link goes to essay).  He quotes Paul’s essay and refutes each of its claims, dissecting them as if they were part of a Harvard professor’s lecture on the subject.  He doesn’t pull any punches either.  “Mr. Gusmorino, you better check Karl Marx and see if you plagiarized him in putting this piece together.”

Ouch.  Those words would be harsh if they really were for a Harvard lecturer.  But that’s not who wrote this essay.  It was my friend who works as a Program Manager at Microsoft.

When he was in 10th grade!

                                                    COMMENT FROM A CHILDHOOD ACQUAINTANCE OF RUSH LIMBAUGH

Rush has always been an blithering idiot. I grew up a few miles south of Cape G, the blowhards boyhood home, and was in the same Boy Scout Council district as the fat butt. He was always the butt of lots of jokes and abuse because he was a know it all obese wussy who was always gonna have his grandfather’s law firm sue the teasers. He grew into a real nut.

Gusmorino, Paul A., III. “Main Causes of the Great Depression.” Gusmorino World (May 13, 1996). Online. Internet: TODAY’S DATE.

The federal government also contributed to the growing gap between the rich and middle-class. Calvin Coolidge’s administration (and the conservative-controlled government) favored business, and as a result the wealthy who invested in these businesses. An example of legislation to this purpose is the Revenue Act of 1926, signed by President Coolidge on February 26, 1926, which reduced federal income and inheritance taxes dramatically11. Andrew Mellon, Coolidge’s Secretary of the Treasury, was the main force behind these and other tax cuts throughout the 1920’s. In effect, he was able to lower federal taxes such that a man with a million-dollar annual income had his federal taxes reduced from $600,000 to $200,00012. Even the Supreme Court played a role in expanding the gap between the socioeconomic classes. In the 1923 case Adkins v. Children’s Hospital, the Supreme Court ruled minimum-wage legislation unconstitutional13.

The large and growing disparity of wealth between the well-to-do and the middle-income citizens made the U.S. economy unstable. For an economy to function properly, total demand must equal total supply. In an economy with such disparate distribution of income it is not assured that demand will always equal supply. Essentially what happened in the 1920’s was that there was an oversupply of goods. It was not that the surplus products of industrialized society were not wanted, but rather that those whose needs were not satiated could not afford more, whereas the wealthy were satiated by spending only a small portion of their income. A 1932 article in Current History articulates the problems of this maldistribution of wealth:

“We still pray to be given each day our daily bread. Yet there is too much bread, too much wheat and corn, meat and oil and almost every other commodity required by man for his subsistence and material happiness. We are not able to purchase the abundance that modern methods of agriculture, mining and manufacturing make available in such bountiful quantities”14.

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