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Email L. Henry Platt, Jr.
  Henry Platt


The problem with most revolutions is that they focus on violence and destruction instead of creation and building. The American Revolution of the mid-1770's is an excellent example of how to do it properly. The colonials were upset by new and burdensome regulations by the Crown, and some of the changes were very fiscally burdensome.

King George III was not the mover of the day; it was William Pitt the younger, Chancellor of the Exchequer, (whose pioneering work in tax policy continues to roil world finance today.) The Crown was concerned with the high costs of a growing kingdom and associated administrative costs. Corruption existed at a tolerable but irritating level on both sides of the Atlantic, but the smuggling of tea into Britain was especially intolerable.

The Crown was only collecting one third of the taxes it should have been collecting in duties on tea. The tax rate was a threpence for every pound of tea, and smugglers could bring the tea in for less than a tuppence. Pitt made a bold decision; he reduced the tax rate to just a penny per pound of tea, and he doubled revenue to the crown. Everyone in England was happy except for the smugglers.

If it works in London, it will work in Boston, so why not. Many Americans remember what happened next - or - at least part of it. The tea merchants in Boston still had large stores of the threpence taxed tea in their warehouses when the new shipment of lightly taxed tea arrived at the docks.

The tea merchants spun a story that the tea on the ships was highly taxed, (and even today the news of the day has often had most of the truth spun out of it.) Then the tea merchants and some friends dressed as native Americans and threw all of the tea on the ships into the harbor. Their next story was that this action caused the Crown to lower the tax on the subsequent shipments of tea, and that story was taught in American schools for almost two hundred years.

Stories of the Boston Tea Party inflamed the colonists, but they didn't torch the ships. London investors were still comfortable placing commerce and industry in the colonies, and that was a boon to what is now the United States of America. Even today, I have heard that one of the largest property owners in the city of New York is the Queen of England.

The colonists continued to build and develop the land where they lived. They organized as representatives and formed Continental Congresses. They were educated men of means and knowledge. They wanted a peaceful solution to their needs, but probably the most respected physician of the new world at that time, the chief physician of the Pennsylvania Hospital, the father of modern mental health, the ghost writer of "Common Sense" (published by Thomas Paine), and the source of our nation's first sunset law which is in the Constitution Article I Section 2 [no longer published in modern texts], was the most ardent advocate of Independence. Many of these men were both intellectual and moral giants whose goals in life were to leave the towns, the states, our nation and the world a far better place for their having built and supported it.

At the time of the Continental Congresses Benjamin Rush lobbied many members of those Continental Congresses that for full control of the nation, the United States of America must be a free and sovereign nation. The war of Independence ended when William Pitt the younger calculated that the Crown would have a stronger balance sheet if the United States and Great Britain were separate nations.

At the advent of the twenty-first century I wish to identify two revolutionaries: Bill Gates and Steve Jobbs. They changed the world for the better, and they helped to build it.

The people who interrupt life in Egypt, in Libya, and in parks in the United States leaving trash and destruction in their wake have not created or left accomplishments or writings worthy of praise and emulation.

A meaningful political revolution begins with a platform and goals. Every successful community, city, state, nation, or primitive tribe has always survived and grown by producing more goods and services than it consumed. The bureaucracy required to run any government must be kept to a minimum.

Moamar Gadaffi died with $40 billion hidden somewhere. If he had shared it with his people, he might still be enjoying it today. Any successful government must recognize private property and reward the entrepreneurs, laborers, and businessmen with more than the lame and the bureaucrats. If the lame are fed more than the workers, eventually there will be no workers."

Within the last month, Louise Slaughter, a member of Congress, submitted a bill, HR 1148, which would hold members of the House and Senate to the same rules as moguls, industrialists, and the rest of us concerning "insider trading" of commodities and securities. Whistle blowers can be a blessing to our nation - so long as they are fully honest.

An old saying to remember - "Don't throw the baby out with the bath water,"

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© L. Henry Platt, Jr.