Friday, October 24, 2008


Teddy Roosevelt is the only president I know of who sometimes goes by only 2 initials: TR. Our other initial presidents use all three: LBJ, JFK, FDR. But TR doesn't need three initials. He's that badass. He probably only needs two initials because another Roosevelt (I think they were second cousins or something) came along. Otherwise we'd just know him as R. (crude humor, be forewarned) recently listed him as our most badass president:

Checking Teddy Roosevelt's resume is like reading a How-To guide on ass-kicking manliness. He was a cattle rancher, a deputy sheriff, an explorer, a police commissioner, the assistant Secretary of the Navy, the governor of New York, and a war hero. Out of all of his jobs, hobbies and passions, Roosevelt always had a special spot in his heart for unadulterated violence. In 1898, Roosevelt formed the first U.S. Volunteer Cavalry Regiment, known as the Rough Riders. Most people already know of the Rough Riders and their historic charge up San Juan Hill, but few know that, since their horses had to be left behind, the Riders made this charge entirely on foot. ... Greatest Display of Badassedry: While campaigning for a third term, Roosevelt was shot by a madman and, instead of treating the wound, delivered his campaign speech with the bleeding, undressed bullet hole in his chest.

And yet, despite his extreme toughness, the lovable Teddy bear is named after him.

Teddy Roosevelt was the youngest person to become president, and the first American to win the Nobel Prize (for negotiating peace between the Russians and the Japanese). He's the only dude with glasses on Mount Rushmore. He was also, being a man of his time, racist, and a bit of a war-monger (Manifest Destiny and all that). He was a Republican who took on corporations and conserved more land for parks and wildlife preserves than all his predecessors combined. He put Abraham Lincoln on the penny (I stole all this trivia from Wikipedia). He had a pretty sweet mustache.

He was also a firm believer in the progressive income tax. Timothy Noah recently wrote this article about this fact: believing that 'the richer you are, the more tax you should pay' does not make one socialist/communist/un-American. He quotes the dead prez himself:

We grudge no man a fortune in civil life if it is honorably obtained and well used. It is not even enough that it should have been gained without doing damage to the community. We should permit it to be gained only so long as the gaining represents benefit to the community. … The really big fortune, the swollen fortune, by the mere fact of its size, acquires qualities which differentiate it in kind as well as in degree from what is possessed by men of relatively small means. Therefore, I believe in a graduated income tax on big fortunes, and … a graduated inheritance tax on big fortunes, properly safeguarded against evasion, and increasing rapidly in amount with the size of the estate.

Noah points out some statistics that should make us think hard about the state of the world and the dangers of pure capitalism:

Today, the income gap between the top 0.01 percent of families in the United States and the bottom 90 percent is greater than it was in T.R.'s day. The last time it was anywhere near so great was in 1929. The top marginal income-tax rate, meanwhile, is near its historic low in the late 1920s. Those of you seeking a cause to the current financial meltdown may draw your own conclusions.

Everybody grumbles about paying taxes, myself included. But when given the choice, I don't think any of us would rather live in a world without public roads, police, firefighters, education, and agencies like the Food and Drug Administration (something else for which we can thank TR). So let's render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, render to God what is God's (something far more important than tax policy) and let's not mind rendering more than than those who have less than us.

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