A Leader for Our Times, Or At Least the Cherry Blossom Festival

The National Cherry Blossom Festival opened in Washington today, and Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House and Treasury was full of tourists this morning despite the cool and damp. Welcome!

Major disruptions on the Metro, of course. From The Washington Post, “2 Trains Derail; Delays Expected.”

In Congress next week, the talk turns to the federal budget where lawmakers have reduced the projected deficit by cutting the President’s 10-year budget to five years. Major tax increases planned on business and individuals. Small businesses to get hammered.

Reasons for optimism, always. Bloomberg, “U.S. Stocks Gain on Bank Plan, Poised for Best Month Since 1991.”

President Obama heads to London this week, and AP reports, “Obama pumps up his policy, regulatory agenda.” Some are predicting anti-capitalist riots and the breakdown of public order. A thought — President Obama could seek input from new Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, who was governor of Washington in 1999 during the WTO debacle. We’d offer our own hard-earned wisdom from Seattle: There’s no appeasing anarchists, yobbos or anything thing inbetween.

At least in the world of finance, there may be lessons to be found further back in history, so we look today to Albert Gallatin and his statue on the north side of the U.S. Treasury Building. The Swiss-born Gallatin settled in Pennsylvania, served in Congress where he helped to found the House Finance Comittee, and eventually became the longest serving U.S. Treasury Secretary (May 14, 1801 to February 8, 1814). As Treasury Secretary he was the Anti-Hamilon, and he helped finance the Lewis & Clark expedition without raising taxes. His contributions to the explorations are marked by the naming of the Gallatin River in Montana.

The inscription on the statue:

ALBERT GALLATIN
SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY
GENIUS OF FRANCE
SENATOR AND REPRESENTATIVE
COMMISSIONER FOR THE TREATY OF GHENT
MINISTER TO FRANCE AND GREAT BRITIAN
STEADFAST CHAMPION OF DEMOCRACY
1761-1849  

 

And yes, that’s a magnolia tree, not cherry, in the background.

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