The publication of an old (bur still timely) political cartoon triggered memory of the name Rexford Guy Tugwell. This is a name that a few might remember from courses in American History. It is a rather quaint name.
Rexford Guy Tugwell is the sort of name that breeds suspicion in the same vein as Stringfellow Barr. Barr founded the Great Books program and can be forgiven for his lapses into political lunacy. But where do parents get such names? Is it an elitist version of A Boy Named Sue? Is it possible that Ayn Rand satirized this phenomenon with Ellsworth Toohey? The character was fictional but represented the elitist twerp with a plan for controlling lesser mortals.
Tugwell epitomized the ‘academic twit’ who offered little of value but who could rest on his credentials. L. Frank Baum satirized this concept in The Wizard of Oz.
As with so many of his ilk, Tugwell went to Stalinist Russia and got the socialist version of the Potemkin Tour. The Gulag was not on the agenda and he came too early to observe the Purge Trials. Tugwell praised the Stalinist approach to agriculture and seemed to have no second thoughts after the largely forgotten holocaust in Ukraine.
Tugwell had some strange ideas and a contempt for our Constitution. This was evident in his enthusiasm for a replacement document that would provide less of a barrier to a collective society. His book, The Emerging Constitution, would allow a President for life. Hugo Chavez might see this as a great idea and so might his friend in Honduras. Would Obama and friends dare to harbor such a thought? Has he sought any advice on this topic from Mugabe?
One of Tugwell’s experiments was the ‘model city’ of Greenbelt in Maryland. It was a planned community. I lived there for a year or so (it was convenient for those of us working at NASA) and even joined the “Co-op”. It included a supermarket, gas station, and a furniture store. The furniture store was not in the city and near the Montgomery County line. The prices and selection were excellent and it featured Scandinavian products. Someday I expected to get a modest dividend as the result of my purchases. Then someone decided that the store needed a union. There was a picket line that I was pleased to cross. The union won and their rules were imposed. The next time I shopped at Scan, the prices had escalated drastically. I bought nothing and never went there again. Many others did the same and the store quickly folded. I never got my dividend but did get some good products.