Ben Franklin on John Boehner

Concerning “compromise.”

John Boehner’s ceaseless complaints that the President and the Democrats are acting irresponsibly by refusing to offer him concessions to stop doing what he never should have started to do – damage the national interest by shutting down the government and threaten the national credit and honor by risking default – reminds me of a story Benjamin Franklin told about the behavior of the Townsend Government with respect to the Stamp Tax. Having failed to collect the tax, the ministry offered a compromise: they would repeal the tax if the colonists would pay for the cost of printing the now-useless stamps.

The whole Proceeding would put one in Mind of the Frenchman that used to accost English and other Strangers on the Pont-Neuf, with many Compliments, and a red hot Iron in his Hand; “Pray Monsieur Anglois,” says he, “Do me the Favour to let me have the Honour of thrusting this hot Iron into your Backside?”

“Zoons, what does the Fellow mean! Begone with your Iron or I’ll break your Head!”

“Nay Monsieur,” replies he, “if you do not chuse it, I do not insist upon it. But at least, you will in Justice have the Goodness to pay me something for the heating of my Iron.”

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

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