Ben Franklin: America’s Founding Father…of Satire

Benjamin Franklin2(graphic credit)

Intro by Jeff Rutherford

My favorite piece of satirical commentary was written and published before I was born.  Long before.  In fact, it was written more than 25 years before the United States of America was born.  Please enjoy this syrupy piece by Benjamin Franklin, published in the Pennsylvania Gazette on November 15, 1750. The Pennsylvania Gazette Part1Part2 (graphic credit)


About Necessary and Proper

Jeff believes in the Individual's ability to excel when liberty and freedom of choice are protected. Also believes in the Community's ability to take care of the vast majority of its own issues and needs when the federal government leaves the Community's resources and sphere of control alone. State and local choice produce better results than centralized federal control.
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8 Responses to Ben Franklin: America’s Founding Father…of Satire

  1. Grumpa Joe says:

    I wonder how many readers will see some of themselves in this piece, I did. The man is right on.


  2. This was hilarious! Some humor doesn’t lose it’s punch, even after 264 years. Shared to Facebook and Twitter.


  3. Lynn Patra says:

    Jeff, yes, this is such a gem! #2 is especially true of me.

    Have you ever watched psychologist Jonathan Haidt’s presentation on personality and political affiliation at Cato? Here’s a YouTube video of it ( ), and at 10 min 50 seconds in , he makes a couple of observations that just crack me up because they’re so true of me… “I find contradicting others stimulating!” and “When something is prohibited, I think ‘That’s exactly what I’m going to do!'”

    People who don’t fear being unpopular are rare indeed!


  4. Lynn,

    My favorite part of Franklin’s essay is the last paragraph. I have eagerly paraphrased the satirical logic it many times when the opportunity naturally arises. Here’s how I say it: “You will have a MUCH more positive impact on the world if you’re an a-hole than if you’re polite. Why? Because if you build a reputation for being polite, you will only have a positive impact on the handful of people you’re with at any given moment. But if you build a reputation for being an a-hole, you will have a HUGE positive impact on the thousands and thousands of people you’re NOT with. A polite person blesses only the room he’s in; an a-hole blesses ALL the rooms he’s not in. So be an a-hole every chance you get.

    I hadn’t watched the Haidt video before. It was interesting. Your favorite section on “reactance” seemed to imply that libertarians tend to be instinctive contrarians — and just “because.” Hmmm. In several blogging debates I’ve experienced with dogmatic libertarians, I have noticed that even in cases where we agree 95%, the libertarian tends to still want to fixate on that last 5% in order to set himself apart from me. I tend to want to capitalize on that 95% agreement in order to form a coalition with a libertarian, to join forces against the unconstrained big-government liberals and progressives. It frustrates me that one of the strongest political principles of dogmatic libertarians is that they MUST NOT ally with anyone. To do so would be seen as being a traitor to the philosophical cause by other pure libertarians. Obviously this means that the Libertarian Party will never govern in America because their tent is too narrow and the entrance is marked “private.”

    Another segment of the Haidt video that caught my eye is from 8:07 to 9:57, where he is talking about the contrast between empathizing and systemizing. He related this to the word feminizing, and he ended with a point that the liberals (Democrats and Progressives, if I may be plain) have become more feminine since the ’70s, and this may explain the divergence of liberals and libertarians in recent decades. Do you have any comment on this? The connection between empathizing and feminizing is straightforward to me, but in your perspective what does he mean by saying liberals have become more feminine?

    – Jeff

    Liked by 1 person

    • L. P. says:

      Hey Jeff,

      Sorry I’m a year late on this. It appears you responded to my comment by writing in the comment bar instead of hitting “reply” in grey lettering. I get notified of replies but not additional comments on peoples’ blogs.

      I can’t speak to where liberals have been historically – in other words, if there’s been a time in which their views would’ve been thought *not* to be feminine by Haidt. However, I do know what he means in view of their positions on many issues today. It comes down to a position taken up by what seems to be a strong sense of empathy/sympathy for a target group (others or themselves) – as many women, but not all women – are notoriously noted for making decisions purely out of empathy than cold, logical thought (in contrast to many, though not all men), and demographics in libertarian groups seem to support this. I’ve encountered a number of people who’ve observed this sex difference (with a sense of pride that women are supposed to be more empathetic) which leads to different decision making outcomes – though I’d never known how to respond to this type of thing because I’m a cold, logic user.

      In fact, actions taken solely out of “feeling sorry” for others or “desire to help” (in order to get that rush of feel-good chemicals in one’s brain that signifies one has been helpful) can lead to events that actually cause harm. This is a great text on this phenomenon: And those who aren’t predisposed to this type of thought and decision-making process are deemed unempathetic – which goes against what being conventionally feminine seems to be about.

      In practice, this is how those like Haidt explains the support for PC culture on college campuses and elsewhere, the need for “safe spaces” and the “triggering” phenomenon – as this is meant to protect emotions from getting hurt. However, further reflection leads one to see that this shuts down freedom of intellectual inquiry (in places deemed “too sensitive” for these people) and debate. Support for socialism is also thought to come from here because they want to help the poor but,often, haven’t gone further to think about if it’s ethical and sustainable to take from some individuals (and even rich people, like poor people, can’t be lumped together and stereotyped – some may be greedy, some may have inherited their wealth and so what, while others scrimped, saved, and took great risks) to give to others on a long-term basis.

      My apologies for being so, so late to reply! I’ve also not been active on the blogosphere since I”m on a several months long hiatus until late June. Let me know if you have any further thoughts on this!


      • Hi again, LP. Though it was inadvertently belated, I enjoyed your reply. What you’ve clarified for me is that Haidt describes liberalism as “feminine” because it’s a form of motherly nurturing aimed toward the target groups that liberals want to help.

        I agree with your point that suffocating altruism is often harmful in the long run. In fact, coincidentally, I recently learned (via the Tom Woods Show) about a documentary called “Poverty, Inc.” It’s available for purchase & download from iTunes. But here’s a link to a free audio-track-only podcast of it. I listened to the whole thing and it’s very interesting, talking mostly about the non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) that have gotten rich from government foreign-aid money that was supposed to “help” Haiti after the 2010 (or 2011?) earthquake. But when you look deeper, you find it has ruined any embryonic efforts of Haiti to grow an independent economy, and it has killed any entrepreneurship in the minds and human spirit of the Haitian citizens. It’s exactly like what you were saying. They’re being “helped to death.”

        I do most of my political commentary & interaction on Facebook now (here). If you’re on FB, I’d love it if you’d befriend me, so we can trade thoughts more often.

        – Jeff

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Devo says:

    Great Job Being Creative

    Liked by 1 person

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