A few blocks away are the remnants of the Occupy Wall Street commune, whose protesters blame Wall Street for greed and unfairness.
President Barack Obama seized on their rhetoric Wednesday in a speech in Kansas that some pundits hail as his comeback moment. Embracing progressive and populist tones, Obama emphasized the lack of fairness in our economic infrastructure.
Hamilton likely would have laughed at the thought of “fairness” or lack of opportunities. Born in the West Indies, the illegitimate son of a ne’er-do-well, his circumstances were hardly “fair” when he came to this country.
He succeeded despite not being part of the moneyed set and, “through his own hard work … made himself into the greatest secretary of the treasury,” according to Surmacz.
“It is his ideas on money and the economy that have served as the foundation not only for this nation but many others.”
Hamilton started as a West Indies shipping-office clerk and used that experience to establish America’s coast guard and customs service. He learned the importance of a uniform currency in stimulating trade, and the necessity of credit.
He understood how government credit is like individual credit, and why it is important for government to build trust in the world through its timely repayment of loans.
And while Hamilton believed in a limited sphere for the federal government, he believed that within its sphere the government should be powerful and effective – and efficient.
He never saw government, within its limited sphere, as a distributor of fairness. Instead, he figured, you should make it on your own without the government holding your hand.
Not that doing so would be easy.
After all, it hadn’t been easy for him – but that never stopped him.