Skousen CAFE: Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Fall of America

“The United States was lucky to have George Washington as a founding father, because he had that same civic virtue, and of course he had read about and admired Cincinnatus.”
— Arnold Schwarzenegger

Last week, I drove my car from Florida to New York, and on the way, I listened to the audiobook, “Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story,” by Arnold Schwarzenegger. He reads only the first chapter; the rest is read by Stephen Lang. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, especially how a poor Austrian had such drive to achieve remarkable success as the world’s #1 bodybuilder, top box office draw and governor of California. I enjoy books that introduce me to a whole world I was not familiar with, such as bodybuilding. I also loved his chapters on building a successful mail order business, real estate investing and why America is truly the land of opportunity. He tells how he was enamored with Milton Friedman and his book “Free to Choose.” All good stuff I can relate to….

Schwarzenegger comes from Austria, the birthplace of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Austrian school of economics of Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek. In his entire book, he fails to mention Mises, Hayek or Schumpeter — all famous Austrians — and I doubt if he understands the importance of Austrian economics, judging from his attempt to run California.

Schwarzenegger was a big success in private enterprise, but when he tried his hand at politics, it all came apart. He does his best to put a good spin on what any objective observer would consider a failed and flawed governorship. I don’t think he fixed a single problem in California, and, in many ways, he made things worse, leaving office with Californians facing higher taxes, more regulations and deeper debt.

Schwarzenegger on General Cincinnatus and “Are We Rome?”

After leaving office, he wrote his memoirs and was interviewed by the New York Times Book Review. He was asked what historical figure he would like to play in a film, and the following was his response:

“One of my favorite characters in history is Cincinnatus, and I’ve read everything I can find about him. I would love to play him in a film about ancient Rome. He was given the keys to the kingdom — pure, absolute power! — and he did the job and then went back to his farm. He didn’t get drunk on the power. He did the job he was asked to do, dealt with the invasion and walked away. That is the purest form of public service I can imagine, and it would be fun to try to capture that character on film.”

Since our theme this year at FreedomFest (Caesars Palace, July 10-13) is “Are We Rome?,” I thought of inviting Schwarzenegger to speak on Cincinnatus at this year’s FreedomFest, but he was way too expensive. And frankly, he’d probably be booed by our audience as more of a Nero who fiddled than a Cincinnatus who defended freedom.

Instead, we are having supply-side economist Art Laffer speak on “California as a Failed State and How to Fix It” — Laffer was an advisor to Gov. Schwarzenegger but left the state to move to tax-free Tennessee.

We also are having commodity guru Jim Rogers speak at FreedomFest, and in his new book, “Street Smarts,” Rogers highlights Cincinnatus as the kind of leader we need to bring America back to leader of the world. He identifies six changes we need to make in the United States.

I highly recommend you read Jim Rogers’ new book, which you can buy on Amazon by clicking here. I’m excited about the fact that he will be coming all the way from Singapore to speak at FreedomFest for the first time and attending all three days. He’ll be doing a luncheon, a session on “Which Investment Class is the Best — Stocks, Bonds, Commodities, Collectibles, or Real Estate?” and the closing panel on “Are We Rome?” If you haven’t met Jim Rogers in person, you are in for a treat. Sign up here at, or call 1-866/266-5101.

You Blew It! Is Mayor Bloomberg a Soup Nazi?

I only have disdain for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He raised taxes and has increased regulations. What else is new?

He’s a bully who wants to micro-manage people’s lives by mandate, not persuasion. Yes, we have an obesity and poor health problem in America. But do we treat the symptoms or the root causes? Americans consume too much sugar, smoke too much, or are too fat. His solution is to pass a law and “solve” the problem.

We currently have $17 trillion in debt, more than 100% of our gross domestic product (GDP), approaching World War II levels.

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, has a better solution: teach citizens about healthy diets and exercise through Wellness Centers. Persuasion not force! “The triumph of persuasion over force is a sign of a civilized society.” (

I was glad to see a judge block Bloomberg’s “supersize” soda ban.

Earlier this week on Monday, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed a bill that prevents municipalities from governing what or how much people can eat and drink. In a state where one in three adults is obese, the so-called “anti-Bloomberg bill” received bipartisan support. “It is simply not the role of government to micro-regulate citizens’ dietary decisions,” Bryant said in a statement, according to the Associated Press. “The responsibility for one’s personal health depends on individual choices about a proper diet and appropriate exercise.”

Education by public and private individuals is the best solution to our problems — not passing more laws.

To read my e-letter from last week, please click here. I also invite you to comment about my column in the space provided below.

Gloria libertas, AEIOU,

Mark Skousen
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