This is the second in a series of columns by Robert Wilkes, who has taken upon himself the nearly hopeless task of convincing Jews it is in their best interest to vote Republican.
I describe my wife Nancy as kinetic. She must always be on the go. I am an accommodating husband, so we take “active” vacations.
While bicycling through France from chateau to chateau, I discovered insights in economics. The largest chateau in the Loire Valley is Chambord, built by Francois I in the early 16th century. It’s a hunting “cottage” for 2,000 friends, built near his mistress (c’est la France, n’est pas?). The scale is astounding.
Later, we went to the gilded palace of Versailles. It’s a monument to Louis XIV’s profligate use of state money in an egocentric enterprise, and it ruined the French economy. As many in France wanted me to know, this is why they had the revolution.
Some define “economic injustice” as the gap in wealth between rich and poor. I think that term is rubbish when applied to America. Go to Versailles. Read Zola, Hugo and Flaubert. Now, that was a gap!
Economics is difficult to discuss with liberal friends. I believe they avoid substantive discussions because practical economics is incompatible with liberal orthodoxy. Instead of rational arguments and empirical evidence, I get worn-out tropes, myths and misinformation. It’s a shame. The subject deserves better.
As Jews, we have a responsibility to the less fortunate. We are instructed to leave the corners of the fields to gleaners. The Jewish tradition is clear; charity and righteousness are the same word in Hebrew, tzedakah.
With that in mind, any measure of economic policy must begin by determining how it helps working people. In a downturn, the rich may buy fewer Louis Vuitton handbags. The poor are out of work. If you agree with me that results matter, the choice is clear. You should vote Republican, because Democratic policies have failed working people in America.
President Obama, as with all modern presidents, promised his top priority would be creating jobs. But how does government create lasting, private-sector jobs? Eighteen months into this administration, the answer is clear. Government does not create jobs. After $825 billion in “stimulus,” our unemployment rate has held steady at nearly 10 percent. Experts say the real rate is much higher.
None of this should be a surprise. Similar government programs failed to create jobs in the 1930s, and they’re failing today. Unemployment was appalling all during the Depression. FDR never solved unemployment; the war did. Sixteen million people were inducted into the armed forces. Our economy did not recover until the 1950s.
So what are the Obama people thinking? My view is that we are governed by academic elites, none of whom ever met a payroll or ran a business. The top officials in this administration are products of elite universities where FDR is considered a saint and the New Deal remains a model of enlightened economic thought. Not because it worked — it didn’t. They believe in it because it’s a path to greater political power. New Deal economics allows them to practice the activist, big-government policies by which properly educated elites pull all the levers for the “benefit” of the little people.
So we regurgitated 1930s economic policy and the result is exactly the same: Persistent unemployment. Business is so spooked by a feckless, unpredictable government that it does not spend or invest — or hire. Obama’s team promotes even more Keynesian stimulus spending long after the rest of the world has realized it doesn’t work. Imagine — European leaders lecturing us about government getting too big and spending too much!
The best strategy for creating jobs in America is so evident, it’s risible that we still argue about it. Let America do what it does better than any country in the world: Create wealth. Grow the economy. Free the creative energy of the private sector. Get government out of the way. Cut taxes. Stop deficit spending and stabilize the currency.
New jobs will come by the millions as they always have when conservative policies hold sway. Coolidge racked up a whopping 3 percent average unemployment during his presidency. Even Kennedy got it right.
It’s easy to show that the economy grows faster with lower tax rates. An empirical observation called Hauser’s Law shows that the U.S. government collects a consistent 19.5 percent of GDP in taxes regardless of tax rates. This is true whether marginal income tax rates are 28 percent or 90 percent.
How can that be? Hauser’s law proves that raising taxes lowers growth, and lowering taxes grows the economy. A growing economy is the surest way to help the poor and create jobs, and that’s a beautiful, Jewish thing. If you want economic justice, don’t give someone a handout. Grow the economy and give them a job. Not just a job; give them dignity and self respect. How Jewish can you get?