Cal  Thomas

Recessions happen. The stock market rises and falls. The question ought not be about how the market is doing today, but about its net gain over the years. Investing is about long-term economic commitment, not short-term gratification.

During the slugfest that was the Democratic debate in South Carolina Monday night, Sen. Hillary Clinton proposed a "quick fix" that would damage the economy at least as badly as Richard Nixon's wage and price controls, or efforts by the government to reverse the Great Depression, which arguably was caused in large part by government intervention in and manipulation of a free market economy.

Sen. Clinton said as president she would "have a moratorium on home foreclosures for 90 days to try to help families work it out so that they don't lose their homes." She would also "have an interest rate freeze for five years, because these adjustable-rate mortgages, if they keep going up, the problem will just get compounded. And we need more transparency in the market."

Then, in a version of George McGovern's guaranteed minimum income proposal that helped sink his 1972 presidential candidacy, Clinton said, "I think we need to give people about $650, if they qualify - which will be millions of people - to help pay their energy bills this winter." Why not instead accept payments offered by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez? Former Rep. Joe Kennedy regularly testifies in TV commercials to Chavez's concern for America's poor. Chavez is offering discounted heating oil, courtesy of Citgo, which is owned by the Venezuelan government.

In an interview with The New York Times, Sen. Clinton said as president she would inject government more into the economy and rely less on market forces. She specifically mentioned income inequality and economic excesses, such as executive-pay packages, which she termed "offensive" and "wrong."

What is offensive and wrong is her notion that government is better than free markets at producing wealth and spurring economic growth, when just the opposite is true. The best way to reign-in "excessive" executive pay is for stockholders to do it, not the federal government. And Sen. Clinton's proposed $650 gift to those who "qualify" is no better than the Bush administration's proposed cash handout to everyone. That money will most likely be spent on products made in China, further enriching a nation that is pursuing policies not in America's interests.

Cal Thomas

Get Cal Thomas' new book, What Works, at Amazon.

Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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