Thomas Sowell

Some people say that there is no real difference between Republicans and Democrats. Whether that is said because of being too lazy to examine the differences or because it makes some people feel exalted to say, in effect, "a plague on both your houses," it is a dangerous self-indulgence.

When Republicans were in power, they acted too much like Democrats, with big spending and earmarks, lending weight to the notion that there is no real difference.

Among the differences between the parties is that Democrats are more articulate.

Admittedly, the Democrats have an easier case to make. It takes no great amount of thought, nor much in the way of persuasive powers, to sell the idea of government handing out benefits hither and yon. It is only when you stop and think about the consequences, for this generation and generations to come, that some grim questions arise.

Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution

But if Republicans don't raise those awkward questions, and don't take the trouble to explain what is wrong with government playing Santa Claus, then the Democrats can soar on a cloud of euphoria. Sometimes it doesn't matter that you have a better product, if your competitors have better salesmen.

Republicans lag not only in the articulation department, they also lag in seeing the long-run importance of the federal bureaucracy. When the Democrats load the federal bureaucracy with liberals, those liberals stay on during Republican administrations and in many cases can shape the perceptions that reach the media and the public, by the way they present data, hire consultants and make grants.

The Bureau of the Census is a classic example. The tendentious way that data and pie charts are presented provides a steady stream of material for a political and media drumbeat about "disparities" that call for government intervention.

Data on income differences, for example, are presented in a way that suggests that the different income brackets represent enduring classes of people over time, when in fact other studies show that the vast majority of people in the lowest income brackets as of a given time rise out of those brackets over time. More people from the bottom fifth end up in the top fifth than remain at the bottom.


Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate