Thomas Sowell

The Obama administration has turned this into a handout state that breaks all previous records. Lofty rhetoric about "stimulus," "shovel-ready projects," "green jobs" or "investment" in "the industries of the future" all give political cover to what is plain old handouts to people who are likely to vote to re-elect Obama.

At the local level as well, history shows that some of the most successful politicians have been people who ruined the local economy and chased job-creating businesses away. Mayor Coleman Young of Detroit in the 1970s and 1980s was not worried when affluent whites began moving out of the city in response to his policies, because they were people who were likely to vote against him if they stayed.

Of course they took their taxes, their investment money and the jobs they created with them. But that was Detroit's problem, not Coleman Young's problem. Barack Obama may win re-election by turning the United States into Detroit writ large.

Something similar happened in earlier times, when James Michael Curley served 4 terms as mayor of Boston, and 2 terms in prison. As the non-Irish left the city, in response to Curley's policies, that increased Curley's likelihood of being re-elected.

This kind of cynical politics is even more likely to succeed when political opponents fail to articulate their case to the public. And Republicans are notorious for neglecting articulation.

The phrase "tax cuts for the rich" has been repeated endlessly by Democrats without one Republican that I know of saying, "Folks, I don't lie awake at night worrying about millionaires' tax problems. Millionaires have lawyers and accountants who get paid to do that. But I do worry about jobs being lost to millions of American workers because we make the business climate here worse than in other countries. That's a high price to pay for rhetoric."

The case can be made. But somebody has to make the case.

Thomas Sowell

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

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