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Dem and Demmer: A Lesson in Liberal Economics
Commentary by Greg Lewis / NewMediaJournal.US
If we had any questions about Democrats' easing up on their anti-Bush, anti-war, anti-capitalism legislative agenda, they were answered when Nancy Pelosi went to the mat for her hard-left homeboy, John Murtha (D-PA).
In a play that left many Washington
veterans, including Robert Novak, scratching their heads, Pelosi threw
in with Murtha against Steny Hoyer (D-MD), the popular (and relatively
moderate) favorite for second-in-command in the House.
As Novak correctly analyzed it before the House vote, Pelosi had put herself in a lose-lose situation. If her candidate, Murtha, had won, her promise to preside over an open and ethically high-minded legislative session would have gone in the dumper, given that Murtha's ethical scrapes were so public and so egregious, albeit the worst he suffered was being named an unindicted co-conspirator in the Abscam scandal a quarter century ago. (Indeed, so unavoidable was the airing of Murtha's dirty laundry that even the Mainstream Media couldn't avoid addressing it.)
Murtha is the Emperor of the Earmark, having become a virtual broker of congressional pork. He's the guy you go to when you need several million dollars worth of earmarked (that is, clandestine and unnaccounted-for federally-funded) projects for your district, because he (Murtha) will trade your political marker against that of another Congressperson who owes him for similar budgetary beneficence.
It's quite amazing that liberals, while turning a blind eye toward Murtha's covert pork-trading, seem driven to denigrate the legitimate, transparent, and self-governing market that has developed among those involved to trade their "environmental credits" with each other and thus achieve compliance with Federally mandated carbon emissions levels.
To explain: American corporations and other entities trade their "carbon credits" (and debits) with one another to avoid having to make expensive and often unnecessary changes to their manufacturing processes in order to meet Federal emissions standards.
Among those who benefit from this market in pollution credits are farmers. By using planting methods that do not require tilling the soil (which releases "excessive" carbon into the atmosphere), farmers can accrue "carbon credits." They can then trade these credits for cash on what amounts to an "environmental exchange" that has grown up in response to the legislation.
Farmers benefit, corporations (who purchase the carbon credits and thus defray their companies' carbon deficits) benefit, and the whole situation is managed in the most efficient way, not to mention the way least harmful to the west's wonderful capitalist market system.
Dems deplore the practice of trading such chits where "the environment" is concerned, but they're more than willing to tacitly approve of a similar practice by looking the other way when it involves a fellow liberal Democrat divvying up taxpayer dollars and "redistributing" them in what is certainly one of the most covert congressional processes practiced today. It's hardly a surprise that Murtha called Pelosi's proposed ethical reforms, which might have addressed earmarks, "crap."
Indeed, Democrats (read "new age socialists") are all for a Marxian "redistribution of wealth" as long as they're the ones doing the redistributing. If they, and by extension an increasingly powerful central government which they seek to control, can determine whose wealth gets redistributed and who it gets redistributed to, they're going to be very happy, thank you.
It's the free market they deplore, possibly because they've managed to remain collectively ignorant of how the capitalist market system works. Since there seems not to be a single Congressional Democrat who has progressed beyond "Socialist Economics 101," I guess it's understandable that they continue to promote economic policies that have almost a century-old history of failure, and on a global scale.
The next managed economy that succeeds will be the first, and - make no mistake about it - a managed economy is what Dems are working toward.
When liberals demand restricting emissions in manufacturing processes to certain levels, and the market responds by presenting them with a market-driven process that satisfies the letter of the law, they gnash their teeth and cry, "Foul!"
That's because it's not, in this case, the environment that really matters to leftists. What matters to them is power, because with power comes the ability to advance their anti-capitalist, pro-government agenda.
This can best be done by, as in the case of the propagation of pork, accruing power and exercising it. As long as it's one of their own who's the arbiter of the redistribution of taxpayer money, they're happy.
But what we're really witnessing here is not simply an internal Democrat Party squabble over a specific position. What we're privy to is nothing less than a potentially seismic struggle for political relevance.
The question that needs to be asked is, "What can we take away from this early struggle for political relevance within the Democrat Party?"
The first thing that occurs to me is that, despite the fact that Democrats gained their recent electoral victory by accepting the fact that the road to political power in America in the 21st century involves acknowledging "centrists," Dems are nonetheless willing to ignore the centrist message their victory has seemed to be sending and to interpret it as a victory for leftists.
How else can we comprehend Pelosi's politically ill-advised support of John Murtha?
The House-Speaker-elect has, in several interviews, asserted that Dems are in favor of bi-partisanship, that they support the idea that the party that controls both the House and the Senate is amenable to negotiation with the Executive. Pelosi has seemed to intimate that the Democrat Party is willing to temper its heretofore rabid anti-Bush, anti-Republican, anti-conservative, anti-capitalist positions.
That, of course, is laughable. The fact remains that nothing Pelosi has done since the election would indicate that Dems are in a conciliatory frame of mind.
We have only to take a look at the House Committee Chairmen who are poised to assume power in the wake of the Democrat electoral victory to understand that Democrats are interpreting their electoral wins as a leftist ideological mandate.
From Charles Rangel to John Conyers to Alcee Hastings (for God's sake! Alcee Hastings!?), the ranking House Democrats are, across the board, old-time hard-line leftists, not to mention, at least in Hastings' case, ethically challenged.
Conyers has, for instance, promised to bring impeachment charges against President Bush, and nothing he has said since the recent Democrat electoral triumph would indicate that he has changed his position.
Never mind that Charley Rangel, savvy, hard-line, race-baiting leftist that he is, nonetheless managed to commit a gaffe worthy of a political novice when he declared, "Mississippi gets more than their fair share back in federal money, but who the hell wants to live in Mississippi?"
And never mind that Rangel did a startling about-face regarding his position on the military draft when he recently spoke out in favor of reestablishing just such a process.
If nothing else, Rangel's recent ill-advised utterances, though they arguably reveal Democrats' true attitudes toward their professed constituency, serve to demonstrate that what you get with Dems is not necessarily what they've promised, but rather what they think you should get based on their implementation of a leftist agenda that will dictate what you deserve.
Notwithstanding Democrats' indirect attacks on the economic front, the American economy today represents by almost all accounts the most robust and successful economy in the history of the world.
For instance, our economy is employing a greater percentage of its citizens, and at higher wages, than ever before in its history. And the U.S. economy has, over the past six years (excluding the 9/11 anomaly) grown steadily, month-by-month, quarter-by-quarter, at an annual rate of between 3% and 4%, an historically exceptional performance.
Democrats' whining that "average" wages have not kept pace with the economy's general growth rate is no more than their failing to understand that, as more and more people take jobs, those people tend to enter into the job market at the low end of the pay scale. Thus, they tend to dampen the "average" wage rate. The fact is that the relative "stagnation" of the average wage rate actually is an indicator that more and more Americans are finding work, a positive economic indicator.
The truth is that the very fact that so many "new" people are finding employment, and that their employment on a broad scale has had the effect of causing the average wage rate to remain relatively stagnant, is an indicator of the strength of our economy, and not the opposite. In a powerful growth economy such as ours, "average" wages are at best a lagging indicator.
When large numbers of people are entering the job market at relatively low wage rates (it's at these lower rates that job growth typically occurs), this represents a positive economic indicator, even if the large number of new low-paying job-holders tends to suppress the average wage rate.
Which is to say that the so-called "stagnation" of the "average wage rate" that Democrats typically cite as an indication that that the economy is in trouble is in fact precisely the opposite.
Our economy has an extraordinarily high employment rate, which is reflected in our very low unemployment rate. Our 4.4% unemployment rate should be compared with the unemployment rates of such putative managed economies as those of France (greater than 9%) and Germany (greater than 10%), both of which show stagnating, even negative, growth.
There is no reputable economic index that can be cited to support a position that America's economy is not flourishing.
Indeed, according to even such a politically and ethically compromised body as the United Nations in the report accompanying its recently released "Human Development Data," in 2004 more than 63 countries had an economic index score greater than 0.800. (The data supporting this report typically lags by two years.) This compares to only 20 countries which achieved such an economic index score in 1975.
The report finds that extreme poverty on a national scale is extremely rare outside the continent of Africa. The kicker is that the report ascribes the broad increases in living standard as measured by economic performance to - are you ready for this? - the spread of capitalist democracy.
According to the report, where capitalist democracies are established, economic success and significant improvements in standard of living follow.
One hopes that newly-elected U.S. Democrat legislators are at least as informed as the UN folks who put together the referenced report. One further hopes that the strongly Democrat 41-member-strong contingent of new Federal legislators will have the good sense to recognize that the aging socialist leadership Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer are promoting is not in their own best interests, let alone those of the American citizens they've been elected to represent.
It's really quite simple: Where capitalist democracies flourish, people's standards of living, along with the degree of their personal and economic and political freedom, all rise. Across the board. No-brainer. 100% positive correlation.
Where managed economies of any stripe persist, these universally cherished aims of life on earth are initially and immediately constrained, then suppressed, then extinguished.
In this context, it will be instructive,
to watch as Democrats work to implement their anti-capitalist (and therefore
anti-freedom) agenda in the coming Congresses.
My sense is that the American people will quickly sniff out these Democrat pretenders to political power and the socialist agenda they represent, and that, further, the American people will resoundingly reject, in the 2008 elections, what they will by then have come to realize is the anti-capitalist, anti-spiritualist, anti-individual-freedom Democrat agenda.