Today’s top conservative leaders are absolutely right about poverty. But they’re not allowed to talk about the issue the way it needs to be talked about. Why? Because liberals — like the ones in the media — have a vested interest in stopping populist Republicans. Liberals hate the working poor for the example they set for the ideal non-working poor. After all, liberals have a vested interest in keeping poor people poor.
As Rand Paul gains steam as a leading 2016 presidential hopeful, poverty is becoming one of his most clearly-defined issues. Paul wants to create what he calls “economic freedom zones” in inner cities so that small companies can enjoy major tax incentives to expand and create jobs.
“Twenty-five counties in Kentucky, most of Detroit, and many of America’s large cities suffer from chronically high unemployment. Government stimulus packages haven’t worked because they insist on picking winners and losers,” Paul wrote in a document on the matter. “Economic Freedom zones — areas of reduced taxes — are different than a government stimulus. Economic Freedom Zones encourage businesses and individuals which the market has already selected. Only one out of ten small businesses succeed. Consumers vote every day on which businesses succeed. Reducing taxes in economically depressed areas is a stimulus that will work because the money is returned to businesses and individuals who have already proven that they can succeed.”
It’s a damn good idea. It makes perfect sense to anybody who’s ever lived in an inner city and seen how much good can be done when a couple of new businesses open and hire locals, when wages are introduced into neighborhoods where they largely didn’t exist before. This idea is very similar to one that Newt Gingrich told me about in a recent interview, one that he proposed to the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, whereby “we could turn all of Detroit into a tax-free zone for a decade. That would have attracted so much entrepreneurial energy.” Gingrich as congressman worked closely with Jack Kemp, an icon of populist Republicanism, who spent his career trying to solve the issue of poverty.
Paul’s idea also sounds like one that Ronald Reagan proposed in a 1980 presidential debate, when he stood across from third-party challenger John Anderson (Jimmy Carter skipped the debate in protest).
“But there are other things that we can do with the inner cities…I have talked of having zones in those cities that are run down, where there’s a high percentage of people on welfare, and offer tax incentives,” Reagan said. “The government isn’t getting a tax now from businesses there because they aren’t there, or from individuals who are on welfare rather than working. And why don’t we offer incentives for business and industry to start up in those zones. Give them a tax moratorium for a period if they build and develop there. The individuals that would then get jobs, give them a break that encourages them to leave the social welfare programs and go to work.” At 29:00:
Democrats in Congress never let Reagan actualize this plan, all the while accusing him of being callous and cutthroat with respect to the poor. Rand Paul faces similar challenges.
“Detroit and other urban cities throughout Michigan don’t need this type of help,” a Democratic state representative said upon a recent Rand Paul visit to Michigan, doubling-down on the liberal theme of government spending as the answer to a devastated economy. “We need investment in our communities that bring good paying jobs, and funding for education and training.”
Liberals responded even more harshly to remarks by Paul Ryan, a personal protege of Jack Kemp, on the crisis in our inner cities.
“We have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning to value the culture of work, so there is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with,” Ryan said on Bill Bennet’s radio program, describing a generation of poor people “slipping through the cracks.” Cue the outrage machine.
“Paul Ryan blames poverty on lack of work ethic in inner cities,” screamed an MSNBC headline, while ThinkProgress offered, “Paul Ryan Blames Poverty on Lazy ‘Inner City’ Men.” Those were not accurate quotes. They didn’t even pretend to be accurate quotes. They were liberal media lies, but they were enough to kick up a racial controversy that resulted in Ryan announcing a meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus.
Right now in America, conservatives are the ones trying to offer solutions to the poverty epidemic. Liberals in the media and the political class — most of whom have never experienced poverty except for the moral poverty that exists in their souls — are the ones trying to stop those conservative solutions from coming to fruition. What tactic do they use? The one they used on Paul Ryan. When a conservative uses the term “inner city,” liberals scream “racist” without offering any practical solution of their own.
However, “inner city” is also the term that gets used in substantive reports on high school dropout rates, which soared to more than 50 percent in seventeen major U.S. cities in 2008 and haven’t gotten much better since. “Inner city” is the term that gets used to describe the crime epidemic in Rahm Emanuel’s Chicago or in Newark, which saw an historic murder spree — including ten murders in ten days — in 2013 as its mayor Cory Booker was running for Senate by handing out tote bags in the New Jersey suburbs.