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.
What of the “inner city,” where people of all races, creeds, and colors, including myself, happen to live? The people there are hurting. Our brothers and sisters need relief. But the relief they need doesn’t happen to be the product that Democrats are selling.
When Newt Gingrich called President Obama the “food stamp president” in a 2012 debate, he earned media scorn. Commentators accused him of brandishing the weapon of bigotry. But Newt didn’t care. Because he correctly identified the Wonder Potion that our president and his compatriots in the liberal Traveling Medicine Show are selling to our poor people. The product that increasingly has no competition because if you dare to doubt its ability to cure all ills then you might be a racist.
Democrats insist that welfare is meant to place a comforting safety net below people’s feet. But as food stamp enrollments soar, as Medicaid gets expanded in most states despite Supreme Court barriers, as the welfare state gains the size and the power to swallow up entire generations, we’re not finding it to be a net. We’re finding it to be a ceiling placed over people’s heads, low enough that they can breathe but they can’t stand up. And poor people — particularly the poor young — will continue voting for that ceiling to stay there, because the media has scared them from knocking it down and seeing what’s out there for them in Romney-Ryan’s Koch-funded One-Percent Bathtub Party called the free market.
Liberals don’t distrust a private enterprise solution to the poverty problem. They just hate the competition it would pose to their product. Liberals know that once you introduce the working class to impoverished areas, or once you introduce poor people to the working class, it’s hard to ever reverse that progress.
As for the working classes, the people who climbed out of poverty thanks to the free market, the blue-collar Reagan Democrats that have had their jobs outsourced and their plants closed and their Democratic Party taken over by a vicious horde of Silicon Valley sycophants screaming about global flooding? Liberals downright hate them. Because in taking on a daily shift and earning a wage, the working class is setting a very dangerous example for the poor.
When liberals rail against the supposed bigotry of off-color jokes — the kinds told at construction sites and blue-collar bars — all they’re saying is “We don’t like the way you talk.” Since it’s ignorant and shamefully bigoted, therefore working-class voices don’t get allowed into the conversation. When liberals attack the supposed bigotry of the Christian values that helped hold our country together for generations, all they’re saying is “We don’t like the way you pray.” And bigots can’t pray anywhere near where the important decisions are being made.
They hate the working class because we work for a living to make a little bit more than what they’re handing out down at the welfare office. And if we have a spring in our step on the way to our morning shift, maybe poor people would want to try it too. In liberal America, poor people don’t get to.
But Rand Paul and Paul Ryan are daring to roll out a new medicine — one based on the recipes of Reagan, Kemp and Gingrich. And if they can be brave enough in the face of liberal attacks to put on their own medicine show, they just might finally cure some people.