March 20, 2015 25 Comments
This is, as always from Amity Shlaes, excellent. It has often seemed to me that our politicians think the electorate is very stupid, not to mention having no memory at all.
While this seems more obvious on Democratic side of the aisle, it’s pretty bipartisan, as watch Congress continually indulge in get-rich quick schemes for Congresscritters and their sycophants, especially in the lobbying industry. Truly I have come to believe we have the best Congress money can buy. Somehow, I don’t think that is quite what Jefferson, Washington, Madison, and the rest had in mind. Who comes to my mind is a chap named Nero, a famous violinist who thought he was more than that.
But 18-year-olds are wiser than their elders realize. Jobs alone won’t suffice to keep them. Young people seek something else: prospects. The distinction feels trivial, but there’s a difference between jobs and prospects. That difference is one of time. “Prospects” means long term, and long term is how many youths think.
This became clear in a contest recently conducted by the Vermont-based Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation, where I work. The foundation asked high school students to answer a simple question regarding the Green Mountain State: Should I stay, or should I go?
That’s indeed the question we have all faced isn’t it. The perennial American question, ever since the Pilgrims landed. Is the grass greener someplace else, or is this rockpile as good a farm as there is. usually itching feet have prevailed, and we have indeed, “Go west, young man, go west.” and what we have usually found is the chance to build something to be proud of, whether it was a farm, a business, a church, or indeed a nation, which has become second to none.
Still, the kids were just breaking bad news gently. And that bad news was that they were indeed departing. One semifinalist established the imperative of migration: “In times such as these, the world needs people to step up and keep it from collapsing in upon itself. … While I do not think every Vermonter should leave the state, I think those of able mind and body should.”
The winner put her conclusion more bluntly: “I need to get out of Vermont to see different places around the world and to meet different people. I need to experience those things in life that Vermont simply cannot offer.” Another pupil wrote in rap-style slang: “Not necessarily the state for success. … So competition is weak/ People need to travel so they can raise to their own peak/Vermont’s getting older.”
Now mind you, I’m very traditional but you know, if I was growing up in Vermont, and it’s as lovely as everyone says, I’d leave as well. Why? I like to eat, and I believe in earning my own way. The view out the window is important but not as important as that.
The economist Milton Friedman, who once had a house in Vermont, labeled a phenomenon he observed as the “Permanent Income Hypothesis.” People, Friedman posited, were not rabbits. They would spend not according to what cash they had on hand but according to their estimate of what money they’d have in their lifetime. The PIH holds for decisions beyond saving. You choose a home not just because it pleases you this year but because it might prove a good investment over a lifetime.
The essays of the perspicacious Vermont teens suggest that states around the nation may want to alter their pitches. Jobs matter, but less than education. Regulation matters. Tax rates matter, even top rates—again, because of prospects. The ambitious consider what rate they’ll pay tomorrow, not the rate that applies to them as they start out.
Well, of course they do, we all do. And that is why what Washington does increasingly is so pernicious. When you kill people’s dreams, which is what our welfare system has done systematically in our cities for fifty years now, we train whole generations to believe they are worthless, that the best they can hope for is to be paid for existing, so sit down and shut up.
But it’s even more than that, isn’t it. I’m a highly skilled tradesman, living in one of the better states for business, and yet, as I’ve written before, because the state itself has a habit of ignoring its laws, to take care of its guild members, I’m unlikely to work again. When a guy like me becomes convinced that my best chance to retire is to win Powerball, you are doing something wrong.
This is more an aside than anything else but, am I the only one who thinks the national Democrats increasingly look old and tired, yesterday’s news. I mean jeez, guys, I’m in my early sixties myself, and when you look old and shopworn to me, what must you look like to the 30 year olds that you built your party on. It’s the people, to an extent, we’ve been talking about the Clinton’s for what seems like forever, is it really only twenty years? Then again, do you have anything else that you bought in 1990?
Nor does it help that they are still pushing the same programs that have failed everywhere they’ve been tried, usually catastrophically and they haven’t changed a jot or tittle since Wilson was president. I is a further handicap to at least some of us that not a single one of the member of the nomenklatura has ever held a real job even (mostly, anyhow) ever served in the military.
Time to consign them to the dustheap of history and move on.