Several conclusions that I came to a few years ago are that far left always claims the moral high ground for their programs and policies, they always claim to be helping some victimized or powerless group, and nine times out of ten, they are actually putting the screws to the group for their own benefit. The only winners are the far left and a few cronies who play their game.
The penultimate example of this is that of the racial grievance industry and the black community - a community beset by horrendous problems of broken families, violent crime, poverty, and substandard education. The far left does not do a single thing towards addressing these problems. Worse, it is a cause when it comes to education. The far left perpetuates the substandard education of blacks by brazenly placing the interests of moneyed unions over those of inner city blacks. And yet, the far left claims to be the sole guardian of blacks in our nation. Blacks are but one example of this dynamic. Virtually everything the left touches runs on the same dynamic. What led me to revisit these conclusions was an article in the WSJ by Arthur Brooks on how Obama claims to champion the middle class while pursuing policy after policy that accretes power to the government while screwing the middle class and the ever increasing number of poor in this country:
. . . Census Bureau data show that in 2006-11, real annual income for the top 20% (quintile) of Americans fell by about 5% but rose almost 2% in 2010-11—and shows signs of continuing an upswing. For the bottom quintile, income fell by over 11%, and there was no upswing.
In 2011, workers in households earning between $40,000 and $60,000 had a 7.8% unemployment rate. In households earning under $20,000, unemployment was 24.4%. The unemployment for households earning more than $150,000 was 3.2%
In other words, high-income households were at or above full employment. Meanwhile, the lowest-income households looked at an employment landscape resembling the worst years of the Great Depression.
"Growing inequality isn't just morally wrong," Mr. Obama said on July 24 in Illinois. "It's bad economics." That is abundantly true, but not in the way he intended. He meant income inequality. But the real problem—and crisis—is declining opportunity. The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston has shown that in 1980, 21% of Americans in the bottom income quintile rose to the middle quintile or higher by 1990. Those who started off in the bottom quintile in 1995 had only a 15% chance of becoming middle class in 2005. That is a one-third decline in mobility in under a generation.
The key to increasing opportunity is simple: real jobs for adults and good education for children. The president's speeches disappointed on both counts.
In Tennessee on Tuesday, Mr. Obama said: "A job is a source of pride and dignity—the way you support your family, the proof that you're doing the right thing." Exactly—which is why it is so distressing that work has been collapsing in the past five years, with the poor hardest hit.
In 2008, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that total nonfarm seasonally adjusted employment was 138 million workers. Today, it is fewer than 136 million. Meanwhile, the number of Americans has grown by 12.8 million. In many areas of the country, more than one in five adults who want full-time employment can't find it.
Where are the policies that will actually help Americans at the bottom regain the dignity of real, value-creating jobs? I don't mean the high-skill workers who would benefit from high-tech innovation, biofuels, electric vehicles and other favored industries of the administration, but rather the people left behind.
Again and again, the president offers a higher minimum wage as a solution. Yet as the overwhelming majority of economists have argued for decades, the minimum wage actually harms the poorest and most marginalized workers—those with the most tenuous grip on their jobs. In January, a study from the National Bureau of Economic Research surveyed the most recent studies and concluded: "The evidence still shows that minimum wages pose a tradeoff of higher wages for some against job losses for others."
The story for strivers and entrepreneurs is no better. Scott Shane of Case Western Reserve University has shown that business formation fell by 17.3% between 2007 and 2009. Launching a business is never a walk in the park, especially given the explosion of red tape at all levels of government. While it is still possible for the educated and comfortable, government bureaucracy can crush entrepreneurship entirely for those at the bottom of the income scale. As a pro-poor rule of thumb, I suggest this: If you want to start a landscaping business, all you should need is a lawn mower, not an accountant and a lawyer to help you hack through all the red tape before setting up shop. Imagine if President Obama fought for such business-friendly simplification.
Perhaps the president's proposals on education are better for the poor. Sadly, no. Mr. Obama, on his speaking tour, talked about subsidizing college loans—a policy that largely does relatively little for those at the bottom. . . .
What I find both inexplicable and depressing is the seeming complete inability of conservatives to articulate these realities in an effective manner to the vast majority in our nation who are not of the far left.