Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Thomas Sowell Starts Year With A Home Run

Thomas Sowell has just written an excellent article at Real Clear Politics. With all the football games to watch and hangovers to cure this may go unnoticed, and this is why I want to highlight an underscore the bullets Thomas Sowell fires in this piece.

Santa Claus may turn out to be the real front-runner in the primaries, judging by the way candidates are vying with one another to give away government goodies to the voters.

If taking our money and wasting it -- or, rather, using it to buy votes -- was all the damage that politicians did to the economy, that would be Utopia compared to all the damage they actually do.

What's more, politicians can picture themselves as the solutions to our economic problems, when in fact they are the biggest economic problem of all.

To this day, there are people who believe that the market economy failed when the stock market crashed in 1929 and that the Great Depression of the 1930s that followed required government intervention.

In reality, the stock market crashed by almost exactly the same amount on almost the same day in 1987 -- and 20 years of prosperity, low inflation and low unemployment followed.

What was the difference?

Politicians -- first President Hoover and then President Roosevelt -- decided that they had to "do something" after the stock market crash of 1929.

In 1987, President Ronald Reagan decided to do nothing -- despite bitter criticisms in the media -- and the economy recovered on its own and kept on growing.

Back in 1971, President Richard Nixon responded to widespread demands that he "do something" about rising prices by imposing wage and price controls that got him re-elected in a landslide. Moreover, the later damage to the economy was seldom blamed on those price controls.

It is not just free market economists who think the government can do more harm than good when they intervene in the economy. It was none other than Karl Marx who referred to "crackbrained meddling by the authorities" that can "aggravate an existing crisis."

Ronald Reagan and Karl Marx did not have much in common, except that they had both studied economics.

After the departure of Senator Phil Gramm and House Majority Leader Dick Armey, Congress has been an economics-free zone. There is not one economist among the 535 members of Congress.

But, in an election year, that is not a political handicap. Santa Claus has won far more elections than any economist.

Thomas Sowell fired all six rounds out of his editorial six-shooter, and not one bullet missed the mark in my opinion. We have a problem in this country of resting on the laurels of Ronald Reagan's successful course and once again slouching toward Gomorrah liberalism. It doesn't do any good to blame the media for being biased. Of course they are biased, and so what? We need to articulate a positive message for America's economic future bypassing the media filters, and speaking directly to the future. I'm not sure this can happen before the country allows for some really bad things to occur first. I hope I am proven wrong this year, but history does tell us that Santa Claus has won more elections than any economist.

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