American Elephants

Are Democrats Desperate or Just Denying the Indefensible? by The Elephant's Child

Harry Reid (D-NV) made a floor speech in the Senate yesterday. The Majority Leader claimed that “only a tiny fraction of layoffs have anything at all to do with tighter regulation.”  In fact, he said, “last year, only three tenths of 1 percent of people who lost their jobs were let go principally because of government regulation or intervention.”

Well, I’ll agree that probably not many pink slips included the phrase “tighter regulation.” According to the Heritage Foundry blog, similar numbers have been used by The New York Times and Mother Jones. It’s an interesting process.  Democrats all say the same thing at the same time by osmosis or email or telepathy. You must have noticed. It’s a strange phenomenon — they all say the same thing at the same time in exactly the same words.

Actually, their numbers come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which, being a large bureaucracy, collects statistics from large employers about large layoffs of 50 or more people all at once. The employers may just notice that costs are up, business is down, and they have to cut back.

Republicans are more apt to read op-eds in the Wall Street Journal from big employers and small saying that increasing regulation is causing them big problems, and letters on all sorts of websites complaining of their problems, and watch videos from employers that complain about regulation — but the Bureau of Labor Statistics hasn’t heard. In the present climate, I wonder how many businessmen are willing to complain about government regulation to the regulators?

Gallup, just last month, found that small-business owners in the United States say that complying with government regulations (22%) is the most important problem facing them today, followed by consumer confidence in the economy (15%) and lack of consumer demand (12%), credit availability (10%) and poor leadership/Government/President (9%).

Democrats focus on jobs “lost” and wonder how they can “create jobs.”  They can’t. Jobs are created by a growing economy.  As economist Dan Mitchell said, “The private sector should grow faster than the government.” If they don’t understand that, we need to pay a little closer attention to the tyranny and individual liberty idea.

Despotism, Tyranny and the Urge for Individual Liberty by The Elephant's Child

Paul A, Rahe is Professor of History and Political Science at Hillsdale College. There’s a little bit of the tyrant in all of us, he says. Republicans talk a lot about individual liberty, but when they are elected to Congress, they do get the urge to tell other people what to do.

Democrats rarely speak of individual liberty — they mention freedom now and then, but are much more inclined towards paternalism. Once you get the ‘right’ schools on your resume and the ‘right’ job, you feel more entitled to control everyone else.

American exceptionalism is rooted in the concept of individual liberty. Our Constitution begins “We the people” and grants only limited powers to the government. What the government gets to do and say, what they can control is limited by the people of the United States who are in charge.  Our Constitution is alone among the constitutions of the world in this important way. Other constitutions tell the people what they should do.

Paternalism — all those things that bureaucrats do for our own good — means giving up bits of our individual liberty. Some bits of our liberty we give up willingly and pay taxes for —police and fire protection, national defense, and some bits are done so poorly that we are beginning to question having surrendered, like education. The millions of home-schoolers have taken that bit back.

Unlike other countries, we spread gradually across a vast continent, establishing local government as we went, and not much of it. Nearly 400 years of individual liberty have made this nation not just different, but exceptional. How extremely odd that we should have a president who does not grasp that simple fact, and whose entire administration is intent on instituting more and more control.

Professor Rahe’s latest book is Soft Despotism: Democracy’s Drift

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