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Section A: General News


Editorial: Voting for a leader based on symbolism spells disaster




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Thomas Sowell
June 4, 2014 | 2,054 views | Post a comment

Those people who want Hillary Clinton elected president, so that we could have our first woman president, seem to have learned absolutely nothing from the current disaster of choosing a president on the basis of demographics and symbolism.

Will the Veterans Administration scandal wake up those people who have been blithely saying that what we need is a “single payer” system for medical care? Delays in getting to see a doctor have been a common denominator in government-run medical systems in England, Canada, and Australia, among other places.

Class warfare rhetoric would have us resenting “the top ten percent” in income. But that would be a farce, because most of us would be resenting ourselves, since more than half of all Americans -- 54 percent -- are in the top ten percent at some stage of their lives.

Some people act as if the answer to every problem is to put more money and power in the hands of politicians.

Freedom means nothing if it does not mean the freedom to do what other people don’t like. Everyone was free to be a Communist under the Stalin dictatorship, and everyone is free to be a Muslim in Saudi Arabia. Yet whole generations are coming out of our colleges where only those who are politically correct are free to speak their minds. What kind of America will they create?

In Thomas Piketty’s highly-praised new book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century he asserts that the top tax rate under President Herbert Hoover was 25 percent. But Internal Revenue Service records show that it was 63 percent in 1932. If Piketty can’t even get his facts straight, why should his grandiose plans for confiscatory global taxation be taken seriously?

Sometimes I think that this is an era when sanity has become controversial.

Republicans in Congress seem to be drawn toward the immigration issue like a moth toward a flame. How turning illegal immigrants into Democratic voters, while demoralizing the Republican base, will help either the country or the Republicans is a mystery. If ever there was a high-risk, low-yield investment, this is it.

President Theodore Roosevelt said that his foreign policy was to “speak softly and carry a big stick.” President Barack Obama’s foreign policy is to speak loudly and carry a little stick. They say talk is cheap, but loose talk by a president of the United States can be very expensive in both blood and treasure.

One of the scariest aspects of our times is how seldom either people or policies are judged by their track record.

Why in the world are the Baltic states in NATO? The Russian army could overrun them before NATO could get a meeting together to decide what to do.

If the Democrats retain control of the Senate after this year’s election, Barack Obama can load the federal courts from top to bottom with judges who will ignore the Constitution, as he does, and promote his far-left political agenda instead, long after he is gone.

I get nervous every time I see Mitt Romney showing up in the media. He seems to be maintaining his visibility, in hopes of another run for the White House in 2016. He might well get a second chance to fail. Romney is the Republican establishment’s idea of the perfect candidate for president -- no matter how many times such candidates lose, even under promising conditions.

Anti-Semitism may have the dubious distinction of being the oldest of the group hatreds. You might think that the world would have gotten over anti-Semitism by now, but Jews have been singled out for separate treatment by the Russian insurgents in Ukraine.

“We cannot insure to the vicious the fruits of a virtuous life; we would not invade the home of the provident in order to supply the wants of the spendthrift; we do not propose to transfer the rewards of industry to the lap of indolence.” Democratic presidential nominee William Jennings Bryan said that in 1896. Today’s Democrats do all those things that Bryan rejected.

Any fool can say the word “racism.” In fact, quite a few fools do say it. But clever people can also say “racism,” in order to get fools to vote their way.

The old saying that taxes are the price we pay for civilization has long since become obsolete. The amount that the government spends to defend us from foreign attack, or to maintain law and order at home, has been overtaken by the money it spends just to transfer some people’s money to other people who are more likely to vote for the reelection of incumbents.

Government policies to “bring down the cost of medical care” almost never bring down those costs, and often increase the costs. These policies simply refuse to pay the full costs of medical care. Any one of us can do that, but we know there will be consequences. There will also be consequences when the government refuses to pay the costs, but these consequences will be concealed and/or denied.

The old saying that “politics is the art of the possible” is dead wrong. Politics is the art of making the impossible seem possible, and even plausible and desirable. That is how Obamacare got passed.

To let the world’s leading terrorism-exporting nation get nuclear weapons can prove to be the most irresponsible and catastrophic decision in the history of the human race. It was also an irresponsible and catastrophic decision of the American voters to elect as president someone who would let that happen, basing their votes on rhetoric and racial symbolism.

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. His website is http://www.tsowell.com.

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