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Telling the Story of America's Economic Success

by Christopher Chantrill
March 01, 2006 at 11:21 am

TODAY, TWENTY years after it became obvious that Ronald Reagan’s economic policy of hard money and low tax rates had succeeded and had dispelled the economic malaise of the 1970s, Democrats still turn their faces away from reality. They still talk about the Eighties as a lost decade of deficits and greed.

That is why conservatives and Republicans must hammer away at the truth, that 1980 represents a watershed for America. The Wall Street Journal edit page folks understand this, and so they put up a column every so often to ram home the point. This month they have Pete du Pont telling the story.

In the 1980 election the American people chose a new course. For the first time in half a century we retreated from the expanding-government philosophy established by Franklin D. Roosevelt and pretty much adhered to by every subsequent president through Jimmy Carter. Ronald Reagan's emphasis on individual opportunity--as opposed to the liberals' on government-created opportunity--was to have a substantial and positive impact on the prosperity of the American people.

Ever since, Democrats have resisted—to the last welfare recipient—the notion that Reaganomics is the basis of our current prosperity. Bill Clinton ran for president on the notion that 1992 was the worst economy in the last 50 years. Not exactly.

As Robert Samuelson recently noted in The Wall Street Journal, in the 13 years before 1981 there were four recessions lasting a total of 48 months. In the next 23 years--nearly twice as long--there were just two recessions, lasting 16 months.

Yes, Democrats. The 1990-91 recession was a mild one, caused partly by the Saving and Loan debacle (a New Deal era subsidy program going belly up), and deepened by the Democrat-inspired 1990 tax increase. (There’s political talent. A tax increase in a recession!)

Until the Democrats finally give up, conservatives and Republicans must keep hammering the lesson home. The economy can’t be sacrificed to interest group politics, subsidies, privileges, pensions, entitlements, and targeted tax cuts. It needs sound money, low tax rates, and solid property rights.

Chances are that we are still a couple of presidential elections away from the moment when Democrats “give up.”

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Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.  His Road to the Middle Class is forthcoming.


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What Liberals Think About Conservatives

[W]hen I asked a liberal longtime editor I know with a mainstream [publishing] house for a candid, shorthand version of the assumptions she and her colleagues make about conservatives, she didn't hesitate. “Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice fascists,” she offered, smiling but meaning it.
Harry Stein, I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican


US Life in 1842

Families helped each other putting up homes and barns. Together, they built churches, schools, and common civic buildings. They collaborated to build roads and bridges. They took pride in being free persons, independent, and self-reliant; but the texture of their lives was cooperative and fraternal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


Taking Responsibility

[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier. — Gen. Hans von Seeckt
MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050


Society and State

For [the left] there is only the state and the individual, nothing in between. No family to rely on, no friend to depend on, no community to call on. No neighbourhood to grow in, no faith to share in, no charities to work in. No-one but the Minister, nowhere but Whitehall, no such thing as society - just them, and their laws, and their rules, and their arrogance.
David Cameron, Conference Speech 2008


Socialism equals Animism

Imagining that all order is the result of design, socialists conclude that order must be improvable by better design of some superior mind.
F.A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit


Sacrifice

[Every] sacrifice is an act of impurity that pays for a prior act of greater impurity... without its participants having to suffer the full consequences incurred by its predecessor. The punishment is commuted in a process that strangely combines and finesses the deep contradiction between justice and mercy.
Frederick Turner, Beauty: The Value of Values


Responsible Self

[The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.


Religion, Property, and Family

But the only religions that have survived are those which support property and the family. Thus the outlook for communism, which is both anti-property and anti-family, (and also anti-religion), is not promising.
F.A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit


Racial Discrimination

[T]he way “to achieve a system of determining admission to the public schools on a nonracial basis,” Brown II, 349 U. S., at 300–301, is to stop assigning students on a racial basis. The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.
Roberts, C.J., Parents Involved in Community Schools vs. Seattle School District


Postmodernism

A writer who says that there are no truths, or that all truth is ’merely relative’, is asking you not to believe him. So don’t.
Roger Scruton, Modern Philosophy


Physics, Religion, and Psychology

Paul Dirac: “When I was talking with Lemaître about [the expanding universe] and feeling stimulated by the grandeur of the picture that he has given us, I told him that I thought cosmology was the branch of science that lies closest to religion. However [Georges] Lemaître [Catholic priest, physicist, and inventor of the Big Bang Theory] did not agree with me. After thinking it over he suggested psychology as lying closest to religion.”
John Farrell, “The Creation Myth”


Pentecostalism

Within Pentecostalism the injurious hierarchies of the wider world are abrogated and replaced by a single hierarchy of faith, grace, and the empowerments of the spirit... where groups gather on rafts to take them through the turbulence of the great journey from extensive rural networks to the mega-city and the nuclear family...
David Martin, On Secularization


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©2007 Christopher Chantrill