FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
The 2016 GOP platform: equality and the rule of law
I agree with Erick’s point this morning that Senator Marco Rubio does not deserve tar and feathers for something one of his aides said. The quote in question went as follows: “There are American workers who, for lack of a better term, can’t cut it… There shouldn’t be a presumption that every American worker is a star performer. There are people who just can’t get it, can’t do it, don’t want to do it. And so you can’t obviously discuss that publicly.”
Actually, if this comment had not emerged during a discussion of immigration policy, it would be hard to argue with. It’s indisputably true that not every American worker is a star performer. There most certainly are people who just can’t get it, can’t do it, and don’t want to do it. When these unlovely but accurate statements are followed with, “And that’s why we should import foreign workers, and give amnesty to those who came here illegally!” the context undergoes a tectonic shift, and all Hell breaks loose.
Among other problems with proposing immigration as the “solution” for the just-can’t-get-it segment of the populace is that they’ll never get it. The system will never improve with a safety valve like cheap foreign labor to release all the pent-up economic pressure. This is true for employees, employers, and the government. And let’s not be coy: quite a few members of the illegal alien population “just can’t get it” and “don’t want to do it,” either.
A healthy system offers ample opportunities to the people who aren’t star performers. It offers them incentives to seize those opportunities. The people who “don’t want to do it” are not indulged to the detriment of the productive sector. They are treated differently from the much smaller group that can’t “do it,” and most of that group should need only temporary assistance. There is a combination of influences that will make nearly every able-bodied person show up for work in the morning, while making employers happy to see them. America has been headed in the opposite direction for a long time, as quickly as the Left can drive us.
What hope do the less-than-stellar have, in today’s No-Can-Do America? Recently millionaire Arianna Huffington held a conference in her $8 million apartment to discuss “Redefining Success Beyond Money and Power.” The host declared, “The way we define success isn’t working. More, bigger, better… we can’t do that anymore.”
Says who? One of the biggest problems Americans are saddled with is our exhausted political class, which enjoys writing funeral dirges to a supposedly bygone America that can never exist again, from the comfort of their million-dollar professionally-secured homes. Wow, the people who beat the Axis and rebuilt the world were really something, weren’t they? How did they do it? It’s inconceivable that such people could ever shake the Earth with their tread again.
Well, it’s inconceivable when you drop a multi-trillion-dollar welfare state and incompetent command economy on our backs, creating a society in which the star performers are expected to finance the ideological hang-ups of the ruling class, while the non-star-performers take the rest of history off, and quietly await their monthly allowance from government caretakers. The political class doesn’t believe in the equality of opportunity or the rule of law any more. Their ideology has dictated outcomes for each group of Americans. They presume to sit in judgment upon our ambitions, telling us this person is “entitled” to more, while that person should be content with his unreasonably good fortune. Their withered imaginations have drawn boundaries of possibility, which we are forbidden to cross.
Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke ranted against the evils of unfair meritocracy in his Princeton University graduation speech: “A meritocracy is a system in which the people who are the luckiest in their health and genetic endowment; luckiest in terms of family support, encouragement and, probably, income; luckiest in their educational and career opportunities; and luckiest in so many other ways difficult to enumerate — these are the folks who reap the largest rewards.” He said the only for a meritocracy to “pass ethical muster” and be considered “fair” would be for “those who are the luckiest in all of those respects also have the greatest responsibility to work hard, to contribute to the betterment of the world and to share their luck with others.”
From each according to his means, to each according to his needs. Where’s the incentive for star performers to work on big ambitions… or for those who aren’t star performers to step up and give their best effort? Also, I would note that a great deal of what Bernanke described as “luck” only looks that way to the arrogant ruling-class mindset, which successfully trampled the social mechanisms designed to promote virtues such as family support and career opportunities. In decaying liberal America, you are as lucky as a lottery winner if you manage to snag one of those scarce jobs, or grow up in an intact family.
Instead of trying to win some tiny slice of the Hispanic vote by offering amnesty to those who broke our immigration laws – and often several others, such as the laws against using false documents or stealing identities – why don’t Republicans stand tall in 2016 as champions of true equality and the rule of law? That’s a potent combination. They only exist in combination. Meanwhile, Bernanke’s notion of a benevolent opportunity-dispensing, fairness-enforcing State is notably incompatible with the rule of law. By his own description, it’s going to spend a lot of its time punishing those unduly “lucky” people, who are not criminals.
Reverence for equality and the law would tear down most of what the ruling class has built over the past thirty or forty years. It would mean that everyone respect the law, including Washington high rollers who pretend that inconvenient laws are merely guidelines and suggestions. It would mean having a restrained body of law that all of us can understand and respect. It would mean burning away the strangling weeds of politicized command economics, breaking the power of those who define our “needs” while passing moral judgment upon our aspirations.
A group called the Founders Fund estimates the past fifty years of rapidly growing regulations have cost the American private sector a good $40 trillion in lost growth. How much of the welfare state would be unnecessary, if we had that robust growth instead? How much immigration would our job market be able to absorb, without displacing American workers? How many golden opportunities would be available for those who aren’t star performers? Instead, we’ve been convinced to settle for less, by a ruling class that lives in fear of a “meritocracy” it would never be able to control.