I recently met a Janis Joplin-like young woman at an oversold Republican dinner in San Francisco. She had lost track of the time and hadn't dried her hair; she held court about school, her friends, conformity, and the economy; she loved Ron Paul. So, I got to thinking:
I'm in the group which believes that the Arab Spring is mostly about jobs. At least in Cairo, if you are not connected to the military-dominated establishment, there is no meaningful work. Education is widespread, but many with solid college degrees seek menial jobs. Youth unemployment is 25 %. The anger is not about Israel or religious impurity, it is about the inability of the law-abiding masses to find meaningful employment even if they do everything right.
American unemployment is nominally 9.1%. For those who would like to work it is really about 16%. For kids it is 18 %. For African American kids it is 31 %. Salvation in Cairo is a government job. We are shedding government jobs at the local, state, and federal levels. So, which party's philosophy is most likely to grow the economy to create meaningful jobs over the next ten to twenty years? The one dominated by the environmentalists and the unions or the one dominated by small business?
Somebody eventually has to pay the bill. A baby born today inherits $46,000 of debt. At the end of a second Obama administration it would be at least another $20,000.Sure we have made promises to seniors and everybody should have some minimal health care, but what about young parents? What happens when the interest on the debt consumes everything? And which party really wants to get this under control?
And what is the relationship between the individual and the government described by Thomas Paine's "Common Sense" and enshrined in our Constitution? Which party would tell us that we must buy their insurance, build our factories in states run by their supporters, and endure thousands of pages of new regulations on health care, investments, the environment, and everything else. It is a complex world, but the philosophical difference between the parties about individual liberty is stark.
For those who like data, even some liberal pollsters are showing a switch, with Obama's 2008 advantage of 30% being cut in half, and young white voters actually favoring a generic Republican.
My young Janis Joplin is all about fairness and opportunity. We need to better spread the benefits of prosperity before we look like Cairo. Tax policy matters. Wall Street governance matters. Education policy matters a lot. But before we spread prosperity, we need to create it. And it can't all go to the government employees. That is the difference between the parties which is obvious even to today's refugee from Haight-Ashbury. Vietnam brought a generational political shift; President Obama may be bringing another.
If you enjoy seeing an intellectual conservative destroy a pompous political liberal, you'll enjoy this video of Milton Friedman's discussion with Phil Donahue.
bill bowen - 9/9/11