As usual we see Democrats and Republicans both casting themselves as defenders of the ordinary man. Debates will be conducted over health care, minimum wage increases and tax breaks. And the hypocrisy will flow like wine.
The simple reality is that both sides like to cast themselves as working to make life better for the average American, some may even believe it. In practice what occurs is a tug of war between two extremes.
Government programs can certainly help people but government agencies and bureaucracies represent their own motive force. Programs that sound good in theory quickly create a massive spiraling bureaucracy full of fraud and abuse. The people they are meant to help quickly become divided into beneficiaries of the aid who wind up perpetually on the dole and those who increasingly have to pay for the programs themselves. And if they can't afford it, the programs are open to them too as soon as their income drops enough.
(It's why Democrats bitterly oppose tax cuts but support minimum wage hikes. The tax cuts some off their end. The minimum wage hikes aren't a problem because they get a percentage off the top.)
The more the war on poverty is fought, the worse it gets because the money that might have gone into allowing people to have a better life, is being sucked up into taxes to fund those programs, both at the income level and at the business level. And the degradation of basic humanity and loss of rights that grows as a free society gives way to a regulatory bureaucracy insures a populace unwilling and unable to raise itself up anymore.
Socialism creates serf states, sometimes with populations taxed worse than serfs were, where people are earning a little but making very little. Two income families become the norm. Women marry later and have less children. The birthrate drops, which worsens the problem of finding a tax base for the growing bureaucracy, which pushes taxes higher.
Immigrant populations are brought in to replace the worker shortages which further strain and expand the government bureaucracies. The government programs have by now come to resemble a Ponzi scheme and the whole thing teeters on an imminent collapse. Take a look at just about any country in Europe if you want to see a living example of once great nations facing extinction by becoming devoured by their own bureaucracies.
And then there's the Republican side of the coin. There's usually a lot of talk about small business and the American worker. But the real policy is to let big business do anything it likes. That means outsourcing of workers. It means legalizing massive amounts of illegal aliens. It means supporting terrorists who come here on H1-B visas to fill the tech industry's appetite for skilled workers with low pay expectations. It means shipping American industry and jobs to Mexico and China.
At home it means letting big corporations monopolize and crush small businesses and workers out of existence and subsidizing those companies with tens of billions of dollars, even as they continue their disastrous business practices while their CEO's walk away with 170 million dollar golden parachutes. The complete hopelessness of subsidizing failing businesses never seems to make any impact on them.
This is of course hardly limited to Republicans, most Democratic politicians are just as bad. But it's a philosophical defect of Republicans to believe that deregulating business is a universal good, when it was Theodore Roosevelt, the second greatest Republican President, who fought corruption and reined in monopolies and abuse business practices that the Democrats had winked at. The corruption fallout in the previous Republican Congress came about because the party chose the legacy of Ulysses S. Grant over that of Theodore Roosevelt.
Uncontrolled deregulation simply leaves the workers, consumers and small businessmen naked against a never ending list of abuses. Nor is what's good for GM, good for America. What's good for GM is outsourcing labor and government subsidies. None of that is good for America. It pumps America and Americans dry while the multinational corporations move on to greener pastures in Mexico or China.
Without controlling taxes and spending, both Democrats and Republicans continue the same destructive course. The Bush Administration has plenty of economic successes to claim but it's competing against the moribund socialist states of Europe, who actually thought the falling value of the Dollar was a national triumph for them, instead of a national disaster.
The real struggle should be the struggle of Abraham Lincoln, the greatest Republican President, who fought for Free Power over Slave Power. Slave Power does not merely mean the enslavement of a particular race. It means an economy based on slave labor. Slave labor can come in the form of slaves of an overwhelming bureaucracy or slaves to an uncontrolled corporate system.
Free Power encourages the rise of the individual over conglomerates, corporations and bureaucracies. Democrats and Republicans both talk that talk, but few are really willing to put the regulations where their mouths are. The best hope for America's survival is to return to the values of Free Power, of small business and commerce, of significantly lowered taxation and deregulation, without deregulating so far as to give big businesses a free hand to abuse their power.
Free Power means recognizing that the strength and economic survival of America is and has always been in the individual. We cannot compete against the slave power of China or Mexico, states with low incomes and not particularly democratic governments. America will stand or fall on the individual.