Last week, one of the Republican Party’s young stars, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., spoke at the Heritage Foundation and gave forth his vision of America and what we need to do today to restore our vitality.
Listening to Ryan, I’m reminded of the late, great Rep. Jack Kemp, for whom he once worked. He talks about America as an “opportunity” society, driven by the ideals of individual freedom, limited government, traditional values, and free enterprise.
To sum up his working hypotheses: These are the values that made America great. Our economic machine is sputtering today as a result of departure from these values. Today’s task is to restore them and get America growing again, which will benefit everyone.
Ryan contrasts this individual-centered, bottom-up, principles-driven vision, with the take on things of our current administration. They believe everything starts in Washington, and that they can design, create, and finance with taxpayers’ money, a prosperous, just America.
But our president has had three years to work his liberal experiment, with economic recovery barely discernible today, and recent Gallup polling showing only 13 percent of Americans satisfied with how things are going.
So now, as Ryan points out, without a platform of success to run on, President Barack Obama has opted for a strategy of class warfare.
A favorite theme being used to stoke this class warfare strategy is the alleged growing income gaps in the nation. According to this refrain, the rich are getting richer while incomes at the lower end of the spectrum stagnate.
Immediately following Ryan’s speech at Heritage, an attack piece appeared in New York magazine by Jonathan Chait, entitled “The Ideological Fantasies of Inequality Deniers.”
Obama has no less affection for freedom and economic success than does Ryan, according to Chait. He just wants to keep the scales in balance by raising taxes on those who have been successful rather than cutting poverty and welfare programs.
In Chait’s words, ” … it was a lot easier for poor people to move up (60) years ago, when tax rates on the rich happened to be far higher, than it is today.”
Economist/blogger Mark Perry recently published data in which he crunched numbers from the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, to show demographic differences between low-income and high-income households.
Breaking down average household incomes from the lowest fifth to the highest fifth, Perry shows with clarity that as household income increases, the incidence of marriage, more education, and more working individuals per household increases.
Almost 80 percent of households with the highest average income include a married couple compared to 17 percent of households with the lowest average income. Sixty percent of highest average income households have earners with at least a bachelor’s degree, compared to 12 percent of the lowest.
Those on the left who scream about income gaps choose to focus on the success of those at the top rather than the failures of those at the bottom.
They conveniently ignore that liberals are the ones who have pushed the moral relativism and welfare-state dependence that has destroyed black families over the last 60 years. And it is these same liberals who fight to keep low-income kids in failing public schools and fight efforts to get school choice.
Perhaps Chait is right that 60 years ago it was easier to move out of poverty. But 60 years ago the probability was much higher that a poor individual lived in a household with married parents, a work ethic, and traditional values.
Americans must recapture what made this the world’s greatest, most prosperous nation.
Ryan is a man every American should be listening to. We need to get back to identifying and emulating success, not empathizing with and subsidizing failure.
Star Parker is president of the Coalition on Urban Renewal & Education and author of the new book White Ghetto: How Middle Class America Reflects Inner City Decay. Prior to her involvement in social activism, Star Parker was a single welfare mother in Los Angeles, California. After receiving Christ, Star returned to college, received a BS degree in marketing and launched an urban Christian magazine.