Jewish World Review Dec. 5, 2011 / 9 Kislev, 5772
Why Wal-Mart serves us better than Barney Frank
By Jay Ambrose
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | In a ruff, gruff, mean way, Barney Frank castigates opponents while fighting for the poor and the middle class, who ought to be more careful who their friends are. He's an important reason we had a fiscal crisis that left millions in mortgage misery and unemployed. Here's what has really helped them: the Bush tax cuts and Wal-Mart.
These two matters among many positives are worth mentioning if you want to respond to the Occupy Wall Street yelpers, their Democratic cheerleaders and liberal commentators. You hear them repeatedly saying it's corporations doing us in, along with politicians who lower taxes on the rich.
If it weren't for the Bush tax cuts, however, Barney's interventionist folly would be even more devastating. Of course, by the congressman's telling, he's an innocent. A book called "Reckless Endangerment" shows something else. His insistence on the poor getting mortgages they cannot afford should have been accompanied by one of those legally compelled warnings on TV commercials that a wonderful drug may kill you.
At the age of 71, this know-it-all, morally superior House representative from Massachusetts has finally given the nation a hallelujah moment. He has announced he will not run for reelection in 2012. Sadly, the side effects of his legislative care are staying around, as in a decline in middle class household income. Happily as The New Republic's Gregg Easterbrook wrote a year ago, that decline is in pre-tax income.
When you take a look at after-tax income boosted by Bush's 2003 tax cuts, and add in low prices in some categories and rises in government benefits, the middle class is better off than at its earning peak, he reported.
Contrary to myth, the Bush tax cuts did not decrease the share paid by the rich. They did reduce what the rich paid, but they immediately boosted the share of income tax the rich fork over, and in the months after the 2003 cuts, Heritage Foundation research shows GDP bounced upwards, the S and P 500 did, too, and jobs increased by the tens of thousands. Revenues were higher in 2006 than before the reduction.
But wait, dastardly capitalism is unfair, and the corporations are sticking it to us, we are repeatedly told. The truth is something else. Free markets, broad trade, specialization and the technology that develops from all of this have given us a world in which people make three times the cash they did a half century ago, according to Matt Ridley, author of "The Rational Optimist."
While no one should shrug at the suffering of many of the poor in this country, they are rich by world and historical standards, most of them owning cars, TVs, computers, air conditioners, eating well and living in more space than the average person who is not poor in Britain, Sweden and France, Heritage also reports. The recession has been a blow, but the economist Stephen Rose noted before it hit that the only reason the middle class is shrinking is because individuals in it have been getting richer.
Crony capitalism deserves bashing, corporations can get too big for their own good or ours and, yes, Wall Street recklessness abetted the fiscal crisis. But the millions of corporations in this country and the entrepreneurs who have created them are our economic salvation. The worst business culprits in the fiscal crisis were semi-governmental Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which would be finished if Barney Frank had been astute in co-authoring regulations many think do more harm than good.
All of which brings us to Wal-Mart, a beast in the woods, the left tells us, even though it puts more Americans to work than any other company, compensating them as well as they could expect elsewhere with their skills and saves customers a reported $263 billion a year.
Barney Frank hurts us while Wal-Mart does good.
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Jay Ambrose, formerly Washington director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard newspapers and the editor of dailies in El Paso, Texas, and Denver, is a columnist living in Colorado.
© 2011, SCRIPPS HOWARD NEWS SERVICE