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Jewish World ReviewOct. 11, 1999/1 Mar-Cheshvan, 5760

Larry Elder

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Hollywood to America: "We care, you don't" -- GUILT.

How else do you explain those who embrace socialism, while retaining the goodies, perks and power acquired through capitalism, the very system they now renounce?

Warren Beatty, whom some consider a possible presidential contender, calls himself "an unrepentant, unreconstructed, tax-and-spend, bleeding heart, die-hard liberal Democrat." He recently gave a speech attended by some 150 journalists from all over the world, many there anticipating a big announcement.

Beatty, apparently sorta, kinda, maybe a candidate, drew more reporters, commentators and paparazzi than any event this season, not counting the De La Hoya/Felix Trinidad fight. Beatty called Vice-President Al Gore a "centrist" (kinda like calling Jeffrey Dahmer a vegetarian), and urged resistance to the rightward tilt of the Democratic Party. Beatty also called for a national all-inclusive health care system. He also wants campaign finance reform, arguing that special-interests' grip on both parties prevents a true progressive candidate from emerging.

But Beatty's "unreconstructed, tax-and-spend" mindset already enjoys broad support by the Democratic "centrists." Democratic candidate Bill Bradley just unveiled a vague-on-the-details $65 billion health care plan, making Hillarycare look like a Band-Aid and a couple of aspirins. Bradley recently pronounced Americans entitled to "the helping hands to a productive life, whether they are the hands of family members, or the hands of that extended family of all Americans helping each other. You can call that extended family 'government' if you like, but government is, after all, just the people." "Extended family government"? You mean, the IRS is like my Aunt Nellie? The post office, like my Uncle Oscar?

And as for campaign finance reform, leftist Bradley, using the very campaign finance rules Beatty wishes to destroy, now rakes in more dough than his rival, Vice-President Al Gore.

No doubt, Beatty cares. His supporters say that over the years he donated money for socially liberal candidates and causes. Director/actor Rob Reiner, another Hollywood attendee, took time from his career to lead a fight to raise money for child development programs by placing a tax on California cigarettes. Wrong-headed, but Reiner's genuine concern surely motivates him.

Many other Hollywood-ites at the Beatty semi-coming-out party likewise support causes they deem important through their time and money. The point? Volunteerism lives, not only in Hollywood, but throughout the country. And the percentage of us who spend time and money on charity stands at an all-time high.

But these "compassionate liberals" apparently find the rest of us too untrustworthy to count on to step up to the plate and help. Their solution?

Take taxes from Americans and spend it on "worthy" causes, no matter whether the spending worsens the problems or how inefficiently the money gets spent.

People like Beatty, Reiner, and Bradley love to talk about the basic decency of the American people, yet simply do not trust us to help when needed.

Thus, they urge laws taking money out of the pockets of some Americans and giving the money to other "deserving" Americans, the "deserving" defined, of course, by them.

In a "60 Minutes" interview, Reagan biographer Edmund Morris discussed the Gipper's essentially libertarian philosophy towards helping the needy. He said Reagan "did not think it was the duty of the state to do anything about poverty. But he didn't like it. He didn't want to see it. And he felt the community should take care of it." To that, a mortified Leslie Stahl gasped, "You can't have admired him for that?"

Never mind that Reagan's low tax, low regulation "non-compassionate" philosophy raised more taxes than any previous administration, created twenty million new jobs, and presided over a decline of poverty that continues to this day.

Yet Reagan, for many, remains the quintessential symbol of cold-blooded, uncaring me-ism. Although he grew up humbly, enduring an alcoholic father, Reagan remains the poster child for social indifference, even as those who condemn him enjoy the fruits of his revolution.

(Ted Turner, for example, one of the nation's largest private landowners, according to a recent "Drudge Report," called himself "a socialist at heart," and attacked the "Internet guys (who) have gotten so rich, so fast.")

Does anyone still doubt that a 100 percent Soviet-style run economy results in failure? And Europe, with less onerous but still high government intervention, faces a 13 percent unemployment rate. Yet, somehow, some way, the Hollywood elite, as well as many members of both major parties, believe they possess the key to precisely the amount of socialism to achieve precisely the right result. What about reducing taxes and relying on volunteerism, people helping people to achieve the social safety net?

Utopian, say the very liberals who themselves volunteer, but apparently feel others are too nasty and selfish to do likewise.

As for the guilt-ridden Messrs. Turner and Beatty, who got rich through the system they demean, a small reminder. You don't have to keep the money. You really don't.

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©1999, Creators Syndicate