Blue State Blues: We Don't Need Another Plan
by Joel B. Pollak 10 Jan 2014, 5:04 PM PDT
It would be easy enough, at this stage, to add to the voluminous commentary on Gov. Chris Christie's bridge scandal. But there is not much new to say, other than to observe that petty political retaliation is what blue-state conservatives like yours truly have come to expect from government, whether Republican or Democratic. The Democrats are just better at covering up their tracks, and they enjoy a protective media bubble in any case.
When I ran for Congress in Chicago, I was told countless times that people living within the city limits were afraid that their trash would no longer be collected on time if they donated to, or even voted for, a Republican. There was some basis for the belief, as each of the city's aldermen controlled garbage collection within his own gerrymandered ward. (Rahm Emauel's efforts to reform that system are the only thing he's done that I support.)
Chris Christie held forth for nearly two hours on Thursday. It won't be enough, because some of us have long been convinced that he was a bully regardless, and also because the Democrats will never let him forget the scandal. About the only way he can make amends is to ask his friend in the White House to free up some federal funds (by fiat, of course) to build a second bridge alongside the George Washington, and name it after #44.
That brings me to what I actually wish to discuss, which is the economy. The December jobs report was dismal, but the economy is probably going to get better--perhaps even much better--in 2014. That is not because of anything that President Barack is doing, but rather because the utter failure of Obamacare will prevent him from doing anything more. Investors are breathing a sigh of relief. The era of big government is ending again.
Still, in 2016, and probably in 2014, we will be accosted by Democrats touting their new plans for the economy, and complaining loudly that Republicans have no plans. Shout until your throat is raw about the dozens of bills passed by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives that would grow the economy and help create jobs if they were only brought to a vote in Harry Reid's totalitarian Senate. It won't matter. Where's your plan?
Here's the brutal truth. We don't need more plans. We need principles. That's what a conservative opposition party should stand for, especially one that ostensibly commits itself to free markets and the primacy and dignity of the individual. You wouldn't trust your government to conduct a "traffic study" on a bridge in rush hour, so why would you trust it--Republican or Democrat--to plan anything for your life as important as your living?The ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius said in the Analects (I'm paraphrasing) that the greatest leader was the one who sat facing in the right direction. In other words: have the right principles and the right priorities, and the people will take care of multiplying and enriching themselves because it is in their nature to do so. He was no conservative, old Confucius, nor any kind of liberal, but his descendants are starting to get it right.
The last thing we need is another big ego, another celebrity, another world-historical figure with a brand new plan. The last time I was unemployed, I read all 1500 pages of War and Peace, and if there's one thing I learned from Tolstoy, it's that there really are no world-historical figures: there's only you, and me. Man plans, and God laughs. So let's find leaders who get the basics right and let us try our best. Planning for the best never works.