While the disaster we've come to know as the reality show that is the Republican run for the 2012 nomination unfolds, it's clear that they're running out of frontrunners of the week. This week it's "get off my lawn and out of my neighborhood" candidate Ron Paul.
In other words, it's not going well for the Republi-CONS.
Rumors have been swirling around the possibility of a last minute savior for the party, and names like Chris Cristie, Paul Ryan and Jeb Bush have been mentioned. (I know.)
It appears Jeb may just be thinking that Americans have forgotten that the name "Bush" is synonymous with a four letter word, or he knows this, but his ego has morphed and left no room in his cranium for common sense, if it ever resided there at all. He's written an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that appears to be a declaration to the big money in politics that says "I'm your man" should they be interested.
Let's dissect his prose, shall we?
Congressman Paul Ryan recently coined a smart phrase to describe the core concept of economic freedom: "The right to rise."
Think about it. We talk about the right to free speech, the right to bear arms, the right to assembly. The right to rise doesn't seem like something we should have to protect.
Now here, if you didn't know who wrote this, published it, and it didn't include the name Paul Ryan, you might be thinking "ah, an op-ed that feels the pain of the 99 percent and the Occupy Wall Street movement!" The "right to rise" could be viewed as the freedom to occupy a public park to protest income inequality without the worry of pepper spray and finding yourself on the wrong end of a police baton. If you thought this, sadly you would be wrong.
But we do. We have to make it easier for people to do the things that allow them to rise. We have to let them compete. We need to let people fight for business. We need to let people take risks. We need to let people fail. We need to let people suffer the consequences of bad decisions. And we need to let people enjoy the fruits of good decisions, even good luck.
That is what economic freedom looks like. Freedom to succeed as well as to fail, freedom to do something or nothing.
Ah, there we have it. The "right to rise" pertains to big corporations and banks, not the people's "right to rise." What lesser brother Bush is saying is that we live in an America that is too hard on businesses! He prefers an America that takes risks and lets people fail. In other words, we need to take risks, say with toxic assets, credit default swaps and bad mortgages, and when those risks fail, the little people like you and I bail them out and wind up broke and homeless.
In Jeb's America (and all Republican's quite frankly), when big businesses and banks take risks and fail, the rest of us just have to suffer the consequences and get out of the way, lest we "whiners" interfere with their "freedom to succeed." When those risk taker's good decisions bear fruit? Again, the rest of us suffer as our elected officials in Congress declare all that fruit tax free. Any fruit left over for the taxpayers may be found through dumpster diving.
"That is what economic freedom looks like."
Increasingly, we have let our elected officials abridge our own economic freedoms through the annual passage of thousands of laws and their associated regulations. We see human tragedy and we demand a regulation to prevent it. We see a criminal fraud and we demand more laws.
Again the myth of the poor "over-regulated" businesses. Jeb would like to point out here that human tragedy and criminal fraud are just a part of freedom, in that corporations should have free reign without the shackles of paying for the mistakes if we ingest fracking liquids, tainted food, oil spill dispersant or nuclear waste. If we're maimed or killed due to faulty equipment or vehicles, that's just the price of freedom! Companies are free to harm us, and we are free to be harmed. What's not to love there? Laws and regulations, who needs them?
As Jeb writes on, we read that though he didn't like it, when he was governor of Florida he was forced time and again to "do something" and had to succumb to those picky little things we call laws and regulations, things that "imperiled the right to rise." As you read you can't help but notice the accompanying "freedom art" on the page showing the legs of a man walking on a stack of gold bars on his "rise" to the top. I suppose they used gold in the illustration because it's shiny and paints a much prettier picture than say a man walking over the homeless, sick, or worse as a result of the free market Jeb and his Randian party worship.
But here's something you won't read in Jeb's freedom fantasy in the Wall Street Journal. It's about one of those times when he was the governor of Florida and he was advised to "do something" and he chose to "resist," as he says.
By 2005 Florida had run up a huge surplus of tax revenue thanks to an overheated real estate market and population growth.
The non-partisan LeRoy Collins Institute in Tallahassee that year produced a massive report based on academic research focusing on the economics of what was happening and called it "Tough Choices," a portent of Florida's future unless Florida leadership took some seemingly obvious steps.
The "Tough Choices" report tackled myriad issues, including state fiscal requirements for the Medicaid program, and made recommendations on how prudent action at a time the coffers were overflowing could prevent an obvious disaster later.
But then-Gov. Bush failed to check out the Collins playbook or far more likely chose to ignore it and before he left office, sure enough, Florida in late 2007 was facing the task of trimming $1.1 billion from the state budget.
Sound familiar? George Bush, surplus to deficit anyone?
Surely Florida's newspapers can remember the Collins report. All of then carried stories about its release on Page 1.
Yet Jeb Bush would like you to forget about his history of running Florida, just like he wants you to forget his brother's history running this country into the mess we're in now. Try as he might, speaking of straight and jagged lines of growth, economic freedom, and the evils of laws and regulations, it's just a lot of smoke and mirrors and nonsense. As much as he wants us to forget it, we've seen this movie before. We're living in it.
In the real world that George W. Bush helped to create, and more of the same in the future that Jeb Bush dreams of, this is what so called "economic freedom" looks like:
Sure. They've got your jagged lines and flat lines of economic freedom right there.