What Would It Take for the Democrats To Really Be the Party of Opportunity?
Today’s political parties lack ideas. The Republicans define themselves as opponents of Democrats. Yet many of the GOP economic policy positions resemble, with minor variations, those of Democrats. Meanwhile, the Democrats repeat the same simplistic refrain: “Solve” every problem with more money and stricter regulations. How dreary and unproductive.
To the Democrats in charge right now, let me offer an idea as you try to fight poverty, inequality, and corporate influence: Transform yourselves from the party of handouts and regulations into the party of opportunity.
Words mean different things to different people, especially in politics. The Oxford English Dictionary defines opportunity as a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something. That, of course, could imply giving someone money to help pay expenses. The problem with this singular approach is that, while it provides temporary relief, it stunts personal success—not least because receiving the help often requires staying below some level of income. It could also mean artificially making the price of things cheaper through subsidies or price ceilings. But decades of economic literature shows that this approach always backfires and produces the opposite effect.
Very often, the better approach is to create the best possible environment for people to improve their lives over the long haul. To this end, government should avoid penalizing investment, thwarting competition, discouraging innovation and work, and obstructing production. Only by liberating people to engage in these activities will we experience the sustained drop in prices, improved quality of goods and services, and increased access that Democrats want.
Why should Democrats embrace what might sound li
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