Regular Folks

If these times tell us anything, they suggest we could do with more regular folks in power.  As opposed to the elite.

The late William Buckley said he would rather entrust government of the country “…to the first 400 people in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University.” 

Me too.  Lately we are governed by the equivalent of the Harvard types. And too many have always been too “important” to be listed in phone books.

Too many of our congressguys have never held a private sector job. Never. Think about that.  Barely any of the current cabinet have worked in the private sector. They dictate how those outside government should live and work. Yet they have never worked outside government themselves.

They supervise the creation of stacks of regulations for businesses. Yet they have never worked in one.

They create jungles of tax laws. They levy taxes upon taxes. Yet many have never looked at a tax return except to sign it.

Years ago, a major Ford dealer told me he lost faith in Ford in the men’s room.  He was at a big Ford conference. A bunch of heavies cleared him and others from the men’s room. So that the CEO could relieve himself in private. “I figured if the boss couldn’t take a leak with the dealers there was something wrong with the company.”  His words were prophetic.



Most of our leaders need to go potty with a few regular folks once in a while.  They don’t now.  And it shows.

It shows in the laws they keep passing that a majority of us do not want.  It shows when the Prez golfs endlessly. And his wife vacations luxuriously. While regular folks cancel their club memberships and getaways.

It shows when our treasury secretary talks about myths. He says it is a myth that lifting taxes on high-income people would hurt small business. He is out of his depth in two areas with this. First, he has never worked for business, large, small or in between.  Second, he clearly has never read the data on the question. Which would tell him he is all wet.  If he had ever lived in the private sector he would know better.

If he had ever held a job outside government the late Teddy Kennedy would not have pushed the minimum wage ever higher. He would know from that experience that the higher the minimum wage, the fewer minimum wage jobs are created. And the fewer inexperienced kids get hired at entry level jobs.

Nothing could be more true of our current economy. The unemployment rate for young people is staggering.

Our current crop of elite remind me of millionaire Nelson Rockefeller.  While governor of New York he expressed surprise that state residents would object to paying a special tax of several hundred dollars. To him this was a piddly amount. Rocky was clearly out of touch.

If you were within such a ruling elite, who do you suppose you would fear most? You would fear and attack the Sarah Palins of this world. She cooks her own breakfast. You would fear and attack the “Joe The Plumbers.” Just as the elite of his day feared Harry Truman. Because he never went to college. Because he had run and failed in small business.  Because he had tramped behind mules on a farm. His language was salty, not for effect.  But because that is the way he was made. He understood the “common” man and woman.  Because he was one of them. And they sensed it.

The elite of his day feared Benjamin Franklin. He too spoke and wrote in simple fashion, for the common man and woman. He ran small businesses. He apprenticed as a printer.

Franklin worked with and inspired elite men to create this nation.  That combination – of the practical with the theoretical – produced thinking that shook and shaped the world.

We look pretty poor when it comes to shaking and shaping these days. Because we miss the presence of people at the top who ever knew grit under their fingernails. Or pink slips. Or falling sales.

All the more reason to find today’s Trumans and Franklins and put them to work within government.  We will.

From Tom ... as in Morgan.                  

For more columns, for Tom’s radio shows and new TV show (and to write to Tom): tomasinmorgan.com.

 

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