In 1939, Frank Capra made the quintessential American Political comedy-drama film Mr. Smith goes to Washington. This was a box-office hit and won
an Academy Award. The hero, Jefferson Smith, was played by the famous actor James Stewart (1908ñ1997). Unlike most Hollywood stars, Stewart was a true
American patriot who was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his gallantry as a bomber pilot in WW2, and later was a staunch Republican.
Like many of Stewartís roles, Mr. Smith was a fairly naive but very honorable man, and in this film, he was appointed to the US Senate. His
special-interest backers hoped that his innocence would allow him to be manipulated. But Mr. Smith turned out to be too honest to go along with the
corruption. So the power-brokers and the newspapers turned on him and savaged his reputation. Eventually Mr. Smith launched a 24-hour filibuster exposing
the corruption, defending his innocence, and affirming American ideals.
This was naturally exhausting. Eventually, Mr. Smith collapses. But by that time, the corrupt Senator Paine has repented, bursts into the Senate chamber,
confesses his guilt, and affirms Smithís innocence.
Mr Rubio goes to Washington
The Tea Party was formed out of utter disgust with the way both parties had spent
like drunken sailors and placed our country into trillions of dollars of debt (at least drunken sailors spend only their own money!). One of the
brighter stars seemed to be Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. When the RINO governor Charlie Crist was standing for the Senate, it was clear that he would
have been a disaster, since he was already in love with Obama.
So Rubio challenged him, and started as a heavy underdog. But his clear stand for conservatism won the Republican Primary. Crist then switched parties,
first to Independent, and now to Democrat (his true party is evidently just Charlie Crist). Among other things, Rubio denounced RINOs like Crist
and McCain who were advocating giving illegal aliens ìan earned path to citizenship.î He rightly pointed out that it was ì code for amnesty.î
In an earlier column,
Debt ceiling: Obamaís demagoguery vs. economic reality
, I attached a clip with a very effective Rubio speech about how debt and spending was endangering our credit rating, and how he defended American free
But while a lot of us hoped he would be the Mr. Smith who changed Washington, he seems to have let Washington change him. Now Mr. Rubio is supporting the
very policies that he accused of being ìcode for Amnesty.î He seems to have failed to learn from past mistakes on the whole amnesty issue.For example, even
the great President Reagan made the same mistake of granting amnesty. At the
time, California was a steady Republican stateóReagan had been governor, and even Bush Sr. and Dan Quayle won that state in the 1988 Presidential election.
But after so many illegal aliens became citizens, they naturally gravitated to the party that scoffs at the rule of law and grants freebies: the Democrats.
And now California is solid Democrat. Rubioís plan would likely turn the rest of our country into California. One wonders why so many Republicans are
voting for electoral suicide.
But there was another recent vote thatís less well known. And it doesnít look good for anyone wanting to be known as an honorable man who would reject the
policies of DC (District of Corruption).
Protecting sugar barons and hurting Americans
One of the more corrupt actions of Congress, and there are many to choose from, is confiscating money from the American people and funnelling it to special
interests. Unfortunately, many Republicans donít disagree with Democrats that such stealing is OK; they just disagree about the special interests to
This means there is bipartisan support for protectionism and subsidies, including ethanol subsidies and mandates. These
practices make goods more expensive for American buyers, but help to enrich politically connected farmers at their expense. One of the most notorious is
Sugar would be about three times cheaper if Americans could buy freely from countries that produce it more cheaply. But then they wouldnít buy from the
inefficient sugar barons based in America.
While these sugar barons pretend that the tariffs ìsave American jobsî, this is a common economic fallacy. The great French economist FrÈdÈric Bastiat pointed out back in 1850 that this considers only what is seen:
jobs saved in the protected industries. But what is not seen are the greater jobs lost in industries using the protected goods. For
example, tariffs on imported sugar saved 2,261 jobs during the 1990s. But jobs using
sugar outnumber jobs in sugar production 7ñ1. For example, already
Lifesavers moved to Canada in 2003 with the loss of 600 jobs
, 4,000 confectionary jobs were lost in Chicago, and overall 6,400 workers in the sugar-processing industries have lost their jobs. But how many
of those will blame the sugar tariffs?
Furthermore, there are losses to businesses beside those which use the protected product, because consumers have less money to spend. Economist Dr Walter Williams points out that an ìaverage household pays $21 more per
year for sugar. The total cost, nationally, sums to $826,000 for each job saved.î This is money that canít be spent buying other goods.
Unfortunately, this is hard to change because the costs are diffused while the benefits are concentrated. Although the sugar
protectionism costs American consumers $3.7 billion in higher sugar costs, they are dispersed through 316 million of them. But the benefits are
concentrated to 4,700 sugar beet and sugar cane farms.
Not surprisingly, farm subsidies fail to help the farmers most in need, because they lack the political clout. Instead, 75 percent of all agriculture subsidies have gone to the largest and wealthiest 10 percent of farms
Rubio votes for his sugar baron buddies
Not long ago, the Senate voted 54ñ45 against even the slightest reforms of this corrupt sugar protection. And one of them was Mr. Rubio. As George Will
said in his column
Sugar farm subsidies too sweet to kill
ìOne of them is Marco Rubio, who represents Florida. Actually, he represents the stateís sugar cane growers better than he does its 19.3 million sugar
consumers, or his own Tea Party expostulations. Texas, too, has cane growers but Sen. Ted Cruz, elected by espousing Tea Party principles, voted for those
principles by voting for reform.î
Here we have the major difference between Mr. Rubio and Mr. Cruz. While they are both Hispanic, Mr. Cruz has stood firm on the Tea Party principles he ran
on. This shows in his firm stance against illegal immigration and the IRS. But the above vote really explains things properly. It is easy to stand for
principles when one benefits from them. The real test is when it could cost the person taking the stand. In this key but largely
unnoticed vote, Mr. Rubio failed miserably when it came time to choose between principles and political benefits. Mr. Cruz passed honorably.