You may now officially abandon hope of gas prices ever declining. Outgoing Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood recently told the American people to get used to it—current prices are here to stay. “Gas prices aren’t going down,” he said in his final press conference, “they are not going to go down.”
So long as liberalism carries the day in Washington, he is indeed correct.
As I read LaHood’s words I am reminded of Thomas Frank’s 2004 book “What’s the Matter with Kansas?” and its resonant thesis, namely that red state Americans—who are generally less affluent—don’t vote according to their economic best interests, which naturally lie with the Democrats, but rather according to divisive social issues. To borrow a phrase from Howard Dean, that year’s sputtering primary candidate, too many elections in this country are decided by “God, guns, and gays.”
Things have changed in the intervening years. Kansas is still red, though decreasingly so, as it continues to absorb waves of Hispanic immigrants. Yet the country as a whole has decided that the Democratic Party is where their bread has buttered. Liberalism is on the march and there’s nothing those squarish, reliably red states in the geographical center can do about it. Florida has gone blue; Colorado, Iowa, and Virginia too.
Obviously, more Americans are voting in their economic best interests now, right? Not so fast. Frank’s thesis, which has been borrowed many times over since 2004, is one of the great unexamined assumptions of American politics. Yes it’s true that plenty of Americans have issues in mind besides the economy when they enter the voting booth but it doesn’t follow that the Left offers economic prosperity.
First it’s necessary to define the term “economic best interests.” Words don’t mean the same thing to liberals that they do to other people. For liberals, “economic best interests” does not meaning lower taxes, lower living expenses, or having a job.
It would be in the economic best interests of plenty of Americans to pay less at the pump. There’s a path from here to there but there’s a giant roadblock along the way—the Democrats. They oppose fracking, drilling in ANWR, and the Keystone pipeline. Under no circumstances will they consider reducing state or federal gasoline taxes. In my state, the governor is proposing an increase in the already high gas taxes.
It isn’t just the gas we put in our cars and the heating oil we use to heat our homes that the Democrats want to make more expensive, but the electricity that keeps the lights on. As then-Senator Obama explained in 2008, “When I was asked earlier about the issue of coal, you know, under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.”
Of course they would. And as bad as that would be for Americans in general, it would be hardest on those who make their living in the coal mines of West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Is it really in their economic best interests?
This administration is focusing like a laser beam on jobs; or rather like a super-powered death ray. Everywhere it sees jobs being created it destroys them, and not just in coal country either. Take, for example, the National Labor Relations Board’s decision to prohibit Boeing, our nation’s largest exporter by value, from establishing a new plant in South Carolina because of its right-to-work laws. (Boeing later fought that decision and won.)
Chrysler and General Motors seem to have more latitude. The federal government is still a major stakeholder in both of these companies, yet both are setting up new factories in China. GM announced earlier this year that Shanghai would receive a new Cadillac factory, while Chrysler plans to manufacture Jeeps in China starting in 2014.
How’s that for chutzpah? The federal government arrogantly dictated to a private company that it could not open a factory in a right-to-work state, while two companies with substantial government ownership were setting up shop in an entirely different country.
The great job-killing Death Star of the Obama Administration is its health care fiasco, farcically called the “Affordable Care Act” or Obamacare. There’s nothing affordable about it, and that’s one problem. The other problem is that employers across the country are cutting employees’ hours or laying off workers to avoid the onerous expenses imposed by a law that was supposed to make health care cheaper. Papa John’s has already promised to reduce employees’ hours, as has the Commonwealth of Virginia and the City of Long Beach, California.
The new law is making it more and more difficult for less educated workers to find full time employment. Soon their only means of survival will be to take on a hodgepodge of part-time jobs without benefits. Temps will fill the jobs once performed by full-time employees.
Yet it is axiomatic to the average liberal that any American who doesn’t own a yacht ought to be voting Democrat. The problem is their definition of the term “economic best interests.” Here’s how they define it: SSDI, EBT, Obamaphones, and section eight housing. “Economic best interests” means never having to work a day in your life, which, given their other economic policies, is a very distinct possibility.