Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Call to Misguided Renewal

Yesterday, Mayor Heartwell as well as other local politicians and clergy held a rally to overcome poverty. The rally was sponsored by an organization called West Michigan Call to Renewal, which is part of a larger nation-wide Call to Renewal organization.

Notwithstanding the fact that here at GR Pundit we're having a tough time remembering the last time a rally solved the world's problems, we wondered exactly what this organization's goals are.

We found on their website, as part of their mission statement, a typical explanation of what they look for:

We believe the American people are disgusted with politics as usual and hungry for political vision with spiritual values that transcends the old and failed categories that still imprison public discourse and stifle our creativity. The religious community should help lead that discussion and action toward new political and economic alternatives.

They are attempting to throw off the old political labels and look for a third way in using government to achieve their means. Which is exactly where they end up being like any other social favors organization. They pay lots of lip service to finding that "third way" to ending poverty, but they end up supporting the same partisan positions that end up bloating government, raising taxes, doling out money, and ultimately harming people more in the long run.

Their mistake is in thinking that government is the source of economic renewal and improvement - in thinking that government is the ultimate economic uplifter and equalizer. They err greatly on this front. Didn't the so-called war on poverty demonstrate to these people that this isn't the way to help people?

A few examples of the programs they want people to advocate for are listed on their web site:

  • "Reform" of estate tax - no repeal
  • Increased "No Child Left Behind" funding
  • Expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (backdoor wealth redistribution)
  • Healthcare socialization
  • Living wage laws

    Hmm. Doesn't sound more than a thinly-veiled arm of the political left in America.

    More government won't solve the problem of poverty. The article from yesterday's Press points to some facts about the local economy:

  • Grand Rapids unemployment was 10.4% in 2003, way above the national average of 6%.
  • Food assistance programs are on the rise
  • 700-800 people were in emergency shelters each night in 2003

    But, as we've reported earlier, Grand Rapids also has the second-highest tax rate in the county.

    The economic interventionists, such as Mayor Heartwell, don't seem to grasp the direct relationship between high taxes and slow (or negative) economic growth. The only way to get people out of poverty, permanently, is to ensure a growing and health economy. High taxes are the kryptonite to a strong economy. Ultimately, as taxes increase, businesses hire fewer people, pay them less, and spend less on growth.

    In addition, a strong education is needed to overcome the dramatically shifting economic picture from manufacturing to a service economy. Yet, Call to Renewal acts like another arm of the National Education Association in advocating more simply more money for education - of course directly from the federal government. If someone can point out to us a (legitimate) study showing a direct relationship between education spending and outcomes, lunch is on us.

    GR Pundit has a few suggestions for really overcoming poverty:

  • Create universal education tax credits, so children stuck in miserable failing schools can benefit from those who wish to donate to education scholarship funds
  • Reduce tax rates for all Americans - growing the economy, creating jobs, and improving the economic opportunities for everyone
  • Reduce the bloat of government

    Pretty simple stuff, but not very exciting the for the busybody politicians out there.
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