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The next 100 years

"The next 100 years" Continued...

Issue: "2010 The Year Ahead," Jan. 16, 2010

Q: So you think this change is coming. We're going to get something like that, but we're not going to scrap the old tax code. We're going to keep having the income tax, we're going to keep having the capital gains tax, we're going to keep taxing productivity and investment, but on top of that we're going to keep using the money pump and have a value-added tax, which basically treats the American people like a big ATM machine. You know, just ratchet it up a little bit and every time they have to pay more. So the trouble is that we open up the possibility of simply a new major kind of taxation.

Q: Will "cap-and-trade" environmental legislation make it? The poor disproportionately get killed under cap and trade, and the data are very clear on this. The poor pay four times as much in new energy prices in percentage of their income as the rich do, and under those circumstances it simply does too much violence to the idea of the vulnerability of the poor, unless we simply don't pay attention to that. It also hurts a lot of regions of the country that politically are inconvenient to hurt. My guess is that we won't see cap and trade.

Q: You and I don't like what the Democrats are doing-but do we also have a Republican problem? The November 2008 election with its big Democratic sweep was not a repudiation of conservatism but a repudiation of Republican mismanagement, of Republicans substituting power for principle, year after year after year. Americans don't like that. You want evidence that the Republicans didn't govern according to principle? They did nothing about the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, things that are openly subversive agencies for principles that conservatives hold dear.

Q: So what do you hope will happen politically in 2010? The worst thing that can happen for American Republicans right now is that the Democrats fail too fast. That there's too much oxygen in the market too quickly, because the Republicans haven't changed in their leadership. It's an extraordinary thing: The people who were in charge in 2008 are largely still in charge of the Republicans. There are the same candidates floating around as possibilities in the next presidential election. A lot of Americans are seeing a lot of change they don't like, but they still don't see a very realistic alternative, and that presents certain challenges.

Q: Do you have any good news for conservatives? Seventy percent of Americans agree that the free enterprise system is the best way to organize the economy despite severe ups and downs. That comes from the Pew Research Center, not some right-wing data source. Every question along those lines suggests that we're a 70/30 nation: 70 percent free enterprise; 30 percent against free enterprise. In other words, if you want left-wing principles and social democracy in the United States, you have to change American culture.

Q: Can candidates with strong conservative principles win elections? Margaret Thatcher won in the U.K. Ronald Reagan won in the U.S. Our task has to be one of principle and not of political expediency in the 2010 midterm elections. It's a short-term vs. long-term problem: We're not working for one year or two years or 2012, but for the next hundred years. We're working for the free enterprise system that's going to benefit our kids and grandchildren and generations to come. The free enterprise system is a gift to America and America is a gift to the world, but only under the right circumstances. Those of us who believe these things need to hold our colleagues', friends', and leaders' feet to the fire.

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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