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Lawrence Kudlow
Lawrence Kudlow
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Bush Shows Obama the Way

Comment

President George W. Bush came out fighting for free markets with a strong and stirring defense of American capitalism on the eve of the G-20 World Economic Conference. Stocks soared 550 points Thursday, as Bush's luncheon speech was played live on all the major cable networks. It was as though Bush was trying to leave an economic primer to his successor-elect Barack Obama. Markets cheered because it's the best thing they've heard in many weeks.

Here's one of several great passages from Bush: "At its most basic level, capitalism offers people the freedom to choose where they work and what they do … the dignity that comes with profiting from their talent and hard work. … The free-market system also provides the incentives that lead to prosperity — the incentive to work, to innovate, to save and invest wisely, and to create jobs for others."

In other words, free-market capitalism is the best path to prosperity.

During a gloomy period of financial crisis, recession, big-government rescues, and ailing banks and industrial companies, Bush has provided a strong visionary dose of big-picture economic prosperity and optimism that can lead the United States and the rest of the world out of their economic doldrums.

Here's another uplifting passage from Bush: "Free-market capitalism is far more than an economic theory. It is the engine of social mobility — the highway to the American dream. And it is what transformed America from a rugged frontier to the greatest economic power in history — a nation that gave the world the steamboat and the airplane, the computer and the CAT scan, the Internet and the iPod."

Capping all this off, Bush said: "The triumph of free-market capitalism has been proven across time, geography, culture and faith. And it would be a terrible mistake to allow a few months of crisis to undermine 60 years of success."

That reference to 60 years harkens back to the original post-World War II economic-rebuilding conference held in Bretton Woods, N.H., in July 1944. At that historic meeting, the United States and Britain led 170 delegates from around the world into a new era of free markets, free trade and stable currencies. It was a conference of global coordination that broke down the isolationist and protectionist sentiments that upset the world order so badly during the prior 15 years.

Ultimately, the free-market system forged at Bretton Woods, which was in no small way predicated on economic prosperity, led to a triumph of Western values over Soviet state socialism.

And it was President Reagan — along with his friend, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher — who applied the final blow to the now-defunct Soviet system with his rejuvenation of free-market capitalism.

So what George W. Bush seems to be saying is this: Do not discard that triumphal system just because we've had a rough year in the financial markets and the economy.

In a few weeks, Barack Obama will inherit the mantle of the capitalist system. What will he do with this responsibility? That's the question being asked everywhere.

Since the election, and up until President Bush's important G-20 speech, stock markets sold off nearly 15 percent. Investors want to know if economic rewards will be encouraged or penalized. Will trade remain open and free? Will we maintain competitive businesses that can compete worldwide? Or will we resort to the protection of ailing or failed businesses?

Will the United States lurch toward the semi-socialism of Old Europe? Or will we stay with free-market capitalism? Will we expand the nanny-state economy? Or will we keep the door wide open to entrepreneurial spirit and gales of creative destruction?

Investors want to know which way President-elect Obama is going to go. Might he reach back to the Democratic pro-growth supply-side policies of John F. Kennedy's tax cuts, free trade and strong dollar? Will he opt for Bill Clinton's free-trade and strong-dollar policies or even his capital-gains tax cut? Or will he fall back to the hopeless government tinkering of Jimmy Carter or the welfare-statism of Lyndon Johnson?

I'm keeping an open mind on Obama during this post-election honeymoon period. After all, he stole the tax-cut issue from Sen. McCain during the election. And surely he knows the conservative red states that joined his campaign for change didn't vote for a leftward lurch to socialism lite.

Obama has a huge opportunity and an outsized responsibility to mend and revive the economy. It may be too much to ask, but perhaps he will give President Bush's marvelous speech a close read. There is much wisdom there. And there is no iron-clad reason why a Democrat can't adopt the economic-growth model that has worked so well and so long for this country.

To find out more about Lawrence Kudlow and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2008 CREATORS SYNDICATE INC.



Comments

3 Comments | Post Comment
Sir;... Does the freedom to work anywhere you want equate with working any place that will hire you for minimum wage, and no benefits??? Because if that is the case, we have to define freedom as slavery.... If freedom is choice, and what we have is no choice the the dictionary must be wrong... Stop the presses... Time for a new republican dictionary....Thanks... Sweeney
Comment: #1
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Fri Nov 14, 2008 4:18 PM
Sir;... Even if you forget about the last 60 years, and count the capitalist system as beginning as a world wide phenomenon with the black plague -that for the first time in history freed great quantities of capital -because it was the labor of many generations, and the subsistence of the half of the population that died; still, capitalism isn't much... That was the first time wealth really began to flow, because it was free to flow... But; even this meagre success built upon death has been often repeated by wars since, and it does not hold a candle to the world wide success of socialism which was universal among all primitive peoples... Sure, it does not advance technology at a great rate, but all later knowledge, agriculture, physical sciences, technology was begun and advanced by people living communally... Do you think people invented democracy???Democracy is only political equality, while socialism is economic equality... The democracy of the Greeks and Romans and their respective commonwealths were shadows of the past... Having little technology and surrounded by enemies, people survived with advanced social organ ization rather than advance technology... So long as technology remained primitive, people remained communistic, but when technology allowed for the accumulation of wealth, democracy and communism languished... Since the survival of every living human depended once upon a long dead socialism, how can the flash in the pan of capitalism compare???It makes great advances and gobbles up resources and people...Because it is built upon injustice, and yet keeps the peace with law, it make the international injustice of war inevitable, and capitalism feeds on it.... So the success of capitalism is not that it has improved the human condition because, as in Rome, and Greece, it is reducing the population to slavery...The great success of capitalism is that it has survived, and has not killed off the entire population through warfare... Not much, I know, but the clock is ticking, and either capitalism will die, or we will...Mr. Bush hasn't got any bragging points... Capitalism doesn't even work for him... Obviously he doesn't understand the rules of his own game... Would any one else spend the capital they should invest???Thanks...Sweeney
Comment: #2
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Sun Nov 16, 2008 7:34 PM
As usual, Larry misses the point. Larry has been a Bush/GOP fan for the last 8 years. Ace Greenberg, Bear Sterns, said many times, “Don't be wrong for long”. Bush cannot show anyone the way. He lost his way 7 years ago. It is like the sightless showing the sighted. Bush has been wrong on the Iraq War! Bush declared war on social issues such as abortion. Bush wanted prayer in schools (shame on Bush).Wrong on the economy. Helped Oil prices triple as he and hiss buddies had a vested interest in raising oil prices. You might as well call the VP, Hal Burton. Oh and Halliburton supplied a long list of products to the US Military as well as oil equipment.
The GOP (the term makes me laugh) has spent more money than all the Democrats ever had. They spend money like they are Nuevo riche. They wasted the Clinton surplus and now are helping out their bank/Wall Street buddies. Why isn't the DOJ suing the banking executives for all of their obnoxious salaries and cash bonuses while they loaded up their companies up with trashy assets? How does America feel about Bush? They hate him. Bush shows the way? The way down!!!! Larry-shame on you! You are so hooked on the GOP that you have lost your way. Maybe Bush can help you find your way.
Comment: #3
Posted by: adam levine
Wed Nov 19, 2008 4:35 PM
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