Ralph Benko

243,000 new jobs? This is more than respectable. No unseemly disparagement by Republicans welcome, nor victory lap by Democrats. A pox on both their houses.

Proto-Supply Sider (who, among other things, generously cut oppressive tariffs) King Canute achieved mythic status by ordering the tide to cease rising. What often is forgotten is that he did so to show his sycophants the limits — not extent — of his powers.

As medieval chronicler Henry of Huntington wrote:

[A]t the summit of his power, he ordered a seat to be placed for him on the sea-shore when the tide was coming in. Then, before a large group of his flattering courtiers, he spoke to the rising sea, saying, ‘Thou, too, art subject to my command, for the land on which I am seated is mine, and no one has ever resisted my commands with impunity. I command you, then, o waters, not to flow over my land, nor presume to wet the feet and the robe of your lord.’

The tide, however, continued to rise as usual, dashing over his feet and legs without respect to his royal person.

Then the King leaped backwards, saying: ‘Let all men know how empty and worthless is the power of kings, for there is none worthy of the name, but He whom heaven, earth, and sea obey by eternal laws.’

“Obey … eternal laws.” The business cycle is as sacrosanct as the law of gravity. Utopians sacrifice Virgins and pray (Cut Entitlements!) for Endless Summer; Neo-Keynsians chant mumbo jumbo (Stimulate Aggregate Demand!) and command winter to end. Harry Truman famously once said (long safely retired from the presidency): “My choice early in life was either to be a piano player in a whorehouse or a politician. And to tell the truth, there’s hardly any difference.”

That said, the voters usually give an incumbent credit for the good times and blame for the bad. Politicians eager for office have the street smarts to concoct a good story and look busy. Thus… if it’s springtime for business in America … it’s going to be tough for the GOP to take the White House even by whining loudly that this is a cyclical recovery which the Democrats idiotically delayed.

So if the GOP wants to be competitive in a context of growth it will have to respect the fondest wish of us mere voters: better growth. Citizens are a little like common shareholders. We want the country to prosper, with effort being tightly aligned with reward. This is possible. We mere voters, as it happens, are plenty street smart too.


Ralph Benko

Ralph Benko, author of The Websters’ Dictionary: How to use the Web to transform the world. He serves as an advisor to and editor of the Lehrman Institute's thegoldstandardnow.org and senior advisor to the American Principles Project.
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