Tribute to Ronald Reagan dinner. Comments by George Will & Dinesh D’Souza

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This is part three in this Series covering the Oct 10-11 2nd Annual “Defending the American Dream” Summit that was held in Arlington, VA.

As stated in the initial post, summit sponsor Americans for Prosperity’s agenda is to send a message to all politicians to “put an end to wasteful pork-barrel spending and make sure they understand that free markets and pro-growth economic policies protect the American Dream.”

Pulitzer Prize winning columnist, journalist and author, George Will’s articles can be found in 450 newspapers. He is also a contributing editor for Newsweek magazine.

His opening remark began “I live in Washington, DC. I’m depressed most of the time. You are such a tonic.” A reference to the enthusiasm he experienced by our energized gathering of free market activists. George said we have we have the culture of an “entitlement mentality by a welfare state.” An attitude that someone else will provide for our needs. He went on to report that “we have 1.4 billion credit cards in American or an average of $12,000 each.”
Gilbert note. Think about those numbers. While many are used for private business or public agencies, including infants, who don’t carry plastic, we have only 300 million Americans in this country.
He later said we enjoy “the pleasure of purchase vs. the pain of paying for it. Forty years ago we had a cultural contradiction of capitalism. Thrift industriousness success of capitalism will create contradiction of the welfare state. We have a regressive transfer of wealth citing pension and medical bills of retirees.” he briefly discussed the thought of “bailing out the big three–why?–are we supposed to protect American companies in Michigan?” In using the term “lemon socialism” he asked is it the role of government to “find losers and subsidize them?”
George was very emphatic when he suggested that “no executive of a company getting (bailout) money should be paid more than federal civil servants.” He pointed out that in the 1950’s, half of Americans put part of our paychecks into savings accounts. That is no longer the case. As a reference to entitlements he commented that “we can be like Canada where everything is free and –nothing is available.”

George listed a few areas on public health costs which he attributed to our risky behavior.  Type 2 diabetes has a $100 billion price tag which he feels can be connected to obesity pointing out that today’s younger generation either spends six hours watching TV or sitting on their computer rather than being out in the gym getting exercise. He did cite an example of trial lawyer impact by the elimination of teeter totters from our playgrounds and parks. And he is right. A few children got injured and before you know it public agencies were being sued. Therefore, for those old enough to have been on one, the “teeter totter” (see-saw) exists only in our memories.

George made a joke about a child’s folding stroller. He suggested adding a warning label to each of them with text stating: “remove child before folding,.”

He cites an “erosion of personal responsibility” and having a limited government. We have all heard Sen Obama and his commentary on his tax plan. George stated that “50% of Americans only pay 3% of the taxes collected, therefore they are getting government that they are not paying for.” He added that “38% of Americans don’t pay any taxes.” With regard to the “death tax” he referenced a line from humorist Will Rogers: “The only difference between death and taxes is that death doesn’t get worse every time Congress meets.”

George said we need to “give free market a chance to work” citing the triumph of ingenuity and productivity such as in agriculture where “we once had 40% of the work force employed in agriculture which has declined to 2%” yet we still feed Americans and export the excess.
One interesting comment from Mr. Will was his stating that “partnership and gridlock in DC is a good thing” adding “gridlock is an American achievement. It is hard for the government to move and that’s an excellent thing.”
Probably staying with his overall theme relating to entitlements George said “we have more Marxists on Harvard faculty than in Europe.”
Let me shift to author/commentator Dinesh D’Souza, who at one time served as a policy advisor to president Reagan. Dinesh has appeared on numerous network and cable news programs.

“We have stupid and evil parties. Stupid and evil..bipartisanship. Opposition to collectivism.”
Dinesh told us the Reagan philosophy was that “people should fight for their own freedom” which is not the Bush Doctrine. He added that “Iraqi people can defend their own freedom” The key to Iraq is we will have a “pro-American Muslim government in the Middle East.” He closed by saying “we have a lot to feel good about. Victory is within our grasp. It’s time to get to work.”

Note: Cutting Edge-a talk show producer Ron Winship and myself interviewed Dinesh after he wrote “What’s So Great About America.” He left the ballroom before I had an opportunity to ask if his opinion has changed since writing that novel.

My next post, covering some of the Saturday morning presentations, will include comments from Fred Barnes, Executive Director Weekly Standard, radio host/author Herman Cain and Steven Moore, former president of the Club for Growth and currently a writer at the Wall Street Journal. As C-SPAN has over two hours of the morning program on-line I will limit my own text of their presentations so that you can hear, and see for yourself, what was shared with our national “free market” gathering of “grass roots” activists.

About Larry Gilbert