We’d hardly know a leader if we saw one

The main point that probably deserves further mention about last week’s Dead Kennedy Funeral Parade was the behavior of the press, which wept and moaned and gnashed its collective teeth with hardly a dissenting soul to say, “Enough, already,” as though the corpse of a pharaoh was headed for its final hoedown with the sun god. I’m surprised they didn’t decide to embalm the guy so people could troop past and touch the yellowed cadaver like they’ve been doing with Vlad “The Impaler” Lenin in Moscow for the past 70 years.

It was all further evidence that statism has now become something close to a national religion, the subtext being that great things can be accomplished only through the giant wealth transfer schemes now under way in Washington.

Did anyone notice an equivalent outpouring of grief and tribute when free-market economist Rose Friedman died in California Aug. 18? When we lost Murray Rothard or Friedrich Hayek or Ludwig von Mises?

Practically every month dies some entrepreneur or industrialist whose hard work improved our lives far more than Ted Kennedy ever did, giving us better, safer, less expensive cell phones, car engines, laptops, refrigerated produce — you name it.

Do we see wall-to-wall 24-hour TV coverage of the funeral parades of these giants of American capitalism? Of course not. Our media dismiss such characters as “corporate greedheads.” They get no credit for their achievements because they were motivated by “mere profit,” while Ted Kennedy apparently went about his work in a saffron robe, sitting out on the sidewalk with a begging bowl each evening in hopes someone would toss him some scraps for supper.

“Education reform”? The mandatory youth propaganda camps were already counterproductive, but the No Child Left Behind Act that Teddy helped pass should really be called “No Motivated Student Shall Excel.” Miring inmates and staff alike in a stultifying swamp of testing and “teaching to the test,” this “bipartisan” abomination finishes the job of converting the schools from an enterprise where the most gifted and talented were encouraged to move ahead quickly into a Grimpen mire where the gifted go insane with boredom while the entire enterprise focuses on elevating the marginal performance of the most reluctant and under-motivated internees in the room, many of whom — you can’t make this stuff up — are literally brain-damaged.

“Protecting the rights of the little guy”? Ted Kennedy never met an unconstitutional victim disarmament law that he didn’t race to embrace like it was a campaign worker on Rohypnol. Maybe he hoped if we could just get rid of all the guns, no one would ever again assassinate a president, the way John Kennedy had Ngo Dinh Diem and his brother ousted and subsequently assassinated (the very next day, and were Jack and Bobby ever surprised!) in early November 1963. (That is the presidential assassination you were thinking of, right?)

Leadership? Imagine for a moment Ted Kennedy had really stopped to contemplate what kind of future he was leaving our children, and had then decided to use his wealth, his power and prestige to undertake one truly great act of leadership.

Imagine for a moment that Edward Kennedy had stepped before the TV cameras a year ago and stunned the nation with a simple, eloquent speech:

“Good evening. Some of us come to the ends of our roads unexpectedly. Others of us receive a final blessing; we’re told we have a few months to put our affairs in order.

“I’ve made plenty of mistakes; I’m deeply sorry for them. But I got to thinking, is there one last thing I should still do to help the country that has done so much for me and my family? I think there is.

“I’ve been working with a few members of the lower house. Tomorrow they’ll introduce on my behalf a bill we call the Economic Freedom and Prosperity Restoration Act.

“My family has remained wealthy and powerful because our wealth is protected in an immortal, tax-proof family trust. Most Americans can’t set up such trusts today; the IRS changed the rules years ago.

“We’ve also remained wealthy because we pay very little income tax. Dad never declared much of his bootlegging income, and I don’t pay much, either. Families with old money can arrange things that way, while the most productive of our fellow Americans — the kind of who actually invent and design and manufacture things — are taxed to the hilt.

“The Economic Freedom and Prosperity Restoration Act is in three parts.

“First, it changes tax law to allow any American family to set up an immortal, tax-free trust, just like the ones the Kennedy family and the Rockefeller family have enjoyed for nearly a century.

“Second, it repeals the federal personal income tax. No American employer will withhold any more income tax; no American will file another 1040 form; everyone gets to keep their own money, just as the Kennedy family always has.

“The income tax currently provides about 30 percent of federal revenue. It’s true enough we’ll have to reduce federal spending, permanently, to make this work. So the third part of the Economic Freedom and Prosperity Restoration Act calls for reducing next year’s federal budget to two-thirds the size of this year’s. No accounting tricks, no moving more things ‘off budget.’ That will still leave us with a much larger federal budget than when John Kennedy took office, than when Richard Nixon took office, than when Ronald Reagan took office.

“Time to close the Departments of Labor, Agriculture, Energy, Education and Health and Human Services, for starters. None existed a century ago; none are authorized in the Constitution.

“Then we’re going to have to turn to our Ponzi schemes, Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security. For all Americans younger than 50, we need to end these programs immediately. Send them a modest check in partial compensation for what they’ve paid in to date, urge them to invest it — since there’ll be no benefits when they retire — and set them free. Their paychecks will jump by at least 30 percent. The economic stimulus should be huge.

“Meantime, for those currently retired, and those age 50 and older today, the programs will continue. No current retiree’s benefits will be cut. Benefits for those retiring in subsequent years will be reduced, in keeping with the amounts still flowing in.

“That means that by 2050, our great socialist experiments of Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security will end. Americans will once again be a free people, un-numbered. Thank you very much; God bless a free and prosperous America.”

An “impossible” speech? Any of 99 remaining senators or a handful of House members with similar high profiles could give it tomorrow.

They won’t, because they’d be trading away a career’s worth of wealth, power and prestige, in a battle of uncertain outcome, for the good of the country. That would take leadership.

Vin Suprynowicz is assistant editorial page editor of the daily Las Vegas Review-Journal and author of “The Black Arrow.” See www.vinsuprynowicz.com/ and http://www.lvrj.com/blogs/vin/

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