Thursday, January 9, 2014

Some Promise Zones are More Equal than Others

Our fearless leader, Barack Obama, has proposed Promise Zones as the cure for what ails the country.

His announcement that the Federal Government will, by Executive Order, put teams of Federal Workers on the ground to 'cut red tape' and give money to community groups and leaders, is perhaps the largest over reach by any President, ever.

There is one good thing here:  At least Obama admits that government regulations destroy opportunity and hinder economic growth.

Other than that, there are a few problems with this idea.

Incoherence -- Obama says 'In a country as great as this one, a child’s zip code should never be what determines his or her opportunity' and proposes to fix this by giving extra help to people... in certain zip codes.

This makes no sense even in the rarefied air of Washington rhetoric.

Totalitarianism in Populist Drag --  This is the exact same idea proposed in the 80's by Jack Kemp.  His so-called Enterprise Zones would give certain politically favored people economic and social advantages over other, less favored people.   The problem then, as now, is that this is a massive transfer of power to the government.

Imagine a world in which a politically drawn line is the difference between success and failure for your business.  If you are subjected to a web of crushing federal regulation and your competitor across the street is not, your life's work and investment will be destroyed overnight.   The temptation to gerrymander the lines to save your business will be strong, and the state will literally have the power of life or death over people and their businesses.  This will not go well.

Unconstitutional --  In theory, the regulations that Obama is promising to waive for certain favored constituencies are based on laws passed by Congress.  The President has no power to change these laws.  Jack Kemp at least proposed his idea in the form of legislation.  This president as planning to do this by fiat.  Even if this is a good idea, which it most assuredly is not, it is unconstitutional to implement by Executive Order.   Not to mention that this likely fails the 'equal protection' clauses of the Constitution.  Two different sets of laws depending on which side of the street you live on?  Not going to pass muster with the Supreme Court, I would imagine.

This announcement is dripping with stench of boondoggle spending and cronyism.

These areas – urban, rural, and tribal – have all committed, in partnership with local business and community leaders, to use existing resources on proven strategies, and make new investments that reward hard work. They have developed strong plans to create jobs, provide quality, affordable housing and expand educational opportunity, which we’ll help them execute with access to on-the-ground federal partners, resources, and grant preferences.
Each of these designees has a proven track record of working collaboratively; their officials work as a team with business, faith-based and non-profit organizations; and with the public to ensure that opportunity becomes real for every member of their communities. 

Let me translate for you:  we are going to give gobs of money to ACORN-like community groups and they are going to ensure that Democrats get elected forever.

This is right out of Animal Farm.  The people inside the Promise Zones will be more equal than those poor benighted souls left on the outside.

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