The annual Young Americans Foundation college conference taking place this month in Washington brings together a slew of high powered politicians and media figures to galvanize college age conservatism.
Among those speaking was former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, the master mind of the successful 1994 Contract with America. 15 years later, in 2009 he shared a new slogan with the youth in attendance “2 + 2 = 4”.
This slogan, he explained, came from George Orwell’s famous book 1984, in which the main character has a dialogue with the government officials who are torturing him trying to make him say two plus two equal five, and realizes that “Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.”
Gingrich magnified the need in today’s political environment to allow the truths that work – that are true – to be policies. He demonstrated how far the government has moved from this by asking the audience to finish off the sentence “If you can’t buy a house…” The audience responded “don’t.” the government, Gingrich said, chooses to respond “we give you a sub-prime loan with zero down and zero interest, so that you can move in temporarily before filing for bankruptcy”. Gingrich stressed one policy is successful, and the other isn’t; one works one doesn’t.
Creating a requirement that policies be solutions – that they work – would remove the option for complex government intervention. It has been said that socialism is the longest road from capitalism to capitalism, making it a requirement that policies work, would keep America away from that long road.
Gingrich then gave evidence of policy areas which should be reformed on the grounds that they don’t work, because they attempt to make two plus two equal five.
Gingrich began with education. He held up Detroit public schools as the example of a failing school system in which only 1 out of 4 kids will graduate high school on time. To change this, he said, a voucher program, and a change in incentives is necessary.
Currently Detroit has a law banning a voucher program in favor of protecting the teacher unions. Introducing competition against the public school bureaucracy would force the teachers and administrators to be accountable to the students first. This would result in better teaching and a cut in wasteful spending. Second, he said, providing students with an incentive to graduate early, such as offering them a scholarship for the cost of each year they finish early would graduate students who are more determined and focused. Also by encouraging children to challenge them selves and feel invested in their future, would discourage drug use, and other illegal activities.
Secondly, Gingrich emphasized the need for change in American taxes. He said if America want to stay competitive with China they should match China’s capital gains tax of zero percent. Gingrich explained that if politicians want to encourage investment in the United States, which is the only way to create jobs and ensure the security of future generations, they need to lower taxes which discourage investors. Gingrich stressed the need to match the corporate tax rate of Ireland, which is set at 12%, as opposed to our 40%. He said the reason many corporations, such as IBM, file taxes in Ireland and not the United States is that there no good reason for a corporation to choose to pay 40% over 12%. Lastly Gingrich called for the abolishment of the death tax on moral grounds because, he said, there is no reason someone should see the IRS and a priest on the same day.
Lastly, Gingrich stressed a need to change energy policy. He said “We believe that bowing to a Saudi King is not an effective energy policy.” Gingrich brought up the success of last year’s “drill here, drill now” campaign, in moving the debate from whether there should or should not be a tax on energy companies, to whether or not there should be support for off shore drilling. He urged that America change the energy policy to stop financing nations like Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.
Gingrich ended his speech on the note that Americans have a responsibility to be involved in the transformation of the political system. With healthcare, he said the youths have a role to play in making sure that all of their friends on Facebook, or on their email list call their representatives to express their discontent with the concept of a “government option.” Additionally Gingrich stated that anyone who cares about political issues should try their hand at running for office, saying “if everyone writing about political issues were to file for office change would happen.”
Change is simple it should be based on what works, and what doesn’t. Change is not trying to make two plus two equal five, it is allowing two plus two to equal four.