Friday, November 26, 2004

Updated November 26, 2004 at 3:30 pm
Is U. S. Senator-Elect Barack Obama [D- Chicago] correct in his belief, stated yesterday, that Democrats are “a little more concerned [than Republicans] about people who are having a tough time in our society [See, below, for the full quotation]?”

Or, is it the case that Republicans are a little bit more likely than Democrats to try to harness the power of free markets, economic competition and an individual’s freedom to choose “to help people who are having a tough time in our society.”
For example, a Chicago owned casino and a privately owned casino in the south Chicago suburbs were the subjects of legislation promoted and focused on extensively [albeit unsuccessfully] in the recent Illinois Legislature’s veto session by Illinois Senate President and Barack Obama Mentor Emil Jones [D- Chicago]. [In the veto session, the State Senate bid a a very fond adieu to their colleague, State Senator Obama, reminding him that should he ever need some humility, he could be sure to find it by returning to the State Senate].

In large part, Senate President Jones’ efforts on behalf of a Chicago casino reflected the desires of powerful Democrat Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. Most view the Chicago Mayor as looking to a casino as a source of additional revenue for the City and patronage to buttress the political power of the Mayor, who has held that position for the last 15 years, and Daley and his father, Richard J., have held the office for 36 of the last 49 years. And, Senate President Jones’ push for a casino in the South Chicago suburbs reflects his desire to stimulate economic growth in a geographic area that is a part of his political base, as well as his desire to enhance his political and financial power in his own geographic base.

Was the effort by Democrats in Illinois to expand gambling the best way “to help people who are having a tough time in our society,” or are there better ways to do that through harnessing the power of free markets? Democrats might argue that casino revenue, net of costs, could be used to spend more on education and therefore “help those who are having a tough time in society.” Republicans, on the other hand, might argue that a City owned casino furthers the opportunities for public corruption in Chicago [See, e.g., the Hired Truck, Hired Tow programs of the Mayor in Chicago] and that such a casino diverts capital from more productive, job generating projects in the private sector.

Moreover, many Republicans would argue that a better way to “improve the education of the kids of people who are having a tough time in our society,” would be to give a fully funded school voucher ($10,000 per kid per year) to the low income parents of kids in the Chicago Public Schools, so that they could use the money that is currently being spent on their kids to send them to the school of their choice, private or public. These proposals and approaches of Republicans are hardly an “Every man for himself philosophy.” [See, below, quote of Senator-Elect Barack Obama].

So, is U. S. Senator Elect Obama correct in his belief that Democrats are “a little more concerned [than Republicans] about people who are having a tough time in our society?”

We discuss, you decide.
Barack Obama:

“Well, obviously, historically, the Republicans and the Democrats have shifted places in all sorts of ways. You know, Abraham Lincoln (we are in the land of Lincoln), the Great Emancipator, was a Republican. And, there were a lot of wonderful advocates on behalf of civil rights who were Republicans—[Senator] Everett Dirksen, here in Illinois was a great champion of civil rights, along with [Senator] Paul Douglas, a Democrat [and an economist from the University of Chicago]. And, so I don’t think that the idea of compassion and inclusiveness is exclusive to Democrats, in fact, obviously there were Dixiecrats in the South who stood against much of that progress.”

“But, what I do think is that right now-we have a difference in the parties where I feel that that Democrats are a little more concerned about people who are having a tough time in our society and that the Republicans are more prone to adopt a, you know, every man for himself philosophy in terms of our politics.”
Barack Obama, U. S. Senator-Elect [D- IL], interviewed by Alan Colmes on Fox’s Hannity and Colmes, November 25, 2004.
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