By: State Representative Lenny Mirra – September, 2013
Conversations with our fearless editor Tom Duggan typically turn into loud and contentious affairs. It was no exception at our latest discussion while at a fundraiser for our good friend Shiela Mullins who we both hope will be Newburyport’s newest City Councilor At-Large. Tom came in guns blazing as usual, bellowing “Why should I stay registered as a Republican? Give me one reason why I shouldn’t change parties!”
I started to explain how our one party state, desperately indebted and rife with corruption, needs more balance and how things like EBT abuse won’t get fixed under one party rule. But Tom would have none of it, explaining that the GOP doesn’t give him any reason to be a part of it, that they have no new ideas or solutions.
I’m going to give Tom some reasons to stay.
One of the biggest problems in the country and the commonwealth is the sky high unemployment rate for inner city youths. Their unemployment rate runs at least 20% higher than for the rest of us and about twice as high among minority youths.
My Republican and Libertarian friends usually respond to this issue with calls for “pulling oneself up by bootstraps” and stories about how government has failed at fixing it.
By having this laissez faire attitude on this issue, we’ve allowed Democrats to dominate the dialogue on it and thus we are left with programs and solutions that come from only one side, solutions that, by any measure, are failing terribly. We’ve had quotas, set asides and other affirmative action programs, plus various redistribution schemes, and yet the problem persists; we had less minority unemployment between 1900 and 1950 than we do now. Worse yet is our shameful rate of income and wealth inequality.
Run a search on income inequality by state and you will see MA among the worst in the country, right along states like Texas, Arizona, New York and Connecticut. This despite the fact that MA has the oldest laws in the country outlawing pay inequality, despite the fact that we have countless rules and laws with hiring quotas, set asides and other affirmative action programs.
Republicans need to come up with solutions that adhere to our principles of limited government and free markets.
This issue usually raises the inevitable adage “give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach him how to fish and he eats for a lifetime.” But here’s the problem: we’ve stopped teaching people how to fish. One of the first things we can do is require our schools to teach students about capitalism and free markets, the understanding of which is sorely lacking. Many are under the impression that jobs and wage increases are the result of benevolent souls merely looking to help total strangers rather than the forces of supply and demand. This lack of knowledge critically hurts those that are unemployed and underemployed.
Many of my colleagues in government also don’t seem to understand this concept, as most are oblivious to how unfettered immigration is hurting the poor and middle class. By allowing massive numbers of unskilled and low skilled people to settle here, we’ve let the supply of blue collar workers increase so much that demand cannot keep up. This is the main reason why these groups have seen their wages stagnate while the rich get richer. The least we could do is eliminate all welfare benefits for immigrants so they cannot work “under the table” while collecting benefits that should be going to legal citizens.
We can also help grow the economy and create jobs by getting government out of the way in certain areas. People with small companies that would like to grow by taking on bigger jobs or public works projects are often stifled by complicated laws and regulations. We could remedy this by addressing our prevailing wage laws and with tort reform. These laws protect entrenched and politically connected companies at the expense of new, fledgling companies which is not something government should be doing if it wants to help the unemployed.
I heard Reverend Eugene Rivers discussing the issue of minority unemployment on WGBH and I was impressed with his approach to the matter, especially with the way he took Jim Braude to task for all the failed government programs we’ve been trying. I called him personally to express how much I agreed with him and told him about my plans to address this scourge. He and I will be meeting soon to discuss a mentoring program for inner city youths to show them how to start their own companies and create their own wealth. Our policies of the past with quotas and set asides are nothing more than giving them the crumbs off a rich white man’s table; we should be teaching them how to build their own tables.
None of these things will ever happen with one party dominating Beacon Hill, and our economy will never fully recover until we show those at the bottom how to pull themselves up and get their piece of the American Dream. Here’s hoping Tom, and enough other voters, see this when it’s election time.