Thursday, November 3, 2011

THYME Magazine

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume III, Issue XCIV

Can You Still Move Up in America?

Yesterday a young man called Rush Limbaugh's show lamenting that he would not have much opportunity in today's America. Income inequity, he opined, had robbed him of his chance. Mr. Limbaugh then taught another one of his great lessons, telling the story of one of his wealthy friends. What followed was a description of jobs created and opportunities that followed in the wake of this man's spending and investing his fortune. The man has a private jet and the people who fly and service it are paid better than their peers. The rich man likes these people and pays them more because he wants to keep them.

The young man was steeped in the myth that: "the rich are holding on to their money, and I can't get any." The 'other' weekly news magazine asks the question: "Can you still move up in America?" Obviously, in their world, the answer is no... at least not as easily as in times past.

The young man's lament seemed familiar, and I remember hearing similar laments in the wake of the Carter presidency... even into Reagan's first term. But something happened as Reagan pushed back overexpanding government and the resulting prosperous period lasted for many years. Some have called the Obama presidency "Jimmy Carter's last term." Indeed, the expansion of government and huge bailouts (and huge deficits), are reminiscent of the Carter years.

But economies are never zero-sum games. Even in the dark days of the 'Misery Index,' businesses grew. Consider White's Truck Stop in Raphine, Virginia. David White left the already successful Jarrel's Truck Plaza near Richmond's busy I 95 to set up shop on the convergence of two new interstates in Western Virginia. A stone's throw from the shop where Cyrus McCormick built the first reaper, White built his famous Truck Stop. I met a number of employees there and it seemed like many of them had stayed there a long time. Mrs. White added a bit of class to the trucker's dining room. Drivers could enjoy a fine sampling of items not found on the menu of other stops. This business grew in the mid-seventies.

Though construction and home sales are at all-time lows, new industry has made its way to the state of Virginia. Mercury Paper near Winchester is but one of a number of companies taking advantage of the state's pro-market policies. Augusta County, though known for snubbing auto giant Toyota, still has a chance to gain a share of economic development. David Karaffa, candidate for the Beverley Manor seat on the Board of Supervisors, proposes a tax holiday for new businesses who locate in the county. This policy is pro-business in that it allows a head start for new players in the market. Present Federal policies in particular stifle new business and often are the result of 'Crony Capitalism,' being crafted to protect established companies. Karaffa's policy would actually help level the playing field and put market forces back into play. One year's tax holiday allows new firms to establish themselves but does not create a crutch for business models that would not work without subsidies.

So to answer the queston: "Can you still move up in America?" we say there is plenty of evidence for a positive answer if government does not get in the way.

White's Truck Stop as seen in 1976. From an advertisement in Overdrive Magazine.

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