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To: Bob Shrum, Gore campaign strategist

From: Jude Wanniski

Re: Weeping and Gnashing of Teeth

Vice President Al Gore is being advised, I see, to spend the last
week of his campaign scaring the electorate about George W. Bush’s
“risky scheme” by which he would take part of the projected budget
surplus and give it back to the taxpayers so they can invest it on their
own behalf.

The Vice President says he instead would put that money in a “lock
box,” taking it out years from now when it is needed. There are of
course a great many people who are afraid of risk-taking and perhaps
there will be enough of them on Nov. 7 to elect him president. I’ve
always doubted that Gore could be elected to the top office, though,
because I believe the electorate knows deep down that all growth is
the result of risk-taking
. The only way the nation advances is by
encouraging as much risk-taking as possible, even though there is much
more failure than success. The small number who succeed, by producing a
better widget or software, make life easier for the general population.
It has always been so. Consider this passage from the New Testament,
from Matthew 25: 14-30:

    For it is like a man going abroad, who called his servants and
    handed over his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents, to
    another two, and to another one, to each according to his particular
    ability, and then went on his journey. And he who received the five
    talents went and traded with them, and gained five more. In like manner,
    he who received the two gained two more. But he who received the one
    went away and dug in the earth and hid his master’s money.

    Then after a long time the master of those servants came and settled
    accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came and
    brought the five other talents, saying, “Master, thou didst hand over to
    me five talents; behold, I have gained five others in addition.” His
    master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; because thou
    hast been faithful over a few things, I will set thee over many; enter
    into the joy of thy master.”

    And he also who received the two talents came and said, “Master, thou
    didst hand over to me two talents; behold I have gained two more.” His
    master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; because thou
    hast been faithful over a few things, I will set thee over many; enter
    into the joy of thy master.”

    But he who had received the one talent came and said, “Master, I know
    that thou art a stern man; thou reapest where thou hast not sowed and
    gatherest where thou hast not winnowed; and as I was afraid, I went away
    and hid thy talent in the earth; behold, thou hast what is thine.” But
    his master answered and said to him, “Wicked and slothful servant! Thou
    didst know that I reap where I do not sow, and gather where I have not
    winnowed? Thou shouldst therefore have entrusted my money to the
    bankers, and on my return I should have got back my own with interest.
    Take away therefore the talent from him, and give it to him who has the
    ten talents. For to everyone who has shall be given, and he shall have
    abundance; but from him who does not have, even that which he seems to
    have shall be taken away. But as for the unprofitable servant, cast him
    forth into darkness outside, where there will be the weeping, and the
    gnashing of teeth.”

I’m afraid, Bob, come next Tuesday, and there will much weeping
and gnashing of teeth in your shop at Gore campaign headquarters. Yes,
there is a “lock box” over at the Bush HQ, but it is much smaller. He
still takes risks, but hedges his bets. Dubya is more of a Texan than
his daddy, having been born and raised in his formative years in the
Texas oil fields, where you have to drill 10 wildcat wells before you
find anything but dust.

When I think about Al Gore, I think about global warming. There is no
evidence that mankind is causing the earth to warm. In fact, the fellow
who 20 years ago first put forth the proposition, Jim Hansen of the
Goddard Space Flight Station, in August admitted he was wrong in his
assumptions about what was going on. The vice president does not care,
you see, because the earth might be warming because of too much
economic growth
, and we must stop the growth if we are to stop the
warming.

The New York Times, which is as risk-averse as Gore, yesterday had a
front-page story headlined, “Few in No. 2 Spot Have Been as Involved in
Policy as Gore.” We read down and find the first two policy issues
mentioned are his failure to increase energy taxes “as a
deficit-reduction tool,” and “helping to put the threat of global
warming on the national agenda.” The Gore energy tax was a “two-fer,”
getting more money from energy-users to put in his lock box and at the
same time making it more expensive for people to warm Mother Earth.

On the same page, we find “A Confident Bush Says He Can Win
California’s Vote.” Hey, everyone told him he would surely lose
California, so why gamble precious time and money on winning
there
? His father was talked out of a California push in 1992 and
Bob Dole was talked out of a California push in 1996, but the younger
Bush is a risk-taker. He may not succeed, but, what the heck? Nothing
ventured, nothing gained.

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