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Sorry, Dr. Sowell, that slope already has been slipped down

May 27, 2010 - Mike Maneval

Economist and columnist Thomas Sowell opines, in commentary published in the Sun-Gazette on Monday, that relatively recent remarks by President Barack Obama in Quincy, Ill., regarding financial-sector and executive pay were inappropriate. "When politicians think that they should be deciding how much money is enough for other people," Sowell warns, "that is starting down a very slippery slope."

The truth of the matter, of course, is that politicians and the punditry already had taken to sliding down that slope in questioning other peoples' earnings.

Mitt Romney, past-and-likely-future Republican candidate for president, thundered about the gluttony and "tyrannosaurus appetites" - his words - of municipal firefighters and police officers, school teachers and sanitation workers from the stage of the 2008 Republican convention. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich lambasted assembly-line workers' pay and "gold-plated benefits" as Chrysler and General Motors struggled, the National Legal and Policy Center recorded in June of 2009. 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain told ABC News in December of 2008 "the auto industry needs to limit high costs, salaries, wages and benefits for its workers," as ABC News summarized. One of Sowell's fellow political pundits, Jed Babbin, characterized assembly-line pay as "giveaway deals with the UAW" about the same time for conservative journal Human Events.

These are just a few of the examples from times shortly before the President had the temerity to apply the same standards with which his Republican counterparts had been questioning and, at times, mocking the earnings of our family, friends, and neighbors to other professions. Now, perhaps Sowell believes some Americans deserve such scrutiny and others don't - but the underlying facts remain, the president is "starting" down no slope with his remarks.


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