? Speaking of which, it is election time for America. Ronald Reagan, the GOP's Great Right Hope, is now delighting cynics everywhere by spicing up his calls for deregulation and "free enterprise" with endorsements of Chrysler white-collar welfare and cries for improved federal subsidies for the farmer vote—er, uh, for the preservation of the American Farm Family. As of this writing, Senator Kennedy continues to scream about something or other, but what exactly it is, or how long his vocal chords can withstand such pressure, is unclear. John Anderson is preaching the gospel of New Ideas, and if his campaign staff works day and night around the clock right up until election day they may actually uncover an Anderson position that was not first promoted by the Carter administration. The one that they may indeed end up advancing as an original, nonrecycled Carterism is Preacher John's recent call for selective investment in new plants and equipment: "Not every dollar invested today really helps the economy. We don't need any more Hula-Hoop factories." This must certainly be credited as one of the clearest, most honest attacks upon the American consumer by any presidential candidate going.
And as for the man who is currently occupying the seat of our government, well, well, well. Here he is, telling everyone that his worthy independent opponent John B. Anderson is little more than a late-fall mosquito buzzing around for one last prick before the end. He'll just go away, and we don't even think about him here at the White House at all, the chief assures us—all while his battalion of $250,000-a-year lawyers trail the Anderson campaign around the country like a drunk following a beer wagon, filing suit to knock this harmless little bug off whichever ballot they sense better than a one-in-a-hundred chance on. Was it Mr. President James Earl Carter who announced in 1976, "I'll never lie to you"? Well, no wonder! He doesn't have to! He has hundreds of top-ranking aides to do that job for him!
? Who says entrepreneurship is dead in America? Whoever it is, they aren't on the mailing list of the American Alliance of Small Businesses, a group now working to revive just that vital spirit of creative risk taking and private initiative that made this country great. Touring 43 cities nationwide, the AASB is proud to present "comprehensive workshops on GOVERNMENT LOAN AND LOAN GUARANTEE PROGRAMS…New Opportunities in Today's Economy." In a claim that is hard to quibble with, they boast, "Understanding government programs designed to stimulate today's economy will mean the difference between prosperity and bankruptcy for thousands of business professionals."
The $165 seminars show you how to:
• "Finance luxury apartments for high income tenants with 40 year, 7½% mortgages with minimal and possibly no cash investment,"
• "Construct or remodel rental housing with a 7½% loan and obtain a 20 year government subsidy contract to assure rent income,"
• "Borrow for many, many other purposes from governmental programs with interest rates as low as 2%."
They'll introduce you to "self-made" millionaires who found properties losing so much money they qualified for stupendous government loans and subsidies and a whole host of experts in the fields of bureaucracy milking, taxpayer squeezing, and public trough slurping. These pros know the race and can teach YOU "how to be first in line" for government gravy.
And what could be more pro-American than this? As the AASB assures us, they are "a non-profit organization engaged in preserving the system of free, competitive, and private American business."
? The former minister of justice for the National Liberation Front (as in "Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh—The NLF is gonna win") has decided to continue the "struggle for freedom." In other words, he has defected to the West. Battling Western "imperialism" for years as a high-ranking operative in the Communist movement, Truong Nhu Tang has boat-peopled himself to France where he gladly prefers punching a time-card at the Michelin tire factory to life in Socialist Heaven. "Things in the South [Vietnam] have never been as bad as they are now," he moans. "Current repression is far worse than it was in Thieu's day, and now, in addition, there is nothing to eat." The work of capitalist roaders! Well, not by Mr. Tang's estimate: "Hanoi officials blame the war, defoliation, the Chinese and the Americans—all except the real culprits: themselves." But then old Tang gives us a vital clue to the cause of the economic apocalypse. "The real reason," he notes, "is that the peasants have decided, as a form of protest, not to raise any food except what they themselves need." Ah hah! So it is capitalist decadence that's at fault, after all!
? Mr. Tang will be glad to find his newfound home, France, marching to a different drummer. It isn't that they didn't try socialism; certainly their government's effort to produce a profitable supersonic transport was herculean. In addition to pouring billions down the drain to build and not be able to sell the central planner's aviation brain-child, Air France is now rushing out to buy the three remaining Concordes at the steep price of three-for-a-franc (about 8 cents apiece). As one Air France official noted, "They certainly are not worth much more than that. One franc apiece would be too much." Absolutely correcto. The only reason Air France was able to go as high in the bidding as it was, of course, is that its operating losses will be subsidized by the French government.
? But socialism may not be all that bad. Take Russia [please]…As Newsweek reports the Soviet progress: "Disturbed by the rising level of youthful discontent, the Soviet Government is trying to defuse it by encouraging kids to dance, dance, dance. New discos proliferate faster than bouquets at Lenin's tomb; at last count, the Komsomol was operating 260 dance clubs in Moscow alone, more than double the number two years ago. The youth league, which is supposed to spread cultural "enlightenment," now interprets that duty very freely. At one recent evening in the House of Teachers Cultural Center, the "educational" content offered was a disco fashion show; while slides of John Travolta flickered across the screen Komsomol members modeled such decadent designs as green satin jumpsuits for men and revealing sequined sunsuits for women.…The scene is even less square in the city's disco cafés, which are open to all. At the "Little Snowstorm," the throngs besiege the bouncer-doorman with a frenzy that would do justice to New York's Studio 54. Inside, they pogo to punk rock and sip champagne concoctions (at $4.50 a drink.…)" But don't be fooled—there is still a strong scent of communist influence: "outside they brawl on the sidewalk."
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Brickbats".