Al Gore's Lock Box
Jude Wanniski
November 1, 2000


Memo 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 November 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 ten 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 NYTimes, 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.