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Politics

Florida Liberals Are Singing 'Happy Days Are Here Again!'

January 7, 2013 - 6:00pm

America's recent lurch toward socialism, in which Florida participated, has produced something rare among liberals in the Sunshine State: optimism.

The gloom-and-doom crowd are sounding like a Rotary Club meeting, judging by a quick scan of Florida's left-wing political blogs. (Is there any other kind?)

My slanderometer detected an increase in the Rick Scott bashing, as they look forward to next year's governor's race. Also, having made a dent in the conservative majority in the Legislature liberals are almost giddy at the prospect of gaining more control over Floridians.

At the national level there is much for them to cheer about. Even the Economist newspaper, a liberal bastion, is marveling about America's rush into European-style socialism.

Well, they should be. For example, America will surpass even the Europeans when it comes to pummeling productivity via taxes on capital gains and dividends. Even the Europeans seem to understand the thing about golden eggs and geese.

But states are moving at rates both faster and slower than the national pace.

Florida still is a relatively free state and therefore is experiencing growth in a no-growth economy.

This infuriates the left. Growth means development and developers are enshrined in the front row of their pantheon of villains.

Liberals would prefer Florida remain the province of the alligators. Like the liberal congressman who expressed fear that population growth on the island of Guam would cause it to tilt and capsize, they seem to think the weight of concrete will submerge Florida.

But they certainly have reason to cheer. Growth, it seems is good only when it is illegal and unconstrained. So open borders have changed the demographics, which has along with control of the public schools and media -- helped the nanny state to grow.

Conservatives still have their natural optimism, for the most part. Many still believe the nation is still based on capitalism and that it will find ways to withstand the onslaught of taxes and regulation.

In Florida, Republican leaders are hoping to find ways that they can reach the voters. At the state party's big party in Orlando recently there was much talk of remodeling and retooling. Unquestionably, the party should at least learn to modernize its use of technology and social media.

Conservatives at every level have to tell people the truth, and offer rational solutions to real problems. That is a sounder strategy than trying to peddle a zero-calorie version of the Utopian snake oil.

Florida residents will have to individually weigh the benefits of what government does for you against what it does to you, as time goes by. It is their choice.

But the recent experience of fiscal cliff diving should be instructive in that regard. The No. 1 national problem is the skyrocketing national debt and the debate in Washington boiled down to how much more debt would be added.

If that is the future, there is no future.

Lloyd Brown was in the newspaper business nearly 50 years, beginning as a copy boy and retiring as editorial page editor of the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville. After retirement he served as speech writer for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

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