John Stossel reflects on Evan Bayh’s retirement:
Wow. By all accounts, he would have easily won re-election. How rare and refreshing when a politician voluntarily steps down. How even more rare and refreshing for him to acknowledge that he can contribute more in the private sector.
The truth is, he certainly can. If Bayh succeeds at business, he will enhance more lives and create more jobs than all of Congress ever does.
The popularity of this sort of rhetoric among small-government types mostly illustrates how small-brained they are. It should be both obvious and uncontroversial to observe that the policy environment shaped by congress has an impact on the welfare of the American people that far exceeds that of most businesses. This is equally true whether or not you’re skeptical of the value of activist government. If you think that taxes are economically ruinous, then politicians who stand against tax increases are doing great things for the economy. And if taxes aren’t economically ruinous, then politicians who advocate for higher taxes and more social services are doing great things for human welfare.
Obviously a small number of businessmen and innovators come up with world-changing ideas. But the majority of people who succeed in business, like the majority of people who succeed at anything, do so in a rather modest way. Senators are very successful politicians who have a major opportunity to shape the country for good or for ill.