Jack Kemp, an unemployed bureaucrat who’s never run so much as a lemonade stand, recently started an expensive newsletter to tell other people how to run their businesses. “Let’s Make America Prosper Again . . . Starting With YOU!” he says in a flyer for his Jack Kemp’s American Entrepreneur. Send just $45 and learn “How You Can Build Your Career, Your Business, and Your Family’s Future.”
If I wanted to follow Kemp’s path to success, I would start out as a football player, become a union-sponsored congressman from Hamburg, New York, vote to spend more tax money than Pat Schroeder, get appointed to a high post in a welfare-state bureaucracy, agitate for dozens of new liberal programs in the name of “empowerment,” and expand the agency’s budget 43 percent.
Yet in this mailing Kemp seems to be an expert on business entrepreneurship. In fact, he has “a warm spot in [his] heart for entrepreneurs and their dreams.” He complains about big-spending elitist liberals, but fails to mention that he lent support to the Clintons during the presidential campaign. “They’re all friends of mine” he told the Washington Post, which is why he, in an unprecedented action, testified on behalf of his Housing and Urban Development (HUD) successor Henry Cisneros during Senate confirmation hearings.
So what does Jack Kemp have to offer in his new newsletter? Inspiring advice, like “never give in,” and practical help on starting a franchise. What should I do first? “Contact franchisers. Start to compare the costs and benefits carefully.” And American Entrepreneur is only eight pages long, so you won’t have to wade through “lengthy, time-consuming articles.” Like this 24-page promotional magazine.
Kemp wants to teach you the secret to “Finding Creative Sources of Financing.” Speaking of which, in his four years at HUD, Kemp spent $100 billion, which is more than enough to send a subscription of American Entrepreneur to every person within U.S. borders, including illegal immigrants, until the year 2000. Or, come to think of it, he could avoid isolationism and send a subscription to every literate person in the world.
Should American businessmen really take his advice? His old agency is still riddled with waste and corruption, with billions “unaccounted for,” which is why even his own inspector general had warned that “another scandal is a distinct possibility” if he didn’t clean it up. The Washington Journalism Review recently marveled at how he scampered away with his reputation intact.
If Kemp is pro-business, why did he refuse to sell off the nation’s public housing stock to real investors when he had the chance and instead turn over public housing to the left-wing “community groups” that will support him, he hopes, when he runs for President in 1996? If he cares about private enterprise, why did he block the sale of the Los Angeles Airport to business? If he loves small entrepreneurs, why did he swoon over the L.A. rioters and give the back of his hand to the Korean merchants they burned out? Why, in fact, should a businessman listen to a politician who told the Washington Post, “I’m from the Lane Kirkland wing of the Republican Party”?
Kemp’s whole political life has been a racket, somehow maintaining a conservative reputation while helping to impose welfarist, big-spending, social-democratic policies. The illusion continues, thanks to the publishers of Jack Kemp’s American Entrepreneur.