Enterprise Zones are the subject of Jeffrey Tucker’s article in this issue; Mr. Tucker found that despite the free-market wrapping paper Jack Kemp’s gift to the American public is only more welfare, this time for businessmen. The original idea, as it was transported here from Thatcher’s England by Stuart Butler, was that economically depressed areas should get a break from all government regulations in an effort to kick-start the local economy. The utter reversal of meaning of the term is reminiscent of the transformation of “educational choice.” Sheldon Richman’s article on choice, which ran in Chronicles in March of 1990, documented the sea change that word has undergone in its journey from Good Idea to White House policy. Parental choice and the freedom to choose a school among a mix of public, private, and parochial schools, without the double burden of school taxes and tuition, has come to mean choice within the public school system only. Such is the complete victory of the new definition that education reporters now regularly use the term “choice” as if it never had any but its second meaning.

These two examples are not coincidental, just typical. When Orwell had Oceania fighting a perpetual war for perpetual peace he was not making a prediction about the nature of despotic power but an observation. Governments have always fought defensive wars of aggression, and on the domestic front as well, no tactic is so effective as to take the language of one’s critics, redefine it, and embrace the revised concept as your own—because now it is your own.

Congress, the Executive Branch, and the millions who administer the appropriations money, by men who are even weaker and more venal than the rest of us, are not interested in salvaging an inner city or improving education—only in expanding their own influence and buying more votes. This is one of the many reasons why reform will never come from the top down, and those who are looking for leadership from Washington, whether their cause is abortion or acid rain, are spending their time and money not in vain but in support of the very government that is the source of the trouble.