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Election years mean bumper crops of political promises. More than one party and candidate, but almost always the same results.

Those promises keep coming, and people are still unfulfilled.

Lately, we see signs that the youngest Americans are on the verge of giving up on the American dream, and on capitalism itself.

Thirty-five or forty years ago, there was a country that actually only has one party. Its people, too, had tired of promises that better times were just ahead. Desperate to stay in power, the Communists ruling Vietnam began ceding little slivers of free enterprise to their people, to farm, run businesses and import/export.

Today, instead of begging for international food aid, Vietnam grows enough rice to feed itself and its neighbors, makes and exports everything from electronics to clothing, and has gone from being the poorest to one of the most prosperous Asian nations.

They weren’t “meant” to be in poverty. It wasn’t “structural”. Her people weren’t “doomed” by the scars of French colonialism or the Vietnam War.

It’s still not paradise on Earth, and it’s not a model free market. Government-owned enterprises still compete against the people, and press unfair advantages. It’s been two steps forward and one step back much of the time.

“The poor you will always have with you”, it says in the Gospels. The question you have to ask is, do political promises offer a way out of poverty?

Or is the ultimate political promise, one that is always kept, is that more government keeps people poor?

And more freedom is the most likely path out of hunger and want.

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