The Reagan Era introduced America to Dr. Arthur Laffer, his namesake Laffer Curve, and the concept of Supply-side economics; a system we would come to know as Trickle-Down economics. For almost 40 years America has relentlessly pursued Dr. Laffer’s idea and for a very small number of people it has been profoundly successful. For the rest of us, the 99% of us, the Laffer Curve was largely unknown by name but the pains brought upon us by trickle-down economics are significantly felt and defy enumeration.
From the end of World War II until early into the 1980’s America enjoyed a Keynesian economic model of progressive taxation which encouraged industry leaders to reinvest profits into new and modern plants, equipment, and hiring and retaining employees. During this time, we saw the greatest increase in middle-class prosperity our nation has ever known. Few people, if anyone, knew it at the time but Supply-side economics would erode these successes and punish the masses. During the Keynesian era, a single worker could earn enough money at one job to afford a good home, transportation, support a family including an unemployed partner and often numerous children, and still enjoy luxuries like regular vacations. Upward mobility was common-place. Companies like IBM were successful and employees were well-compensated leading to a symbiotic relationship between employer and employee that often lasted for decades; frequently the entirety of one worker’s life was spent with one company.
By the time Reagan was elected, We the People were being led to believe the best way to run our country was like a business. The wealthy, the powerful, and their acquired proxies, took up leadership positions in our government for that expressed purpose. Believing waste, fraud and abuse were rampant in our government and only the private sector could be trusted to set us upon the proper path we set about creating America Incorporated. After all, markets demand efficiency do they not? We lined up to hear our bosses-turned-leaders preach the gospel of an invisible hand. Economics professors came onboard ensuring the next batch of business professionals were properly admiring of the new American Way TM. The marching orders were clear: Reduce, cut, eliminate or privatize all of it. Except for the War Machine and corporate welfare everything was to be scrutinized and when scrutiny failed to support the narrative there was nothing to stop the fabrication of motivation. Can’t find a good reason to cut welfare? Invent the Welfare Queen. To sell this story, she has to be living a life of comfort and excess at our expense. We have to envision her driving to the bank in an expensive car to deposit her unearned income and of course she has to be a minority. Now that’s a proper fabrication. The establishment can trot out this construct to motivate and agitate, to divide and ultimately conquer.
Four decades later we can look back upon our work and see the error of our ways. We properly executed a bad plan and as a result the wealthiest 1% of Americans live lavishly off passive income. Like the aforementioned mythical welfare queen their money shows up at interval through no effort of theirs. Thanks to a digital economy the only part missing is the drive to the bank but you can rest assured that their cars are even fancier.
Corporations like General Electric enjoy billions of dollars in profits annually while receiving a negative tax bill from the IRS thanks to the many undeserved considerations brought into existence through a system of paid lobbyists and custom-crafted legislation. We invade sovereign nations without declaration or provocation in an ongoing and escalating war for hydrocarbons yet the oil and gas industry is asked to bear no burden in this costly devastation. Instead, Big Energy are among the most ravenous consumers of welfare.
Senator Sanders said, “Change always comes from the bottom up.” Nothing worthwhile ever trickles down and the elites will never condemn the abhorrent actions of their kind. Bernie Madoff occupies a prison cell today because he stole from the 1%, meanwhile the leadership of BofA, Bear Stearns, Goldman Sachs, AIG and Lehman Brothers walk free after a $1 trillion tax-payer funded bailout that We the People saw no part of. Where is our relief?
It is time to bring the same level of commitment we have shown a few industries to the rest of us. We the people of our nation deserve a universal basic income. Like any investor, we citizens have a right to dividends from our nation’s economic successes. We are running our country like a business and it is time for Americans to see a return on investment. We are the wealthiest nation the world has ever known. There is nothing we cannot afford. We need only choose to do so.