The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The 999 lives of voodoo economics

Hopefully not just in time for a repeat of the Reagan-era Savings & Loan bailout (also involving a crooked Bush), Jon Chait examines the phenomenon of supply-side economics. That is, how a patently insane economic theory could go from an object of conservative derision to Republican gospel in spite of failing not just in theory but in practice-- twice! And turn the party of thriftiness into the biggest debt-financed spenders in global history along the way.

The result has been a slow- motion disaster. Income inequality has approached levels normally associated with Third World oligarchies, not healthy Western democracies. The federal government has grown so encrusted with business lobbyists that it can no longer meet the great public challenges of our time. Not even many conservative voters or intellectuals find the result congenial. Government is no smaller--it is simply more debt-ridden and more beholden to wealthy elites.

It was not always this way. A generation ago, Republican economics was relentlessly sober. Republicans concerned themselves with such ills as deficits, inflation, and excessive spending. They did not care very much about cutting taxes, and (as in the case of such GOP presidents as Herbert Hoover and Gerald Ford) they were quite willing to raise taxes in order to balance the budget. While many of them were wealthy and close to business, the leaders of business themselves had a strong sense of social responsibility that transcended their class interests. By temperament, such men were cautious rather than utopian.

Over the last three decades, however, such Republicans have passed almost completely from the scene, at least in Washington, to be replaced by, essentially, a cult.

Recommended reading, in spite of weasel words, at least in places, and, essentially, an overuse of the comma. Especially recommended for conservative friends and relatives of mine who are still convinced that I'm the loony radical. But that's Bizarroworld for ya.