The Day Trickle Down Economics Began

Nixon guard hatsFor those who’ve just joined the passing scene, or for those who’d like a recap as we face the latest downward spiral of the economy and civilization as we know it, a quick survey of recent years may be useful. Once we take a quick spin through the past 40 years, I’d like to dig deeper into this archeological construct we call government back to the very foundations of democracy itself.
Hold on, we’ll move fast.
Some time ago, it was the 1970’s. Richard Nixon gave the US Presidency a certain Imperial sheen. This was exemplified by outfitting the White House Guards in high peaked hats and tunics. Very chic, very continental. But the European style didn’t sit well with opinion makers or Americans at large, and so it was dropped. Indeed, King Richard the Nixon himself was unceremoniously dropped from office for a serious breach of etiquette, whether real or imagined. Some go so far as to say he was framed, never having ordered the Watergate break-ins in the first place, but nevertheless, eager to cover it up nonetheless. —as to the truth of such a tale, I can only refer the reader to The Bush Dynasty by …..
There seems to be a pattern here for our Presidents. They are given a big job to do, and for the most part, they are criticized and condemned for it. Jimmy Carter gave the office of the president a folksy spin by addressing the TV audience in a cardigan sweater, and placing solar panels on the White House roof, urging everyone to turn down their thermostats. Speed limits on the Instertant Highway system were reduced to 55-double nickel, to conserve fuel. It seemed to hobble the whole idea of America the Beautiful, which was taken down a further notch when 52 Americans were held hostage in Iran for 444 days.
Ronald Reagan took the helm in 1981, the hostages were released thanks to numerous pressures faced by Iran such as the Iran/Iraq war, the freezing of Iranian assets in America and the diplomatic efforts of Carter’s Deputy Secretary of State, Warren Christopher. One thing that can be said about Reagan is he knew how to stand up to the media. He gave the country a great psychological boost, though what he did for the economy may not be quite so illustrious. Reagon tore down Carter’s solar panels. He said “America is great. We don’t need no stinking reduction in Highway Speed limits or constraints of the burning of fossil fuels, just because the price of fuel has tripled in the last ten years.
He went on to be a great statesman President, one who quipped “Let’s reduce taxes on the wealthy, so they can invest all the additional money they don’t pay in taxes. They could build anti-ballistic missiles with this additionally repatriated money. …and we could build eight star luxury hotels to show our appreciation for all their hard work and contributions to society. What’s good for the top 5% of the population is good for everyone, as they are good tippers.” OK, OK, Ronald Reagan didn’t really say it quite like that, but anyway the theory is called trickledown economics.
Actually, I’m not sure where the trickling really starts or what it is that is being trickled. It seems like every chief executive of the United States has been ‘trickled on’ by a bumper crop in “Impeach X” where “X” stands for the seated head of state.
So enough with humor. Let us look at the interaction of the classes in a democratic society. Modern democracies can trace their lineage back to monarchies. The evolution of monarchies into democracies began about this time of year. It was June 15th, 1215 when King John signed the Magna Carta. This year marks the 794th anniversary of that signing. The Magna Carta wasn’t the first time constraints were placed on the British Monarch by his or her Aristocracy, but it was the first time that someone took the trouble to gather up all the various agreements and practices that had existed previously and codified them into the Magna Carta. Some will argue that the Barons who met with King John at Runnymede Meadow were just watching out for their won backsides. True, to a degree. Actually, they were more looking out for their families. Rights of inheritance were a major issue in the agreement.
However, Edward Coke, 17th century jurist and Member of Parliament, known to Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, argued what was actually at stake was The Law; no one, not even the King is above the law. This is powerful stuff. It led to the English Petition of Rights. So again, we might ask ourselves, when it comes to ‘trickle down economics,’ what is trickling down on whom? That is the challenge that governments are supposed to be set up to answer.

Is Marriage Dead?

While the craven hearts of men and women have long been lamented in popular song and story, shall we now dismiss marriage as outdated and irrelevant? With the divorce rate gyrating around 50% of all marriages, it would seem there is more ‘promise’ than ‘delivery’ to the archaic institution.
Perhaps marriage should go the way of slavery and transport by horse and carriage.
But wait, all respect to those cloven by divorce, as divorce does work on individuals and couples in all walks of life, under all manner of circumstances, on those with varying degrees of ‘wherewithal’ ($$$) and smarts (IQ), are we hearing the full story when statistics cite a 50% divorce rate?
When it comes to large numbers, like the entire adult population of America, can’t we also conclude that 50% of the people are below average? Note: I am not inferring these are necessarily the same people.
Are we hearing the full story when we hear that ‘freedom’ and focus on ‘income generating activity’ to the exclusion of a private life are more important priorities? Have people truly become so sophisticated these days that the simple pleasures of exchanging kind words, keeping house, candles at dinner, and grocery shopping have all become passé?
It is a sad world indeed, I should think, once people begin to say to one another such things as:
“I don’t lift a finger for nobody unless I am paid for it.”
“I don’t have time for intimacy. It is too labor intensive. The results don’t match the efforts.”
“I don’t have time for exclusive intimacy. I always find myself falling into the trap of giving to my partner more than I get in return.”
Surely, with over population such as it is, it is good there are those who would prefer to forgo marriage. It is good there are worker bees uninterested in childrearing. Would that more people take up that lifestyle, especially in the failed states and least techno savvy countries.
However, I should also ask those who pursue such freedom and such dedication to their profession; ‘what of the children? What of those who come after us? If taking time for conversation, over candles (or not) has become droll, if every transaction must have a dollar sign attached to it, what does that say about our commitment to being human? Vending machines are very good at giving value for the dollar, though I would be hard-pressed to find a vending machine that can cook a fresh caught rainbow trout or even a tasty bowl of Hungarian goulash, much less a hug or even a smile.
Perhaps dinner over candlelight with sparkling eyes, sweet bouquets and sobriquets aren’t meant to last forever, but infatuation isn’t marriage. Couples golf, tandem bikes and ballroom dancing count as together time, too.
If any case, when it comes to delving into the craven heart of men and women are concerned, when it comes to saying “Marriage is dead, 50% of marriages fail, I would also point out that 99.9% of the people can’t be president of the United States or the Sovereign Head of England.
Should those institutions be discarded, too?