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.

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