“Trickle-down economics is a Leftist lie,” British conservative Daniel Hannan politician writes:
In a 2012 paper for the Hoover Institute, the brilliant American writer Thomas Sowell showed that phrase was first used by FDR’s speech writer, Samuel Rosenman, who attacked “the philosophy that had prevailed in Washington since 1921, that the object of government was to provide prosperity for those who lived and worked at the top of the economic pyramid, in the belief that prosperity would trickle down to the bottom of the heap and benefit all.”
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What free-marketeers in fact advocate is not trickle-down, but trickle-up. The way to become rich, in a competitive economy, is to offer a service to the broad mass of consumers. I am typing these words using software that I bought from Bill Gates. The transaction enriched him – adding fractionally to his net wealth – but it also enriched me, making my life more convenient. Bill Gates became wealthy, in other words, by persuading a great many poorer people to buy something from him. In doing so, he made us considerably better off, too. Trickle-up, you see.
Trickle-down, by contrast, would represent the precise opposite of an open market system. It would involve handing wads of cash to the undeserving rich in the hope that their affluence would somehow transfer itself to the rest of us. Now such transfers do occasionally happen. The bank bailouts were the most notorious example: they shifted a great deal of money, through coercive taxation, from people on low and medium incomes to wealthy bankers and bondholders. The Common Agricultural Policy is another instance: its cost falls disproportionately on the poor, who spend a relatively high percentage of their income on food, and its benefits go overwhelmingly to big landowners. Likewise the alternative energy boondoggles that force the general population to subsidise those same landowners through higher fuel bills.
In other words, the whole mindset of crony socialism that market the early days of the Obama administration, and can be summed up in a single, damning word: Solyndra (or Tesla. Or Government Motors, but that’s two words.) In the early 1920s, the American left began to use the traditionally conservative word “liberalism” to separate themselves from the failed “Progressive” (read: totalitarian) policies of Woodrow Wilson. Over the next 15 years they would go on (as FDR and Truman both did) to Orwellianly denounce Coolidge’s laissez-faire worldview as “fascist.” Similarly, the next GOP presidential candidate could have lots of fun driving his interviewers absolutely insane calling for a permanent end to the trickle-down economics of Barack Obama and his fellow leftists.
The left steals bases all the time. Why can’t we?
Related: In his weekly USA Today column, Glenn Reynolds offers a troika of additional ways “to ‘do something’ about poverty.”