Saturday, March 7, 2009

Myth of the Market – Pt 1

In the 1980's I wore a leisure suit, tapped my toes to Funkytown and was a card-carrying member of the Republican Party. I worked for US Bank and firmly believed that president, Jimmy Carter, was a nice guy but a complete wimp. The country was wallowing in recession and inflation and I felt that Ronald Reagan had a plan -- Get government out of the way and free up business to generate jobs and prosperity. A rising tide, surely, would raise all boats.

I had just entered my 30’s in 1980 – hell, what did I know? Not much, as it would turn out. The biggest transfer of wealth in our nation’s history had begun under my nose; “trickle-down economics” as it was called.

So I waited patiently for my share of the pie. Instead, what I got was a “pink slip”. Corporations got their tax breaks and the money flowed. Unfortunately the “trickle” was plugged off just inside the board room of US Bank, and every corporation in America. Soon, US Bank announced the first “downsizing” (layoffs) in its long history as an Oregon corporation. My share of the trickle dribbled to me in the form of an unemployment compensation check.

I was fortunate and soon landed a job with the State of Oregon as a Welfare worker. I was given the rare opportunity to see how the other half lived. This experience was one of many that caused me to split from my family tradition and became a Democrat. Up to this point, as a staunch Republican, I had firmly believed that people had a responsibility to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. But now as a Welfare worker, I discovered that many Americans didn’t have bootstraps.

The backbone of Reaganomics, was the dependence on tax cuts - Just lift those burdensome taxes off the backs of business, and they will, out of sheer delight (apparently), open their hearts and their doors and hire people. Uh, well, not living-wage union people, though… minimum wage people. As if to underscore the “we mean business” message, Reagan fired all of the rebellious Air Traffic Controllers. It was great theater - and highly effective. And wages (adjusted for inflation) in all sectors of the economy began a sure and steady decline – a decline which continues to this day. The exception to this trend being the skyrocketing rise of executive compensation to obscene levels. So much for “the Market”.

1 comment:

Kara said...

um, didn't we all learn from communism that the "trickle down" effect gets bottlenecked somewhere near the opening every time? i mean, i know this and i'm not even 30 yet.

and reagan was a crap actor. with a stupid face.