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Just in time for Halloween, the legacy of the shiny, happy, shoulder-padded 1980s has come back to haunt the U.S.   Remember the Trickle Down Theory of economics?  (This spooky tale is great, for all those connoisseurs of busted policy theories.)

Once upon a time, a certain high ranking government official -- who just so happened to be a revered conservative -- President Reagan, peddled the idea that the uber rich could and would help the poor.  Aside from putting Robin Hood out of business, the theory helped create a permanent divide between the Left and the Right.  To this day, those who choose to deny the eloquence of Trickle Down are considered Socialists or Communists.  Those who embrace it are true-blue Capitalists or free-market "progressives".

The treat was the public's trust in the aforementioned politician's status as a straight-talking icon who, although governor of California, was still regarded as a Washington outsider and maverick. His ghost haunts 2008 along with his economic plans. The trick in this tale has been played on the working poor and middle-class.  The only way this theory worked was by selling the idea that the collective American goodwill and trust should be placed in big business.

The Trickle Down Theory and its ideological progeny, supply-side or "Voodoo" Economics , might help explain the recent Wall Street and corporate fiascos.  The government's bailouts certainly date back at least as far as the 80s, beginning with the federal government's marketplace participation in helping airlines, and both theories continue to haunt the present. 

And the story developed through the ‘90s.

Today, the economy has unseated the occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan as the most important topic in this year's presidential campaign.  Though the ghost of Vodoo Economics sounds more like "no new taxes," the trick stays the same.  This year, voters should seriously consider the validity of Trickle Down. 

Isn't it time to permanently debunk this tall tale? 

No one besides libertarians actually believes in the ultimate good of individual choices rather than developing ways to work en masse.  But libertarians believe this is an end to itself, not a beneficent plan for helping society.  Compassionate conservatives may not be myth makers but this economic theory ends in more poverty, fewer jobs, and greater mistrust of the businesses government has protected over time.

Matthew C. Scallon
October 14, 2008 at 08:58 PM
No one besides libertarians actually believes in the ultimate good of individual choices rather than developing ways to work en masse. Hmmm (Scratching head). Does this axiom apply to other social issues or is it limited to economics?



Walt Perdue from Oceanside
October 14, 2008 at 09:24 PM
Doesn't the "trickle-down theory" predate Regan by at least 50 years? Of course, it has been bruited steadily by the well-off ever since its genesis, but consider the source. I like Henry George's view, but, alas, I don't underwrite glossy TV specials or finance political campaigns.

Richard Milhaus Narlian from Solana Beach,California
October 15, 2008 at 01:45 AM
During the later part of the 70's(besides disco)the part that O remember the most is that the trickle down-was more loke a pee-on theory.

Richard Milhaus Narlian from Solana Beach,California
October 15, 2008 at 01:48 AM
Hitting the O,instead of the I key-is a problem for me,But,you get the drift.

michael valentine from spring Valley
October 15, 2008 at 08:03 PM
VooDoonomics went hand in hand with the Republican myth that the government didn't work. That business had a better idea. Remember the senile old actor said, "The scariest eight words in the english language are,'I'm from the government and I'm here to help."? We could even go back to the old capitalist hero Ana Rand. Milton Friedman was one of her minions. That such Social Darwinist would use social issues (abortion, God, gays and guns) to push an economic agenda that favors the rich shows their utter lack of morals and the lack of depth to the one issue voter.

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