I tell you - I love the various forms of media that are available now. This allows different people to express their viewpoints for the rest of the world to understand how they think.
Such was the case on the Shelley Wynters show on WAOK this afternoon. A proud "Black Democrat" called in and told of his unwillingness to be tricked by a "Black Conservative" such as the talk show host, attempting to spread division among the ranks of Black Democratic voters with regards to the presidential election. All of the other stuff he said was irrelevant. The point that I want to focus on is his comment with regard to his preference for the Democratic party. He stated that he favors "a level playing field" over "trickle down economics" as the reason why he is and will continue to be a Democrat.
These two particular talking points get constant replay within our community. I would like to dissect both of them and put them into the context of REALITY as we know it today.
The much sought after "Level Playing Field". Ahhh isn't life nice! The defenders of our interests are like little "Bobcats", smoothing out each bumps in the playing field. There is no rut that has been carved in the Earth by years of erosion from the rain that is going to escape them! This statement is akin to my "racism chasing" element of my label "Black Quasi-Socialist Progressive-Fundamentalist Racism Chaser". They are always in "ground prep" mode but don't know how to play the game.
Let's take a personal tour - go to www.google.com/maps and type in "57th and haverford, philadelphia, pa" (Google Earth actually works better). As you zoom out by just a few clicks you should note that THIS is West Philly. "We" are all by ourselves in all of the streets that you see around you. My challenge to this caller is - How do you talk about a Level Playing Field when the ADVERSARY HAS LEFT THE FIELD and you are standing there ALL BY YOU SELF - with YOUR PEOPLE waiting for you to do something so that they can get into the game?
The concept of "Level Playing Field" speaks to racism, the deck stacked against you before you even try, unfairness. Again - what happens when you are in an area ALL BY YOURSELF and thus you run the field? The concept of fighting for a "level playing field" seems rather empty. So hollow you can hear your echo.
Now "Trickle Down Economics". This is an interesting one. It goes back to the Reagan years - hero for the Conservatives, the anti-Christ for the Progressive. As the theory goes - take care of the wealthy and the corporations and via their financial transactions the benefit will flow down to the little people. Now keep in mind that "taking care" of the wealthy means not TAXING them as much as the progressives believe that they should be taxed.
In the weird world of "private property" and "fair share" the Progressive sees a policy in which a private citizen is "allowed" to keep more of the hard earned money that he made as a "BENEFIT" to him!!! In their parlance from the government perspective it is said "I could have taken 60% of your money away but instead I am only going to take 35%. Don't you love me for it? Well why don't you act more gratified toward me?"
The bottom line of the matter is that more foundational to the debate over "Trick Down economics" is the question of private property and the role of the government to tax/confiscate private property that is in the form of income in order to fund the government's agenda. We all realize that the government needs money to provide for its basic services. The ideological split comes when we consider the expanded role of government in the areas of social welfare, promotion of public health (or more accurately - the abstraction of the consequences of people's behavior from the outcomes they are forced to recognize) and general commercial regulation - just to name a few.
I accept that "the rich" are going to not only pay more absolute dollars in the world of a flat percentage of taxes because they make more but I can also agree with a "progressive" tax where their percentage is higher than the poor so that they are paying both a higher absolute amount in dollars and a higher percentage of their income. The problem comes with respect to the level of punitive assumptions that one side seems to enter the debate with. It is almost as if the rich STOLE ALL OF THEIR FORTUNES and thus the role of the government is to "correct the imbalance". To this I say If you believe that the rich stole their money and thus your punitive disposition to them is justified then the LEGAL SYSTEM is the more proper channel for you to achieve your vengeance against them rather than the tax code! I will join you in filing your lawsuit whenever you find evidence of gross malfeasance that has resulted in their profit. Thus the great class wars are rooted in these assumptions.
One common theme of this blog, however, is to focus upon the results of each respective economic ideology when "they are left all alone" and are forced to produce a given standard of living for their constituents. The "level playing field" versus the "trickle down theory". Which of the two endures this test more sufficiently? In my recent post about the current fortunes of the city of Detroit - it seems that they indeed have a "level playing field". In fact so many real world bulldozers have come in and torn down old factories and abandoned houses that they are just WAITING for this brilliant economic concept to take hold and actually produce something of value. In last summer's Harper's Magazine they attempted to save face with the situation in Detroit - point to how so many of the vacant lots have been turned into urban gardens where organic fruit and vegetables are now produced. Great!!! As long as the labor unions don't come in and attempt to organize the workers and force $30 per hour wage rates out of them - they just might have the ability to sell tomatoes at market prices rather than at $15.99 per pound as they rot on the shelves.
What about "trickle down" in Detroit? It seems that the bulk of their problems started when the "tricklers" packed up their manufacturing operations and moved outside of the city/state/regional limits to other areas. I will say it again - I have NEVER seen a manufacturer built a new plant having been motivated by the sight of a gleaming new UNION HALL right near by. I have indeed seen many union halls ring the sight of a new manufacturing plant. In fact it is interesting to drive through an urban community today and note the labels that remain upon the buildings long after the core manufacturing operations have shut down. I am thinking of a particular union hall right now on 14th street in Atlanta that was blocks away from the former Atlantic Steel site that is now closed, having been turned into "Atlantic Station" the new urban retain and residential hot spot in Atlanta.
It is quite possible that I am biased. But it seems to me that in the battle between the two - Trickle Down wins over concept of a Crafting a Level Playing field.
I respect the work of the activists. They are needed as a means of countering the concentration of power. There is no doubt that certain powerful trusts have a tendency to get together and run over the interests of the public. At the same time there are periods in the economic cycle in which the "tricklers" must be allowed to regenerate themselves against the changed backdrop that they face in competition. We are going through one of these situations in the macro-international level right now. In this case it is reasonable and practical to allow the big picture framework to be settled upon THEN allow the labor activists to come in and fine tune and customize the outcomes for the best interests of the workers. If they operate too early however - they turn potential workers into the permanently unemployed as their region loses out. (I will accept the claim that might be made against me that I am accelerating "the race to the bottom" just as long as YOU accept the claim against you that you are an "unemployment maker" where you have a theoretical $30 labor rate with the problem of not having a firm to allow you to actually EXPRESS this self valuation that you have. Which flaw is more destructive? Look at Detroit and other cities for your answer.)