Monday, September 22, 2008

The End of Conservative Policy (Economic Edition)

I need someone to explain to me what is good about the conservative economic plan; I've never been a fan of conservative theories in general, but their economic policies have always struck me as particularly obtuse. I could never imagine something like the trickle down theory of economics working, merely because my grasp of human nature is such that I think once we have something we covet -money, clothing, whatever- we are not, as a group, likely to willingly give it up even for the good of the populace. We will hold onto what we covet unless there are laws or regulations dictating that we do otherwise. Perhaps I am wrong about the inherent selfishness present in human nature; but I think the current economic crisis belies that idea. The money that was supposed to make it down to the middle and lower classes via tax cuts for the most wealthy and tax incentives for the corporations never did show up; at least, not in my household and probably not in many others. I'm not entirely sure how it was going to trickle down anyway; perhaps someone who knows the intricate details of Reaganomics could do more to inform me if it was supposed to influence merely the prices of items on the market or if it was supposed to be in the form of raises. I was always caught up in the fact that it didn't work in the 1980s and it did not work this time around either. My outbursts on the matter were so annoying that a teacher of mine in high school 'recommended' that I not take Econ with her, and that I should probably take Law and Society instead; I took that advice, partially for her sake and partially for my own, but that means I know less about economic matters than any self-respecting political junkie should.

What I do know is that what annoyed me about Reagonomics in high school and prior to high school continues to bother me to this day; I also profoundly agree with Rachel Maddow when she said (paraphrased from tonight's show) that those who despise government and do not believe it is the answer to a nation's woes should probably not be elected to actually run the government. I also dislike the deregulation of industries. As I see it, regulation is a must; an addendum to my previous rule of thumb regarding human behavior is this: morals generally are not voluntarily applied to corporations or those who wish to make money, and that most of those wishing to make money will do so by any means necessary, even if it means ignoring what would be common sense for long-term growth. One only needs to read The Jungle to understand why regulation is important. Barring that, one only has to look at Wall Street and our nation's financial 'strength' circa October 29, 1929 through 1939. And that only took our involvement in a world war to bounce back from. Regulatory practices seem like a good idea, mostly because the conservative idea about a free market being self-correcting is in actuality true. The problem with that self-correcting function being that much of the country cannot truly handle such fluctuations like a market correction. It is my belief, and perhaps the wrong one, that it is better to stymie potential and gratuitous windfalls if doing so also allows for a certain amount of control when the market heads in the opposite direction. It means less exhilarating growth, but it also means less abysmal lows as well. As someone who has never been much of a risk taker in any medium, that sounds like a fair balance to me.

Considering that even conservatives are working fiercely against the natural correction of the market, I am calling into question whether or not belief in the conservative philosophy -at least, the economic fork of that philosophy- is coming to an end. I can only hope that some of it does die, and with a whimper instead of a bang. But then, I'm more of a pump-primer, Keynesian economic policy girl myself. If anyone could tell me why I am wrong in aligning myself with that philosophy, I'd be much obliged.

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