This election was lost four and six years ago, not this year. They [Republicans] didn’t start thinking of the old common fellow till just as they started out on the election tour. The money was all appropriated for the top in the hopes that it would trickle down to the needy. Mr. Hoover was an engineer. He knew that water trickles down. Put it uphill and let it go and it will reach the driest little spot. But he didn’t know that money trickled up. Give it to the people at the bottom and the people at the top will have it before night, anyhow. But it will at least have passed through the poor fellows hands. They saved the big banks, but the little ones went up the flue.
-- Will Rogers, Column 518: And Here’s How It All Happened, The Tulsa Daily World, 12/5/1932
Rich people create jobs.
That’s what the man said.
Give rich people more money, and they create more jobs.
This guy, Shane Porter, was responding to a comment I made yesterday on Twitter, which itself was a response to an article in The Hill which lamented a probable Republican loss in the House and Senate in coming elections.
The article says Republicans are worried that they will lose both the House and Senate in the next election.
I suspect this is a likely scenario, given Republicans’ record low popularity and the direction of recent elections in Virginia and Alabama.
But I’m not convinced congressional Republicans are as concerned about this possibility as The Hill makes them out to be.
You see, a lot of these power brokers, old white men like Mitch McConnell, are getting long in the tooth. And as I noted in my tweet, they are very much aware of their poll numbers.
They’ve had years to do something about it.
And they haven’t.
Ipso facto: they don’t care.
They don’t care, because they’ve gotten what they wanted: A huge cash payout.
Look here, they’re going to lose power sooner or later. They know this. That’s how it works.
Even in good times, Americans are pissed off. Americans are always pissed off. We’ve got it better than anybody else on the planet, but we’re still mad. Whether it be a legitimate problem or whether it’s outrage manufactured by politicians and the media, Americans are always mad about something. And whoever happens to be in power gets the blame, rightly or wrongly. And so, every few years, we toss the old bums out and install new bums. And the government goes back and forth like a kid petulantly flipping a light-switch up and down. Click. Click. Click. Click. You yell at the kid, stop it! and as soon as you turn your back, click! Click! Click!
So, Republicans know they’re going to be out of power soon, 2018, 2020, they’re history. Until the next time. Click. Click. Click.
Mitch McConnell is far, far too savvy a politician not to know this. He might or might not keep his seat, but he’s not going to be Senate Majority Leader much longer.
So he and the rest of his cronies are cashing out while they still have the chance.
And really, loss of power is a hell of a lot easier to stomach when you’re sitting on millions. Kinda takes the sting out of it, if you know what I mean.
And when it all falls apart – and it will – well, then the other guys are in power and they get stuck with both the blame and the responsibility for cleaning up the mess.
Repeat as necessary. This is the basic GOP formula since Nixon. This is the mindset of modern business, of wealth. They’re not interested in building a better world in perpetuity. They’re not interested in leaving anything behind. These aren’t the industrialists of old. This is modern business, run by the MBAs. They run the country the same way they run business: swoop in, liquidate, boost the stock, cash out to millions. Move on. They don’t care what happens to the company when they’re done with it, they don’t care about customers, or products, or employees. They’re not builders, they’re predators.
They don’t care about the consequences and they don’t care about tomorrow.
They care about stockholders – and their stock in particular.
They care about one thing and one thing only, money.
That was the gist of my snarky response to The Hill.
Which apparently struck a nerve with my audience, who spread it on social media.
Which brings us to back ‘round to Shane’s comment
Tell me whiny Einstein, who creates jobs in this country, the rich or the poor? The answer to that question is a fact of life. The more money the people who own the companies make the more likely they are to hire more employees, this is how you create jobs in a capitalist society
Who creates jobs? The rich or the poor?
Obviously from the context, Shane is pretty sure the answer must be: rich people.
And thus it follows that if rich people create jobs, then richer people must create more jobs. Right?
If rich people are richer, they’ll hire more employees. This, opines Shane, is how you create jobs in a capitalist society. And there it is: The Cardiff Giant, Reaganomics, AKA trickle-down economics, AKA the second-coming of supply-side economics. Now, Shane didn't get that from any basic economics class – or rather if he did, he slept through the rest of the semester (or got his degree from Trump University, whatever).
So where did he get it from? Who told him this?
Who keeps telling America this?
Rich people, that’s who.
If you give us more money, it’ll be good for you. Eventually.
That is literally the hook of trickle-down economics. You give us more money and somehow, eventually, down the road, it’ll be good for you.
Ironically, this is exactly how most religions work.
And most confidence games.
This is the same old warm piss wealthy conservatives have been peddling as lemonade since long before Reagan came along, since the 1930s in fact as pointed out in the Will Rogers quote that led off this article and that gives trickle down economics its name.
This is the same long con the wealthy have been pulling since the end of The Great Depression.
And it works. For them. Because there’s a sucker born every minute.
There’s a sucker born every minute.
You’ve heard this right? There’s a sucker born every minute. P.T. Barnum, yes?
Well, no. David Hannum actually. Though the quote is most often misattributed to old P.T.
And that is damned ironic. It is.
What does this have to do with trickle-down economics? Bear with me, you’ll see.
In 1869, a guy named George Hull, an atheist, created something called the Cardiff Giant after an argument with a bunch of Methodists regarding Nephilim, the supposed giants of Genesis in the Christian Bible.
Hull figured to put one over one the Christians. So he had a huge block of soft gypsum secretly carved into the likeness of a giant man (complete with enormous penis, for some reason that I’m sure Hull found hilarious). He used various chemicals and dyes to “age” his newly created petrified giant. Then he had it secretly buried on his cousin’s farm. He waited a year, for Hull knew the secret to a good prank was patience. After sufficient time, Hull’s cousin, William Newell, who was obviously in on the scam, hired some men to dig a well. And surprise, of course, they “found” the buried giant right where Newell wanted his new well dug.
Word got around fast. And Hull saw possibilities beyond putting one over on some gullible bible thumpers.
The cousin set up a tent and started charging admission and people came from far and wide to see a genuine petrified giant from the Bible.
Of course, it didn’t take long for science of the time, primitive as it was, to declare the Cardiff Giant a giant fake.
But predictably the preachers and the holy men and the religious nuts and the sensationalists dismissed science, just as they do today, and claimed the Cardiff Giant proof of whatever con they were using to bilk the wide-eyed suckers.
People didn’t care. They came and plunked down 50 cents apiece, which was a damned steep admission price in those days (the average wage was about $15 per month for unskilled labor in that part of the country, and remember most households were single income). 50 cents was a lot of money.
Eventually George Hull sold the giant to one David Hannum for what today would be half a million dollars.
Hannum moved the giant to Syracuse and started advertising. The resulting crowds – and profits – were so huge that it caught the attention of P.T. Barnum all the way over in New York City.
So, Barnum offered Hannum what today would be almost a million dollars for his giant.
Both men knew the giant was a hoax. But they were showman, and they considered this scam no more or less immoral than the Feejee Mermaid, the Bearded Lady, General Tom Thumb, and Jo-Jo the Dog Faced Boy, who were staples of Barnum’s American Museum.
Hannum refused to sell, so Barnum copied the Cardiff Giant in wax and had his own artisans fashion a copy. Which he promptly put on display in New York and which he declared the authentic giant and started telling everybody who would listen that Hannum’s original giant was a … well, a hoax. And given that it was indeed a hoax, Hannum couldn’t exactly prove it was an authentic giant, could he?
Hannum was none too pleased by this and retaliated by calling Barnum’s hoax a hoax, and saying of the crowds filing past Barnum’s giant, “There’s a sucker born every minute.”
This being America, eventually the matter ended up in court, where both giants were revealed to be fakes – and to add insult into injury, Hannum’s quote is often attributed to Barnum. So Barnum stole not only Hunnam’s con, but his words about the theft too. That’s business.
Even after both giants were revealed to be fakes, the crowds still came and paid their hard earned money to see the hoax – and the holy men persisted in declaring the fake plaster giants proof of their particular theology. And, in fact, you can still see both giants to this very day, the original is displayed in the Farmer’s Museum in Cooperstown, New York, and Barnum’s copy at Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum in Farmington Hills, Michigan.
That’s right, more than a hundred years later, people are still paying to see a hoax.
The original crowds, they had a pretty good idea they were being swindled, but they wanted to believe. They wanted the giant to be real. They wanted science to be wrong. And that’s why the hoax worked. Because there is indeed a sucker born every minute. And by the time the crowds wised up, Hull, Barnum, and Hannum had each cashed out with their fortunes.
And that’s why the hoax of trickle-down economics works.
Because it sounds plausible, providing you don’t look too closely. Because people want to believe even though all the experts are telling them that it doesn’t work. But the difference, you see, is that rich people like Barnum and Hannum know they're pushing a hoax and they also know most people are too goddamned stupid and gullible to realize it. And even if the marks do suspect a con, they still want to believe.
There’s a sucker born every minute.
But it’s not real. Trickle down economics does not work. At least not for you. Trickle down economics only works for the wealthy. And that’s by design, because these ruthless rich sons of bitches are the ones who came up with it back in the last century. And their rich descendants are the ones pushing it now.
Trickle-down economics works for them.
For a short time, anyway.
But that’s all they need. That brief moment, when all the gullible suckers hand over their money.
It's like an injection of nitrous oxide into an internal combustion engine. There's a brief burst of power, the machine surges ahead across the finish line. You’ve seen Fast and Furious, you know how this works. But that burst of power is not without cost. Nitrous can literally blow the engine apart. And nitrous is an oxidant, making it highly corrosive. That's why race car engines don't last long and why the average person doesn't have a nitrous-injected car in the family garage.
When you give rich people more money, rich people have more money.
That’s the whole thing.
Because the entire premise of trickle-down economics is predicated on one ridiculous idea: that greedy rich sons of bitches will use their money to improve the lot of those below them on the economic ladder solely because it’s somehow the right thing to do.
This idea is absolutely ludicrous on the face of it.
Rich people don’t reach down the ladder to help those below, they pull the ladder up after themselves and slam the door. Most of them anyway.
Rich people being richer does not create jobs. Quod Erat Demonstrandum. This is true no matter how many times you care to run the experiment and after Reagan this should be obvious to even the most obtuse, like my friend Shane up above.
But, of course, it's not.
When you give rich people more money, rich people have more money. That's it. That's the whole thing, right there. Most of them put that money in high interest investments, i.e. the kind of thing that makes them richer. But when the bubble bursts, you have to pay for it, not them. Rich people park their money in tax-havens, or otherwise lock it up where it does you no good. You can look this up for yourself, you don't have to take my word for it.
Watch for it.
Go on. Watch for it.
Every time old rich white men bring up the idea of trickle-down economics, or whatever they call this scam nowadays, the one question that never gets asked is this: Why?
Why would rich people create jobs?
Why? Why would rich people take their billions and create jobs? Because they’re what? Feeling generous all of a sudden?
Take the Walton family, their wealth is nearly unimaginable. The amount they’ll reap from this tax cut is astronomical. But they already can’t spend what they have, even if they live another thousand years. And they don’t spend their personal fortune on building new Walmarts anyway, that’s what investors are for. And if they did, well, there’s nothing stopping them from doing so now, without a tax cut, they’ve got plenty of money. But they don’t. Why? They could use their personal fortune to improve the lot of their employees, but they don’t. They could use their fortune to give their employees a living wage, healthcare, benefits, overtime. But they don’t. Why? Why should they? What’s in it for them? What’s the incentive? Altruism? Ha ha! Hilarious.
Giving rich people more money just gives rich people more money.
Giving rich people more money doesn’t create jobs. And it doesn’t encourage rich people to make lousy jobs better. That’s not how it works.
And the only people telling you this horseshit are … rich people.
Demand creates jobs.
See: build a better mousetrap et al.
The Waltons don’t build new Walmarts just to build new stores so as to make jobs for poor people, because they’re feeling generous. They only build new stores (and thus create new shitty low-paying jobs) if there’s a demand for one in a particular area. I.e. they can make money on it. Make money, not spend money.
Demand creates jobs...
... but not necessarily in the US of A.
If you build a better (or cheaper, anyway) mousetrap, people will beat a path to your door. Or rather you can wholesale your traps to Walmart and people will beat a path there. And then you'll need to produce a whole bunch of mousetraps, which you can do a hell of a lot cheaper if you don't have to pay your employees a living wage. So you build your mousetraps with child labor in Bangladesh. Or India. Or China. Or Vietnam. That’s where the jobs are, not here. And they are shitty jobs.
And rich people could have brought those jobs back to America long ago and paid their workers a living wage.
But they didn’t.
And they won’t.
Because there’s not one goddamned thing in it for them.
But … that’s not even the real scam. No.
Jobs. Jobs. Jobs.
Right? That's what The Man said. The Big Giant Orange Leader, that's his trumpet call, jobs, jobs, jobs.
That’s what this is all about, isn’t it?
Except, funny thing…
…unemployment is currently 4.1% and falling.
In December of 2007, right before the mortgage industry tanked taking the economy down with it, unemployment was … what?
And it had been at 5% or slightly lower for the previous thirty months.
And nobody was talking jobs jobs jobs. Unemployment didn’t send America into a recession and crash the global economy. There were plenty of jobs.
Just as there are plenty of jobs now.
Jobs are not the problem.
The problem is a living wage. One of the problems, anyway.
Those jobs don’t pay enough. They don’t include benefits. They don’t include enough hours. You can’t possibly make enough from those jobs to get ahead, to buy your way out of working poverty, out of the Middle Class. And why should they?
Donald Trump himself doesn’t even hire American workers unless he has to. The entire wait staff of Mar-A-Lago is foreign workers. You don’t have to take my word for it, you can look up their work visas on the State Department website.
Because the rich son of a bitch talking about jobs jobs jobs won’t pay enough to make it worth your while, unless you’re from some Third World country in Central America. That’s why.
This way to the giant! Just 50 cents, folks, step right up.
The rich don’t give up a single cent they don’t have to. Because they’re cold, greedy, ruthless bastards. That’s why they’re rich, most of them anyway. If they weren’t, if they weren’t cold ruthless greedy sons of bitches, we wouldn’t need environmental laws to keep them from dumping toxic waste from their factories into the rivers. If they weren’t, we wouldn’t need banking regulations to keep them from robbing us of every penny. If they weren’t, we wouldn’t need occupational safety regulations so they didn’t work us to death – or a Constitutional Amendment prohibiting outright slavery for that matter. We wouldn’t need unions. We wouldn’t need a minimum wage. We wouldn’t need to test food and medicine and toys for toxins and fraud. We wouldn’t have to specify they put enough fucking lifeboats on the ship for everybody, not just the passengers in First Class.
If you could trust these goddamned people to do what was right, well, you wouldn’t need the Second Amendment, now would you?
Ironic, isn’t it? The very same people, like Shane up above, who trust the wealthy to trickle down largess like manna from heaven, are the very same people who think they needs guns to protect themselves from … rich people in government.
And the real problem is that every single time the bubble bursts, the rich lose nothing. And the middle class? Well, the middle class and the poor lose everything.
The problem is that the profits are privatized, the risks are socialized. That’s the actual problem right there. When the bubble bursts, the working poor and the middle class have no choice but to prop up the rich, lest it all collapses and we all face another Great Depression. And that, ladies and gentlemen, in point of fact, is the lesson of the Great Depression. That's what the rich learned, the ones that survived. Socialize the risks, privatize the profits. Never, ever, risk your own money.
And that – that right there – that is exactly what trickle-down economics is.
This is the exact – the same exact – scam the mortgage industry pulled on you in 2007. Interest only mortgages, you remember. You pay the interest up front, the bank makes huge profits, and hey, don’t worry about it because you won’t have to pay off the balance for, well, don’t worry about that, it’s way in the future. You remember, right? And you remember what came next. It all fell apart, you lost everything, and they made millions.
We take all the risk. We risk our jobs, our savings, our homes, our retirements, everything, and the rich get all the profits.
Trickle down economics does not work, not for you.
It never has.
It’s a scam.
All it does is give a brief momentary burst of wealth to the already wealthy.
It gives the illusion of economic power.
For a while. For a few.
But that injection of money has to come from somewhere.
The huge tax windfall Republicans just gave to the wealthy, where did that money come from?
It doesn’t come from the rich.
It doesn’t come from industry or Wall Street.
Those are the people we’re giving money to. Right?
The government doesn’t just have it lying around, you know that?
And we’re already twenty trillion dollars in debt.
So, where does the money come from?
The costs to the government don’t go down.
The bills don’t go away. We’re still at war. So where does the money come from?
Where does the money come from?
It comes from the future.
That’s right. It comes from the future.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Because it’s the same bullshit Countrywide was telling you back in 2007.
The money comes from your future, you, the middle class, the working poor.
When the bill comes due – and it will – then the money has to come from somewhere. So it comes from infrastructure, from healthcare, from Social Security, from foreign loans and a debt that your grandchildren will have to pay.
The rich in that future aren’t going to pay for it. You are.
And if there is a war between now and the day that bill comes due, if the stock market bubble goes bust again, if there is another hurricane or terrorist attack or other unforeseen disaster, well, then it all falls apart. And you’ve once again traded your jobs, your homes, your retirements, your college savings plans, everything, to give the wealthy more money. And it’s brilliant, it is, because they’ve privatized the profit and socialized the risk and sold the chumps on the idea. And you? You’re trapped. Every avenue of getting ahead is cut off, better jobs, higher wages, education, you’ll be lucky to keep your head above water while they row away in the lifeboats. The lifeboats you paid for.
You think I’m wrong?
Look at this GOP tax plan, look at who it rewards most. Not you. Not the people who lost everything in 2007. No, it rewards the very people who destroyed the economy and precipitated a global financial crisis. It rewards the very people who destroyed your retirement and college funds. It rewards the very people who repossessed your house after they imploded the company you worked for and sent your jobs overseas. It rewards the very people you had to bail out with your tax dollars. Don’t take my word for it, look up the names. Look up who helmed Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Bank of America, AIG. Look who led the charge on foreclosures in 2008 and 2009. Hint, it wasn’t just Countrywide (a unit of, that’s right, Bank of America). Look up who was running General Motors. Look up John Thane and his role in a disaster it took more than a decade to clean up. A decade of your sacrifice and not his.
While you were trying to figure out how the hell you were going to feed you kids, John Thane was buying a golden toilet for his office.
THOSE are the people this tax bill most rewards.
And those people, like Barnum and Hunnum, they’re going to reap millions from this scam.
What are you going to get?
You’re going to get what you always get.
And you’re going to get it good and hard.
Sure must be a great consolation to the poor people who lost their stock in the late crash to know that it has fallen into the hands of Mr. Rockefeller, who will take care of it and see it has a good home and never be allowed to wander around unprotected again. There is one rule that works in every calamity. Be it pestilence, war, or famine, the rich get richer and poor get poorer. The poor even help arrange it.
-- Will Rogers, Daily Telegram #1019, 10/31/1929