Remedial economics, remedial U.S. history

I should set a threshold — five e-mails, or a dozen Facebook posts, and a response will be given.

But then some idiot would work to make the threshold.

You’ve seen this, of course:

5 misleading truths

“5 Truths You CANNOT Disagree With”

It was past the threshold, so I responded:

More truths:

  1. You cannot legislate poverty away by laws that send all the wealth generated by the working poor, to the rich.
  2. What one person receives without working for in capital gains, or productivity increases, another person worked for, without receiving. It is unjust to give the benefits of the sweat of one woman, to another man.
  3. Government subsidies create wealth in nations; most great enterprises have found their roots in government funding, from irrigation in Babylon, to farming along the Yellow River, through Columbus’s voyage of (accidental) discovery, the Transcontinental Railroad, and settlement of America.
  4. When opportunities exist for the poor, hard work makes much wealth. A society is wealthy, and an economy is sound, when the poor spend money. Rich guys spending money doesn’t work — there are not enough rich guys.
  5. When the rich tiny percentage of the people get the idea that they do not have to work, but that the work of others is ALSO their property and the poor will take care of them, then we have conditions for financial collapse (see the Panic of 1908, or 1837, or the Great Depression — or any other); those conditions often lead to revolution, sometimes violent (see Russia in 1917, Germany in 1922, Shay’s Rebellion, the French Revolution — when the rich get the rewards the hard-working man created, it is the beginning of the end of any nation. Some smart nations fix those problems when they occur.

When hard work no longer gets you ahead, and when hard work no longer will feed, clothe and educate your family, you may get angry.

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, make violent revolution inevitable,” John Kennedy said. He was pretty smart for a young, rich guy.

(Links added above, other than the YouTube video; I hope the JFK Library has video of Kennedy actually saying that.)

People who post these “5 truths” without irony must have slept through ALL of economics in high school, and forgotten everything they may have ever learned about American history in the 20th century.  Income distribution is a serious issue — maldistribution and misdistribution of wealth leads to trouble, either economic calamity, or violent revolution, or both.

It’s fun to say that no person should get ahead on the earnings of another person; it’s more realistic when we understand that a system rigged to give financial players yachts, and working people debt, is the unfairness that those worriers should worry about.

John F. Kennedy waves to a crowd in front of Cobo Hall, in Detroit

Presidential candidate John F. Kennedy waves to a crowd in front of Cobo Hall, in Detroit, during the 1960 American Legion Convention. Image from Walter Reuther Library


15 Responses to Remedial economics, remedial U.S. history

  1. Ed Darrell says:

    Thanks for the links to EPI!


  2. Your post is, as usual, thoughtful and on point. To believe that some redistributive policies are both just and wise, it is not necessary to believe that those policies are ordained by heaven, nor that the rich should be punished. It is only necessary to understand the actual workings of the economy, and to recognize that governments can and should do something to blunt a little of their worst effects. Perhaps an interactive graph or two might help.


  3. Ed Darrell says:

    Sounds like flattery, but that’s music compared to what usually hear. Please come back often.

    (Hey, check out the turtles at Mr. Ray’s blog: )


  4. Thanks for letting me camp out in your blog for a little while today. I had a great time and love what you are doing here in your blog. It might be my new BBF (Best Blog Forever). I hope I left my campsite as good as when I arrived. I’ll be back!


  5. jsojourner says:


    40 years of trickle down has proven an epic fail. You’re right. And then you have 30 or 40 years of in the era of the robber barons and Gilded Age — all leading up to 1929.

    It took a liberal with liberal policies and a more or less cooperative Congress to pull us out of that mess. I regret to say that a moderate with a petulant Congress has little chance of doing so. But I give him credit for trying.



  6. James Kessler says:

    To quote: 4 is likewise economically and historically incorrect. “Rich guys” do not sit on their money nor wildy spend it, it is invested

    Oh really? So where are the jobs and the economic prosperity that you and your side promised during the entirety of W’s eight years?

    Sorry, the rich and corporations aren’t going to create jobs out of the goodness of their hearts. Creating jobs is the last thing they want to do since it eats into their profits.

    The rich have been creating jobs…elsewhere. We’ll actually they didn’t create jobs…they just moved them from here to overseas. And for some damn fool reason you think the united states should kiss their arses for it and reward them for it.

    Sorry, trickle down has been forty years of abject failure with the poor and the middle class getting poorer and the rich having far too much of this country’s wealth for this country’s own good. Change or be swept aside.


  7. James Kessler says:

    Hattip you couldn’t accurately define ‘marxist’ if your soul depended on it.

    Hell according to your way of thinking Jesus Christ was a marxist


  8. jsojourner says:

    I don’t know what the first thing Hitler did was but John’s observation about that ridiculous canard is quite astute. Conservatives whip it out — usually within the first five minutes of any conversation or debate.

    Come to think of it, it wasn’t the first thing Hitler did — but it came pretty early in his dictatorship. And that was to get rid of all the Socialists in the party. Evidently, conservatives have never heard of Ernst Roehm or the Night of the Long Knives.

    But I digress.


  9. John McKay says:

    Interesting that hattip has no rebuttal for number 5. That was the one I was most interested in. “No nation survives when…” is a cliched as “the first thing Hitler did.” We actually know what Hitler really did and when he did it, if he did it. “No nation survives when…” is vague enough that few people bother to challenge or defend it. That’s the one i want to know about. Which nations failed because half the population went Galt? Which civilizations died because they tolerated gay marriage? Give me names. Give me dates. Map out the cause and effect.

    hattip, You are a Republican and a capitalist and have clearly thought things through. Supply me with enough examples to convince me, not that this has happened, or that it frequently happens; provide me with enough examples so that I know this is a truth I CANNOT disagree with.


  10. jsojourner says:

    I am surprised to see Hattip slinking back here after being eviscerated last time. Kudos for persistence, lil’ fella.

    I love that you regard anyone who does not belief in the tyrannical myth of trickle down economics as a Marxist.

    Hattip, was Dwight Eisenhower a Marxist? Dick Nixon? How about guys like Wendell Wilkie, Tom Dewey, Gerry Ford and Jacob Javits? Was Bob Dole a Marxist? Howard Baker? Margaret Chase-Smith?

    These folks accepted — to varying degrees — the Preamble to the Constitution as a distinctly American value.

    It’s a shame you do not. Perhaps you are the Marxist?

    No. That’s not fair. You’re an Anarchist. Which is invariably worse than a Marxist or a Fascist.

    But by all means…hold forth. I have popped popcorn because last time was just so much fun.



  11. Ed Darrell says:

    The final refuge of anti-free-market monarchists and oligarchs: “As usual, you have not thought matters through, but then you are a Democrat and a Marxist.”

    How is it Marxist to ask that people who work hard get the fruits of their labor? It’s fascist to demand that workers be slaves, and that the wealth they make be confiscated and given to the rich, as you advocate here.

    You should have clicked on the links and paid attention to what is there. Try it now. You could learn something, and you could learn a lot about how America really works, especially when opportunity is not snuffed out by fascists who steal wages from workers.

    In a free market, stealing wages is akin to communism; it’s the unthinking or dishonest capitalist’s spin on things that makes socialism crossover into fascism.

    Such authoritarian systems, that function by stealing wealth from those who make it, and giving it to others unfairly, generally are doomed to collapse, either by war, or by their own malfeasance. (Study the Great Depression sometime.)


  12. Ed Darrell says:

    Moreover, if property rights are not sacrosanct. their is practically no was yo grant “opportunities to “the poor”, for the simple fact that as their wealth grows it will be confiscated.

    The refuge of all oppressors: “If I were to pay a fair wage for a fair day’s work, that’s like stealing from me!”

    Bull feathers. Even the Bible says we should pay workers fairly, and not concentrate wealth in the vinyard owner. That wealth is dependent wholly on the work of the worker. (See the Lincoln quote again.)


  13. Ed Darrell says:

    #4 is likewise economically and historically incorrect. “Rich guys” do not sit on their money nor wildy spend it, it is invested.

    Except now. The wealthy are sitting on a pool of about $2 trillion that they’ve gotten from the poor in “tax cuts,” but they are not investing.

    Why are they not investing? Because to invest, you want to find something that will grow your investment. That means you’ll invest in businesses where demand exceeds supply.

    But that’s almost nothing today, because demand is generated, not by the rich, but by the sheer numbers of the workers, who use their earnings to buy stuff. Wages for workers have stagnated, and declined on constant dollars. We working class people do not have money to replace our aging cars, repair our aging houses, buy new houses, buy new clothes, nor do any of the other purchases that would increase demand and, we hope, push the very wealthy to invest in America.

    This is the colossal failure of “trickle down” and “supply side.” It turns out that almost-reasonable investors won’t invest to make oversupply that can be marked down — they want profit now.

    We need demand-side stimulus, and the best way to do that is to increase the wages of the workers, in keeping with their proven increases in productivity.

    You took only half the economics course?


  14. Ed Darrell says:

    Hattip! Long time no hear your apologistics for holding the poor down!

    On point #1, take a look at this observation by Lincoln, and tell me if you fail to understand that without labor, there is no increase in wealth.

    Then, please tell me why you think working people, the people who make wealth, should not get part of it. You assume that wealth is finite, that the wealthy have it all, and that the poor only get what dribbles down to them.

    That ain’t America. Here, people work. And here, people should get the wealth they generate by their working. No free rides, not even for the rich.


  15. hattip says:

    Your 5 rebuttal points are all fallacious and/or outright lies. No such things has happened, and I challenge you to prove otherwise.

    For example: #1. This has never happened–quite the opposite has happened, in fact. What you assert is Marxist hogwash. The “poor” have never had the “wealth” that they somehow created taken from them and given to the rich. The “poor” have by definition neer generated wealth of any sort. If they had, there would be some sort of record of it, but there is none. That is why they are poor.

    If by “the poor” you mean salaried workers”, well then they were paid a salary, and that salary came out of the investments of the owners. What you appear to be arguing appears to be an argument against the morality of property rights. Somehow in your formulation, and without contracts of any sort, “the poor”‘ deserve to have the rights of property of where they work by virtue of honoring their employment agreements. This is pure Communist nonsense.

    In actual fact, since the New Deal the exact opposite has happened. “Organized Labor” has corrupted the political process to take wealth from owners via the corruption of the political process.

    So for #1 you are in error, and grossly so.

    #4 is likewise economically and historically incorrect. “Rich guys” do not sit on their money nor wildy spend it, it is invested. Even if it sits in a savings account, it is invested. In fact, this investment cause more economic opportunity than many “poor people” spending because it concentrates spending on capital goods rather than, say potato chips or sneakers. One need look at the auto industry to see this. Wealth is created on adding value and frugal reinvesting the returns. It is not based on pure consumption, and most conspicuously not by consumption based on the redistribution of wealth.

    Moreover, if property rights are not sacrosanct. their is practically no was yo grant “opportunities to “the poor”, for the simple fact that as their wealth grows it will be confiscated.

    Through out all of you agit-prop is the assumption that “the rich: are stealing money from everyone else/ In reality, the government is stealing money from everyone, and most particularly the middle classes. The rich do not get it. The welfare state gets it. You are projecting your theft on the private sector.

    As usual, you have not thought matters through, but then you are a Democrat and a Marxist.


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