There were a couple of articles last week in the Washington Post that, in my opinion, perfectly summed up much of what I think is going on in the minds of the far right. They are, as my title suggests, “not from around here.” Not by a long shot.
The articles in particular, here and here, discuss the continuing influence of Arthur Laffer, the creator of the Laffer Curve–and (alongside Grover Norquist) architect of much of the Republicans’ fiscal strategy. (Put simply, he believes–among other things–that cutting tax rates will increase tax revenue, since fewer people would be so unwilling to pay. Then there’s the whole supply-side economics…)
Now, he’s claiming that minimum wage laws are “a crime against black men,” and that liberal economists have consistently been wrong about the economy, and he’s been right. He describes the current economy as “almost exactly like 1978.” Furthermore, in his view, Kansas (under Governor Brownback–who cut taxes steeply, on Laffer’s advice) is “doing fine.” Now, I’m not certain where, exactly, he’s looking. Kansas seems to be barely able to continue–and certainly not to make ends meet.
His notion that “taxes discourage work,” one of the underpinnings of his entire theory (the Laffer curve), has a fundamental flaw. In a word, it’s wrong. Taxes are unpleasant, but nobody with more than a couple of brain cells is going to quit their job just because they have to pay taxes. Why? Well, primarily because they still have to earn a living somehow. (And the truly deep thinkers out there understand that taxes are how the government earns a living, and pays for lots of things that we really like–things like roads, and firemen, and the police, and the military…)
One thing all of the folks on the right seem to forget when they tout the “Greatest Generation,” the ones who built the American middle class: they did it with a top marginal tax rate of 94%. (Compared with today’s 39.6%.) Yes, times were different. Just like times are different now than they were in 1978. (The top tax rate then was significantly higher, for one thing.)
But read the articles for yourself. Make up your own mind. And think–really hard–about what actually happened in the places where his policies were tried.
I’m hoping that my next post will be much more fun–maybe a list (I’ve got a couple hiding in the wings) or the like. I’d like to do a review or two, as well, in upcoming posts. And, of course, the weather is turning, and plants are in the ground–there’s always something to talk about there!