Does 'trickle-down system really work?

Published 10:06 pm Saturday, January 25, 2003

By By Lloyd Albritton
Religion and politics are two subjects that we are not supposed to talk about because so many people are so passionate in their feelings on these topics that they are unable to engage in objective discussion without getting mad, insulted and sometimes even physical. Even our most educated and sophisticated radio and television commentators often come to the brink of physical confrontation when they disagree on volatile religious and political issues.
Considering this curiosity of human nature, it is odd that religion and politics seem to be the very things that most of us like to talk about most. And further, since strife over matters of religion and politics has been the cause of local and world conflict since time began, it would seem that talking about these matters is the very thing that we ought to be doing more of.
With that thought in mind, what'd'you say we give it a try? There is a notion which conservative Republicans generally praise and liberal Democrats generally scorn, commonly known as The Trickle-Down System.
The Trickle-Down System is an economic theory which declares that when government adopts taxing and/or regulatory policies favorable to the rich for the purpose of enticing them to invest in productive assets – such as plants and equipment for manufacturing or income-producing real estate, rather than speculative, non-producing assets, like precious metals or passive real estate – the benefits of these investments naturally "trickle down" to the little man (or the working man, if you will) in the form of jobs and new products and services. The result of this hypothetical trickle-down system is an allegedly better quality of life for everybody.
Granted, the greater benefit does indeed always go to the rich, but this result is deemed necessary in recognition of the distasteful, but realistic, relationship between wealth and greed; that is, nothing entices a rich man, no matter how much money he already has, so much as an opportunity to get more of what he loves, i.e., MONEY!
It is at this point that we might easily digress into the subject of religion and the morally corrupting influence of wealth, but let's restrain ourselves from going there, shall we? For the purpose of furthering our discussion of The Trickle-Down System, can we just accept the premise that greed is an inherent part of man's nature and that a man who acquires so much wealth that he doesn't want any more of it is rare? "Stay with me on this now!" (Quote: Ross Perot, Larry King Live).
Many small towns across America are in need of more jobs for their working citizenry and would welcome the construction of a new manufacturing facility, and consequently a whole bunch of new jobs and millions of dollars pumped into the local economy in payroll and tax receipts. But who can afford to build such a factory? I can't. Can you? Can we all agree that it would take a rich man to do such a thing?
Now, here's the $64 question: How do we get Mr. Rich Guy to build that factory in our town? Can we put on our pitiful faces and explain to him how badly we need that factory? Or, can we read a few relevant scriptures from the Bible to him and hope to persuade him of his social responsibilities? Why can't the President just order Mr. Rich Guy to build factories where we need them?
I'm just being silly! Of course, none of that will work. The only way government, both national and local, can entice a rich man to locate his business in our town is to grant him conciliatory taxing and regulatory concessions to make such a venture profitable for him.
We poor common folk don't like to hear that because there is something inherently distasteful about the thought of rich people getting richer.
Some of us would prefer to see our government punish rich people for being so rich by raising their taxes and perhaps even putting more of them in jail. Some of us argue that government ought to simply take away more of the rich man's filthy lucre and give it to us poor people. We could spend that money on a new washing machine that we badly need or we could blow it all on lotto tickets down at the Tom Thumb store.
The local economy would get a little boost and next month we would all be complaining again about the lack of jobs in our area and blaming the President and all his rich cronies for not doing more about this weak economy.
When I go down to the grocery store and purchase a slab of bacon for my morning breakfast, I sure don't like the price I have to pay for it. But then I stop and think: Somebody had to raise those hogs and slaughter them and process that meat and ship it over to the supermarket and here I am having a nice hot breakfast of bacon and eggs which has trickled its way down to my kitchen table.
Somewhere up the supply chain is a greedy rich so-and-so who is getting even richer in the hog business. But, if it were not for him, I'd still be slopping my own hogs on Saturday morning instead of going fishing.
Does The Trickle-Down System work? It sure seems like it does to me!
Lloyd Albritton publishes a series of commentaries, movie and book reviews on the Internet at He invites your comments at

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