Posted by: johnhourihan | October 24, 2013

Socialism vs. trickle down economics – a primer


Socialism – It’s a word we hear more and more often associated with our president. “He is trying to redistribute the wealth,” they say, and as far as I can see, he is,  and that would be a part of socialism, sort of.
Well, it is enough like socialism to convince small minds by spouting mindless political nonsense.
It reminds me of my father and Tibby’s Bar.
Tibby’s was within walking distance of the shoe shop where my old man worked, especially on Thursdays (payday).
Scrapper Jack had a choice, he could bring his whole paycheck home and use it to feed the seven hungry kids in his house, pay the mortgage, the heat, the lights, the water bills, or he could go to Tibby’s and forget for a while that there were hungry and poor children in the world and some of them were his own responsibility even though they didn‘t work for a living.
I used to sit at the window around 4:30 or 5:00 pm. And wait for his friend’s black Plymouth to drop him off at the end of the driveway. More often than not, he didn’t show up for dinner on Thursday.
That tipped us off that he had cashed his check at Doody’s coffee shop and trekked up to the bar, food money in hand and an exhilarating sense of economic power in his gut.
When he came home he would brings us a Three Musketeers bar or some peanuts, or Necco wafers – whatever was being sold in the vending machine at Tibby’s.
The longer he spent there, the more guilt he felt from spending our food money, and the bigger the guilt, the bigger the candy bar he would bring home. Candy bars didn’t keep us alive, but it made our life happier for a short bit.
So what’s this have to do with socialism?
I’m getting to that.
Suppose it was a Three Musketeers bar.
My mother would sit down at the coffee table in the living room in front of the standup  Philco and we kids would huddle around.
In distributing the candy bar she would ask first, “Does anyone have their own candy?”
If some did she would give them a bigger piece than the rest of us. Also if some had their own money to  buy candy that person would get a bigger piece, and not just a little bit bigger but a lot bigger like almost half of the bar would be gone before we younger children got into the game..
Then those of us who were left would get even slices of whatever was left.
Do you really think this is the way a mother would divide a candy bar?
Do you think this would be the fair way?
No?
She would actually cut it into seven exactly even pieces for everyone, no matter who had money or candy of his or her own. Everyone got the exact amount.
Everyone gets the exact amount no matter what they had or how hard they worked, which is socialism.
Now, if the kids were the country, and we wanted to have a fair way of distributing the wealth of candy, socialism might be nice, but then, as long as every child got the same, no matter whether or not we did anything to help ourselves or the family, we would never do anything?
Do you think that would be fair?
I don’t think so. That is why socialism is not a real good way to distribute candy.
However, the reality of our country is that 80 percent, eight out of every 10 people in the country, have only seven percent of the country’s wealth, and the top one percent has more than 40 percent of its wealth, and every year that same one percent gets the biggest share of the new candy, about 24 percent.
This isn’t fair either. It is the first way I said my mother distributed the candy – the most to those who already have a lot.
Now, our president is definitely trying to redistribute the wealth as so many people in the bottom 80 percent are chortling and calling socialism.
But he is not trying to make it equal across the board, he is just trying to make it so everyone, even the poor can survive. The rich would still get richer. But the poor would be able to get healthcare, food, and a place to live.
I think that is fair, and by the way, it is not socialism.
The idea that the more my father spent on himself of our food money the bigger the candy bar would be that he brought home at night?
Oh, that’s’ trickle down economics.

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