Monday, December 20, 2004

Class Warfare For Christmas

If you sift through my archives, you'll find a number of instances where I have challenged conservatives to provide historical evidence of tax cut benefits. Specifically, I have asked for an historical precedent where sweeping tax cuts for the rich have benefited society in the long-term. Being neither an economist nor an historian, I'm not sure my cursory research has provided me with pat answers. However, what research I have done has indicated that there is no time in history when tax cuts for the rich have benefited society. My research has indicated quite the opposite; progressive tax rates have created long-term economic stability and sustained growth by benefiting society as a whole.

I say "society" rather than "the economy" and stipulate "long-term" over "short-term" because I am willing to acknowledge that Reagan's tax-cuts benefited the economy over the short-term. Needless to say, that benefit was felt by a small segment of society and even then, the effects were short-term. In the long term, a majority of Americans did worse under Reagan and his so-called "legacy" conspicuously neglects his economic record. A short-term economic boom that eventually leads to economic crisis (that occured towards the end of Reagan's second term and throughout Bush I's presidency) hardly qualify as success.

So my challenge stands.

I bring this up because my post Saturday on this season's holiday retail performance was borne out in a report today:
Recent sales figures from the nation's largest retailers underscore the growing gap between the haves and the have-nots.

Wal-Mart missed its November sales numbers, posting a meager seven-tenths-of-a-percent gain over November, 2003. The company had expected 3 to 4 percent sales growth. City saw a 3 percent decline in sales last month, and K-Mart's sales are likely to drop 10 percent.

"You have wealthy consumers spending in unprecedented proportions and the cash and credit starved consumers are suffering," says retail analyst Burt Fleckinger of the Strategic Resource Group.

The lesson should be clear here but I'm afraid not many people get it. A spending spree by a small number of Americans cannot sustain long-term prosperity, nor is it inidicative of a healthy economy.

I've always maintained that as long as you have a strong middle-class and a working class that can afford to own a couple of cars, a fishing boat, and a home, socialism will remain a dirty word. As such, I didn't think I'd see a socialist America in my lifetime. With the rise of the Right, I may be reassessing that prediction. As more Americans fall into poverty and families find it harder to make ends meet.
Since 2000, Gray and more than 6 million other Americans have joined the ranks of the families who find it increasingly difficult to perform a most basic function - to put food on their tables.

The economic indicators are numerous.

After a seven-year decline, the number of Americans on food stamps has shot up 39 percent since 2000, according to federal statistics. Every state, except Hawaii, has felt the impact. In Arizona, food stamp rolls have increased 104 percent, in Nevada, 97 percent; Oregon, 79 percent; South Carolina, 68 percent; Missouri, 65 percent.

Texas has added nearly a million people to its food stamp rolls in only four years.

Part of that increase was fueled by states' increased efforts to enroll a greater portion of people eligible for food stamps and the placement of people back onto the rolls who were knocked off during welfare reform. Most of it, however, social workers say, is the growing number of Americans unable to feed themselves without help.

"Clearly, most of this is because of increased need," said Carol Adams, head of the Illinois Department of Social Services. Illinois has seen a 31 percent increase in the number of people on food stamps since 2000.

If you ask me, this hardly looks like an economic expansion. What it looks like is that Bush's tax policies have benefited a few while hurting many more.

I'm not asking for a dogfight, I'm asking to be enlightened. If there are any conservatives reading this who can lead me to facts (and not opinion, conjecture, or theory), I would be more than happy to look at those facts. Let's start a dialogue: sway me.

Until then, I'm tending to think that if there's anything to the term "Reagan Revolution" it is that, in the long-term, it's a Marxist's dream.


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