On July 27, Paul Krugman wrote in the N.Y. Times, about “large budget deficits — deficits that are overwhelmingly the result of our ongoing economic crisis.” Common sense suggests that both our deficits and our ongoing economic crisis are overwhelmingly the result of Reaganomics.

The New Deal, with its steeply progressive personal income tax, financed WWII, the Marshall Plan, and dozens of other “revenue sharing” initiatives such as mental health treatment, affordable community hospitals, stability of resources at every level of education, the interstate highway system, and a booming economy with which our nation’s resources circulated among all levels of society.

For those of us who came of age in the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s, Medicare was on the way for our parents, along with a series of overdue liberation milestones for our compatriots: the end of Jim Crow, followed by a major push for gender equality, redress of grievances for Native Americans and Japanese Americans, Gay Liberation, and the Americans with Disabilities Act. People rarely saw a need to solve problems with guns.

Today’s American economists will someday be noted for failing to study what became of all that money after Reaganomics redirected it into the pockets of Americans who already had plenty of disposable income.

Krugman writes that “they’re buying government debt, even at very low returns, for lack of alternatives.” But he doesn’t wonder aloud about their embarrassment: either start or underwrite a job-creating business, in accord with “supply side” propaganda, or help us with our national debt, mirroring the New Deal thinking from which their chance at wealth sprang. Warren Buffet’s manner of handling his embarrassment of riches is to call for higher income taxes on the wealthy, but as the great Erik Erikson wrote in Childhood and Society (1950), “shame is an emotion insufficiently studied.” In other words we hide our embarrassments quite artistically if we are determined to hide them even from ourselves (Freud’s theory of the unconscious).

Could we find economists to study and suggest the effect income disparity has on American prices? Could someone explain recent pricing of a Van Gogh (just to mention one)? How about $16 million per season (guaranteed) for a left fielder who hits .240, can’t make the turn at 3rd base and loses fly balls in the lights?

Then, as catastrophic climate change advances, could someone explain the elephant in the living room: vast, mandatory public spending for “tech” magic which has to be plugged in to do things that we once did at our own pace with very minimal carbon emissions and, being paid, paid an income tax to help finance public services?

Gary Barnes
Oak Park

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