Escondido, CA

It trickles UP, not down

~ Guest Opinion
~ a leftie living in a ‘rightie’ world

Charles Carr

It’s a fantasy right up there with Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy (BTW, for my very loyal 6-9-year-old demo, NONE of those are fantasies): TRICKLE DOWN. The trickle down economic theory is based on the faulty logic that money given to people at the top (BTW, who says they’re at the TOP of ANYthing, anyway?) will eventually wend its way down to those “below” in the same way rainwater trickles down into a pure artesian spring.

You must be kidding. Other than that time your Aunt Millie won the lottery and bought you that new TV, it just doesn’t work that way. The law of gravity does not apply to human greed.

Coordinating a national story about the current proposed GOP tax reform — I mean tax CUT — I mean tax GIVEAWAY to the super-wealthy, I began to ponder how a southpaw might respond to those righties held captive by a Stockholm Syndrome mentality plotted by the plutocrats who have them by the short hairs and the rest of us in their cross hairs.

Luckily, there’s an immense amount of data that has been compiled over the past half-century that incontrovertibly shows that trickle down is not only complete bunk, it has a completely neutral or exact opposite effect.

According to, “The past 40 years have seen a gradual decrease in the top bracket’s income tax rate, from 91% in 1963 to 35% in 2003. It went as low as 28% in 1988 and 1989 due to legislation passed under Reagan, the trickle-down theory’s most famous adherent … We can compare changes in the top tax rate with the real GDP growth rate (a measure of the growth of the entire U.S. economy), and three measures of how life is for the average working American: annual median income growth, annual average hourly wage growth, and job creation. If cuts for the rich were really the magic elixir for the economy and the middle class that the Republican consensus claims it is, we would see an increase in the four indicators whenever the tax rate dropped. However, this is not the case. Such a trend occurs sometimes, but the opposite happens at other times.”

A recent study conducted by the International Monetary Fund and reported by crosses the T’s and dots the I’s: “Researchers found that when the top earners in society make more money, it actually slows down economic growth. On the other hand, when poorer people earn more, society as a whole benefits. The researchers calculated that when the richest 20% of society increase their income by one percentage point, the annual rate of growth shrinks by nearly 0.1% within five years. This shows that ‘the benefits do not trickle down,’ the researchers wrote in their report, which analyzed over 150 countries. By contrast, when the lowest 20% of earners see their income grow by one percentage point, the rate of growth increases by nearly 0.4% over the same period.”

Sure, there are examples of genuine, selfless philanthropy — I’m not talking about those wonderful people. But there is an alarmingly increasing pool of individuals who actually believe they belong to a privileged class, born with something akin to a “rich gene” that makes them different from the rest of humanity. This type of person really IS different alright: they’re life’s 24/7 pre-three spirits Ebenezer Scrooges, people who see benefiting others as a shocking lapse of philosophic resolve; people who are more likely to use surplus money to do things like replacing workers with robots and making productivity improvements that almost never redound to the benefit of remaining workers; people more likely to drop extra dough on a bigger yacht to get further away from the odiferous lower classes or just stuff into ever-larger safe deposit boxes in Swiss and Panamanian banks.

This is the type of person against whom the rest of us are charged with waging perennial battle, not only to keep in check but to cull from the gene pool of a free nation. That is, if we’re not too late already.

Besides, for goodness sake; don’t they get it all eventually anyway, right? Why not let it appear fleetingly in middle- and lower-income wallets (payroll tax deductions, increasing the minimum wage, guaranteed health care) on its way “UP”?

See you next time.

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Multiple award-winning author Charles Carr has written thousands of columns and articles for The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Orange County Register, The Reader, The Californian, Parent Magazine, and many others. He is also a noted playwright whose productions have been attended by thousands. Contact him at

*Note: Opinions expressed by columnists and letter writers are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the newspaper.

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