of a history lesson on failed economic theory

Karma is a b_t_h, but not for the reasons you believe

We need to slap the invisible hand

Social media is the bane of modern existence. I liked many of you much better when I could just assume you were good people and I didn’t have to know your inner thoughts.

For instance, one of you (you know who you are) typed a meme you didn't correctly cite before stealing it from someone else you didn't credit. The meme iterates an inherently flawed economic maxim.

What you published was, “Give a thousand dollars to a rich person and he will turn it into Fifty-Thousand dollars. Give a thousand dollars to a poor person and he will return with an I-phone.”

You didn't even get it right. The rich man turns the $1,000 into $100,000.00, not $50,000.00. As for the $1,000.00 I-phone, why would he buy something he already owns?

The person who wrote this wasn’t rich, by the way. Perhaps they are aspiring to be rich one day but they won’t get there by playing sycophant to jet-setters.

First of all, that saying comes from way before now and has circulated around society for decades. It had a catchy name once, in economic circles. It was called “Trickle-down Economics,” was espoused by Ronald Reagan in the very early eighties, and has shown itself to be invalid as we have tried it many times unsuccessfully and even recently. 

Trickle-down, in theory, was the belief if we give tax incentives and take care of the wealthy, they would reinvest their copious amounts of money back into the economy stimulating spending, distributing the prosperity, and reinvesting in the country. Give these employers breaks and they will hire more people and admit more people to the “American Dream.”

So, we created an environment where billionaires could only pay $750.00 a year in income tax. To thank us for the breaks they were given, these same businesses removed their interests to foreign markets where they could exploit workers, outsource domestic jobs, and deposit their money off-shore. The rich people we were molly-coddling didn’t reinvest in the American economy. They invested in Switzerland, the Cayman Islands, and the Netherlands.

It didn’t begin with Reagan either. Adam Smith, the Father of Economics, believed if we all doggedly pursued our individual financial goals and interests, without regard for the greater good, the greater good would (somehow) get serviced anyway.

As early as the 18th-century, Smith wrote in The Theory of Moral Sentiments, that there was an invisible hand at play in the markets. He reasoned free markets, unimpeded by the government’s regulation, would regulate themselves by means of competition, supply and demand, and self-interest. 

The savings and loan industry and the bailouts we funded of different Wall-Street interests demonstrated amply, but not solely, the failure to regulate didn’t work. This extension of a “free hand,” didn’t regulate bupkis. It raped our society and expected to be “bailed out” when it had sufficiently gorged at the feast laid at its feet so freely.

Quick, some of you Smithian economists point to just where and how the Sackler family, who owned controlling interest in companies pleading guilty to “Fraud and Kickback Conspiracies” for defrauding the United States and violating its anti-kickback statute, did anything, anything at all, toward helping America. They helped themselves plenty. They also fathered the need for our taxes to both create and fund umpteen-scores of methadone clinics all around our Appalachia homes. Thanks.

Our government gave them a figurative thousand dollars. They gave us an opioid crisis and a mountain full of zombies. 

We gave them a free hand. They used this free hand to encourage doctors to overprescribe products and then kicked-back money to them for having done it.

This family is one of the richest in American history. They deserve this good fortune for being such good people. Good for them!

Our government didn’t notice it for years. We must have been waiting for competition, supply and demand, and self-interest to regulate the opioid market. We’re still waiting. Paging, Adam Smith…

So that brings me back to the central theme. The insidious proposition we should give rich people money over poor people because poor people are evil, thus why they are poor; and rich people are good, which explains their prosperity.

Give the money to the ones who don’t need it. The evil poor will just blow the money while the rich people will use it to expand their fortunes, which will somehow benefit us poor people. It’s a win-win.

That is what was meant by the post on Facebook. The rich are inherently good because they are rich. The poor are bad because they are poor, should stay poor, and deserve to be poor. 

If they were better people, they would not be poor. Their poverty is their fault.

That too way predates the person who posted this on social media, about whom I will never feel the same. The theory that good people are blessed and bad people are cursed, that whatever fate befalls one, one deserves anyway; or, put another way, one wouldn’t be poor if one’s actions didn’t deserve poverty, is really how many of us sleep at night while our neighbors are sleeping outside wondering how in the world they will eat tomorrow.

Screw that guy…he’s a meth-head anyway, or a criminal anyway, or a psychopath anyway, or a whatever other deplorable thing we think as we pass this man who is begging for money while we are headed out for dinner with our families or friends. That poor person deserves where he is. 

I deserve where I am. Hey, I have worked hard to get here (said by some people who have inherited richly from either the parents or grandparents).

This theory you are comfortably espousing is called “Karma.” It is far from Christian, as variant from Christian theology as possible.

Karma means action, work, or deed and refers to the spiritual principle of cause and effect. The belief is that the intent and actions of an individual influences the future of the person. 

Good things happen to good people because they deserve it for being good. One’s prosperity, one’s inheritance, one’s good fortune isn’t luck at all; it is good fortune visiting one for one having always been a good person.

Conversely, poor people are poor and afflicted because they deserve it. That is bad karma visiting on them to punish them for being bad people. It is their just desserts. 

How does this reconcile with Blessed are the Poor in Spirit, for Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven? How does this reconcile itself with Blessed are the Merciful, for They will Receive Mercy? How does this reconcile with Store your treasure in Heaven, Not on Earth, or Do not Judge, So that you may not be judged, or Do unto others as you would have them do unto you?

It doesn’t. You see our Lord and Savior never promised any of us that if we were good people we would live a life of comfort. His life was anything but comfortable. Job’s life was anything but comfortable. The twelve disciples’ lives were anything but comfortable. 

They were all good people who deserved “good things.” They all suffered terribly for their beliefs. Where is the karma in that?

All of them knew poverty well. All of them suffered mightily. None of them lived in their society’s equivalent of a “gated community.”

So back to what started this rant. If we give a thousand bucks to a rich person it will become fifty-thousand. That may be true. 

The rich person can afford to put the money in play, to invest it. They aren’t having to paying utilities out of the thousand dollars, or rent, or buying food, or paying a doctor or pharmacist with it, or buying necessities with it.

The poor person probably will blow it, on either the above or any number of things. That doesn’t make the rich person superior to the poor person. That doesn’t mean the poor person deserves to suffer. That doesn’t justify our passing the afflicted without lifting a finger to help them because, “I have worked hard for mine and they should have made different choices in life.”

Good Lord, man; get over yourself!

This is Fletcher Long and you can take this for whatever you find it worth but THAT’S THE LONG VERSON!

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