We talk a lot in this space about the three central tenets of trickle-down economics: wage suppression for workers, tax cuts for the wealthy, and deregulation for the powerful. We usually refer to these three tactics in terms of policy, like campaigns against minimum-wage laws and regulations lifted by presidential executive order. But the truth is that once you’ve passed enough trickle-down dogma into law, the whole structure of law and policy loses its meaning and the wealthy few become immune to the cause-and-effect that holds society together.
Consider this: If you or I were to walk into a gas station, grab a six-pack of soda, and walk back out the front door without paying, the attendant would call the police and we would be charged for shoplifting. But when the reckless behavior of out-of-control financial institutions tanked the stock market and kicked off the Great Recession of 2008, nobody went to jail.
Steal six dollars of merchandise, and you will face the consequences. Steal trillions of dollars in bailout money, and your bank will get a stern talking-to and a tiny fine.
Earlier this summer, before the coronavirus resurgence derailed his reelection campaign strategy, President Trump tried to position himself as the law-and-order candidate. He took an especially strong stance against people protesting the murder of George Floyd in cities around the nation, even going so far as to tweet the abhorrent “ when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
In a bracing video, former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich responded with an argument to the contrary: despite all his talk of law and order, Trump isn’t interested in consequences for those who have been participating in the real looting which is destabilizing the country — specifically, the trickle-down looting of America’s middle class.
Reich appears on a recent episode of Pitchfork Economics to elaborate on who the real looters are in America, and why for the wealthy few, our government’s mechanisms for enforcing laws against economic fraud are basically nonexistent…