Supply-side economics, popularly known as ‘trickle-down’ economics, has been the most dominant approach to economic policy in North America (and some other countries) since the 1980s. Despite all economic evidence to the contrary, it is a policy that is still pursued today, to some extent or other, by both conservative and centrist parties in liberal democracies. The primary real-world consequence of these policies is a drastic increase in the economic differences between the rich and poor. The record is not good. Why is the policy so popular?
Political ideologies are systems of thought that we use to orient ourselves politically in “mass society.” They aren’t very old, actually, as they date from the 1600s at the earliest. Ideologies perform the vital function of allowing many different people in a democracy to agree on a few key concepts, allowing them to vote in elections and support particular politicians and parties. There are, broadly speaking, three ideologies:
- liberalism – the first ideology, which emerged in the UK in the 17th and 18th centuries
- conservatism – the most amorphous ideology which emerged as a counter to liberalism but is best defined contextually in relation to the other two ideologies
- socialism – originally a hybrid of liberal and conservative views.
Though we live in a world where these three ideologies have mutated greatly and would be, in some cases, unrecognizable to their earliest supporters, we still all adhere to these traditions today (again, broadly speaking). And that’s a problem.
Perhaps the trendiest electoral strategy for populists in North America in the last decade or so is the appeal to “Taxpayer Rights.” The idea is that you, payer of taxes, supporter of society and civilization, are not getting your money’s worth under the current (and past) administration. The populist, the champion of the rights of taxpayers, will change all of that. There will be new levels of accountability, efficiency and transparency if you elect the populist (and their party, where applicable).