While there have been all too many lies told in politics, most have some little tiny fraction of truth in them, to make them seem plausible. But the “trickle-down” lie is 100 percent lie.
It should win the contest both because of its purity — no contaminating speck of truth — and because of how many people have repeated it over the years, without any evidence being asked for or given.
Years ago, this column challenged anybody to quote any economist outside of an insane asylum who had ever advocated this “trickle-down” theory. Some readers said that somebody said that somebody else had advocated a “trickle-down” policy. But they could never name that somebody else and quote them.
Well, there you have it, folks. Apparently, because no one on the Right has used the term "trickle-down economics", that clearly means the concept itself doesn't exist. Indeed, Sowell spends a good chunk of writing space gloating about how liberal rags like the New York Times and the Washington Post have constantly trotted out the phrase, yet were never able to cite a single person who specifically used those words.
Not really the most convincing argument, in my opinion.
Sowell never gets around to actually explaining how the policies conservatives like him advocate differ from the liberal caricature. My understanding of modern day Republican economic thought was as follows:
"We need to lower the tax burden on the job creators so that they would have more money to invest in their companies, thereby eventually benefiting their employees, and thus everybody wins!"
Would any person on the Right disagree with that description? I wouldn't think so, and neither would anyone on the left. The only difference is that liberals like myself would insert "trickle-down" in there somewhere. Yes, it's pejorative, and no one on the left will deny that (that's the point, after all), but it also has the benefit of being accurate.
The closest Sowell comes to offering some actual substantial defense was by quoting some prominent leftists who all seemed to agree that at some point, high taxes would prove to be counterproductive. Of course, I'm pretty sure no one on the left disagrees with the idea that taxes at SOME point would be too high and thus might end up harming the economy. But the bigger problem is that conservatives seem to think that taxes are ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS too high. When the economy is bad? "Let's cut taxes!" When the economy is good? "Let's cut taxes!"
It's quite remarkable how Sowell's thesis on how something doesn't exist as long as you call it something else perfectly describes the modern day conservative movement.