Horse And Sparrow Economics


About 4 minutes

Listening to Them Hartmann last week I heard a discussion concerning the long history of trickle down economics. Like most I thought that trickle down was a creation of of people like Arthur Laffer and his infamous curve or Friedrich Hayek or Milton Friedman and their supply side theories.

Much to my surprise Hartmann and his guest (whose name escapes me) began talking about a theory that Republicans advanced in the late 19th century. The name of the economy theory was eventually accurately described by John Kenneth Galbraith as the “Horse and Sparrow” theory. As you learned in the video and as the name implies the horses get fed oats and then some of what they eat is not digested and passes through their system. Thus the oats become available to the sparrows in the horse dung.


Professional economists are generally skeptical of trickle-down economics for good reason: there’s little evidence that letting the rich keep more of their money actually leads to higher wages for everyone else. It’s what John Kenneth Galbraith has referred to as the horse-and-sparrow theory: “If you feed the horse enough oats, some will pass through to the road for the sparrows.” It’s an appropriately vulgar distillation for a crap idea.

Another name for this would be horse shit economics.

It is way past time for us to be taking this crap idea as a serious idea. It is a swindle perpetrated by the wealthy on the poor and middle class. There is no reason to class it up in discussions as “supply side” or “trickle down” economics. Best to call it what it is  – it is horse shit economics. That will dispel any mental pictures that this is somehow a real theory with some valid points. It is horse shit and should be discussed as such.

Just in case someone doesn’t get the mental picture drawn by the phrase “horse shit economics” it should be easy to explain how the rich eat and get fat and we have to fight over what little nutritive value they leave us in their shit.

As if that wasn’t bad enough dailykos reminds us what some of the more appealing aspects are to Republicans of the current iteration of horse shit economics:

Benefits used by universities and graduate students are also on the chopping block. And the repeal of the Obamacare individual mandate to buy insurance — a centerpiece of Democrats’ biggest achievement in a generation — is estimated to generate some $300 billion to pay for tax cuts.

“It’s death to Democrats,” said conservative economist Stephen Moore, who advised Trump’s campaign on tax policy.

“They go after state and local taxes, which weakens public employee unions. They go after university endowments, and universities have become play pens of the left. And getting rid of the mandate is to eventually dismantle Obamacare,” Moore said in an interview, arguing that it would accelerate “a death spiral” in the health-care law’s marketplaces. […]

“The people who are going get the most whacked by this are wealthy and upper-middle class people who live in big cities,” said John Feehery, a GOP lobbyist and former communicator for House leadership. “In other words, Democrats.”

“I don’t think there’s a conspiracy to go attack Democratic districts. But that’s how the legislative process works—if you’re not going to participate in a game you’re going to lose,” he said. “You need the revenue, and those constituencies are not really being represented because their representatives refused to participate.”

As I said, horse shit.

About Dave Bradley

retired in West Liberty
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