#0014 Trickledown theology

In the 1980s under the Reagan administration the term trickledown economics popped up on the political and socioeconomic landscape of America. This was a strategy that was destined to catch on following the recession we had been through during most of the previous Carter administration. In short it was a tactic that would supposedly turn around the failing economy. The postulation was that an environment of prosperity could be induced by aiding the wealthiest Americans to prosper even more. In doing this, the advocates of trickledown economics claimed, the fruits of their prosperity would overflow and naturally trickledown to those of the rest of us every day Americans who were living more in the hand-to-mouth neighborhood. Does this sound familiar? It’s the feudal system all over again—only it’s dressed up in 1990’s attire. The group most in favor of this philosophy was, of course, the conservatives. The whiter and righter you were, the more likely it was you were excited about it and got behind it. Things didn’t turn out exactly as projected; however many on the right still sing its praises and like to remember it as the good ole days of the legendary Reagan era. The first part of the theory worked out beautifully and that’s what its supporters tend to focus on. This phase provided federal tax breaks and incentives to big businesses which did, in fact, help them prosper and grow much bigger. But instead of remaining inside the boundaries of reason and social consciousness, i.e.: investing in-house to expand their own businesses to create more jobs and open up opportunities for the little guy to get a chance for their own slice of American pie, they continued to focus on and ply practices which would bring in more and more wealth for themselves. They began buying out their competitors and bankrupting them after they’d strip them of any and all of their useable resources. It was during this phase that a new term or phrase popped up on the political and socioeconomic landscape: Too big to fail.

In the beginning of the new millennium a deeper and more insidious plan for economic reform was being hatched. This one was dressed up to look like it was fraught with opportunities for the little guys to get something going at last; but in actuality, it was part two of the trickledown lie being perpetrated upon the American people. Banks were lowering interest rates and Mortgage companies were lessening income qualification restrictions and subsequently more and more people were able to and began buying houses. Many of these were ones whose only option had been renting up to that point. But the greed-based bank bigs had a card hidden up their sleeves and when they played it, so they believed, their foolproof and fail-proof idea would make them and many of their investment banker buddies rich beyond their wildest dreams. What they did was jerk the rug out from underneath the majority of these new, unwitting mortgage holders. The variable rate mortgages that many of these new, naïve homeowners were holding began to spike—rapidly and on a broad scale. Many of them saw their monthly mortgage payments double overnight which left them with little recourse besides defaulting on their payments. Mortgage after mortgage was being returned to the banks and before long a veritable tsunami of them started crashing upon the desks of bank accountants all over America; and in 2006 the housing market began to collapse in on itself.  In early days things seemed to be working well for the investment bankers. They were acquiring back these properties that they would now be able to resell to new more qualified buyers. They soon saw the flaw in their plan when housing values plummeted, in part because there were very few buyers for the absolute glut of houses on the market. The law of supply and demand: the supply was huge and the demand was puny. And it didn’t take long for some of these too-big-to-fail banks to fail.

You might be asking yourself, “How does this fit into our ongoing spiritual theme or tie in with the title: Trickledown theology? Well the truth is it ties in in all sorts of ways. First, I would like to harken back to my last posting: Proxyism and revisit the idea of the feudal system way of thinking and doing. You see as people embrace and practice certain ideals those ideals tend to spread from one person to the next; it comes with our gregarious human natures. The more they are plugged into by more and more people these ideals become doctrines or policies and left unchecked these will get interwoven into the culture fabric of the community; whether it’s on a family, neighborhood, city, state, national or worldwide scale. When these cultural mentally-shared realities (well that’s just the way things are!) have become so well-embedded within a society there are those who are trained to take notice and to figure out ways to take advantage of these cultural trends. In feudal times, the trend was extreme poverty, we’re talking starvation poverty. At a certain point someone in the aristocracy, a landowner who possessed vast tracts, perhaps, took notice of this thought there must be a way to use some of these starving people to his own advantage. He did presto—the feudal system of farming was born. In the beginning, it was a good workable system and it began to evolve into an entity with a place for a middleclass. In the feudal system those in the middleclass were the freemen and yeomen. As the concept and eventual reality of freeman and yeomen began to materialize upon the feudal landscape it well may have that the manifestation of the wealthy class and the poor class struggling to arrange themselves into a normalized state, spiritually speaking. What we saw in the beginning of the Reagan era with the introduction of the trickledown economy lie was a reversion movement toward the old feudal system.

Today, this reversion movement is getting lots of traction in two camps: the political right (no surprise), 25 years later is still riding the Reaganomics wave; but somewhat surprising is the fact that it is getting lots of support from conservative religious groups as well. Their areas of focus might be different: economics and spiritual matters; but the thinking is the same because religion has always been based on trickledown theology.

(Watch for part 2 on Sunday Aug. 9th)

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