Sunday, August 8, 2010

Oh... NOW I Get It...

One of the tricky things about being a layperson when it comes to a number of politically significant topics is that the people in the know often talk about them in ways that seem deliberately designed to prevent laypeople from understanding and evaluating them.

The detonation of the American financial system has heightened a number of people's interest in economics, myself included, and I've been spending some time doing a little reading here and there, attempting to get a handle on the inner workings of money and the exchange of goods and services. (Whee!) I'd been hoping to avoid some of the more ideological aspects of the discussion, but with Democrats and Republicans having staked out different people's theories to follow, that's harder than it should be, mainly because the people who talk about these theories often have an ideological bent of their own.

The most recent topic that I've been trying to understand is Supply Side Economics, which is often boiled down to the saying: "Supply creates its own demand." Short, simple, sweet and nowhere near accurate - unless you're willing to monkey somewhat with the definition of "demand." After beating my head against a wall for a while, I finally had something of a Eureka moment; and I think that with it came a semi-clear understanding of the concept, why it was so attractive to the Reagan Administration and why, ultimately, "Reaganomics" didn't work (and why George H. W. Bush was dead on when he termed it "Voodoo Economics"). Sorting out enough information to really make sense of it from all of the chaff is a somewhat more difficult task than it needs to be, because so many people who talk about such topics do so with a particular purpose in mind (to either support or debunk the theory) thus requiring that information and ideology be separated out. If you don't realize that, you wind up with a skewed understanding of the topic, which makes it difficult to make informed decisions.

Which I guess is sometimes the point.

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