Flat Earth Economic Society at work in Minnesota

Forrest Johnson

The Flat Earth Economic Society is back at it again in red states across the nation.

Yes, that fiscal wing of the New Conservative Neanderthal Party (NCNP) abides by the motto “A Head In The Sand Is The Rich Man’s Promise.”

Surprisingly, a whole batch of working class Minnesotans seem to ascribe to the hollow rhetoric as well. Plenty of average Minnesota voters proved that in 2016 as they cast their support toward beliefs suited better for the Economocracy rather than the Democracy.  

Once again the belief that you can cure economic woes by starving the patient has found its way into the heads of various Minnesota legislators and those campaigning for political office. I really didn’t believe that Minnesota Republicans would so easily lock step with all the other conservative loonies from across the nation but in many cases state lines don’t seem to hinder poor thinking.

The Minnesota state senate chapter of the NCNP recently released their notion of a budget and it is a poster child for the Flat Earth Economic Society and their beliefs. The Minnesota bunch will simply give most of the expected budget surplus back to every Tom, Dick and Harriet as tax`cuts, a very popular political idea, especially in an election year. The Minnesota bunch proclaims that the hundred bucks we might get back will charge up the economy as we buy a pair of shoes of a tire. The Minnesota bunch austerity plans to limit state spending will come the following year due to the lack of tax revenue that will occur with such a plan. Austerity, they claim, will keep state finances from falling in a hole and will keep the economy stable. Austerity is always a poplar idea when the economy is going well and schools and roads are underfunded in these times of plenty.      

I really thought we were a little different here and that included the notion of being Republican.

They just don’t make Republicans like they used to. The Elmer Andersen’s and Dave Durenberger’s, the Arne Carlson’s and Al Quie’s of the political spectrum have fallen from grace with these new kids who would deny health care and fair wages to the commoners and instead hand the spoils to the top one percent of society because they control the wealth and thus the have the capacity to create jobs and turn around whole economies in a single bound.

Those old guys understood that as long as we share a society, a social contract exists between a state and all the people, not just some of the people. And that contract isn’t mutually exclusive between state and people, it is one thing, a shared state of being.

The new kids of the Flat Earth Economic Society would cut spending at the same time they are cutting revenues by reducing taxes on businesses and the wealthy, a surefire method to cripple all the things we share in this state and nation.

I again thought about William F. Buckley, the old conservative thinker with the rolling wide eyes and dry wit. I imagined the fun he’d have if he were still alive, hosting his weekly show on PBS with this latest bunch of Republicans roaming the landscape. Even though I didn’t agree with the guy much he made reason, with a capitol R, as much a part of the show as his guests. I could imagine the fun he’d have skewering the thoughtless gestures of a Donald V. Rumpt or a Ted Cruz or a Mitch McConnell. 

William F. Buckley, where are you when we need you, a conservative who beckons reason?  

The new kids on the block truly believe in the hollow economic rhetoric that you take from the poor and give to the rich because they own everything already. Yes, even though it has been proven time and again that tax breaks grow wealth and not jobs they continue to ignore the need for revenue if a society is going to exist in a state of equilibrium.

The mantra of competition is hollow. The economy has been steaming along full speed ahead for decades in full competitive regalia and we end up cooking our own goose through greed, that dirty little secret of unchecked capitalism. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Adam Smith never imagined such greed as we have seen when he wrote “Wealth of Nations.” Man’s better nature was to have lifted all boats in the economic tide according to Smith. He’d flip a lid and turn the table of the moneychangers if he happened to drop in on Wall Street and boardrooms of our corporate state in 2020.

Don’t even tell him about the Great Recession of 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015… 

Even though Smith promoted his belief in self-interest of the individual he warned of the “collusive nature” of business interests as they form cabals or monopolies, fixing the highest price “which can be squeezed out of buyers.”

According to scholars like William F. Buckley, Smith also warned against true laissez-faire economies that would quickly become a conspiracy of businesses and industry against consumers, as well as scheming to influence politics and legislation. He warned of the gluttony of the rich and unproductive labor of excess that does not further the end of the system and society.

Sounds familiar.

He couldn’t have imagined the size of today’s corporate and global house of cards. 

Smith also wrote “The Theory of Moral Sentiments” whereby he examined moral thinking that included a belief that conscience comes from social relationships, not monetary, and he proposed a theory of sympathy, one based on man’s observations of others and an awareness of themselves and the morality of their own behavior.

Enough of Adam Smith.

The Flat Earth Economic Society is simply ignorant of the way a civil society operates. 

Ask the wealthiest taxpayers to help defray some of the budget woes or to close a loophole that shields companies from paying taxes on foreign profits? Are you kidding, the Flat Earthers ask? Even though overall profits for this state’s largest businesses are at an all time high the Flat Earthers claim that Minnesota’s tax climate has been a burden for too long. Let loose the reins of regulation and taxation! Growth, innovation and jobs will emerge as we cast aside the burdensome care of the poor and the environment. Everyone must live within their means except those who can afford it!