Trickle down economics is known by a number of names: supply side economics, Reaganomics, voodoo economics, deregulation, Libertarianism, Mudsill Theory, horse and sparrow theory, and the Trump tax cuts, to name a few. It has been espoused by everyone from Ayn Rand to Milton Friedman to Alan Greenspan to Gordon Gecko.
Trickle down economics involves focusing the brunt of government effort on helping the wealthy, at the expense of the middle class and the poor. The theory says that the wealthy elites of the country have proven themselves capable patricians for stewarding the lives of the masses through myth and fairytale in the name of patriotic duty. The “supply” in supply side are the rich, who will create companies that sell products to people who didn’t even realize they needed them. If we give enough of our collective tax pool to them, they say, they’ll create jobs and prosperity for everyone else.
The problem for trickle down economics is that that isn’t true at all. It simply doesn’t happen. Time and time again over the past approximately 200 years, the ideology of rewarding the wealthy for being wealthy has proven its premises to be completely false. Deregulation and starving the government don’t produce a prosperous utopia — they produce recessions and depressions. They produce conglomerates too big to fail, that get rewarded for their brazenly irresponsible speculation with Main Street’s money, and flaunt their ability to simply capture government in our collective faces.