“Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.”
— Harry Truman
It’s no secret how much I love my job. Not sure? Just start a conversation with me. I can relate virtually any topic to some aspect of newspapers in the blink of an eye.
One of the most commonly asked questions I get is what about being a newspaperman do I enjoy the most? Well that’s quite simple. There’s no one day like any other day. It’s always something different.
Earlier this week, a conversation arose in the newsroom that really resonated with my yearning to teach. I asked one of our cub reporters – who won’t be identified by name – if she’d ever heard of the trickle-down theory.
“No,” she replied.
I was astonished. Reaganomics? Trickle-down economics? One of the most talked-about economic theories of the 1980s? “You’ve never heard of this,” I asked.
“No, not really,” she responded. “Am I supposed to know?”
Now, I’m a child of the ’80s, and quite frankly, it’s probably my favorite decade. Some of the best music, albeit synthesized, came from the ’80s. More importantly, some of the best movies were introduced during this decade, including one of my favorites, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” John Hughes is a genius, especially with this circa 1986 classic film. How it didn’t receive an Academy Award is beyond me, but since I didn’t get a vote – or any vote for that matter – at age 10, I guess it will remain one of life’s mysteries.
In that movie, Ben Stein, playing the part of the Economics Teacher, said some stuff in the middle that probably didn’t register with many people except nerdy me.
In 1930, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, in an effort to alleviate the effects of the... Anyone? Anyone?... the Great Depression, passed the... Anyone? Anyone? The tariff bill? The Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act? Which, anyone? Raised or lowered?... raised tariffs, in an effort to collect more revenue for the federal government. Did it work? Anyone? Anyone know the effects? It did not work, and the United States sank deeper into the Great Depression. Today we have a similar debate over this. Anyone know what this is? Class? Anyone? Anyone? Anyone seen this before? The Laffer Curve. Anyone know what this says? It says that at this point on the revenue curve, you will get exactly the same amount of revenue as at this point. This is very controversial. Does anyone know what Vice President Bush called this in 1980? Anyone? Something-d-o-o economics. "Voodoo" economics.
So what does all this have to do with newspapers or trickle-down economics or really anything at all? Just a few hours after the conversation with our cub reporter, I received an email inviting us to a Pinnacle Bank meeting featuring Art Laffer, the very guy featured in the Economics Teacher’s quote and the inventor of trickle-down economics during the Reagan administration.
It was also the exact definition of irony.
Our cub reporter was already committed to another assignment Thursday evening, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to meet one of the greatest economic minds of our time. And let me just say, at 73, he’s still got it.
After the meeting, I couldn’t resist the urge. “By the way, loved you in ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,’” I told Laffer.
“Wasn’t that great?” he responded.
It certainly was, and it’s moments like that when my job is the best job…ever.
As we approach the end of National Newspaper Week, I’m reminded of the importance of our work in our community. I believe having a group of folks who enjoy their work behind that responsibility can only benefit the people we serve.
Not to mention, all the pop culture references thrown in free of charge.