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Volume III, Number 8: 3 March 2003

Trickle Down Liberation Theology

Paul Corrigan

Americans can forget about the separation of church and state. President Bush believes the United States was called to bring God's gift of liberty to "every human being in the world." It should be clear to anyone who is paying attention that President Bush is a radical Republican. He has governed far to the right of Ronald Reagan. Like no president before him, he has mixed politics and religion. Bush has not only resurrected Reaganomics from the dead, but he has also taken this economic theory and applied it to theology. We are told to take comfort that the man who turned the White House into a bible-reading class takes his direction from God. The bridge that Bill Clinton was building to the twenty-first century has led to trickle-down economics and trickle-down liberation theology. According to Bush, Jesus would not support land reform or redistribution of wealth to empower the world's poor. He might want the meek to inherit the earth, but only after it trickled down to them.

The theory behind trickle-down economics is simple: reducing tax rates, especially for businesses and wealthy individuals, stimulates savings and investment for the benefit of everyone. In other words, when businesses and wealthy individuals have more money, they will invest and spend more money and that wealth will trickle down to lower-income individuals and the rest of the economy.

The theory behind trickle-down liberation theology is also simple: accessing markets and raw materials, especially for energy companies and wealthy individuals, stimulates investment and the creation of democratic institutions for the benefit of everyone. In other words, when energy companies and wealthy individuals can make a financial killing, they will have a vested interest in the American government spending billions to impose democratic institutions in the local country. Democracy will trickle down and liberate the masses. America can not lose, because God is on our side.

Under these theories, all Americans have to do now is sit back and wait for happy days to be here again. The Bush administration is betting a short, successful war will remove the uncertainty that is holding back consumer and corporate spending, for which the September 11 terrorists are to blame. Under this scenario, economic activity and stock prices would rebound. The dessert for the radical right is that any refusal by the United Nations to follow Bush's lead in Iraq will both justify getting the United States out of the United Nations and create domestic support for such a withdrawal. America will stand alone at the pinnacle of the world, unmatched in wealth and power. A subjugated world will kneel before the United States, thankful for America's paternalism. Americans just needs to have faith in God and in Bush.

This is madness. Bush should have paid more attention to Ronald Reagan who believed in faith and trickle-down, but also reminded Americans that even when we trust we must verify. In practice, trickle-down economics is nonsense. Its promise is a lie. Tax cuts under Reagan did not lead to "Morning in America" and they will not under Bush. After a seven-year hiatus, deficit spending is back in Washington thanks to Bush's tax cuts. Investment by the American government in a war and nation-building in Iraq could cost the United States over $100 billion this year and as much as $2 trillion over the next 10 years. Thousands of Iraqis could lose their lives, leading to the creation of more terrorists hell-bent on reprisals against America and Americans. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of American soldiers could lose their lives. An upward spike in oil prices, which has already occurred, is likely to erode corporate profits and decrease corporate investment and hiring. Under these conditions, unemployment would increase as well. Bush, like his father, will ask Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan to cut interest rates only to see the request fall on deaf ears, this time because rates are too low to cut. Another Bush recession will happen, and America will stand divided by religion, race, and class. The vortex of this economic misery will have an unprecedented impact on an aging population of Americans as the federal government, states, cities, and towns will need to cut services that are critical to making our country great. The masses of the world will again be left waiting for their liberation.