Thursday, April 29, 2010

Goodbye Supply Side

(This is in response to an article, "Goodbye Supply Side" , which appeared in the May 3rd issue of National Review)  

In “Goodbye Supply Side”(National Review, May 3), Kevin D. Williamson blurs the definitions of Supply Side Economics, the Laffer Curve, and their relationship to each other in an otherwise cogent piece about runaway government spending by both parties. Supply Side Economics and its opposite, Demand Side Economics, deal with the behavior of individual economic actors and their propensity to create economic activity under certain circumstances. The Laffer Curve deals with government revenues and its relative levels under certain circumstances. While taxes are involved in both formulations, that is the extent of the overlap. One is about government and the other about the economy. Mr. Williamson blurs the lines in an attempt to discredit one by disproving the other but succeeds in neither attempt.

One way to square the circle for Mr. Williamson would be to state the definition of Supply Side Economics in contemporary terms and by doing so, solve the conundrum of spending, taxes, and growth which he is addressing. The contemporary definition of Supply/Demand Side Economics is as follows:

    • Supply Side Economics is the theory that People free of government imposed wealth re-distribution* will maximize the Supply of labor and the desire to produce, which will maximize the Supply of goods and services and hence, maximize economic activity. (Production Rules!)

    • Demand Side Economics is the theory that Government imposed wealth re-distribution* will maximize the Demand for goods and services and the desire to consume, which will maximize the Demand for labor and hence, maximize economic activity. (Consumption Rules!)

*In both cases the wealth re-distribution can be from taxes or regulation and may be from rich to poor, generation to generation, state to state, group to group, etc.

You’ll notice that these contemporary definitions hinge on government imposed wealth re-distribution which is the root cause of overspending and the heart of the dispute between these two theories. Prior to the death of The Constitution (pick your date), we had a self-limiting government which performed a few essential things which allowed the US to prosper like no other country on the planet in an un-intentional and un-equivocal Supply Side proof. Now that we have un-limited government, we can never control spending without a return to The Constitution and will most likely end up in a death spiral of debt rate-spreads and currency devaluation. Think Argentina and Greece on steroids. Goodbye Supply Side indeed.

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