Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Top Down and Bottom Up

No, this is not a post about porn.

Ok, now that you've wiped your eyes from laughing so hard you cried, I'll continue.

We have in our country a crisis of management and organization and I'll tell you how it works. The bailouts show this well. Who got the first biggest least regulated bailouts? Banks did. Tell me what exactly banks make. Tell me what exactly the big banks make for me that my small local Arvest bank who doesn't need a bailout can't make for me.

Now the car manufacturers are trying to get bailouts. What do car makers make? Pickles. And who eats pickles? I do. Why is it so hard for industries that actually make things to get help? It's because for 28 years now, we have been living under Reaganomics. This philosophy says "free trade solves everything." Never mind that we don't actually make anything here anymore. What is our economy supported by? Not a whole lot, and that is borne out by the economy slumping because the people with the money to spend (that meaning the most people, the statistically significant group,) can't spend it because they don't have it anymore and they don't have it anymore because their jobs get shipped across our borders, and they've run out of credit.

Here's a conundrum. Some are saying that American auto makers have failed to compete with Asian and European automakers. But here's a question? Who do Toyota and Honda have to compete with in their main markets? They only have to compete with each other because Japan has Fair Trade policy. They have policy that protects their car manufacturers from outside influence. The kinds of cars they make are decided by what people want to buy and what people want to buy is guided by high gas prices. This is true in Europe too.

Here's the top down and bottom up concept. We have in American these things called CAFE standards (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) that decide what our car's gas mileage should be. This is a top down approach. What this leads us to is this: We have cheap gas (relatively) which means the Ford F-150 is the most popular selling vehicle. It gets bad gas mileage. But it makes money. Ford loses money on smaller cars because people don't really need or want them, but yet, it is required to make them by law. Reminder: this is top down philosophy. An additional factor is that cars and trucks are defined differently and have different requirements which means if Ford, GM and Chrysler can get you to buy a "truck" (truck, SUV, or minivan) they don't have to worry about CAFE so much and can sell huge unnecessary gas guzzling machines that don't help the world.

In Europe and Japan, gasoline prices are kept a bit higher than in America due to taxes with a great result. Car manufacturers have no problem making and selling cars that get an average of 40 miles per gallon or more. In fact our average fuel economy is around 60% of what theirs is. Their car manufacturers are not forced to do something that the market doesn't support and they get a sweet tax to build roads with. This is a bottom up approach, see how it works better? You can cause something far greater to happen if you make a small change to each of a million people than if you make a large change to one or a few people at the top. And really, the average person doesn't pay any more in total because even the gas costs more, you don't use as much of it. Win win.

It's like this. How can you beat a champion boxer? Buy a new set of gloves?, no. Stomp on his toes. He won't be so interested in punching you anymore, at least until he can walk again.

It's the same concept with tax policy. Reaganomics and Bushies say "give tax cuts to the rich to stimulate the economy." The rich are so few, you can give them a sizable tax cut and it won't do much. Give the bottom of the group the tax cuts, and you will have a much larger bang for your buck. Simple math, give one person a million dollar tax cut, or give a million people a thousand dollar tax cut. One case yields $999,000,000 more than the other. Which do you think (long term) is better for the economy? That's why I advocate a return to the tax structure of 1980, adjusted for inflation and the cost of living of course.

This country is built on this type of principle. It is what it is today because of a top marginal tax rate of 70%. But that has been rapidly torn down by the last 28 years of unregulated capitalistic rule that puts most of the money into the hands of those who already have it. The biggest problem with this is the enabler. Christians were duped into supporting this way of thinking simply because they weren't looking out for who Jesus told them to be looking out for. They were looking out for themselves, their comfort, and sold themselves to the gospel of wealth and disguised it as morality.

Jesus was a bottom up guy. You help your neighbor, he helps his, he helps his, he helps his. Jesus never advocated banning or passing a constitutional amendment to ban or restrict anything. It was contrary to the way he worked and still works. He is a bottom up guy. He never used his power or influence to in anyway limit the actions of non-believers. Christians shouldn't either. In case you can't figure it out, what I'm saying is don't use your vote to keep gays from getting married. If you don't believe in same sex marriage, then don't marry someone of your same sex. The constitution should not be soiled by such petty nonsense. It should be a proud and right giving document, not a document that takes away. Marriage is between you and God, not you and the constitution or the law. Give unto God that which is God's, and God gives marriage, not Uncle Sam. Simply said passing a law banning same sex marriage is a top down approach, and Jesus was a bottom up guy. They are incompatible.

And that is my foray in to top an bottom philosophy. Top down doesn't work well, that's why we all hate the government. Try bottom up. It will work better. And stay away from demagoguery. That's a lowest denominator situation and that doesn't work either.

Jesus was a bottom up guy, and so am I.

P.S. Those of you who think that everyone wants to come to America, sorry to burst your bubble, but Europeans like their free health care, Canadians do too, that's why we don't have a wall up there.

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