Stop Deifying our Heroes

Stop Deifying our Heroes

Because we're supposed to believe if you give rich people more money, they're going to share it with us more.

One thing about teaching I’ve always found fun is that you learn things.  You learn things you never thought you would need to know, some things you would never have known had you not been charged with teaching them to a child.  Most recently I learned about the dangers of deifying our heroes of the past.

I had a student ask me if George Washington owned slaves.  And you know, it wasn’t something I’d ever thought of before.  Sure, he was this great leader and wise man, our first president who defeated the British all by himself as he triumphantly and gloriously crossed the Potomac, couldn’t tell a lie, and all that great and wonderful stuff.  But was he a slave owner?  Wouldn’t that be something?

Indeed, apparently, he was.  The father of our nation and upstanding do-gooder George Washington inherited slaves, bred slaves, married into more slaves, and stayed that way his whole life.  Allegedly, he wrote it in his will to emancipate all his slaves upon his death, but still.  Allegedly, he abhorred slavery and didn’t like being a slave-owner, but that clearly wasn’t enough to inspire a change in his status.  It really does change the image some.

And there’s Mr. Penny himself, Abraham Lincoln, who was the greatest president the United States had ever known as long as you don’t ask any Native Americans.  Here was a guy who promised a ton of cash for some land, didn’t pay for it, and then murdered the people he bought it from.

It’s one of the things I like about the Bible; it doesn’t gloss over the gory details of the Old-Testament ‘heroes.’  King David (after killing Goliath) killed a guy after sleeping with his wife, Amraham pimped out his own wife, twice, Moses was a coward who was afraid to face his original wife, and Solomon had a thousand wives. Sorry, but these men were knuckleheads.

So it is with Ronald Reagan.  If you listen to modern Republicans, Reagan is a god.  And let us give credit where it’s due: Reagan was a unifying force in America.  He was bold and took a stand against communism, effectively dismantled the Iron Curtain, and he was a compassionate spokesman.  With all that being said, his economic philosophies were absolutely horrific.  He’s the one we have to blame for this whole trickle-down B.S. our current congress is trying to sell us.

They’re calling it “tax cuts,” by the way.

In case you don’t know how it works (in theory), here’s the rundown.  Cut taxes for the wealthy.  Since these are the movers and shakers of the economy, they’ll use the surplus money to innovate and invest, which in turn creates jobs, thus boosting the economy.  In short, the tax cuts trickle down.

In reality, it’s a fundamentally flawed idea because it assumes one simple falsehood to be true: that rich people are benevolent innovators who like to share.  First off, rich people don’t share their wealth, that’s why they’re rich.  Second, many of the top 1% haven’t innovated anything, in fact, but rather inherited their wealth or acquired it through cheating the system.  More to the point, lowering taxes on those who can most afford it has the effect of diminishing state coffers.  This means less money for roads and bridges, less resources for schools, less money for justice systems meaning overworked public defenders and courts relying on extortionate citations to stay open, and overall a greater burden on the working class and those who would otherwise be innovators but they have to pay bills instead.

Reaganomics doesn’t work, has never worked, and will never work no matter how much the Republican Party deifies the man who championed it.


Michael Patrick Lewis is a teacher, and bestselling author of Edge Of God, and Preferred Rewards.  You can also find him on Twitter @fakeMikeLewis.

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