I’ve long had problems with political terminology from both sides of the aisle. The “war on women” has always grated on my nerves. Nobody has declared war on women and the only people who think in those terms are partisans. The Tea Party’s attempt to hijack the word “patriot” only highlights their pathetic lack of understanding of our country’s history.

The term that’s on my last nerve right now is “economic freedom.” It’s a euphemism from conservatives to describe their top-down view of the economy. Under Reagan, they called it supply-side economics, but George H. W. Bush correctly named it “Voodoo economics.” The free-marketeers who throw the term around insist that if government will just give people the ability to spend money unimpeded by taxes and regulations, the economy will take off and everybody will benefit.

In reality, economic freedom only applies to those who are already economically secure. Most people spend all of their money on necessities like food, mortgages and utilities. Economic freedom for them would be higher wages and a lower cost of living. The current General Assembly ended the earned income tax credit which put money into the pockets of the working poor and then raised the tax on electricity which increases the cost of living for those who a need a break the most.

The economic freedom crowd conveniently ignores the impact of the policies they support on the people who struggle under our economic system. They measure success in terms of per capita income, not median income. They’re less concerned about the shrinking middle class or the gap between productivity and wages. They’re just outraged that the government would suggest that the people who have benefited most from our economic system would be asked to offer a hand up to those who have been benefitted least.

“Economic freedom” is the belief that if those who have money are making more of it, then relative prosperity will spread to everybody else. It’s never worked; it never will but by calling it “freedom” they are attaching a core American value to their Randian economic philosophy. It’s a political term, not an economic one.


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