Thanks to David Aas for his feedback on my last column. It's good to know someone reads what you write.
Of course he and I will probably never agree on financial matters but, hey, that's diversity of opinion.
I do agree with him that George Santayana's quote ("Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it") can be used to support almost any argument.
I chose it in part because for the last 10 years of his long life, Santayana knew a stable financial period in which tens of millions of Americans earned their way into the middle class, a period when regulations were in place to prevent the reckless Wall Street practices that caused the 1929 crash.
As to "two major inaccuracies" in my analysis about tax cuts not automatically creating jobs, perhaps I didn't state it clearly enough. I'll try again.
To the extent that Wall Street is engaging in unnecessary and dangerous transactions instead of funding job creation, to that extent it is not creating jobs. Just cutting taxes doesn't necessarily mean the untaxed revenue will go for job starts.
As to my being "bitter" about Bush's tax cuts, I never was. I was disappointed, as I am now with talk about extending them forever. Representative Ryan is even proposing lowering the tax rate on the highest bracket to 25 percent, the lowest since, yes, President Hoover. Talk about not learning from history.
As to President Kennedy cutting taxes on the highest bracket in the early 1960s, he did: from 90 percent to 70 percent. President Reagan cut them again in the 1980s: from 70 to 50 percent. When President Clinton raised them from 35 to 39.5 percent, the economy boomed and we had a surplus.
My column pointed out that from the early 1940s to the early 1980s Wall Street was regulated, and from the early '40s to the early '60s the wealthy were taxed at 90 percent. And we paid off our WWII debts, financed the GI Bill, created jobs that boosted many millions into the middle class, and built the freeways.
That's history. It's also history that unregulated Wall Street crashed in 1929, and after regulations were dismantled, nearly crashed again in 2007.
Continuing deregulation is so not learning from history. Even deregulation champion Alan Greenspan admitted it was a mistake.
Another bit of history we tend to ignore is the wealthy paying taxes at 90 percent for 20 years. If we think about this at all, it's probably to wonder: why didn't they use their influence to stop this sooner? Well, they were part of the Greatest Generation.
They heeded the words in the Preamble of the Constitution: "promote the general welfare." They put the country's needs before their own wants. And in building the middle class, they looked out for us. Who are we looking out for?
We claim to be concerned about future generations of children but we're willing to cut the milk supply for today's infants by scrapping the WIC program. And many politicians refuse to consider even the slightest increase in taxes on the privileged. Instead, they want a significant decrease.
That makes about as much sense as parents with budget woes choosing to decrease their income by, say, switching to lower paying jobs, and then scrimping on their kids' food to make ends meet. No family would do something like this.
But our country might. And if it does, that will be remembered as a sad chapter in our history.
(James Lein is a community columnist for The Minot Daily News)