“There are two ideas of government. There are those who believe that if you will only legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous their prosperity will leak through on those below. The Democratic idea, however, has been that if you legislate to make the masses prosperous their prosperity will find its way up through every class which rests upon them.” – William Jennings Bryan,, “Cross of Gold” speech, 1896.
I grew up believing the first theory. Back then almost all my business school and law school peers did. But over time we saw the massive failures caused by the unprecedented widening of the wealth gap. The simple fact is that the middle-class American has not significantly benefited by the nation’s or the world’s economic growth. So now the overwhelming portion of people believe in the second theory. I take it a step further and forecast that if we don’t follow the second then there is likely to be a collapse of our nation as we know it, a restriction of civil liberties and violent revolution within my lifetime.
Certainly there are a few who still do not support the second theory, just as there are a few who don’t believe in climate change. But the fact remains that the overwhelming data supports a logical and sound evidenced-based conclusion on either issue. We aren’t aiming for 100% agreement, but as citizens who profess our commitment to a free and democratically based society, we need to pay attention to ensure that the overwhelming majority’s interests are served.