Bottom-Up Economics

Rather than being an essay, this post is really more of a “bleg.”

Economics seems to spawn some colorful political sobriquets — “voo-doo economics,” “trickle-down economics,” “Clintonomics,” etc. The latest of these seems to be “bottom-up economics.” I am trying to understand “bottom-up economics,” but I am having difficulty finding good resources to study.

Most major economic theories can be traced to well-known economists who represent specific schools of economic thought. Keynesian or “demand-side” economics is of course attributed to John Maynard Keynes. Monetarism is attributed to Milton Friedman and the Chicago School of Economics. Supply-side theory is attributed to Robert Mundell and Arthur Laffer, and loosely associated with the Austrian School (much to the chagrin of hard-core Austrian economists).

Can someone explain the theoretical foundation of “bottom-up economics?” Who is responsible for the scholarship behind the bottom-up economic theory? Or are we dealing (again) with simply another political term?

Web searches have turned up little, save for election-year pep talks and populist appeals, like this one written about a year ago by Robert Reich on his personal blog,

There are only two economic philosophies in America – trickle down and bottom up.

… Bottom up means giving all Americans what they need to be productive – universal and affordable health coverage, good schools, a chance to attend college, job retraining, affordable child care, and good public transportation to and from the job, for starters. But as we learned a decade ago, this requires money – even more, now … Even if we cut corporate welfare, eliminated subsidies to agribusiness, and banned all earmarks, we wouldn’t have nearly enough.

The only way is to stop obsessing about balancing the budget and start pushing for a serious tax hike on the rich.

That sounds suspiciously like good old Marxist wealth redistribution: using the government as a conduit to siphon money from the wealthy (Reich is a proponent of the so-called “wealth tax” that would confiscate assets in addition to income) and award it through subsidies either directly to individuals or to compliant (read: obedient) businesses.

I’m also finding things like this, written by a starry-eyed Obama supporter who, despite her earnestness, seems to have a very poor comprehension of basic economics and finance. (At least one commenter, Aaron, tries to gently point out some of the flaws in her reasoning.)

If there is some good theoretical backbone behind bottom-up economics, I’d like to see it. Can WizBang readers help me out?

– Michael Laprarie

Silly in Chicago
God in Poopy Diapers