This is not to say that there is no downside to a blog discussion. Too often, those posting comments start arguing with each other about matters that have no relevance to the original post. Oftentimes, these commentators will follow each other from one blog to another, carrying on debates over matters that are unknown to readers other than themselves. And, of course, people sometimes get abusive and substitute name-calling for rational argument.
But these problems are really rather minor and result mainly from the blog host lacking the time or the inclination to police the comments, disciple abusers and delete their comments, and bar serial abusers from being allowed to post. Perhaps in the near future, some programmer will invent an effective method of deleting irrelevant, off-topic, and abusive comments automatically, thus improving the blogging experience for everyone.
Nevertheless, the sort of back-and-forth that my original article stimulated is extraordinarily useful. I learned a lot from those who commented on my article. In particular, I learned that many things I took for granted in terms of my knowledge of the economic experience of the 1970s are not widely shared. It has motivated me to write something more detailed that will explain the atmosphere and context in which SSE was developed.
I think if people understood the problem we were facing as we saw it, our actions would make more sense. As it is, both supporters and opponents of SSE implicitly view it in the context of today, thus leading to errors in thinking that what was true at one time is still true today -- or, conversely, thinking that something that is wrong today was also wrong in the past. In terms of SSE, what was right then may be wrong now.
In terms of what SSE accomplished, I still think it was the right cure for the economic problems we were facing in the late 1970s. I also think it embodies some fundamental truths that are applicable at all times. But these fundamental truths, such as the idea that high marginal tax rates are bad for the economy, are now almost universally accepted. So I say to my fellow supply-siders, let's just declare victory and move on. Insisting on a separate identity only makes enemies out of potential allies.
Bruce Bartlett is a former senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis of Dallas, Texas. Bartlett is a prolific author, having published over 900 articles in national publications, and prominent magazines and published four books, including Reaganomics: Supply-Side Economics in Action.
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