My interest in politics was sparked by a college course. It was late 80s – early 90s and my professor made no attempt to disguise for his distaste for Reaganomics, epitomized by the “trickle down” economics policy the president embraced. I graduated into the worst job market in decades and, brief Internet bubble aside, the years have shown the false premise that putting money in the hands of the top 1 percent of shareholders, investors and titans of industry would make its way down to stimulating economic prosperity for the majority of Americans– the recent tax cut to wealthy people and corporations included.
The time has come to try “bubble up” economics instead. Bubble up economics follow the same principles of trickle down; the difference is in whose hands are we giving an economic stimulus.
Imagine the impact of increased money for the 99 percent that could allow for the broader population access to college education without loans; a new energized consumer base that can purchase houses, cars, and afford to eat out and be entertained; a reliable, healthy and educated workforce that can afford childcare, transportation and housing.
When I knocked on thousands of doors during my campaign, the business owners repeatedly identified their primary challenge as finding good employees. The issue is not going to be resolved through the traditional non-response of endless training programs that don’t address the core barriers to a reliable workforce. Most employers freely train good people; they want and need people to show up. Period.
Bubble up economics invests in the workers’ ability to show up by helping both the employed and the employer. And that workforce is the population who will be spending money in Connecticut with the very same small and mid-sized businesses we need to grow.
We need to get behind policies that make bubble up economics happen. We need to raise the minimum wage and institute paid family and medical leave, but also provide tax credits and incentives for businesses that reward increased hiring and investment in the workforce.
Michelle Lapine McCabe is Director of the Center for Food Equity and Economic Development at the Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport.
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