If anyone was struggling to list all the problems with conservative economics over the past few decades, step back and let Secretary of Energy Rick Perry speak.
While visiting a coal manufacturing plant in West Virginia on Thursday, the conservative politician gave reporters his misguided interpretation of the basic principle of supply and demand.
DOE Rick Perry at coal plant:"Here’s a little economics lesson: supply and demand. You put the supply out there and the demand will follow."— Taylor Kuykendall (@taykuy) July 6, 2017
This is wrong. (We'll note here that Perry's college transcripts show a lot of C's and D's, with one particularly bad grade being in a class called "the principle of economics." Funny.)
Mark Sumner of Daily Kos used the right wing's favorite energy source to point out how idiotic this line of thinking is.
"There is a excess supply of coal in the Untied States. And by the rules of Republican economics, these heaping piles of oxidizing rock will, with a high five from the invisible hand, create demand! Where this demand will come from, without additional plants to burn the coal, and with the only 'clean coal' plant in America just deciding that it won't burn coal after all? No one knows. But it has to happen because … supply."
Supply and demand, at its core, is about equilibrium and finding a balance between production of a product and need of a product. It fluctuates, to be sure, but a truly healthy economy should not be in the business of foisting short-term solutions on the population.
Perry touched on, intentionally or otherwise, a conservative brand of economics stemming from the Ronald Reagan era referred to as "supply-side economics." The concept is closely linked, at times interchangeable, with "trickle down economics," a term that's been thrown around in politics for years now and defines the current administration's economic policies.
In short, Perry's economic lesson doesn't teach us anything but what not to do.
People have responded to this take on supply and demand with the mix of panic and humor that defines this day and age. They've played off Perry's stint on "Dancing with the Stars," failed presidential runs, and brought in infamous world leaders with their own eerily similar, equally terrible economic plans to bring some levity to a sad situation.
Rick Perry: "You put the supply out there and the demand will follow."— skullsinthestars (@drskyskull) July 6, 2017
Ghost of Adam Smith: pic.twitter.com/XMu5gKQUYJ
The supply of Rick Perry regularly exceeds demand.— (((Robert Arthur))) (@jaunte) July 6, 2017
Looking forward to Rick Perry’s first Five-Year Plan. It may fail, but the second Five-Year Plan will be glorious.— Jason Fagone (@jfagone) July 6, 2017
Rick Perry thinks supply leads to demand, which is why that pit full of copies of Atari's E.T. was so popular with gamers.— Ian Fortey (@IanFortey) July 6, 2017
It's jarring that people like Perry are in power, but this line also gives us a better idea as to why the GOP is such a flagrant failure in economic policy. Republicans are either greedy or clueless as to the basics of functional economics, maybe a bit of both.