A newcomer to the United States, after reading the newspaper or watching television for a few days, might conclude that every family in America was huddled around their computers, watching their stocks and mutual funds rise and fall. Even the gloomier news reports of recent weeks ("How to Survive the Slump" blared a recent Time magazine cover) take for granted the triumph of a "people's capitalism"--the idea that the rising stock market of the 1990s lifted all ships--and imply that the average American's main concern as the economy lands is waiting out a temporary contraction in his or her technology portfolio.
Conservative economic policy has one central idea: just create a bigger pie, and everyone will have a bigger slice. In fact, conservatives predict that if we cut the rich a bigger piece by lowering their tax rates, the resulting growth will enlarge everyone else's slice, too. This was the core idea of Reagan's tax cuts, and it is central to such current conservative goals as lower capital gains taxes.