Once upon a time, there was an economic program that didn't work. Inflation did not lessen and unemployment went up and so did interest rates. Pretty soon there was a recession and people got real scared and then a man named David pointed and said, "Look, it's not working." This man then had lunch with the president and then said the economic program was working after all. This made everyone happy.

This is the way it is in the land of Washington. It is a strange place. The people who run the place said they had a new, wonderful economic program. It was called supply-side economics and they admitted that no one knew if it could work. The best evidence they had was something called a Laffer curve drawn on a piece of paper. These were strange people and they came to worship this curve. They could make this curve prove what they wanted. It was a magic curve.

They also had faith. If you asked them why they thought this program would work, they said have faith. The people who lived in Washington had lots of faith. They could look across the ocean to the land of England where a similar economic program had been tried and see unemployment and general chaos. The program was not working in England, but England was different. It did not have faith and it did not have the magic curve.

The man named David ran much of the program. Everyone said he was very smart, although he was very young and prematurely gray. He said the program could work and that it would work. But privately he was saying something else. He was saying that he had some doubts. He was calling the program a Trojan Horse, which meant it was just a ruse for dismantling the large and liberal federal government and restoring a tax system that favored the rich. He did not say this publicly, of course. Instead, he referred to the magic curve and said "have faith."

People in the land of Washington bought this. This was surprising since the program that was being implemented was not much different from the one the president had been calling for since 1964. Back then, even before the discovery of the magic curve and supply-side economics, Ronald Reagan had been attacking the tax structure and calling for an end to the growth of government. He was a traditional conservative, and at one time he even wanted to make Social Security voluntary. People forgot all this, though. They thought he was a supply-sider.

But whatever the program was called, it really did start to dismantle the federal government and lower taxes. It lowered taxes for everyone, but it lowered them most of all for the rich. It cut social service programs and entitlement programs but made the defense budget bigger than it ever was. In fact, it was going to be a lot bigger. In the land of Washington, no one seemed to notice that this was what conservatives had always wanted. Now they referred to their magic curve, but they could just as well have referred to Herbert Hoover.

Pretty soon, things got bad. Unemployment went up. Interest rates went sky high. First the government said it could balance the budget, but then it said it could not. It lowered taxes and tried to lower spending, but it found there were cuts it could not make. The rich were unhappy. Their taxes were cut, but the budget had not been balanced. Take more from the poor, they yelled. The man named David was unhappy. He knew things were not working.

But no one else in the land of Washington seemed to know that. Even the man named David never came right out and said as much. But from time to time, he granted interviews with a reporter in which he admitted his doubts. About one year after the election, the interviews were published. The man named David had said all the things that everyone should have known. But in the land of Washington, everyone was shocked. The president has no clothes, the man said, and although everyone could see him standing naked, clutching only his magic curve, they were shocked.

And so the president sent for the man named David. They had lunch, and when David came out he said he was sorry for what he had said in the interviews. He said things really were working. Then the president went back to work and so did David, and everyone in the land of Washington went to sleep for the winter. It was better that way. After all, now they all had no clothes.