I was finally able to sit down and watch Real Time yesterday as my Friday night had consisted of Chinese takeout smothered with caramelized sugar and sesame seeds. Consequently I was in no shape to even move off the pot for several days. A healthy diet has one real detriment: when you eat a meal that's not so healthy, it really ain't healthy.
Nevertheless, and all flatulence aside (it's strange that phrase is in a diary about Grover Norquist), as I sat on the couch watching what is usually entertaining, I found our favorite right wing hit-man spouting the same tired argument: Reagan's 'recovery' was so much better, created so many more jobs, and made us all giddy with wealth. Norquist's proof was in numbers that included public sector job creation, and the panel did a good job of taking the little man down a peg. Unfortunately they still left him on the ladder, which only served to make Norquist a vibrating ball of rage and talking points. Nothing new, but still disheartening.
Then it struck me: does no one remember Black Monday?
October 19, 1987 the stock market had a little upset. I remember exactly where I was, which is strange, really, considering that I was only 13 years old and didn't really give a damn what the stock market did, or anything beyond what my girlfriend Jennifer said, did, wore, combed, and cooed at. I was a simple boy, and she was unbearably cute.
Nevertheless, it didn't take long for me to figure out why all the adults in the room suddenly became very still when the news came over a small radio in the corner of the room in our little apartment in Canton, Illinois. My father, and his brothers in the church all knew the score. Deregulation had finally caused the catastrophe they'd been expecting for a very long time.
You see, Canton, Illinois used to have an IH plant. That's International Harvester for those of who uninitiated in the subtle slang of the heartland. A thriving town of 18,000 had turned to dust. What was once a strong community saw the broad strokes of economic disaster as money was funneled up, and funneled out.
A deacon in the church, one of my father's friends, and a good man (he had a kit car of a 1933 Jaguar he let me pretend to drive once) began to laugh. My father, who was a Pastor at the time, just stared at him. Then he began to laugh too. Before long the both of them were shedding tears.
I didn't really understand at the time. I had learned in school about the crash of 1929, sure, but this was something different, right? This wasn't like that. That had been some strange, looming evil brought on by cheap credit and an alarming lack of regulation. No one had been paying attention to the rules. I mean, we had rules now, right? We wouldn't let them, the people who'd bet everyone's futures on being more conniving than the next guy, kill us all, right? Right?
My father's friend, Don, said something. I think he said, "Serves them right." I can't be sure. It was so long ago.
The Reagan 'recovery' was a sham. We all knew it at the time. We all know it now. What Reagan did for the economy was simply make it easier for the same old scoundrels to paint an even bigger target on the backs of the American people, but nobody, even on the left, has the balls to say it. The argument seems to be one of, "That was thirty years ago, and we're talking about today. What happened then is of no consequence." But they're wrong.
1987 matters. It matters more now than ever before. What Reagan, and his political bastard progeny did to the American people in the 80's, the 90's, the 2000's matters a great deal. We were busily talking about space, then technology, then housing, but we never did learn the basic lesson.
The boom and bust cycle became the norm. The real issue, what to do about banks and how enmeshed banking is with the fiat economy, never came up. It took 25 years for voices like Elizabeth Warren to come to the aid of the American people. 25 years and still no regulation dividing the people who would abuse their financial power for their own sport from the means to reduce all of our hopes to rubble. A new Glass-Steagall era can make a difference. It can make a difference today.
You can make a difference today. Support Elizabeth Warren today.