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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.

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Comment Preferences

  •  yes i do (5+ / 0-)

    i was a newlywed.  and my grandparents were married just a few months before the 1929 crash.  and i was in business school.  1/3 of the value of the market was lost.  

  •  No that never happened. And if it did happen (4+ / 0-)

    it was because the market, which is a forward looking indicator saw that one day Obama would be president and it was reacting to that.

    Ask top al Qaeda leaders about Obama's foreign policy. Wait, you can't. They're dead. -Paul Begala

    by Fickle on Tue May 15, 2012 at 07:33:36 AM PDT

  •  It Was Arithmetic Not Rocket Science (6+ / 0-)

    Image Hosted by

    You only had to be willing to add and subtract, and you were screaming about this before Reagan and before disco. It goes back that effing far.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Tue May 15, 2012 at 07:44:22 AM PDT

  •  That day wiped me out... (7+ / 0-)

    One day, I'm a builder with a future. The next day I have to liquidate, payoff 2 million, lose my own house, and gained 7 years of bankruptcy living.  That was nothing compared to the people who worked with me. They lost jobs, and couldn't make payments. None of us ever recuperated. I now live on my $900 SS check, and whatever little money I make from my handcraft. Meanwhile Romney has a car elevator...sheesh.

    Where the hell are the Liberal Democrats on this Site? My Site

    by meagert on Tue May 15, 2012 at 07:51:15 AM PDT

  •  I was about to graduate (6+ / 0-)

    from college in 1987. I remember the crash. Generally, I remember the Reagan-Bush era as a really bleak time in our culture. Wealthy and powerful interests behind the scenes were all about reversing the democratic-humanist gains of earlier decades, and many people my age, who couldn't remember the 60s, adopted an ethic of conformity and hyper-individualism. The culture, honestly, didn't support much else.

    The University of California, where I was a student, was already reeling from relentless state budget cuts to higher education, and I was very accustomed to scarcity. There was too little of everything to go around. Whatever it was--you name it--there were far too many other students competing for it, be it housing, individualized attention from faculty, or whatever. The experience, on the heels of growing up in a family where love and nurture and attention were in very short supply, acclimated me to a scarcity mentality. Got me not to question scarcity, and to totally deny my needs. It's only well into adulthood that I've started to question scarcity as a supposed organizing principle of the universe.  

    Anyway, during the crash, for some reason or other, I was at a recruitment function held by an employer in the financials industry--Bear Stearns, or whatever. I can't remember why I was there. I had no interest in working in the financials sector, even back then. There might have been free food, and I had to sit through this thing in exchange. Anyway, my clearest memory of the occasion was some trader in a suit addressing all the college kids and referring to the crash, "Do any of you have a negative impression of working in the financials industry, after what happened last week?" He then went on to compare the financials industry to "professional baseball." Being a trader was "as exciting as playing professional baseball."

    Sorry to continue with this reminiscence. I thought it all fit here.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Tue May 15, 2012 at 07:56:44 AM PDT

  •  I remember that Monday vividly. I was in a long (0+ / 0-)

    meeting that afternoon, one that ran for more than two and a half hours, and folks popped in every 30 to 40 minutes with updates. We did get done what we had gathered to do, but everyone left the room very sober.

    Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

    by Wee Mama on Tue May 15, 2012 at 08:35:05 AM PDT

  •  I was a senior in High School, the youngest (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    child in a lower-middle class family.  We'd been through several major waves of financial upheaval as my father lost his job when the Ingersoll-Rand facility he'd worked at over 20 years headed south in pursuit of lower-waged employees, and he'd found a lower paying job in his field after a long stretch of unemployment.
       That was a high point, to me, for the philosophy of financial conservatism.  With two kids in high school, our parents had opted to stay in the house they owned rather than pull up stakes and start fresh in a new state.
       Within a year, all the people who'd opted to move with the company were gone from Ingersoll-Rand.
       I felt that noose then.  Things were sketchy.  We could have lost the house, and had nothing to fall back on.  Luckily, there were other industries in the area that needed my father's drafting skills.  Black Monday hurt job prospects, but there was no huge paper loss, like my best friend's father saw.
       Dan was a college professor.  Loved by his students, very capable both in the classroom and in wood working and auto mechanics.  I had developed a teenager-ish "Let the Rich eat themselves!" attitude about the crash, until I was at their house a few weeks later, and was asked by my friend not to talk about it at all.  I must have looked dumbfounded, until she explained that her father had lost a third of his money that Monday.
       Somehow, I had never put it together before then.  Her father worked.  He was an accomplished, smart, hard-working guy with tremendous talents.  He was diligently socking away his money in a retirement account so he could enjoy his retirement.  And BAM! a gigantic hole appeared where part of that retirement once was.  It was incredibly unnerving, and I still don't think my lower middle-class "passbook savings account" brain can ever reconcile the idea of a market-based retirement option.
       BTW, at 20 years of servive, IR gave my Dad a pen, with a small badge on it.  I can still remember him holding it and saying, "That little plaque is made of gold!"  That pen was always on his desk... but years later, I noticed that plaque had been removed.  It couldn't have brought much, but when times are tough...

  •  Don't remember the crash (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    but do remember how I was affected.

    As a single mom I took whatever job I could and the only thing availible were temporary jobs.  That meant I would work for a few months and then have to go on welfare for a few months.  Then the temp jobs dried up along with any type of job.  So, back on welfare for a long time.

    While struggling to make ends meet Reagan cut federal funding to the states for welfare.  Our benefits were cut $15.  Not much money you say?  Well to me it was a fortune and meant there was no money left after paying rent and utilities for luxuries like toilet paper, dish soap and the like.  It also meant laundry was done rarely in a washing machine but instead was mostly in the kitchen sink or bathtub.  

    I also remember Reagan saying his cuts would not hurt the truely needy.  What a crock of bull.

  •  I remember ... I was in a newsroom, at a job (0+ / 0-)

    that would hold me another half-year. That was the month I got the $500 a month raise, by canceling my insurance, after our paper was sold -- and us with it -- to a company that considered employees a "cost of business" rather than an investment in skills and quality.

    I didn't know then they were a leader in the trend. I just thought they were a crappy company to work for.

    LBJ & Lady Bird, Sully Sullenberger, Molly Ivins, Barbara Jordan, Ann Richards, Drew Brees: Texas is No Bush League! -7.50,-5.59

    by BlackSheep1 on Tue May 15, 2012 at 10:59:58 AM PDT

  •  had to ask teh DH... we were so poor we hardly (0+ / 0-)

    noticed it, he sez'. but I had a fairly secure job with the local municipality.

    as a matter of fact, at the time we were in simmering water, playing credit-card-juggling to make available funds stretch. It's just about the time we buckled down and starting digging out from under the cards, down to one that's paid off monthly, thanks to Himself's money-management skills.

    We probably had some of his school loans still paying off. And we were just about to start baby-making. He says he thinks I got 2 promotions just about then... yeah, promoted into management that I couldn't do, but hung on like mad for another 6 or so years... took a really early retirement.

    We're pretty much OK at the moment, except want to retire in Canada and the exchange rate is in the toilet at the moment, and the Canadian real estate bubble hasn't popped quite yet either.

    "real" work : a job where you wash your hands BEFORE you use the bathroom...

    by chimene on Tue May 15, 2012 at 06:26:11 PM PDT

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