How did Ronald Regan screw up America?
Brother, in no particular order, let us count the ways!
A lot of people don’t realize not only just how high taxes on the rich used to be, but also just where exactly did those monies used to go and what exactly they did to better the lives of the average American. There is such a thing as cause and effect here on this planet. Reagan being the ultra-rich’s golden boy, and subsequent meddling with the status quo at that time, has caused many things that used to be good, turn to bad. Trust me when I say, things used to be better in this country for the bottom 90% of wage earners, and Regan screwed all that up. It’s just taken a few years for it all to shake out. So, Reagan played the sympathy card after getting shot. No really, he did (the polls at the time clearly indicated this). He got his tax overhaul and the top marginal tax rate plunged to 50%. By the time he left office in 1988 it was down to 28%. It has not gotten higher than 39.6% ever since. Please understand that after WWII, the top rate was over 90%, mainly to get rid of all that pesky war debt. President Eisenhower dropped it some. President Johnson got it down to 70%.
His own vice-president once referred to it as, “voodoo economics”. Now if you and your family had to borrow 30 cents out of every dollar that you spend each month, you’d probably not be able to play that game for very long. Really folks, how long before you’ve got a bankruptcy judge staring down their long nose at you? But that is exactly what the federal government has been doing every day since Reagan normalized this practice during his presidency. It is bad, and it will eventually bite us in the ass, if we don’t make some changes, that is. The only thing that is effectively saving our bacon right now is the historically low interest that we pay on this incredibly large debt. That will not last forever, it is foolish to think that it will.
When Regan announced his candidacy for the presidency, out of all the counties in America to make the announcement from, he picked the one county that was synonymous with perhaps the strongest feelings of racism in all of the United States. The same county where, just a few years before, three civil rights workers were murdered and subsequently cast into the national spotlight. The place? That notorious hotbed of racism, Neshoba county, Mississippi. After announcing that he would run for president, Ronald Regan gave a speech on ‘state’s rights’. Now understand that, ‘state’s rights’, is and was nothing short of a political dog whistle for normalizing racist behavior.
- Raise and create new taxes on the poor and the middle class
Reagan’s number one talking point was to lower taxes. If he was honest, he would have said, “lower taxes on the rich, but screw the poor and the middle class. We really don’t give a ruptured rat’s right leg what happens to them. After all, they’re not rich, therefore they do not matter.” Starting with taxing unemployment insurance benefits, which never used to have a tax on them, ever. Think about it, all insurance benefits were never taxable, until Uncle Ronnie waved his magic wand and made it so, just for unemployment that is. How many rich folks file for unemployment insurance anyway? I don’t know the answer but I’ll bet it’s not too many. The truth is, all the money collected from this little Robin Hood in reverse game, might be symbolic, but in the big picture, it doesn’t add up to squat. So Reagan, the consummate politician, was just throwing fresh meat to his constituents.
- Tens of thousands of Americans addicted to gambling
Before Reagan allowed Native American casinos to be placed virtually everywhere, if Americans wanted to gamble, they had to fly to Atlantic City or go to Nevada. What has happened since can only be called a national epidemic of people addicted to gambling. Draw a circle around any casino today, and the closer you get to the center, the higher the numbers of suicide, foreclosures, job loss, spousal abuse, divorce, alcoholism, drug addiction, teenage pregnancy, and other bad things. Take your pick. All of these things are a drain on the American taxpayer when you factor in police, firefighter, hospital, social workers, addiction counselors, etc.
- Create the great American Brain Drain
College used to be cheap, dirt cheap in fact, compared to what it costs today. When you cut taxes on the wealthy, you have less money to fund state universities. Consequently, universities raise tuition to stay solvent. Less people go to college. As a result, America is experiencing the largest absence of qualified engineers, doctors, and other educated professionals. We have to ship people in from other countries because our own workforce has been so dumbed down. Now, we have a lot less upwardly mobile Americans than we used to. And
we have this malaise that hangs over our country like a dark cloud. People are realizing that this generation is the first in a long time that will not do nearly as well as the generation before. Much of that can be traced back to a lack of higher education.
Again with the lower taxes! But I’m telling you, when you build highways, bridges, dams and airports then do nothing to maintain them because there is not enough money to do so, things start to crumble. And crumble they do, as we speak!
- Aids Crisis, what crisis??
How many people died from aids before the government even took notice?
Conservatives all collectively said, “hey, an epidemic that kills only gay people? Sweet!” Reagan took one look at that and took another nap. Being the excellent politician that he was, he stayed, for the most part, silent on the subject. The silence was deafening. After 4 full years, he finally broke his silence at a press conference. 4 years is a long time to wait/waste. Some people have said that once Reagan realized that it would be better for him politically, he finally took action. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop effectively went rogue on the subject and issued reports directly to the press and the American people while bypassing the president and his administration completely. We can only guess how many lives could have been saved if only the president would have taken action sooner rather than later.
I mentioned previously about not enough money funding the universities in our country, this is just one more dividend to that bad idea. Student debt in this nation is at epidemic proportions. Middle class parents used to pay their kid’s tuition, entirely! Not so much anymore. Way, way more Americans leaving college are saddled with crushing debt for many years. Many will never pay it off.
Many people outside of an econ 101 class don’t know what Glass Steagle is or was. Well brother let me tell you a story. I’ll try not to bore you. In 1929 when the stock market crashed and led to the biggest economic crisis in American history, banking and finance laws were tailored to help the rich and only the rich. Subsequently, the poor get and got the shaft when it came to general capitalism and the practices thereof. FDR, along with Senators Glass and Steagle, changed all that with 72 pages of legislation that evened the playing field for all Americans. Period, point blank, no ifs, ands, or buts. Reagan came in with his bulldozer and while he did not repeal the law, he did a fair job of gutting it. Before Uncle Ronnie, the stock market had little or no peaks and valleys since the mid 1930s, just a long, slow and healthy incline toward American wealth. For all Americans, not just the top 10%. After Reagan fiddled with the levers, buttons and dials of American finance, the robber barons came back from the shadows, as did the peaks and valleys, and crashes and mini-crashes that brought on the Great depression. Go ahead, look it up. Look at a chart of the DOW over the last 120 years. You won’t believe your eyes. The trends are absolutely unmistakable. Glass Steagle was good for all Americans, getting rid of it was very very bad.
- The rich got richer, the middle class well, kinda flat-lined
If you look at the US GDP since the 1930s you’ll see a steady, healthy upward incline with very few peaks and valleys. American wealth for all Americans pretty much follows the same upward graph. After Reagan moved the goalpost however, the line for the upper 10% of Americans shoots straight up like a rocket. You might say this is good, and it would be if it weren’t for the other 90% of Americans who’s trajectory suddenly flat-lines. Yes your heard right, it simply goes flat and does not keep up with inflation.
- Building the Military Behemoth
Ronald Reagan increased defense spending exponentially throughout his administration. While this may have helped to topple the Soviet Union and bring an end to the cold war, most scholars now think what they knew to be true at the time. And that was that the Soviet Union would eventually crumble under it’s own weight, on it’s own. Of course this is what happened anyway. Only now most Russians, including the current president, King Vlad, blame the US for this instead of blaming themselves. History clearly shows that we should have let them fall on their own, because of their own fault, instead of us helping them along. Now we have a new cold war to deal with, thanks Ronny!
When the president of the United States summarily fires a whole bunch of people just because they are striking, that sends a pretty resounding message. Talk about slapping the proverbial glove across one’s face. That’s exactly what Ronald Reagan did when he fired all the air traffic controllers. Now, it is absolutely true that by the 1970s, unions in America had become fat, bloated and corrupt. On the other hand, they never ever stopped completing their primary mission. This was to buttress against the never-ending assault from their employers, many of which preyed on workers, effectively turning them into slaves. Unions stopped this practice and continue to do so to the present day. Are unions perfect? Hell no. But in the end, unions virtually and practically created the middle class here in America. Before the unions, there was only the haves, and the have nots. Many folks would say that an attack on the unions, was an attack on the middle class.
- The Final Word – An all-out Assault upon the Middle Class
Again and again, the evidence clearly indicates that the Reagan administration led an all-out bombardment on the institutions that historically built and defended the American middle class. Why? Why indeed? Ignorance? Stupidity? Politics and lust for power? Perhaps all of the above.
Reagan had this scheme called ‘trickle down economics’, which is an excuse to cut taxes on the wealthy so they can spend more, and this will supposedly in turn, cause the money to trickle down to the middle and lower classes in the form of labor to build yachts and sell champagne, and all the other things the wealthy consume. To this day, uninformed people think that this crazy, half-baked idea actually works. It absolutely does not work. It has been proven over and over again to be a failed concept. Why does this myth go on? Who knows why people believe what they do. Maybe they need an education.
I guess it's pretty hard to say that all these things I’ve outlined are totally Ronald Reagan’s fault, but then again, ummm, yes they are! What I’m really trying to say is, things in this country were rolling along pretty good before Reagan made some incredibly substantial changes to the status quo. The ripples that are still being felt today are, I believe, because Reagan flicked his fat, red Republican finger at the first domino, and they’ve been toppling over ever since.
In the end, Ronald Reagan acted upon and did a lot of things that were, at the time incredibly popular; in the long run, these things were very bad for our country. Do I think he was a bad person, no. He was, by all accounts, actually a very nice guy. He had that folksy way about him when he said, “well………”. And that head bop going back and forth was so friendly and trusting, it’s hard to get mad at the guy. I think his heart was in the right place, but to sum the whole thing up, his judgement was just plain, way off.