Here’s a secret: I was on ‘shrooms when I voted for Reagan in 1984. That’s right. I was hallucinating. While I did have some serious fears, fears coincidentally stoked by the most anti-Communist president we’ve ever had, I was too young to understand the economic complexities brought forward by uber-conservative Ronald Reagan.
I remember telling my manager at a public library that I thought we needed Reagan “simply to scare the Commies”, and she shook her head and said something indecipherable-to-me about his sense of economics.
Looking back, I realize she was absolutely on-the-beam with her contempt for the ultimate Capitalist pig. Reagan “unleashed” the banking industry and caused the savings and loan scandal. He’s incorrectly given credit for defeating the Soviet Union because anyone who knows anything about why the Soviet Union went bankrupt knows that it was the U. S. –led boycott of any and all trade with the Soviet Union that caused the totalitarians to go kaput.
I’m not defending the Soviets, but I do kind of miss them, mainly because they served an underappreciated role of “conscience” for America’s Capitalist imperialist tendencies. As long as we had an unholy beast breathing down our necks, our commercial community was perfectly willing to behave its collective self. Then, in 1989, when the pieces began to fall, the commercial community returned to the same old behavior that, before the New Deal, had so stoked American workers that the Communist Party U.S.A. held approximately 13 percent of the electorate in 1912.
Of course, in 1980 and again in 1984, America was pretty tired of the Cold War. Reagan already had his “street cred” in battling Communism—mainly by snitching on all the Hollywood actors he, Reagan, believed were Commies, thus ruining dozens of careers while hiding behind the secrecy of J. Edgar Hoover; and then again in labeling as Governor of California all the anti-war protesters at UC-Berkley in the mid-1960s, thus ruining the lives of hundreds of perfectly decent college students. And all for political gain.
But Reagan’s biggest “contribution” to the economic cluster-bomb that went off in 2008 was his disdain for economic regulation and government control. “Government isn’t the solution,” he said, “government is the problem.”
Hmmm. How patriotic is that? For the next 30 years, regulations fell like dead soldiers at a punk party. The economic sphere did roar to life, which was a good thing as long as we were combatting an empire that wanted to bury us, but when the Cold War ended, the economic sphere had grown out of control.
That’s where we are today, and Ronald Wilson Reagan started it all. The John Birch Society, a group of nutcases we all laughed about in the 1960s, is now mainstream. Every time the U. S. Government tries to address a problem, the same nutcases, this time in the form of the Tea Party, scream “Socialism!”
Then they all go shopping at WalMart, China’s biggest American customer of goods. It doesn’t make much sense to me anyway. The Soviet Union was a totalitarian movement that had more in common with today’s Religious Right than any mainstream media commentator is willing to get comfortable with—mainly out of fear that the zealous zombies will rampage. Meanwhile, the social democracies of Europe are among the happiest places on earth to live. Far from falling victim to Goldman Sachs’ grifting, Europe’s social democracies have remained stable during the European version of the 2008 downturn.
I’m willing to go out and say that the Reagan Era is now officially over. The free market so lauded by its victims and collaborators has failed. We now have a commercial sphere that is absolutely out-of-control. People are getting hurt, too. Ask the 11 million Americans who received foreclosure after being cheated by the commercial sector. Ask the millions more who lost approximately 38 percent of their net personal worth because of the cheats on Wall Street.
My hope is that newly-reelected President Obama will now push to get those dead-end kids back in line. Wall Street hedge fund managers are nothing but overgrown frat-boys who, if Daddy won’t let ‘em play like they wanna play, end up asking Ma if it’s OK to play Animal House for the rest of their lives.
The effect on people’s economic freedom is a disaster, and you know what? Stalin would be proud.