Saturday, February 5, 2011

Still dealing with the legacy

A lot of politicians, especially those in the GOP, continuously say we need to keep the policies of Ronald Reagan alive. Since tomorrow is the 100th anniversary of his birth it is as good a time as any to review what the old guy has given us. I'll warn you right now this is not a essay in praise.

Terrence Heath starts off our list.

* In famously saying, "government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem," Reagan told us the government was no longer our government and we no longer had much control over it (growing corporate influence has proved him right). That phrase also told us that there were some problems that are too big for anyone to solve (the current one is global warming), which made us all feel a bit hopeless.

* Reagan broke the connection between government income and expenditures. Very few politicians pay attention to government debt -- unless it is politically expedient to do so. Government budgets went from surplus to deficit on his watch.

* The rest of his economic policies resulted in the common worker's compensation staying essentially flat (though adjusted for inflation) while the richest saw their income nearly quadruple. Gains in productivity did not help the working class.

* In firing the air traffic controllers and disbanding their union in 1981 Reagan told business it was acceptable to stick it to unionized workers and ship jobs overseas.

* His push for deregulation resulted in several financial calamities, including the latest one, for which the taxpayer got stuck with the bill. It also resulted in weakened consumer protections of all kinds.

And one from me:

* By ignoring the AIDS crisis, because it was primarily a "gay disease," he allowed the disease to spread a lot farther and faster than it would have with government intervention.

But he sure made you feel good when listening to him.

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