Thursday, February 3, 2011

Ronald Reagan's Legacy. Coming up on the 100th Anniversary of Ronald Reagan's Birth there will no doubt be many tributes coming to the most revered GOP President among his followers since Dwight Eisenhower, or maybe Theodore Roosevelt. Some pundits today doubt if Reagan's record of closing tax loop holes and making attempts to find compromises with the Democrats in Congress in the 80's would earn him praise among the Tea Party Crowd of today. Jim Rice in Sojourners Magazine has a few reflections on Reagan's larger legacy, an era of under-regulated government and corporate malfeasance that was the catalyst to the economic mortgage and investment banking bubble that has shed trillions of dollars and millions of jobs out of the US economy. "So go ahead, praise Reagan as a likeable man. Hold him up as a model of civility in contrast to the flame-throwing rhetoric his successors wield today. Even give him credit for recognizing the horror of nuclear weapons and seeking their abolition. But don’t let the revisionists whitewash one of the most damaging presidencies of the 20th century and the dangerous legacy it left us."


  1. Doug, Jim Wallis is among that group of few Christian authors whose work I really respect (you can put W.R. Pitt, Chris Hedges, and a few others in that group, also). He makes an excellent point at the end of your piece here - while we can praise Reagan for being likeable and a model of civility - and even for his work against nuclear weapons - we can't allow the Teabaggers to revise that bit of history; at least some of us should hold up the mirror, and make it incredibly clear: He began the destruction of the American economy; disenfranchised millions of Americans and began the tax-and-spend policies of the Neocons which led us to this sorry state. If there is a Hell, Doug, that man is extra-crispy right now.

  2. Glad you agree Jim Wallis has been a positive spokesperson/author for these "crazy life and times," as Warren Zevon said.

    If ever there was a president who sold the US economic future out with a 1980's credit card prosperity, it was Reagan. The problems have not been averted by his current acolytes, who talk up the budget-balancing jabber at election time, but only as regard to domestic spending.

    Bush out-Reaganed Reagan in terms of endless financial deregulation and tax breaks for the rich. It's a dangerous legacy because it asked so little of most people and planted the seeds of making it seem somehow un-American to ever do anything but lower taxes.

  3. Indeed Doug, he was in the thrall of the disastrous Chicago school economist Milton Friedman whose programme for the good life had already been rolled out in fascist Chile, where freer markets certainly did not result in freer people.

    The article by Jim Wallis makes all the points of why Reaganomics's was the beginning of the deregulated market anarchy that is now causing food shortages all over the world while bankers snouts are gorging at the trough.

    On this side of the Atlantic where we had our own Thatcherite version of the monetarist madness, Reagan was seen as a bumbling idiot and was simply a laughing stock throughout his entire tenure in office.

    This short clip from Spitting Image illustrates how Reagan was seen and still is seen in the UK I think.

  4. Yes, and I think that's one of the most negative legacies of the Reagan Presidency, AA: the idea that markets are self-regulating and corporate regulation is at best a nuisance--until the bottom drops out of the economy and the perpetrators are safely in retirement.

  5. I used to watch these and they literally were hilarious and very satirical to say the least!

  6. Doug there is a new book I believe that is just out on him and was published by his one son. But I have not read it. I remember when I was just back in Canada and my father had received a call to come in out of retirement as all civilian air traffic controllers where asking for a raise and Reagan took all that where on strike and fire the entire lot of them.

  7. Yes, that was a rather infamous moment in his first term, Jack.

    Ironic to see a former union president (of the Screen Actors Guild) break another major union.

    Reagan was an odd individual, completely transforming his politics in midlife.