Saturday, December 18, 2010

Understanding the True Significance of Reaganomics

I read a lot of history and economic material, am inclined to
personally pursue "progressive" (whatever true currency any of
these terms can possess) politics/policies/programs. Yet I'm able
to defend Reagan's presidency, at least the first five years,
on at least two important grounds:

(1) Reagan and Gorbachev, due to their personal, FDR-style
openness, put an end to the Cold War. (-Nevermind that we STILL
spy on each other!) Major, more objective, historians say so,
and I recall that memorable Time magazine article describing how
they left their handlers except for two interpreters, later getting
their glasnost underway in the fall of 1987. Some significant
drop in spent monies on the arms race can only be a good thing,
unless you own a munitions factory.

(2) Most of the leftist punditry I've observed only focus
on the negative effects of Supply Side and other policy
deregulating businesses and corporations. But they miss
something extremely significant: Reagan gave the laissez faire
"purists" their chance, and they largely blew it, NOT hiring,
NOT plowing extra profits back into their companies, retrofitting,

Reagan, a former democrat turned republican, seems to sincerely
have believed the U.S. business community would step up
VOLUNTARILY, (a la Herb Hoover); he successfully pushed
through his deregulatory agenda....including tax breaks for
factory owners to improve and expand their business; this was
called the 10-5-3, few took advantage of it. I think Bob Dole
angrily commented about that, and had this special tax incentive

Since 1900, TWO U.S. presidents gave business interests their
untrammeled way during economic contractions,which policy
resoundingly failed for all but the wealthiest, most self-obsessed
opportunists. (If you count Bush II, perhaps THREE.)

It isn't logically or rationally possible to dispute a philosophy
for most people to understand its flaws UNLESS it is actually
TRIED. So, listen up, super conservative republicans:

The true significance of Reaganomics: the greedy had the
opportunity to prove voluntary compliance for the common
good can work....but they didn't take it.

Bring on regulatory reform.
Just not a true nanny state.


  1. So if I'm understanding you correctly, Reaganomics' upside was its monumentally regressive, debilitating effect on everything? So that it can serve, going forward, as a warning for the next time?

    There are more than a few flawed assumptions in that argument. Not the least of which is that there will be a recovery when by any measure we are still digging.

  2. It would be nice if more humans read history and profited from its lessons; but history, repeating itself as it does, proves they DON'T. What I described SHOULD have been
    soberly memorable enough, but three presidents in modern times who decided to "trust" and "back" business resulting in disappointment haven't stopped selfishly stupid people and their political supporters. Witness the past three years with the same arguments and failures. For this I blame
    every part of the political spectrum, over-consumption AND overpopulation! Politicians must stop pandering to themselves, each other and the public, face the fact that most people really DON'T care what happens to strangers, which is the single explanation for why human progress is so damn slow.

    I stand by what I wrote, and thought I was clear. But don't forget, when Carter (who I voted and volunteered for) left office, the
    prime rate was 21% and Peoria had 18% unemployment. The recession of '79-'82 wasn't
    his fault, but Reagan got into office because
    of it and the hostage situation.

    Look at three republicans, Hoover, Reagan and
    Bush II: Reagan and Bush were, to some extent, driven a bit toward the center as a result of serving two terms....all possessed certain talents, Hoover the gifted engineer and war relief manager extraordinaire, but a lousy, too-rigidly conservative economist; Reagan, the actor who had studied economics and had a gift for charming people, even Gorbachev, which is a significant accomplishment. Disliking Reagan doesn't diminish that. (Boy, I'm hard put to discern
    WHAT talent Bush II had except for the "jes
    folks, l'ess have a beer" thing!) Even with
    Iran/Contra, I firmly believe Bush II was far
    worse than Reagan AND Nixon, different still from his own father.

    I actually read, line item by line item,
    Reagan's first two budgets, FY '82 and
    FY '83, the first drafts put on every congressman's desk, which began the debate process, not the final products. This was a
    superb education for me; most reporters in all media didn't bother to read them, (I know because I asked many of them, even John Calloway!) instead chatted up various people they ASSUMED would be harmed by what later was termed Reaganomics, then filed their "dramatic" stories. When Reagan came on TV during his first term and explained that the "cuts" were proposed reductions for the outyear, meaning the first year of the next presidential term, he wasn't believed, but it WAS true. Because of this phenomenon and other reasons, I became a republican for the first three years Reagan served, then had to resume my usual progressive stance. I still appreciate moderate republicans like Illinois' Tom Cross, who could teach most democrats a thing or two how to conduct public life.

    My actual philosophy is simple: no longer an
    idealogue except on energy issues, still care
    about the greatest good for the greatest number, but don't necessarily believe in the
    "saintly, noble poor", although many do exist.
    Life and people are enormously complicated,
    and I have never bought into the KISS theory-
    I think it might work for the simpleton who
    first popularized it.

    I hope this doesn't mean we can't diablog,
    but I must be honest about my views.

    P.S.: The worst, most unconscionable republican is Senator McConnell from KY,
    with his declaration that the only
    thing to work on is getting Obama out of office....Hey, Mac! Do your JOB, there are
    ISSUES of import to decide.

    Best Wishes, A.

  3. There's great similarity between rich and poor in America. Neither group particularly gives a shit about sustainability. The difference in the two groups is that one has the means to effect meaningful change. They can stop buying the lies they are being told.

    The vast middle is what buoys this country. Without it, the economy will capsize. IMO, that's the precarious situation we find today.

    When you begin with the premise that full employment is neither possible nor desirable, you automatically relegate a certain percentage of the population to poverty.
    If a sufficient number of citizens willingly accept subsistence as a lifestyle, the rest of society should be grateful.

    To what advantage is belittling and defunding subsistence?

  4. I completely concur (-boy, I LOVE to
    be pompous, have a weakness for alliteration!)with your comment.

    By 1986, when the Tribune locked out
    their three unions, the mailers,
    printers and web press "men" (some
    of these were women) unions all over
    the country were being decertified, a
    true tragedy for the middle class
    AND the nation. I interviewed them,
    wrote a nine page expose' called "Fire
    at Will: Is Chicago Labor over the Hill?"

    I learned a lot during this period,
    but failed to have my piece published
    in Chicago or New York; back then the
    Trib enjoyed enormous power, "news management" (read suppression) in
    full swing. I heard it was published
    in a tiny paper in Montana (-!) where Peaches, a tall union gal, had influence. Charlie Nicodemus and Andy Shaw, though,
    thought it was a talented effort, tried
    to help, but, noooo....

    Re: your mention of "full employment":
    Don't most economists feel 3-5%
    "structural" unemployment is just how
    our economy looks when all the other indicators are positive? (I don't particularly like such a premise,
    just repeating what I think I've read.
    (Yes, a permanent underclass, which
    we've had up to now, is a painful danger
    to itself and everyone else.

    Also, you know the answer to your
    rhetorical question,"to what advantage
    is...": for selfish, heedless people,
    not wanting to share or trouble them-
    selves to feel others' pain, apparently,
    an advantageous GREAT DEAL.

    I'm going over to your blog now because
    there is something I want to say
    about the publishing world.

    Best to you and yours,

  5. --Ack! Huge parentheses trouble!
    WHAT is my problem??

    But back to the three repubs: Bush II DID
    have a talent, I'd forgotten! He engineered
    his Dad's election, a foregone conclusion
    by no means, most past VP's have found.
    Bush II had a great political skill set, one
    he obviously used to vault into power.--Too
    bad for everyone else....

  6. Sorry, I'm not buying The Shrub as a political boy genius. It was parlayed leverage and rote taught regurgitation. He was a frat-boy drunk who became a dry-drunk infused with religion.