Monday, November 21, 2011

It's Reagan, Stupid!

When are the people going to point out that economic inequality, the principles that crashed the economy, and the political circus that has embroiled the last couple of years can all be traced to one strangely popular political figure?  A figure who, while running for president, was told that his economic theories were "voodoo economics"?  A figure who frequently abandoned those policies during his time in office to actually save us from his tax cuts by raising taxes?  A figure who is so adored by his disciples that they are completely ignorant of much of what his presidency entailed?

Unfortunately, most people won't bring up the specter of Ronald Reagan because the memory of him is so beatified through rosy glasses of total ignorance.  The only parts of Reaganomics that were worked were, at best, tweaks of ongoing, mainstream thinking.  Everything else, the parts about privatizations, unregulating, union-busting, and tax cutting led to no more than modest growth while simultaneously ballooning debt, and dramatically redistributing wealth to the tippity-top of the wealth pile.  The basic philosophy has been discredited by most honest economists.

And yet, this philosophy is seemingly stronger now than at any point since 1981!  I fear that this is due to two things:

  1. The Reagan Cult: The slavish, cultish devotion to Reaganomics despite the insurmountable evidence should be more shocking, but it isn't even surprising.  The cult does not begin with the real Reagan presidency, however, but with the theory that it should work because we  believe it will.  The cult then goes and rewrites history to somehow blame the Great Depression on those that dragged us out of it kicking and screaming.
  2. The Rand Cover: The other reason is that Reagan's popularity gives cover for many conservatives to espouse economic rationales that don't come from Reagan, but from Ayn Rand.  Her extreme support, not only of greed, but of super, strata-elites that would magically bestow the illusion of equality upon the world with magic pixie dust because, after all, generous people are truly evil and the selfish are morally good.

It doesn't really matter which it is, because the current economic conditions date to the excessive debt-creation that began under Reagan through tax cuts and unregulated environments that led to more corporate consolidation than to price reductions.  The two platforms of the last 30 years that were supported by Republicans and slightly modified by Democrats in the 1990s.  But the whole structure is corrupt.  The only way for us to get out of our current economic and political morass is by dealing with its source.  No matter how unpopular that prospect is.  And the source of the problem is Ronald Reagan.


Dom said...

Nice post. Glad you mentioned Ayn Rand. What really is amazing is that many "Christians" have deep admiration for Ayn Rand - an outspoken atheist whose complete rejection of sacrifice for others and compassion is completely antithetical to the Gospel. Guess I don't understand "Christians" very well.

Andrew Downs said...

It's got to be the injection of secular governmental politics into religion more than the other way around. Conservative Christians wanting Jesus to hate gays, for instance, even thought there is no scriptural defense for that. Or Jesus somehow letting the moneychangers off the hook for screwing people and then telling the victims to just deal with it. There is no scriptural, theological, or ethical support for it. They just seem to like it!

And the problem isn't Christians; it's the conservative evangelicals that demand that they speak for all that just make no sense.