Sunday, February 6, 2011

Saint Ronald Casts a Long Shadow

Today is Ronald Reagan's 100th birthday, and the tributes are putting me into a diabetic coma. The hagiography surrounding St. Ronald is almost too much to bear. The Ronald Reagan who is being remembered is somebody I don't know-- a seeming figment of Fox News fantasy who single handedly ended the Cold War by asking the Soviets to take down the Berlin Wall in a speech, saved the economy by cutting taxes for the rich, and  cut government spending to put the nation on a pay as you go basis.

I remember a different Ronald Reagan. I remember the guy who slashed taxes for the rich in his first year in office-- bringing the rate down from 70% to 28% for top earners. It was called " trickledown " and it didn't work. Reagan  had to raise taxes later in his administration,but not before he had slashed Federal Public Housing for the poor to such an extent that for the first time in living memory, there were poor people, including mothers and small children, sleeping in the streets.  Later a whole system of homeless shelters had to be put in place, but as this was mostly funded by cities and states, the Federal government was off the hook for the expense. 

I remember a Ronald Reagan who broke the Air Traffic Controllers Union,and  increased the Federal Budget Deficit by a staggering 3 trillion dollars while at the same time increasing government spending. I remember a Ronald Reagan who illegally sold arms to Iran and used the proceeds to fund death squads in Nicaragua.

 This is the same Ronald Reagan who dismantled the regulations on Banks and Wall Street set in place by FDR and set the stage not only for the financial free for all of the eighties, but also for the recent world wide festival of greed, stupidity and dishonesty that resulted in the current recession..
He was an amiable man, a well intentioned man  a decent actor and  an astute politician who changed the course of American politics, but he is  hardly deserving of  canonization. The narrative that is being spun about him on his birthday strays far from the facts of his presidency.

The first miracle of St. Ronald is that he was able to make Americans forget the reality of what he did and only remember the Hollywood version of what they wanted him to be.


Frieda Babbley said...

I give you a standing ovation for this. Clap clap clap. Your last line says it all. Great post, pinky.

mommapolitico said...

Let's not forget who armed the folks in the Middle East, now using the weapons against us...
Great job, Packrat - keep up the good work!

g32 said...

I remember a Reagan who eliminated the very real threat of nuclear war by increasing military spending to a rate that the Soviets could not afford to match. That alone trumps everything you complained about.

Unknown said...

Thanks Frieda and Momma and g32 I remember a Reagan who gave us a useless Star Wars as the centerpiece of the military spending. I totally disagree that Iran Contra and Reagan's financial shenanigans which resulted in children going to bed hungry are justified by increased military spending. The Soviet Union was falling apart internally at the time due to forces that had nothing to do with Reagan or the American military.

Deen said...

That actaully makes a lot of sense when you think about it.

Unknown said...

ultimate privacy eh? that actually makes a lot of sense too :-))

Unknown said...

@g32 - The fall of the Soviet Union may have removed the fear of immediate nuclear war, but it has been replaced by the fear of Islamic Extremism. So the enemy we knew, who basically was our partner in maintaining the status quo, has been replace by an asymmetrical enemy who doesn't fight by "our rules." Oh, and he trained those very same people.
Give me the Cold War any day.

Excellent post, by the way.

Jim Glynn said...

Just because the Packrat chooses to remember certain things about Reagan and forget others doesn't make his comments legit. Ask the people of the city of Berlin if He is a Saint or not... Public housing has never worked - ask those who watched the last buildings of Cabrini Green close this past year. If the Packrat is so intelligent - maybe he or she should share ideas to make things different... Let your brain trickle down to the rest of us.. and let us make the call and we'll see who ends up in a coma!!!!

Unknown said...

So James, the whole point of my post was that people are putting Reagan on a pedestal and crediting him with things he had nothing to do with. I am countering the sentimental clap trap with my own recollections.

My comments are legit because they come from my living memory. BTW I am female and old enough to remember the Reagan years as you could see if you took the time to read my Blogger profile.

You might want to ask people sleeping in their cars how they feel about Public Housing. I bet many of them would love to get a Section 8 apartment.

As for the people of Berlin, you might be surprised to discover that almost none of them credit Ronald Reagan with the fall of the Wall.... why? because he didn't have anything to do with it. It takes more than a speech to bring down a wall-- ask the Polish people what they think about that.

Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.