Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Killing Reagan

No, I'm not dealing in hyperbole. I really do think that Ronald Reagan was the worst disaster to befall the United States since the Civil War. Too, if it were possible to quantify, I'm sure that Howard Jarvis would go down in history as having killed far more Americans than Osama bin Ladin.

It isn't just the insane tax cuts, and weakening of the central government that Ronny has to answer for; the big sin of Ronald Reagan is also his greatest success; the successful campaign to rebrand government as stupid, incompetent, and evil.

Before Ronny came along, most Americans looked to government to solve problems. No, the citizenry didn't have blind faith, and we were quick to criticize when things went wrong, but by and large, there was an expectation that government was an important part of our lives, and it existed to deal with problems, and strike a balance between competing interests in our society. The dark cloud of Reaganism changed all that. What was the quote? "Government is the problem, not the solution." We still live in Reagan's America; people still believe that government can do nothing right; that it's better for business to regulate itself, because government will only screw it up. No matter that government was very successful in preventing an economic boom/bust cycle for over fifty years, from the age of Roosevelt to Ford. (And even the economic problems of the Carter administration can be viewed as a temporary hiccup caused by the bills coming due from the Vietnam war.)

For Obama to be a successful president, he will have to reestablish faith in the American government. My guess is that if Obama went to congress, right now, and asked for funds to create jobs in the quickest and most effective manner, something along the lines of the WPA or CCC, he would be attacked, mercilessly, as a big government liberal, and even a Democratic congress would deny him. Too, he has to convince the American people that enforcing anti-trust law and breaking up some of our "too big to fail" business and banking institutions is a good thing. Let's hope he starts with Goldman Sachs. (See my post, Obama's History Lesson, published 6/19/09 for more on this subject.)

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