Bury Reagan

December 15, 2008

in Economics,Politics,Religion

Reaganism Is PreposterousMany will consider this post sacrilegious. They are merely the deluded, the Kool-Aid drinkers. Reaganism has become a religion. Let me be the bearer of bad news. Reagan is dead.

Every Republican candidate for president in the recent campaign tried to outdo his rivals in their claims to the mantle of St. Ronny. Now congressmen are falling all over themselves to explain that the cause of the economic meltdown is due to a failure to follow the political Pied Piper. Only the one you are listening to at the moment is sufficiently devoted to the Oracle.

What is the solution? How can we immediately reverse this economic calamity? More of the same, of course. Repeat the mantra: Deregulation, Deficit, Deceit.

The time for an antidote, the truth, is long past due. Reaganism was conceived in ignorance and nurtured in hypocrisy. I need to hurry and complete this post. The lightening bolts are getting closer.

I should make some attempt at fairness. Reagan was not the creator of this nonsense. He was not among the brightest or most attentive of our presidents. He was brighter than his present successor, but isn’t everyone? Reagan swallowed whole on this subject. It did match his affinity for the simplistic and his predilection for whatever was advantageous for the self-proclaimed elite.

When Reagan took the oath of office America was the largest exporter of manufactured goods in the world. It is now the largest importer of manufactured goods.

When Reagan first occupied the Oval Office America was the largest importer of raw materials. It is now the largest exporter of raw materials.

When Reagan first took up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue America was the largest creditor nation. It is now the largest debtor nation.

Reagan began the decline of the United States from the premier industrial nation to meeting many of the benchmarks of a third-world country. Praise Reagan.

Lyndon Johnson knew that Americans were unwilling to pay for both guns and butter during what was becoming an unpopular Vietnam War. He wanted to keep the people happy; or at least compliant. His way of managing this was to put large parts of the nation’s expenditures off-budget.

Reagan gladly used this method for putting one over on the public. Off-budget machinations became a necessary element of Reaganism. His successors have shown more than sufficient enthusiasm for this little budgetary trick. While our stated debt is just over $10 trillion, including that which is off-budget raises the total to something in excess of $54 trillion.

Even more central to Reaganism was the credit card. If you give me a credit card with no limits and tell me that I will not be required to make payments for any debt, I can throw one helluva party. Reagan’s terms are fondly remembered by some and were appreciated by many at the time as an economic blessing.

Reaganism combined these economic wonders with deregulation. What is deregulation? It means allowing the greedy people who run an industry to not worry about those elected and appointed to watch out for the interests of the rest of us. Deregulation, de facto or de jure, entitles them to screw everyone else in the name of conservative ideology.

The final brick thrown at our economy is tax cuts. How do we pay for that $54 trillion of debt? Cut taxes, of course. Remember, Reaganomics states very clearly: you do not have to pay for the party.

You likely heard the statement many times during the recent campaign that we have the highest corporate taxes in the world. Actually, we are second to Japan. But that isn’t the real story. The real story is that two-thirds of major corporations pay no corporate tax. That could make a difference. Despite claims to the contrary, the claimed highest tax rate in the world hasn’t scared all corporations into moving overseas, except for jobs.

But what about personal taxes? Don’t they top the lists compared to other countries? Ask Bill Gates. Ask Warren Buffet, who says it is unfair for him to pay a lower rate than his secretary. Those best able to afford to shoulder the burden are given the lightest load, if any. Those who receive the most benefits from the government pay the least.

The disastrous policies that go by the rubrics of Reaganism and Reaganomics have been treated as sacraments, as holy relics by many. Some use them hypocritically, for their own benefit. Most adhere to the tenets in ignorance, to their own hazard.

The theology of Reaganism has many abominable tenets. Here we have limited the discussion to economics. Few can stomach the entire body of the dogma in a single setting. My apologies to the sentient.

Crawford Harris - Polymath


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