Terminalcoffee discussion

Rants / Debates (Serious) > Assessing Reagan at 100-Yay or Nay?

Comments Showing 1-50 of 82 (82 new)    post a comment »
« previous 1

message 1: by RandomAnthony (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpoliti...

Reagan? Yay or Nay? Pros or cons? What did he do well? What didn't he do well?

message 2: by Dr. Detroit (last edited Feb 04, 2011 06:53AM) (new)

Dr. Detroit | 6031 comments Nay. I hated Ronnie in general but mostly for allowing his castrating, harpy-wife Nancy to proceed with her dictatorial "Just Say No" campaign and for allowing the Parents Music Resource Center to exist under his watch.

Fuck them and the horses they rode in on.

message 3: by Michael (new)

Michael From his supply side economics to his "government is the problem" belief to the neocons who, years later, fell like lumpy turds out of his wrinkled ass, Reagan is one of the worst presidents the nation has ever seen.

message 4: by Gus (new)

Gus Sanchez (gussanchez) I'm not quite as critical towards Reagan as some of my liberal brethren would be. I think Reagan was a more pragmatic President that we tend to give him credit for - just like Obama, in some regard - but his embrace of the Christian Right, and his insistence that Big Government was the problem, when his administration was greatly responsible for the overgrowth of government, is a big reason why I don't think very highly of him.

Additionally, the assertion that Reagan single-handedly brought down the Soviet Union is ridiculous. If anything, Reagan and the West were beneficiaries of being at the right place at the right time; had Gorbachev not implemented his reforms within the Soviet Bloc, and realized quite coldly that the Soviet Union was simply a paper empire, we'd still be fighting the Cold War in some degree, and Reagan's anti-communism would be seen as a failure.

And this saintly canonization of St. Ronnie from the Neocons is simply absurd.

message 5: by Phil (new)

Phil | 11694 comments I agree with those who wrote before me.

message 6: by Terri (new)

Terri R | 17 comments There are elements in all of the comments above with which I agree, but not as vehemently, as others stated. I must admit I can't help but view his presidency in retrospect which causes me to compare him with the presidents that followed and who, in my view were utterly disappointing, including Obama. I will at least give Reagan credit for serving in the office for love of something other than raw, personal self-interest & self-promotion. I do think the fact that he embraced fundamental right-wing religion paved the way for increasing intolerance of ideology in America and gave religion a voice in politics that has had long-term detrimental effects (Palin, as an example). However, I give him credit for bringing down the Wall, you may say right-place, right-time (which is probably true, but you can say that about many "lucky breaks.") He was there and he took the action. As far as the strong-armed, puritanical Nancy: I didn't like her. I didn't like her views and she just got on my nerves. However, I cannot help but admire how she adored and loved her husband. I may be sappy, but I've gotta respect that kind of love and commitment.

message 7: by Meels (new)

Meels (amelia) Well said, Terri.

message 8: by Phil (last edited Feb 04, 2011 08:34AM) (new)

Phil | 11694 comments Terri wrote: "...which causes me to compare him with the presidents that followed and who, in my view were utterly disappointing, including Obama. I will at least give Reagan credit for serving in the office for love of something other than raw, personal self-interest & self-promotion."

From President Obama's first 1/2 term in office you've already deemed him, "utterly disappointing?" I've found him quite pragmatic, though sometimes this has been frustrating for me (he shows much more patience for extreme views than I ever could).

message 9: by Michael (new)

Michael Terri wrote: "and gave religion a voice in politics that has had long-term detrimental effects (Palin, as an example)."

And resident kook* Michele Bachmann who says that God called on her to run for state senate and then again a call to run for Congress.

*She's not a kook because she has religious beliefs. Politically she's a kook.

message 10: by Michael (new)

Michael Phil wrote: "From President Obama's first 1/2 term in office you've already deemed him, "utterly disappointing?" I've found him quite pragmatic, though sometimes this has been frustrating for me (he shows much more patience for extreme views than I ever could)."

I agree. I had some problems with the Bush tax cuts back in December, but overall I think President Obama has been doing a great job. For those who don't think he's done anything:

message 11: by Meels (new)

Meels (amelia) He said he was going to close Gitmo two years ago, it's still open (which I'm glad of, personally. But, that isn't really the point, is it?). He said he was going to bring the troops home over the last two years...we now have more troops in combat than ever. He promised he was going to run a transparent government, then when asked for the transcripts for his negotiations with Russia for disarmament he refused saying it was "unprecedented"...which it wasn't! Regan did it, as well as others, therefore there was precedent. The list goes on and on and on:




I believed him, I voted for him! But, I can and do say that I am disappointed and totally regret it. If I could do it over I don't know that I would vote for him. However, I couldn't have voted for McCain... I would MUCH have preferred Hills as my choice, but she wasn't an option.

message 12: by Sally, la reina (new)

Sally (mrsnolte) | 17346 comments Mod

message 13: by Meels (new)

Meels (amelia) Hillary Clinton.

message 14: by Sally, la reina (new)

Sally (mrsnolte) | 17346 comments Mod

message 15: by Félix (new)

Félix (habitseven) The Hills are alive ....

message 16: by Meels (new)

Meels (amelia) ...with the sound of music. (Ah ah ah ahhhhh)

(Are we playing the quote game? I love the quote game.)

message 17: by RandomAnthony (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments Michael, how did Bachmann get elected in Minnesota? I always think of Minnesota as mostly liberal, but I must be wrong.

message 18: by Gus (new)

Gus Sanchez (gussanchez) RA, because she's a congresswoman, I think Bachmann got elected by her constituency, who clearly share her penchant for kookiness and demagoguery.

message 19: by Meels (new)

Meels (amelia) Out of all of those things, I wasn't COMPLETELY on point on one...okay. I don't remember him ever saying he was bringing them home to send them to Afghanistan, but you are right, he didn't say he was bringing the Afghan troops home. I did some Internet crawling and have to admit that much. (There are still 50,000 soldiers in Iraq.)

Like I said, I voted for him. I was all about the "Hope". Now, not so much. I find it all rather depressing.

message 20: by Phil (new)

Phil | 11694 comments You may want to channel that depression towards the "party of NO!", who demanded, by filibuster, a 2/3 majority vote to get anything done. Fuckers.

message 21: by Félix (new)

Félix (habitseven) Bush & Co. really did a number on the first term with all of the economic stuff that happened. Huge deficit? Iraq war, Bush tax cuts and TARP. But when you raise all that with Republicans, they very quickly say that we're about the future and not the past. Ho hum.

message 22: by Gus (new)

Gus Sanchez (gussanchez) I was initially disappointed by some of the compromises Obama made, but after reading The Audacity of Hope again (well, skimming through it, really), his pragmatism is what shapes his politics. We need to look at his Presidency right now as one that's primarily focused on rebuilding after a pair of costly wars (one which is still ongoing), a recession, TARP, and huge deficits. I questioned his desire to push for Health Care Reform so soon.

But I never once saw him as some kind of savior. But a sponge could have made a better savior after the 8 years of arrogance and idiocy defined by the Junior Bush administration.

message 23: by Arminius (new)

Arminius In 1979 Inflation rates were around 14%. Interest rates were hovering around 18%. How did President Reagan fix this? He made the very unpopular move of telling Fed Chairman Paul Volcker to raise interest rates even higher, getting the rate up to 20%. This took extra money out of the economy and caused a recession. However inflation started to drop. In fact it dropped to under 4% and until this day has not become a political issue. Interest rates also began to drop eventually going below 10%.
He cut the top marginal tax rate from 70% eventually down to 28%. What did this do for the economy? It gave us 92 consecutive months of economic growth, it brought down the unemployment rate from 7.5 to around 5% and 16 million new jobs were created.
The military buildup and the push for the Strategic Defensive Initiative forced a Soviet build up that they could not sustain. And they collapsed as a result. Their collapse was not already on the way because Gorbachev reforms were predicated on former American president’s beliefs in a peaceful coexistence policy in regards to the Soviets Union.

He also kept telling us that we are a great country, and he made us believe it!

message 24: by Arminius (new)

Arminius <Barb wrote: "I think alot of the diappointment people are feeling for Obama, comes from the fact that he was built up to be a savior during his campaign. I think people were honestly expecting the world & the ..."

He had his own party in control of congress until recently.

message 25: by Arminius (new)

Arminius Amelia wrote: "He said he was going to close Gitmo two years ago, it's still open (which I'm glad of, personally. But, that isn't really the point, is it?). He said he was going to bring the troops home over th..."

I am not going to bash President Obama but I will say that his focus should have been (and should be) fixing America's energy problem.

message 26: by ms.petra (new)

ms.petra (mspetra) ditto, Arminius!

message 27: by Phil (new)

Phil | 11694 comments Arminius wrote: "He had his own party in control of congress until recently. "

No, he didn't. The minority ruled because they stuck together 100% and demanded a super-majority to pass anything.

Actually, congress did pass a LOT of legislation towards the President's agenda. It was the senate that put their heads up their asses.

message 28: by Meels (new)

Meels (amelia) Arminius wrote: "Amelia wrote: "He said he was going to close Gitmo two years ago, it's still open (which I'm glad of, personally. But, that isn't really the point, is it?). He said he was going to bring the troo..."

Oh, he's talking about fixing it. We're going to have "1 million electric cars on the road by 2015" and "bio-fuel" is going to take over for the US Petrol consumption all the while closing coal mines. Uh, around 50% of our nations electricity comes from coal, and you're going to close them down, but have us plug in 1 million electric cars and that isn't going to cause rolling blackouts? Even at off peak time, much of the grid could not sustain this, at least not up here, not without a LOT of changes. Cali is lucky to have enough energy under normal circumstances. How about when it hasn't been raining, do Oregonians not get to drive anymore? We have a large Hydroelectric portion to our energy.

And, bio-fuel? Really? Did you know that America's corn production is 5% of the WORLD'S grain, and yet if we turned it ALL into bio-fuel it would only be a fraction of a percent of what we consume as a nation in fuel? Couple that with the fact that we cannot make and sell bio-fuel without huge subsidies. While we're at it, we're giving an almost $8000.00 gov't rebate (subsidy) if you buy an electric car. That is because they are not worth what it cost to make one!

And, are electric cars really all that clean when you plug them in to a grid that (nationally) is 50% coal? Hmmmm.

*scratches head*

Look, I voted, I'm not happy, I can say so. The deal is this, we hired him to do a job. He interviewed, I bought it and I voted, we hired him. The gig is only 4 years, no guarantees of anything more. If it takes him more that 2 years to get going, that just isn't an excuse in my book. YOU ONLY HAVE 4 YEARS, that's all there is! Sure, maybe you get re-elected, but you can't count on that!

message 29: by Félix (new)

Félix (habitseven) Arminius -- Re inflation, Reagan did no such thing. The Fed is independent. The president might wish the Fed chair would set rates a certain way -- but in the end, the Fed does what it decides is best.

message 30: by Arminius (last edited Feb 04, 2011 03:08PM) (new)

Arminius Larry wrote: "Arminius -- Re inflation, Reagan did no such thing. The Fed is independent. The president might wish the Fed chair would set rates a certain way -- but in the end, the Fed does what it decides is..."

Larry, it is documented that Reagan called Paul Volcker at the FED and told him to raise rates. I know the FED is independent but the members are appointed by the President. Paul Volcker's term was ending in 1983. Volcker feared not being reappointed.

Stacia (the 2010 club) (stacia_r) Clark wrote: "Fuck them and the horses they rode in on...."

What did those poor horses ever do to you?

message 32: by Félix (new)

Félix (habitseven) Mmmmmmmmmmm could be yup. I see what you're saying, Arminius.

message 33: by Michael (new)

Michael RandomAnthony wrote: "Michael, how did Bachmann get elected in Minnesota? I always think of Minnesota as mostly liberal, but I must be wrong."

Overall the state isn't as liberal as it once was. I don't mean to sound flip, but Bachmann gets elected because her district is wealthy and white.

message 34: by Lobstergirl, el principe (new)

Lobstergirl | 24363 comments Mod
Reagan made it okay to be clueless, distant, and very hands-off, paving the way for George W. Bush. When you are a clueless and hands-off executive, the people under you will be Rasputins and Dick Cheneys. They will [often] wield power and keep you out of the loop so you have plausible deniability.

Myth: Reagan was one of our most popular presidents.

In 1982, as the national unemployment rate spiked above 10 percent, Reagan's approval rating fell to 35 percent. At the height of the Iran-Contra scandal, nearly one-third of Americans wanted him to resign.

In the early 1990s, shortly after Reagan left office, several polls found even the much-maligned Jimmy Carter to be more popular. Only since Reagan's 1994 disclosure that he had Alzheimer's disease - along with lobbying efforts by conservatives, such as Grover Norquist's Ronald Reagan Legacy Project, which pushed to rename Washington's National Airport for the president - has his popularity steadily climbed.

Yeah, remember Iran-Contra?

Myth: Reagan shrank the federal government.

Reagan famously declared at his 1981 inauguration that "in the present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem." This rhetorical flourish didn't stop the 40th president from increasing the federal government's size by every possible measure during his eight years in office.

message 35: by Ken (last edited Feb 04, 2011 08:16PM) (new)

Ken (playjerist) | 721 comments Ronald Reagan did not end inflation. Jimmy Carter appointed Paul Volker specifically for his views on ending inflation and with the intent and directive to cut off the money supply. Reagan had no choice in the matter, and there's no indication he willingly would have absorbed a recession on his watch in order to end inflation.

The economic rebound was facilitated by classic Keynesian deficit spending (stimulus,) a combination of tax cuts and increased spending (sound familiar?). Of course the difference is that with classic Keynesianism large deficits are intended to be temporary, an economic emergency measure. Reagan didn't care, and in fact tripled the deficit during his tenure and left it for his successor. According to David Stockman, those who ended up calling the shots (unlike Stockman) preferred deficits, hoping to use them as an excuse to defund non-defense spending, which they never did either, though they did bad-mouth social spending (and poor people of course) on a regular basis.

Certainly Reagan succeeded in shifting the tax burden away from the rich and onto all the rest, a state of affairs still in effect today. After crushing the Air Traffic Controllers labor was stymied, and any upward pressure on middle-class wages ceased, another state of affairs that still exists. These policies and Reagan's emphasis on deregulation certainly ushered in the process of increasing and acute wealth disparity we have today, and the unbridled insanity of the financial sector which so recently wrecked our economy.

And in fact Glasnost and Perestroika ended the cold war. Though Western intelligence by now was confident the USSR was a military paper tiger, Reagan squandered billions on unnecessary defense spending, which at least did have the effect of rewarding the defense-aerospace industry that had backed him since his early days in California.

Gorbachev realized at the dawn of the information age and the personal computer that a closed society such as the Soviet Union could not grow economically,a country in which even copier machines were highly restricted. Reagan's willingness to pursue arms control with Gorbachev helped Gorbachev convince a paranoid Politburo that the US had no aggressive intentions, and therefore allowed Gorbachev to proceed with the internal reforms that would transform Russian society and eventually end the cold war, in particular when Gorbachev made it clear to client states in Eastern Europe that no reinforcements from the Soviet Union could be counted upon, and leaders there had best proceed with reform programs themselves.

message 36: by Arminius (last edited Feb 05, 2011 10:08AM) (new)

Arminius In 1978 president Carter appointed George William Miller to head the Federal Reserve. Miller opposed raising interest rates. President Carter moves Miller to head the Treasury. The President’s first choice to replace Miller at the Federal Reserve was David Rockefeller, his second choice was A.W. Clausen, and his third choice was Robert Roosa. All three declined. In fact, President Carter did not even know who Paul Volcker was when an undersecretary of monetary affairs recommended Volcker to him.
Volcker did differ from previous Fed Chairmen in that he believed that inflation should be fixed with high interest rates. When he starts as chairman the interest rate was 11.5%. Through 1979 he slowly pushes rates up to 15.25%. By August he has them up to 20%. But as the election season starts he is forced to bring them down and by August he has them down to 11.25%. However, when President Carter loses the election Volcker starts to bring them back up and has them at 21.5% when President Reagan takes over.
My point to all this is yes I agree Paul Volcker plan was to raise interest rates to beat inflation.
When we look at what happens next. He starts taking down interest rates and by President Reagans’ fourth month in office he has rates at 17%. By the way, all of these back and fourth rises did nothing to cure inflation. I do not have my books with me (only my memory of what I’ve read) to provide a source which claims President Reagan told him to raise rates. However, I did find a PBS interview with Milton Freidman which states that Reagan gave his approval for rate increases. In 1981 interest rates were raised and stayed at or just below or just above 20% for the entire year. Reagan rewarded Volcker with a reappointment in 1983.
As a result, inflation dropped from 13.58% in 1980 to 6.6% in 1981. It would go down to 1.91& by 1986 and cease to become a political issue since.

Glasnost and Perestroika did not end the cold war. They were steps taken by Gorbachev to save the Soviet Union from dissolution.

message 37: by RandomAnthony (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments Speaking of the fed, by the way, and neutrality, there was some interesting conversation about that this very week in light of a few of Bernanke's comments:

It was the first time that Mr. Bernanke, who in contrast to his predecessors has avoided taking sides in partisan debates on fiscal matters, had spoken out on the debt ceiling issue.


message 38: by RandomAnthony (last edited Feb 05, 2011 10:52AM) (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments I tend to agree with the "leaders/Presidents get too much credit when things are going well and too much blame when things are going bad" position. That's not to say leaders/Presidents are powerless. But they don't work in a vacuum, either.

message 39: by Ken (last edited Feb 05, 2011 05:22PM) (new)

Ken (playjerist) | 721 comments Neither of Carter's Republican predecessors, both of whom struggled with high inflation, high unemployment and stagflation were willing to appoint a Fed chief ready to hit the brakes hard on the money supply in order to kill inflation. Carter was, and did. Whatever manipulation of interest rates Volker engaged in during an election cycle does not alter the fact that it was his policy and his actions responsible for bringing down inflation, not Reagan's. Again, Reagan used classic stimulus to precipitate a recovery, tax cuts and increased spending, both of which impact revenue and deficits.

Reagan promoted two entirely dubious economic propositions, rightly described by George Bush senior as "voodoo economics": that large tax cuts could be enacted, particularly for the wealthy, while spending remained at current levels or was increased without creating deficits; and that tax cut windfalls to the wealthy would eventually "trickle down" to the middle class. In fact, the harsh valuation of capital over labor has produced the expected result: middle class wages have remained stagnant for decades as increased GDP rewards collect only at the very top, pre-tax and after-tax income for the top brackets greatly higher, stagnant for all the rest. This top-heavy wealth has not been invested in job-creating manufacturing or retail or other jobs for Americans, but allocated to the financial sector for eventually ruinous big, fast bucks, or invested in overseas operations.

Reaganomics was the beginning of a major transfer of wealth from the middle class to the upper class, the beginning of the end of the post-war expansion of the middle class. It also is a legacy of Republican presidents leaving enormous deficits, large unfinanced tax cuts for the wealthy and unfunded expenditures such as the Iraq war, while ignoring revenue requirements and demonizing taxation (Reagan did later raise payroll taxes, sparing the rich at the expense of the middle class of course)

The Cold War was defined as the tension between the two superpowers, the US and USSR, and their allies and satellite states respectively. Both superpowers retained aresenals capable of destroying the world many times over, and MAD (mutally assured destruction) remained in place whatever temporary increases or reductions either side undertook. In fact, the USSR, as an authoritarian state, having none of the democratic requirements for accountabilty democratic nations do, could have spent as much of its GDP on armaments as it needed or wished in perpetuity.

Again, the realization by Gorbachev and the reformers around him that the USSR and its satellites must adapt to the information age, and transform from closed societies to opern ones was the catylyst for the demise of the Soviet empire. Gorbachev understood the economic need for technological advancement and the free movement of information, and understood that such openness was not compatible with an authoritarian society, and that the country must inevitably adopt democratic processes and instituions. Once the Soviet Union began to transfrom itslelf under Gorbachev and his fellow reformers, and once he pulled the military rug out from under Soviet satellites and instructed leaders there to embrace reform and democratization, the Soviet union was no longer, nor was the cold war. I do give Reagan credit for the relationship he formed with Gorbachev, for replacing unproductive bellicosity with cooperation, with pursuing an end to a wasteful and mutually destructive arms race through the pusuit of arms control and dialogue.

message 40: by Arminius (new)

Arminius BunWat wrote: "It may be an article of faith in certain conservative circles that Reagan ended the cold war but I don't find that thesis at all persuasive. I know quite a few Russians and Eastern Europeans who ha..."

I may be wrong but I do not think that Russians were taught that they lost the Cold War. Also, Krakow Poland changed Central Square to Ronald Reagan Square.
So at least some in Poland gave President Reagan some of the credit.

But again you are correct. He does not desreve all of the credit. There were many who helped.

message 41: by Arminius (new)

Arminius I am just going to point out one thing now. Tomorrow I will be too busy to respond to anything else. So, if the Army gives me some time I will gladly discuss more on Monday.

I found this article about wealth transfer:

"The statistics show that more families departing the middle class have moved up than down. Families with incomes of $50,000 or more -- considered the gateway to the upper class -- increased from 13% of the population to 18.3% during the 1970-85 period. At the same time, the proportion of families below $15,000 grew from 21.9% to 23.5%."

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/art...

message 42: by Arminius (last edited Feb 06, 2011 12:03PM) (new)

Arminius OK. I was out shooting and got done early soaking wet but I was think about why the Cold War ended. I think President Truman's Containment policy and Korean War, President Kennedy and Johnson's Vietnam War, President Nixon's build up of the U.S. nuclear arsenal plus Pope John Paul's visit to Poland are all contributors. I still give President Reagan the most credit though for his military build up, SDI and his support of the mujahedeen in the Soviet's Afghan War.

message 43: by Arminius (new)

Arminius Arminius wrote: "I am just going to point out one thing now. Tomorrow I will be too busy to respond to anything else. So, if the Army gives me some time I will gladly discuss more on Monday.

I found this article..."

Ken, I found so much conflicting data about middle class wages. One place said that all classes grew more wealthy during the 1980's. Another said that wages have been declining since 1970.

message 44: by Ken (last edited Feb 06, 2011 07:29PM) (new)

Ken (playjerist) | 721 comments Data and anaylsis documenting the "great divergence" of the last thirty years, the increasing flow of GDP growth almost excluively to the upper brackets, as the portion of the national wealth held by the middle and the bottom stagnated or declined is voluminous to say the least, including the charting of trends in regulation, taxation and labor orginating during that period, acute in the Eighties, exacerbated in the last decade. But here is a small sample:


The decline of America's middle class can be charted directly. In the three decades after World War II, the median wage (smack in the middle) grew rapidly, right along with productivity gains. Even as late as 1980, the richest 1 percent of Americans received only about 9 percent of the nation's total income.

But starting in the 1980s -- and increasingly since then -- the economy has made the rich far richer without doing squat for the vast middle. The median hourly wage has barely grown, if you take inflation into account. Indeed, it dropped in the last so-called "recovery" between 2001 and 2007. And health-care and pension benefits have declined; we've gone from defined-benefit pensions to do-it-yourself pensions, while health insurance premiums, deductibles, and co-payments have skyrocketed.

Meanwhile, the rich have been getting a larger and larger portion of total income. From 9 percent in 1980, the top 1 percent's take has increased to 23.5 percent in 2007. CEOs who in the 1970s took home 40 percent of the compensation of average workers now rake in 350 times. Financiers who forty years ago made only modest fortunes today, even after the Great Recession they helped bring on, routinely earn seven and eight-figures. In 2009, when most of the nation's middle class was deep in recession, the 25 best-paid hedge-fund managers took in an average of $1 billion each. (Their marginal income tax, by the way, was barely over 17 percent, while the typical family paid a marginal tax far higher.)


In my reporting, I regularly travel to banana republics notorious for their inequality. In some of these plutocracies, the richest 1 percent of the population gobbles up 20 percent of the national pie. But guess what? You no longer need to travel to distant and dangerous countries to observe such rapacious inequality.

The richest 1 percent of Americans now take home almost 24 percent ofincome, up from almost 9 percent in 1976. As Timothy Noah of Slate noted in an excellent series on inequality, the United States now arguably has a more unequal distribution of wealth than traditional banana republics like Nicaragua, Venezuela and Guyana. C.E.O.’s of the largest American companies earned an average of 42
times as much as the average worker in 1980, but 531 times as much in 2001. Perhaps the most astounding statistic is this: From 1980 to 2005, more than four-fifths of the total increase in American incomes
went to the richest 1 percent.

http://www.slate.com/id/ 2268981/

A new calculation makes it harder to deny the 30-year income-inequality trend. Since the early 1990s, the main driver of income inequality has been
skyrocketing incomes at the top.

http://www.slate.com/id/ 2266025/entry/2266026/

Income inequality grew through the 1980s, slackened briefly at the end of the 1990s, and then resumed with a vengeance in the aughts. In his
2007 book The Conscience of a Liberal, the Nobel laureate, Princeton economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman labeled the post-1979 epoch the "Great Divergence."

It's generally understood that we live in a time of growing incomeinequality, but "the ordinary person is not really aware of how big it is," Krugman told me. During the late 1980s and the late 1990s, the
United States experienced two unprecedentedly long periods of sustained economic growth—the "seven fat years" and the " long boom."

Yet from 1980 to 2005, more than 80 percent of total increase in Americans' income went to the top 1 percent. Economic growth was more
sluggish in the aughts, but the decade saw productivity increase by about 20 percent. Yet virtually none of the increase translated into
wage growth at middle and lower incomes, an outcome that left many economists scratching their heads.

http://www.slate.com/id/ 2266025/entry/2266031/

The Great Divergence coincided with a dramatic decline in the power of organized labor. Union members now account for about 12 percent of the
workforce, down from about 20 percent in 1983. When you exclude public-employee unions (whose membership has been growing), union membership has dropped to a mere 7.5 percent of the private-sector workforce.

President Reagan's 1981 decision to break the air-traffic controllers' union and to slash top income-tax rates killed off Truman's 1945 pact
entirely. Although Reagan was a onetime union president, he showed little concern when the 1982 recession rapidly eliminated so many Rust
Belt manufacturing jobs that the proportion of private-sector workers who belonged to unions dropped to 16 percent in 1985, down from 23 percent as recently as 1979. Reagan's hostility to unions was further reflected in his choice of Donald Dotson to chair the National Labor Relations Board. Dotson had previously worked as a management-side
labor adversary for Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel, and (presumably with both lips and heart) believed collective bargaining led to "the destruction of individual freedom." Under Reagan's two terms, the
federal minimum wage, which previously had been adjusted upward every year or two, would remain stuck at $3.35 an hour for close to a full decade. Similarly, President George W. Bush, another two-term Republican, later let the minimum wage remain at $5.15 (to which it had risen during the presidencies of his father and Bill Clinton) for two months shy of 10 years, by which time its buying power had reached
a 51-year low.

http://www.businessinsider. com/15-charts-about-wealth- and-inequality-in-america- 2010-4#half-of-america-has-25- of-the-wealth-2

Half of America has 2.5% of the wealth

Over the last half-century, America’s wealthiest taxpayers have seen their tax outlays, as a share of income, drop enormously, by as much as two-thirds for the highest-income grouping the IRS tracks.

Meanwhile, theshare of their household income that middle class Americans pay in federal taxes has increased slightly.


The graph does a good job of conveying the two key aspects of the rise in income inequality over the past generation. One is the dramatic increase in incomes for households at the very top. In 1979 household income among those in the top 1% averaged $325,000 (in 2005 dollars). By 2005 that had increased to nearly $1.1 million.

The other is stagnation at the bottom and modest growth in the middle. Among the poorest 20% of households, average income was $14,500 in 1979 and $15,500 in 2005. Among the middle 60% of households, average income rose from $42,000 to $51,000.

This chart makes it clearer that a defining feature of rising inequality in the United States is the stagnation of incomes in the lower half of the distribution. Even at the 95th percentile, where incomes have increased appreciably since the 1970s, the rate of growth did not accelerate relative to earlier years; the average growth rate of family income at the 95th percentile was 1.5% per year between 1979 and 2005, compared to 2.4% per year between 1947 and 1979.

http://www.latimes.com/news/ printedition/front/la-na- obama-budget28-2009feb28,0, 7441347.story

Since President Reagan began an era of tax-cutting in the 1980s, lower-class incomes have stagnated and middle-class incomes have increased only slightly, but the incomes of the richest Americans have
skyrocketed, the 134-page budget document points out.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/ 03/29/business/29tax.html?ei= 5087%0A&em=&en= 311ab7d3df477c4e&ex= 1175313600&adxnnl=1& pagewanted=print&adxnnlx= 1175559344- o0OjFAhhPQbz71mMukdR+A

The analysis by the two professors showed that the top 10 percent of Americans collected 48.5 percent of all reported income in 2005. That is an increase of more than 2 percentage points over the previous
year and up from roughly 33 percent in the late 1970s. The peak for this group was 49.3 percent in 1928.

The top 1 percent received 21.8 percent of all reported income in 2005, up significantly from 19.8 percent the year before and more than
double their share of income in 1980.


You can thank The Gipper for the birth of the current mortgage crisis. As William Kleinknecht, author of The Man Who Sold the World, put it, Reagan pushed for the elimination of all ceilings on interest rates and restrictions on loans, with his goal to "allow all depository institutions to make the same type of loans in whatever amount they see fit." The subsequent Garn-St. Germain Depository Institutions Act of 1982 enabled lenders to issue adjustable rate and interest-only mortgages, the drivers of the current mortgage meltdown.

As I pointed out in my book, America, Welcome to the Poorhouse, the blame for runaway home prices also falls on Reagan since he slashed subsidies for low-income housing, making home ownership the only option for low-income families. In 1988 Reagan cut the housing budget to less than $8 billion compared to $32 billion under Carter, resulting in a 90% decrease in construction of new units in one year alone.

Wonder why we've got record federal deficits? Much of the cause stems from Reagan's corporate tax breaks; by 1983 the portion of tax receipts derived from corporate income taxes dropped to an all-time low of 6.2%, down from 12.5% in 1980 and 32.1% in 1952.


Indeed, many of today’s worst national and international problems can be traced to misjudgments and malfeasance from the Reagan years – from the swelling national debt to out-of-control banks, from the decline of the U.S. middle class to the inaction on energy independence, from the rise of Islamic fundamentalism to Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.

message 45: by Ken (last edited Feb 06, 2011 07:49PM) (new)

Ken (playjerist) | 721 comments A few points about Reagan and the Cold War. One, the containment policy initiated after WWII and sustained by all American administrations since was a critical factor, and not one exclusive to any single president and certainly not to Reagan. Second, as I have pointed out, the Soviet Union, with its authoritarian government had the capacity to spend as much of its GDP on armaments as it wished or needed whatever America spent.

Third, the Reagan defense spending was reduntant, duplicating and compiling armaments whose addition did not alter the dynamic of Mutual Assured Destruction. Four, conservative anti-communism was viewed in the East much as it was here: less a productive concern about the freedom of peoples under communism than an issue with great domestic value for political exploitation, in particular when shoveling American taxpayer dollars toward areospace-defense industries.

Fifth, and in the same vein as four, many dissidents in the Soviet Bloc contend that their inspiration was not conservative cold warriors, but the freedom movements in the United States: the civil rights movement in particular, as well as the anti-Vietname War movement. And six, as I said before, Reagan's defense building negatively impacted the Us budget, but was irrelevant to the reform movement already contemplated and embarked upon by reformers in the USSR. Only when Reagan adopted a conciliatory tone, befriending Gorbachev and pursing arms control did he contribute to the end of the Cold War.

William Blum: Reagan Didn't End the Cold War


Long the leading Soviet expert on the United States, Georgi Arbatov, head of the Moscow-based Institute for the Study of the U.S.A. and Canada, wrote his memoirs in 1992. A Los Angeles Times book review by Robert Scheer summed up a portion of it:

Arbatov understood all too well the failings of Soviet totalitarianism in comparison to the economy and politics of the West. It is clear from this candid and nuanced memoir that the movement for change had been developing steadily inside the highest corridors of power ever since the death of Stalin. Arbatov not only provides considerable evidence for the notion that this change would have come about without foreign pressure, he insists that the U.S. military buildup during the Reagan years actually impeded this development.

George F. Kennan agrees. The former US ambassador to the Soviet Union, and father of the theory of "containment" of the same country, asserts that "the suggestion that any United States administration had the power to influence decisively the course of a tremendous domestic political upheaval in another great country on another side of the globe is simply childish." He contends that the extreme militarization of American policy strengthened hard-liners in the Soviet Union. "Thus the general effect of Cold War extremism was to delay rather than hasten the great change that overtook the Soviet Union."

Gorbachev's close adviser, Aleksandr Yakovlev, when asked whether the Reagan administration's higher military spending, combined with its "Evil Empire" rhetoric, forced the Soviet Union into a more conciliatory position, responded:

"It played no role. None. I can tell you that with the fullest responsibility. Gorbachev and I were ready for changes in our policy regardless of whether the American president was Reagan, or Kennedy, or someone even more liberal. It was clear that our military spending was enormous and we had to reduce it."

It turned out that the Russians were human after all -- they responded to toughness with toughness. And the corollary: there was for many years a close correlation between the amicability of US-Soviet relations and the number of Jews allowed to emigrate from the Soviet Union. Softness produced softness. If there's anyone to attribute the changes in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe to, both the beneficial ones and those questionable, it is of course Mikhail Gorbachev and the activists he inspired.

It should be remembered that Reagan was in office for over four years before Gorbachev came to power, and Thatcher for six years, but in that period of time nothing of any significance in the way of Soviet reform took place despite Reagan's and Thatcher's unremitting malice toward the communist state.


While most historians would give far more credit to Gorbachev, Reagan resisted the advice of the hardliners and did something rather unusual for him—and hard for any president to do—he did a 180 and embraced the summit process and arms control. He took Gorbachev seriously.” Reagan, Mann writes in The Rebellion of Ronald Reagan, used his second term to soften his decades-long antipathy toward communism, “rebelled against the forces and ideas that had made the Cold War seem endless and intractable,” and helped to end it.

But Kotkin points out that the Soviets had increased military spending to “astronomical levels in the 1970s,” before Reagan took office, and that by the 1980s they had determined that his missile defense system “would never work.” Kotkin suggests that, to understand the collapse of communism, we must look “to the wider world.”


Under a relatively youthful party secretary, Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet Union in the late 1980s undertook a series of reforms: perestroika, designed to restructure the production system, and glasnost, meant to open the society to political and artistic debate. Gorbachev knew that in a world of increasing technical complexity and communications, Soviet- style authoritarianism had become economically dysfunctional.


As Soviet party officials attempted to maintain restrictions on use of copiers to limit the circulation of critical writings by Russians, American technology launched the next information revolution with the increasing spread of computers, from the mainframe and minicomputer of business and scientific research to the personal computer of the 1980s.


The Soviet system was particularly inept at handling information. The deep secrecy of its political system meant that the flow of information was slow and cumbersome.

Economic globalisation created turmoil throughout the world at the end of the 20th century, but the Western market economies were able to reallocate labour to services, restructure their heavy industries and switch to computers. The Soviet Union could not keep up.

Indeed, when Gorbachev came to power in 1985, there were 50,000 personal computers in the Soviet Union; in the United States, there were 30 million. Four years later, there were about 400,000 personal computers in the Soviet Union, and 40 million in the US.

According to one Soviet economist, by the late 1980s, only eight per cent of Soviet industry was globally competitive. It is difficult for a country to remain a superpower when the world doesn’t want 92 per cent of what it produces.

The lessons for today are clear. While military power remains important, it is a mistake for any country to discount the role of economic power and soft power. But it is also a mistake to discount the importance of leaders with humanitarian values. The Soviet Union may have been doomed, but the world has Gorbachev to thank for the fact that the empire he oversaw ended without a bloody conflagration.

message 46: by Arminius (new)

Arminius http://www.kyklosproductions.com/arti...

Stagnating Workers' Wages
In 1979 the American worker's average hourly wage was equal to $15.91 (adjusted for inflation in 2001 dollars). By 1989 it had reached only $16.63/hour. That's a gain of only 7 cents a year for the entire Reagan decade.

But wait. Things get worse! By 1995 it had risen to only $16.71, or virtually no gain whatsoever over the 6 years between 1989 and 1995. During the great 'boom years' between 1995 and 2000 it rose briefly to $18.33 per hour. In other words, from 1979 to 2000, even before the most recent Bush recession, after more than two decades the American worker's average wages increased on average only 11.5 cents per hour per year! With nearly all of that coming in the five so-called 'boom' years of 1995-2000, and most of that lost once again in the last three years. And that includes for all workers, even those with college degrees.

The picture is worse for workers who had no college degree. That's more than 100 million workers, or 72.1% of the workforce. For them there was no 'boom of 1995-2000' whatsoever. Their average real hourly wages were less at the end of 2000 than they were in 1979! And since 2000 their wages have continued to slide further.

Real economic growth averaged 3.2 percent during the Reagan years versus 2.8 percent during the Ford-Carter years and 2.1 percent during the Bush-Clinton years.

Real median family income grew by $4,000 during the Reagan period after experiencing no growth in the pre-Reagan years; it experienced a loss of almost $1,500 in the post-Reagan years.

Interest rates, inflation, and unemployment fell faster under Reagan than they did immediately before or after his presidency.


The only economic variable that was worse in the Reagan period than in both the pre- and post-Reagan years was the savings rate, which fell rapidly in the 1980s. The productivity rate was higher in the pre-Reagan years but much lower in the post-Reagan years.


Woodstock. The moon landing. The escalating war in Vietnam. The year 1969 was momentous enough, yet in retrospect it seems to have represented one additional pivot point in U.S. history: the high-water mark for the middle class.

message 47: by Ken (new)

Ken (playjerist) | 721 comments I’m not clear Arminus how your information is intended to exculpate Reagan for his initiation of the trend of wealth and tax disparity, and deregulation, all of which have had devastating economic consequences, particularly for the middle class.

Real wages began to stagnate in the Seventies during a period of high inflation and high unemployment. Rather than recover when the economy did, middle class income remained stymied while the wealthy brackets reaped the benefits of economic resurgence in the wake of Reagan’s stimulus. Well-paying middle class jobs lost during the recession never returned, replaced by lower-paying jobs with less or no benefits.

At the same time, Reagan’s anti-labor policies had the effect of downward pressure on wages, making it even harder for the middle class and working poor to recover any of their previous upward motion. As the information I presented documents, CEO wages and upper bracket incomes have skyrocketed in the succeeding decades as these policies initiated by Reagan essentially have been frozen in place. They saw minor adjustment under Bill Clinton, but were fully restored, and more under George W. Reagan’s tenure saw the beginning of the continuing trend of economic growth benefitting only the wealthy, expanded GDP created by everyone’s increased productivity rewarding only those at the very top.

Reagan’s enormous tax reductions for the very wealthy also had the consequence of shifting greater tax responsibility onto the middle and bottom while creating huge deficits for which all classes were then accountable. The secondary effect of Reagan’s tax giveaways to the wealthy and plundering of the budget with exorbitant defense spending was that public investment of resources in areas such as education, research and infrastructure which traditionally elevate the middle class were scotched. Furthermore, the working poor saw the safety net depleted by this same shift of resources .

The wealth Reagan (and George W. too) promised would “trickle down” with these historically favorable tax policies for the wealthy and deregulation of capital in fact never have, the wealthy keeping it in their own pockets, or squandering it recklessly in the Savings and Loan debacle and later with particular reckless avarice in the unregulated and fly-by-night financial and investment sector.

The CATO Institute is certainly correct that savings rates began to decline in the Eighties, which should not come as a great surprise given that with most Americans’ incomes going almost nowhere, they would attempt to retain or simulate their previous lifestyle by relying on monies otherwise saved. I’m sure we can blame them, though I’m not so sure there isn’t a heavy “blame the victim” dynamic there.

message 48: by Ken (new)

Ken (playjerist) | 721 comments BunWat wrote: "Maybe its not intended to exculpate Reagan."

Then: Mission Accomplished!

message 49: by Arminius (new)

Arminius Ken wrote: "BunWat wrote: "Maybe its not intended to exculpate Reagan."

Then: Mission Accomplished!"


There is no standard middle class definition. It is no wonder there is so many conflicting arguements.

And it is funny how most people consider themselves working, middle, or upper class. I wonder if they felt that way in the 1970's.

message 50: by Arminius (new)

Arminius http://books.google.com/books?id=J6cx...

Page 128 of this book talks about Gorbechev's feelings toward SDI.

« previous 1
back to top