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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ronald Reagan Was the AntiChrist

Well . . . not really. (Probably.)

But one thing I've become increasingly struck by is how often the phrase "thirty years" pops up whenever people write about how much America's changed -- for the worse. I've certainly referenced it a number of times when pointing out that income stopped growing for working- and middle-class Americans thirty-odd years ago, and that our disastrously high private debt levels really took off at the same time.

Today Howie Klein has a great piece up about the Conservatives' endless crusade to funnel even more money to the uber-rich in which he quotes Robert Reich pointing out that massive tax cuts for the wealthy didn't start until 1980 and cites an article by Benjamin Wallace-Wells in New York Magazine pointing out that America's economy began to be largely remade in the image of Wall Street "during the eighties." Over at The Nation Barbara Ehrenreich has an article describing how difficult it now is to be homeless in America, and how "the current prohibition on homelessness began to take shape in the 1980s."

It does seem like a real sea change took place in America when Ronald Reagan took office, and I don't mean that in a good way. Of course, I don't imagine that Reagan really was solely responsible for this decline in Americans' standard of living -- it seems more to have been a confluence of factors -- but his ascendency to the Oval Office does provide a quick, back-of-the-envelope notation for remembering just when it was our country began to fail.

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