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Ending the Ronald Reagan Lie


Ending the Ronald Reagan Lie

Jeffrey D. Sachs

As they return from the July Fourth break, the Republican leadership is twisting in agony on the Obamacare repeal and it couldn’t happen to a more miserable bunch. President Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan, and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell have been trying to jam through a deeply unpopular and cruel piece of legislation, but for once the public is being heard over the lobbyists. And the public is shouting a loud and hopefully decisive “no.” But the problem is deeper than health care, and goes back to Ronald Reagan’s great lie.


Grandpa Caligula is the best sobriquet I ever heard for Reagan. I heard it first used by Jello Biafra.


I’m astonished by the reverence given to the B-actor in chief, even to these days. He broke the unions, gave us Iran-contra, failed savings&loan scandals, and several times to the brink of nuclear Armageddon, the Soviets were really scared he’d launch a first strike nuclear attack and then…we wouldn’t be here to gripe about him. Time for folks to see him for the senile monster that he was and find ways to fix the broken system before it swallows us all up and leaves husks of what was once a functioning society. Under Reagan and the many recessions, I was constantly hoping I wouldn’t lose my cook’s job and be out on my duff. The world was NOT better under Reagan, not by a long shot. Oh, one more item; his insane star wars program.


Jeffrey Sachs provides an accurate summation of events in American politics over the past 37+ years in American politics. It was a bad day for the future of our country when Ronald Reagan was elected. It was a sadder day still when the current person in the White House was elected. I hope Jeffrey’s current belief becomes a reality. I have my doubts, however, when powerful special interests maintain a stranglehold on the government and policy and dictate what laws they demand and what laws they dictate be rescinded.

Without significant change in the financing of elections, it is hard to imagine that anything short of revolution would result in change for the better, especially when Republican legislatures are making and/or attempting to make peaceful protests illegal. Apparently they are not aware or simply do not care that.
peaceful protests are one of the foundations of democracy (as are freedom of the press and public education, but that doesn’t stop them from working to do away with both.). Public campaign financing with no other option is essential to turning this country around so that the interests of the people matter.

It is also questionable when you see people continually voting against their own interests - like a portion of the 38% who love and admire the current top officeholder. whose path involves stomping out programs that would help the shrinking middle class, the working poor and anyone that is not wealthy. Pretty scary and very sad when his supporters know so little of basic American history that they get up in arms reading excerpts from the Declaration of Independence, do not recognize it for what it is but believe it to be extreme and subversive. Well, guess what. This country was established through REVOLUTION. I suppose they would be supporters of the Redcoats seeing that they were angered when they perceived the document was taking aim at their King Trump - I mean George.

We need to remember that the Founding Fathers knew that things change, sometimes for the worst. That is why they challenged us to continually make necessary changes, not to become complacent and accepting of the unacceptable and recognize and act when conditions were getting worse as a result of actions of those in power. The American people need to accept the challenges our forefathers presented to us.


Yeppers, that drooling old idiot caused a lot more harm than good, and it seems it is the curse that keeps on punishing!


This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or exercise their revolutionary right to overthrow it. [Abraham Lincoln]

This country as it is today is too revolting NOT to rise up in revolution!

Pwr 2 the ANGRY peons!


Good post but don’t forget the Raygun team doing an end around the law and Jimmy Carter with their deal with Iran and the hostages.


Mr. Sachs’ summary corresponds to much of my understanding, but doesn’t go back to the Lewis Powell Memo of 1974, or Carter & Co.'s Trilateral Commission document “Crisis of Democracy” – blueprints for the Neo-Conservative and Neo-Liberal movements. Ralph Nader and Noam Chomsky both have recent books outlining these texts, which underpinned Reagan and continue to guide Republicans – and far too many Democrats.

Thomas Frank’s 2016 book “Listen, Liberal!” reveals the deep complicity of sellout Democrats as they abandoned progressive and labor-friendly policies in favor of easy election money and a place at the elites’ table.

Progressives have to do better than getting stuck championing government in general, or certainly a federal government rife with corruption, at least including the old saws of waste, fraud & abuse.

Does government have to be really big and expensive in order to make and enforce reasonable rules? I don’t think so. But it needs to be big and strong enough to do what is needed. If Sachs is right about a growing movement to restore good government, which I hope he is, then we who support real human progress need to talk in common sense language about regulating government as we promote the idea of our government regulating the private sector.


We also would do well to emphasize terms and concepts like “the Public”, “the Public good”, “Public benefits”, “the Public Commons”, “the Public interest”, etc.

People need to be reminded of what our taxes pay for, from libraries and parks to jet fighters. We can compare taxation levels in other countries to those in the U.S. only if we also compare the public benefits of the countries compared. From all accounts I’ve seen, we in the U.S. are vastly over-paying in taxes, education tuition, and healthcare ‘premiums’, while bumbling along through a steadily worsening quality of life. Paying too much for crappy products and services – Isn’t that the basis of people’s anger when they complain about “the damned guv’ment”? Here is where we can find common cause with a lot of principled conservatives, ‘Eisenhower Republicans’, TeaParty folks and even quite a few Trump voters.


“If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their Fathers conquered… I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies… The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs.”
–Thomas Jefferson

December 23, 1913, a day that will live in infamy.


In one sentence, WiseOwl, please explain why the institution of the Federal Reserve was infamous. I’m truly curious.


Read G. Edward Griffin’s The Creature from Jekyll Island.


Dear Chary,
A thoughtful response to Mr. Sachs. I too, have doubts concerning his optimism for the future. Young people are our hope, but they, too, have many constraints on their promise. Debt, healthcare issues, the looming crisis of climate, media that constantly bathes them in the mantra of “there is no alternative” to the current status quo, and as you point out, the ever-present influence and shaping of politics by big money.
One thing that also needs to be said: our wrecking of the Middle East does and will continue to have consequence for our young people. Not only ‘blow-back’ in the sense of a more dangerous world, but moral and economic consequence. How to get to a more just, non-interventionist future for Americans? Just acting like citizens, keep on keeping on as best we can, and pointing out to whomever we can that the Emperor has no clothes. On our national scene, I love and have hope in an older guy who keeps on advancing the cause of justice and equality and sanity: Bernie Sanders.


I know that Sachs has done a 180 degree turn since his early days and at least he is on track now and using his excellent research skills and reputation to reverse the damage of corporatism. We have to forgive people who once upon a time fell for the corporate narrative provided they truly understand the errors of their past. After all, if we were to hold a grudge against every single convert out there, then we could never hope to unite everyone against the corporate onslaught against freedom and democracy itself.


In the 1960s few Americans would have understood Reagan’s quip about government being terrifying. The federal government had won the war, developed the atomic bomb, put Americans into space, and built the greatest ribbons of highways in the world. The federal government had promoted dazzling technological breakthroughs in medicine, space, telecommunications, and other areas.

This is very well said and very rarely admitted. American liberals - to say nothing of conservatives - only tepidly defend the proposition that government can work well to regulate markets and deliver essential services such as health care and education. I hope Sachs is right about younger generations but oh my there is so much indoctrination to overcome.


Thank you. I’ll get a copy. However, I’m familiar with the Jekyll Island conspiracy of 1910 from Nomi Prinsbook, All the Presidents’ Bankers. Still, I’m interested in Griffin’s perspective.


Agree totally about using terms with the word PUBLIC, at least as often as possible. Folks have forgotten that the government is them, is US, all of US. And too often people choose to align themselves with ‘private’ interests in lieu of ‘public’ interests. Nothing wrong with ‘private’ or ‘free enterprise’, at least when healthily regulated, but keep in mind that ‘private’ usually comes with a profit motive; not always, but usually. And profit motive usually connotes at least some element of selfishness, greed, etc. Certainly not with the Golden Rule.

Let me put it another way: I’d rather be operated on by a surgeon who has a truly altruistic, hippocratic worldview than someone who is motivated by money.

Let’s get back to looking at our future in terms of PUBLIC GOOD. Then if you get rich in the process, well, congrats!


How we change…


Wrecking the Middle East? We destroyed those Secular Polities so that our greatest friend in the region, the non-secular government run out of Tel Aviv, could feel more comfortable. If Israel has a right to exist, then we were right to support her in this quest for destruction of enemies and potential enemies.


My understanding is that the first round of tax cuts that primarily benefitted the wealthy, but were spun as beneficial to the working and middle class was instituted during the Kennedy years. Not long after that cuts to music and art programs in public schools began. Essentially the same spin used by Reagan, if on steroids and inextricably linked to racist public policy and law enforcement… which was then picked up by the Dems during the Clinton era via so-called “welfare reform” and so-called minimum sentences to repeat offenders and, per Clinton, “super predators”. Foreign policy has been essentially identical, with a slight variance in how it has been spun to the public. It does us no good to pretend.