The Myth of Saint Ronnie and Our Current Dilemma

As the spin machine begins to whirl out of control in response to President Obama’s $3.73 trillion budget proposal this morning I thought it appropriate to remind everyone why we are in this mess in the first place. You see, for all the talk of out of control spending by a Socialist President it was in fact the work of one man in particular that set this country on the path to financial ruin. My liberal friends are sure to know where I am heading here but let me spell it out for you. The core of every Republican talking point about small government and fiscal responsibility is an Orwellian fable that has been repeated so often by so many Republicans that it is certain to rival the story of Jesus in the annals of Western history. In this story, a man rode into Washington on a horse from the wild west and not only single handedly created the U.S. economic juggernaut of the last half century but also, with the power of his words and a few magic jelly beans took down the evil Soviet empire.

Yes, this is the story of Saint Ronald Reagan, a myth so powerful it has spilled out of the pews and the billion dollar stained glass windows of the church of  the  Republican party and into the homes and lives of a majority of Americans. Unfortunately, religious myths are never what they are cracked up to be are they and in this case the legend of Ronnie is more Scientology than Christianity. A story so easily debunked that it is a wonder anyone ever believed it at all.

So, without further adieu I offer up for your reading pleasure as thorough and well documented a debunking of the Book of Ronnie as I have come across to date. Enjoy and spread the good word my brothers and sisters.

The Disastrous Legacy of Ronald Reagan in Charts


(Below is only the excerpted portion on taxes, please follow the link above for the full story)

Taxes, Economics, and Standard of Living

Although Ronald Reagan actually instituted one of the largest tax hikes in US history, he and the fiscal conservatives started their campaign to drastically reduce the top tax rate for the rich.

The conservative tax policy that unleashed the class war that ended the period known as the Great Compression (which followed the Great Depression), and was the terminus of an era where single income families enjoyed plenty of jobs, economic opportunity, and a larger degree of social mobility.

This in turn created the phenomena of wealth consolidation to go into overdrive, starting the drive towards income disparity and a gulf between rich and poor that hasn’t been seen since the Great Depression, a new conservative era known as The Great Divergence.

Additional charts for the share of wealth controlled by the top 10% and top 0.01%.  Ronald Reagan and the conservatives ushered in an era of unbridled greed.  An increasing amount of the share of the pie of wealth that is created by labor was gobbled up by those most well off to begin with.

The rich have reaped the vast majority of every economic expansion over the last 30 years, including the top 1% gaining two thirds of it in recent years. The top 0.1% have seen a 94% income growth since 2002. The richest of them all (the top 400) have seen an astounding 476% increase since 1992. The richest 74 people made as much as the 19 million lowest-paid people in America.

Today there is a higher Gini-Coefficient (which measures the wealth disparity in a nation) than the Great Depression.  The US now ranks 42nd from the worst in the world in terms of the gulf between rich and poor, slightly worse than Iran, Nigeria, and Cambodia.

Currently, one third of all the pay in the United States is raked in by corporate executives.  In 1970, the average CEO made 28 times what an average worker at his company made. By 2005, this had swelled to 465 times what an average worker made. This is phenomena exclusive to the US, and is not shared by other developed Western nations like Japan where an average CEO makes less than 20x what an average worker does.

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