The Republican Party is still running the name of Ronald Reagan out as the savior of the country. Although everyone who follows politics today knows that Ronald Reagan would never get the nomination for President from the current Republican Party. He would be branded as a RINO by today’s nuts. Still he has been named a saint in the eyes of these same nuts who wouldn’t vote for him today.
The only real problem is that Reagan was anything but a savior to the country. What Regan really did was sow the seeds for the total dismantling of our economic system. Trickle down economics has proven to be the bane of economic growth. Trickle down economics has actually hurt our middle-class to the point of non-existence. The Reagan era brought in elitism in our economy that hadn’t been seen for over 60 years. He totally took our economy and brought it to the brink of chaos and collapse.
One of the first side-shows that Reagan did was attempt to destroy the unions. When Reagan took office, about 25 percent of the workforce belonged to a union. Then Reagan worked hard to make sure that number dropped. His first assault was on the Air Traffic Controllers. When their union held a strike looking for better pay and working conditions, he fired them all to bust the union. Elitists around the country hailed him as a hero because they knew that opened the door to target more unions.
Why was it so important to kill the unions? Because unions gave the workers some power at the bargaining table. Unions made it possible for workers to improve their pay and working conditions. They made the middle-class possible to everyone. With this power, unions made it possible for workers to share in the added profits of companies for their labor. Something the owners did not want to share. Plus union activities actually helped those workers not in a union shop. Their companies had to follow suit or they would lose their workers to union shops.
By the end of his presidency, union membership fell to approximately 17 percent of the workforce. Today, union membership is down to about 7 percent of the workforce. This is a direct result of the union busting platform of Ronald Reagan.
On top of all of that, Reagan did nothing to help with the minimum wage. Using 2013 dollars, the minimum wage in 1967 was about $9.67 per hour. During the Reagan years, it fell to about $6.84. Today it stands at $7.25. By keeping the minimum wage low, companies made more profits but paid their employees less. That took money out of the economy because the workers couldn’t afford the so-called luxury items they did before Reagan took office.
Reagan cut taxes. Especially for the wealthy. Reagan explained that if the wealthy had more money, it would trickle down to the rest of society. More money for the rich meant more growth in business. But, as the recession that followed his term in office proved, that theory was wrong. By not allowing workers to share in the growth, money was drained from the economy and things got worse not better. And, the debt grew under his leadership.
We are now going through an economic recovery. The real problem is that for the first time in history, this recovery is making things worse for 90 percent of the population. All of the benefits of this recovery are going to the top 10 percent of the population. That has never happened before. In past recoveries, the 90 percent made gains during a recovery. Reagan and his policies have made that almost impossible today.
The Republican Party are still against raising the minimum wage. They are still anti-union. Look how the Senators from Tennessee meddled in the union vote at a Volkswagen plant in their state. The Republicans still believe that the top 10 percent deserve all of the financial benefits of any recovery.
They claim that raising the minimum wage will cost jobs. That theory has never proven to be correct. Rather just the opposite has occurred. By paying more in minimum wages, more people have expendable income. More money is funneled into the economy, and more jobs are created because demand is higher. In other words, everyone benefits from getting paid more. Plus, raising the minimum wage helps increase other pay as well. People who are now paid more than the minimum wage will see their pay increase as well. That will be necessary to keep them in their positions rather than looking for better pay elsewhere.
Unions, especially after WWII actually created the middle-class. At least they afforded a middle-class lifestyle to millions of workers who otherwise would never have seen it. This is proven time-and-again by looking at those so-called “right to work” states where pay is below union wages. In these states, workers do not receive the same pay as those working in union states. As a result, their lifestyle is lower than their fellow workers. And, without a union to back them up, they will never achieve the goal of living a middle-class lifestyle because owners have no incentive to bargain with them.
During the Reagan years, funding for education began to be slashed, especially in Republican controlled states. Interest rates for student loans kept going up and up. There was a time when people could actually work a full-time job and attend college in the evenings to gain the education they needed to move up. Costs were low enough that huge student debt wasn’t as necessary getting your degree in this fashion. Those days are gone too. Because the deep cuts in education affect colleges and community colleges as well, the days of working while getting your education are all but gone. The lack of funding from the states caused colleges and community colleges to increase their tuition rates, thus ensuring larger student debt.
Today’s Republicans are even against allowing people to refinance their student loans so they can get a lower rate. That one really makes me scratch my head. There is no reason not to allow people to refinance their student loans except that it takes away profits from banks. But so does mortgage refinancing. Republicans have no problem with that.
Unfortunately, until the workers see their plight as a result of these failed policies and start to unionize again, things won’t get much better. Contrary to the Republican cry, unionization is not redistribution of wealth. It is a way to ensure that the workers get to share in the benefits of their labor.
Median average income for the bottom 90 percent is 8 percent below what it was in 2007, adjusted for inflation. It is a whopping 11 percent below that in 2000. Yet, according to the Commerce Department report last Friday, the economy grew at a 4.6 percent annual rate in the second quarter of the year. If you think these numbers look stunningly wrong, you are right.
The fact of the matter is that if you take money out of the economy by limiting the pay for workers, you are hurting the overall economic health of the country. When workers have money to spend, the economy grows at a faster rate. As anyone who took economics 101 can tell you, supply and demand determines the health of the economy. The less demand, the poorer the economy.
This backwards trend started with Ronald Reagan. He was not the savior of the country that the Republicans want you to think he was. He was the purveyor of everything that is wrong with our economy today. Ronald Reagan was simply an elitist that wanted to ensure that the elites of the country gained all of the benefits at the expense of the rest of the 90 percent of the population. Reaganomics was and still is an abysmal failure.
As Bill Clinton once said, “it is the economy stupid.” This November we have a choice to continue the downward spiral begun by Ronald Reagan, or stop it and move to a more fair economy. The choice is yours. We need to start looking at reality and vote our pocketbooks again. It doesn’t matter what party you are affiliated with either. Continuing these failed economic policies will hurt everyone. Except the top 10 percent that is. They are the true “constituency” of the Republican Party and Reaganomics.