July 18, 2008
Why Do We Keep Renting the Same Old Movie?

From the late David Halberstam’s 1991 book, The Next Century:

Voodoo economics, George Bush said in 1980 of Ronald Reagan’s promise to do all existing things, increase defense spending and not increase taxes. Voodoo he said was, and voodoo it turned out to be. Reagan’s decision to cut taxes at that moment was, in the words of James Schlesinger, a former Secretary of Defense and head of the CIA, “the most irreponsible decision in American fiscal history,” and the passage of a decade has not made his judgment look harsh…

The most interesting thing about the Reagan years, the aspect least commented on, was that Reagan was so poor a conservative. It was a stunning reversal of the image he had projected for his entire political life.

“There was no connection at all between the image he projected as a true conservative and the substantive decisions of the government he professed to head,” said Schlesinger, a quite conservative man himself. Rather than adjust America’s spending to new realities, Schlesinger added, Reagan’s fiscal and defense policies “adjusted our sights much higher than we could readily handle while at the same time reducing our capabilities to a point much lower.…”

In the Reagan years we did not face the harsher new economic realities. Rather we winked at them and went on a binge of spending. It was capitalism gone mad. The eighties, Pat Moynihan noted, was a decade in which we borrowed a trillion dollars from the Japanese and gave a very good party for ourselves…

We began to sell off the future to pay for the present. As we softened the dollar, American companies went on the market at bargain-basement prices…



Posted by Jerome Doolittle at July 18, 2008 01:24 PM
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Little did anyone suspect that one day his co-star would grow up (in a manner of speaking) and become the president of the United States of America. Hollywood loves a happy ending, Jerry, and this one could only have been written there.

Posted by: Jim on July 19, 2008 6:26 AM
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