What Happened to My America – Part II

Statue of Liberty CryingI am lucky enough to have grown up in America in a time when it was truly the model for the rest of the world of what a freedom-based, democratic country was all about. A country where everyone had the opportunity to live a good life; everyone was provided a good public education; a society that cared about its citizens; health care was available to all; your home was your castle; your privacy and rights were golden and protected; church was what Sunday was all about, where you could go to practice your religion of choice; people were civil to one another; we welcomed freedom-seeking immigrants from other countries with open arms; we had an environment where you felt safe and secure; and we had a government that represented the people and protected all of these freedoms for us.

What happened to my America? – Part II

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When did the demise of our socioeconomic status begin?

I believe the foundation was laid in 1981 when Ronald Reagan became President. He had a concept that he could restore America’s economy by cutting taxes and promoting unrestricted free-market activity (Reaganomics). He claimed that by cutting taxes it would generate more revenue, so he gave massive tax cuts to the wealthy and promised that the benefits would trickle-down to the middle class (“trickle-down theory”).

But it didn’t work. The rich got richer and the promised benefits of his “trickle-down theory” did not happen for middle class Americans. By the late 1980s, middle-class incomes were barely higher than they had been a decade before, and the poverty rate had actually risen.

Reaganomics smallerPresident Reagan was the one that started cutting the funding for social services for working-class Americans. It was during his presidency that helping the needy and impoverished digressed to ignoring or walking away from them; and homelessness became a growing problem. And President Reagan did little or nothing to stop it.

HomelessThe National Housing Institute underlines that is the Reagan legacy: “The two-term president was no friend to America’s cities or its poor. Reagan came to office in 1981 with a mandate to reduce federal spending. In reality, he increased it through the escalating military budget, all the while slashing funds for domestic programs that assisted working class Americans, particularly the poor.

Why would he do this? The following two quotes by him will tell you what his mindset was all about…

Medicaid Recipients – “…a faceless mass, waiting for handouts.” –Ronald Reagan, 1965.

Unemployment Benefits – “Unemployment insurance is a pre-paid vacation for freeloaders.” –California Governor Ronald Reagan, in the Sacramento Bee, April 28, 1966

It was during President Reagan’s tenure that the differences in financial status between the rich and the poor increased dramatically, morphing into the current socioeconomic classes of “haves” and “have nots.”

Obviously, this is still the Republican manner today.

Save Middle ClassThis is my second blog in a series on “What Happened to My America.”

To read my first blog on “What Happened to My America”  https://rationalopinionsblog.com/2014/01/18/what-happened-to-my-america/

I really want to hear your comments on this topic.

What do you think about the status of our country and the direction it’s going?

7 thoughts on “What Happened to My America – Part II

  1. It’s a mistake to lay the class division all on Reagan. Like, the 50’s and 60’s were also characterized by wealth disparity. It was less visible because 1) fewer consumer goods and 2) the permanent underclass was almost entirely black. The recession of the 70’s also hit the working poor much, much harder. The defense manufacturing subsidy that was the cold war somewhat cushioned the blow. Not going to defend Reagan or his terrible economic policies, but historical methodologies like genealogy really need to start earlier. I suppose I’m also unconvinced of your initial premise that there was a time when everyone was free to live where they want. As recently as 1950, there were company towns around stock yards in East St. Louis because home buying credit was a resource much more available to white folk.

    It also undermines your commitment to “rational opinions” to start from the somewhat sensationalist perspective that “your America” is dissolving. I don’t disagree with your project here, and you’re asking good questions. Just need a little bit clearer focus on providing evidence to answer them.

    • Thanks for the comments, Mark. To clarify, “my America” is from my perspective of someone that was born, raised and has lived in America for 60+ years. I am not laying all of America’s problems on Reagan’s shoulders, lord knows there are plenty of people and events at blame. But I do believe he started the current mode of catering to the wealthy and having no apathy for the middle-class and less fortunate, who at this time, need their government to help them through these rough times. What I am trying to do is to get people to wake up and be aware of what’s happening around, and to, them. Most people are so busy just trying to get by and they don’t pay attention to current events, etc. I want to get people talking, get involved, and have rational conversations, whether they agree with my opinions, or not. It worked with you and I appreciate your comments…
      Peace,
      Larry

  2. Pingback: America….Are You Proud? | Rational Opinions Blog

  3. I’m trying to think of a time in the political history of the UK when the government ever really served the needs of society. There have been stabs at it, some reasonable attempts, some plain stupid. It seems to me that the brokers of power and those in positions to ‘manage economies’ reflect least on what is good for society but, rather, what serves other interests best. Too many decisions made that line pockets and perpetuate the seat of power with those least able to be trusted with it by virtue of their desire for the power and prestige associated.
    There are a few notable exceptions here in Scotland; evidence-based examples.
    The energised political fervour current in Scotland, and growing, is coming from the grassroots. Downwards is patronising and doomed to failure. Local hubs are growing and galvanising action in practical terms and providing opportunities for discourse that reflects needs in the communities. From the bottom to the top. Swelling up and out. It’s not dying but being energised by the will of people growing in awareness.
    I would love to see that happening everywhere. Ripple effect in action.

    • Good to know that’s happening Scotland. That’s how Obama won, getting grassroots organizations working and involved throughout the country. It got people excited and got them out to vote. While Obama has been able to get a lot done without an ounce of support from the Republicans and a lot of Democrats as well, he could have done much more if the “lifetime politicians” in Washington would have put the best interests of the country first. Maybe it will happen again in the next election and the people have a say in getting rid of the “lifetime politicians” and electing those will get things done.

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