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June 07, 2004

Reagan: Enemy of Working People

I just got back from Canada, where the differences between the two major parties seems to amount to whether a $2 copay on prescription drugs in their state-run health care system is too outrageously expensive.

So I missed most of the initial gnashing of teeth over Reagan's death. I didn't weep when Nixon died and I sure as hell am not in any tears over the death of a man who ordered the murder of innocents across Central America and whose trade policies led to deaths of the poor throughout the world.

Kerry and the "responsible" Dems can play the bipartisan game that Reagan was not an evil monster, but I won't. This is a man who supported Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein when it suited his Cold War purposes, then we are expected to forget that thousands died in New York City because this man thought playing "enemy of my enemy is my friend" games wouldn't lead to consequences. The pit at Ground Zero is Ronald Reagan's legacy.

But let's not forget his trade policies. Through the IMF, Reagan promoted structural adjustment programs that demanded that poor nations stop growing food and start growing cash crops to pay off debt to Northern banks. Poverty and malnutrition soared throughout Africa and Latin America. And tied to trade were new requirements that those nations enforce intellectual property laws, especially on prescription drugs, so that if those poor people got sick, they could no longer afford drugs needed to keep them alive.

That Reagan led an assault on labor unions is a given. The PATCO strike and the crushing of the air controllers union was a defining moment of Reagan's Presidency. The assault on wage levels and health care by employers under Reagan went non-stop and the number of unionized workers plummetted.

While Reagan railed against the Soviet Union, his administration leaders were masters of the double-standard, downplaying the evils of Apartheid, giving a pass to murder under Pinochet or death squads in Central America.

Oh, but hey, Ronald Reagan ended the Cold War. What crap. The head of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, was a reformer who was independently leading change in the country. He had zero plans to attack the United States, yet Reagan wasted trillions of dollars on military weapons that were unneeded-- probably the single biggest waste of money in the history of the world.

His economic policies were based on idiotic supply side theory-- claims that tax cuts would lead to increased revenue instead meant we saw massive deficits by the end of his Presidency. And he wasn't even that great a tax cutter, although the wealthy saw massive tax cuts. But the working people saw massive tax increases in the form of increased payroll and excise taxes.

Reagan was the worst President of the 20th century with Bush Junior leading the charge to fulfill that role in the 21st.

Posted by Nathan at June 7, 2004 09:13 AM