My conservative working class friends often speak with fondness about the Reagan era. I can only chalk it up to selective memory, because the roots of middle class destruction and the rise of income inequality are rooted in Reaganomics. In fact, as the author of this piece pointed out, if you chart any economic metric over these three decades, the fortunes of the middle class took a sharp turn for the worse starting around 1981.
Republican leaders have successfully sold the Reagan myth for 30 years, but this is the reality:
Conservative policies transformed the United States from the largest creditor nation to the largest debtor nation in just a few years, and it has only gotten worse since then:
Working people’s share of the benefits from increased productivity took a sudden turn down.
This resulted in intense concentration of wealth at the top.
And forced working people to spend down savings to get by.
Which forced working people to go into debt: (total household debt as percentage of GDP). As the chart illustrates:
Read the link for the rest of the charts that go with those statistics. Bottom line is Reagan’s trickle down economics didn’t help overall economic growth. It only enriched the already wealthy. As the author points out:
Sometimes it can be so obvious where a problem comes from, but very hard to change it. The anti-government, pro-corporate-rule Reagan Revolution screwed a lot of things up for regular people and for the country. Some of this disaster we saw happening at the time and some of it has taken 30 years to become clear. But for all the damage done these “conservative” policies greatly enriched a few entrenched interests, who use their wealth and power to keep things the way they are. And the rest of us, hit so hard by the changes, don’t have the resources to fight the wealth and power.
As the saying goes, those who forget history are condemned to repeat it. And in the instant case, the longer we allow conservative economics to dominate our political discourse and government policy, the harder it will be to repair the damage Reaganomics has done to our society.