“Government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem.” – Ronald Reagan
Sometimes when we look back at history we wonder how did we get to where we are. We often have trouble pinpointing a particular person or date to where it all began. On January 20, 1981 when Ronald Reagan uttered the words above he ushered in a new breed of Republicans. These particular words were the turning point to gridlock and jumping from crisis to crisis that we see today. It is also the specific moment that I turned away from the Republican party to look elsewhere.
No longer was government to do the people’s business but instead they were to just get out-of-the-way and let our corporate elite run the country as they had during the Robber Baron days a century before. Government had no meaning to those who swallowed those words hook line and sinker. The safety net for our citizens lost its meaning to them. This was the turning point where we backed away on our pledge to make sure our citizens would not starve. This was the point where “entitlements” to our poor or aged became a dirty word for some. Government became a hindrance instead of the benefit. The people’s business took a back burner to corporate interests or was actually thrown entirely off the stove.
I believe that any serious student of U.S. history knows that capitalism without regulation was a pre-cursor to the death of the middle class. It was a point where those trying to keep our food and drugs safe were stymied by lower and lower budgets. The agencies responsible for our banking system and financial sector were gutted. Taxes which were from that point on deemed almost evil were difficult to obtain to maintain our countries infrastructure and safety nets. Common sense and compassion took a back burner to greed and corruption. The people’s business suffered greatly.
Another turning point that compounded these same problems was the sudden popularity of the MBA program in this country. That was the point where employees changed from being an asset to be treasured and treated with respect to being a liabilities that needed to be removed or gotten at the lowest possible cost. I remember very distinctly when that happened in the corporation that I was employed. Up till that point most employees were very loyal to the companies that hired them. Chevy guys would never dream of buying a Ford and visa versa. Suddenly employer’s loyalty to workers disappeared. Benefits were taken away. Wages were stifled in order to increase corporate profits. What used to be a three-legged stool of owners/employees/customers was suddenly taken into severe imbalance.
These two events that created the “government is the problem” Republicans and “employees are the problem” business leaders caused a dramatic shift in our economy. When workers lost their living wages they were no longer able to buy the goods and services they had previously. To counter the loss of buying employers cut wages and benefits further. Anyone without an MBA could clearly see this cause/effect but it just didn’t seem to occur to those who now are on most rungs of the corporate ladder.
To end this post on an upbeat, I believe that the day is coming when a balance will be restored. The majority of us will realize that our government needs resources to keep us and our world safe. Employers will realize that without a living wage their workers will never buy an increasing number of the products they desire to make. I am an optimist. I believe this day will come. I just wonder if we will be able to pinpoint that particular point in time as easily as when Republicans became the party of “government is the problem”