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Numbers, offered without further comment

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Source: The Limping Middle Class by Robert Reich, New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/), Sept. 3, 2011

So . . . what happened in 1981?



( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 23rd, 2011 08:13 pm (UTC)
What happened, one view
Some background, first. In 1964, LBJ pushed through the Civil Rights Act, and then in 1965 he pushed the Voting Rights Act through Congress. LBJ was an “old school” arm twister of the first water. He angered a lot of people, and he basically destroyed the Democratic Party’s hold on the Southern States. You don’t remember this? Well, the South used to be a Democratic Party stronghold – and it would have remained so, but for a southerner’s decision to interfere with the Good Old Boy’s Jim Crow/Segregation/Keep the Blacks out of the voting booth laws and practices. Starting in 1965, the former Dixiecrats defected pretty much en masse to the Republican Party, and the demise of that formerly business oriented party began.

The more active (but socially repressive and, in my opinion, future shocked individuals) who were formerly Democrats (call them Dixiecrats or Boll Weevil Democrats, if you wish) began pushing a far right/anti-Federal government agenda. Never particularly happy with the social agenda of the FDR/New Deal Democrats, these future shocked individuals fought for a return to a “glorious past” that never was – before the upstarts changed everything, and allowed everyone to vote (as was guaranteed by then Federal law).

Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980, and took office in 1981. “Government is not the solution, government is the problem” was, basically, his rallying cry. He did manage to bankrupt the Soviets before his policies bankrupted us (the US), so he did accomplish some good, but he also did a great deal of harm. His “trickle down” theory of economics is still one of the core beliefs of the Republican Party, despite having been tried repeatedly and failing to produce the jobs and economic benefits to the 99% that were claimed for the approach.

When rules are eliminated (deregulation) and unions are busted (the PATCO action just being the first of many such, starting in the Reagan era), the Corporations gained power and the “people” lost power (the latest example of this is the Citizens United case and its consequences). Corporations are not moral institutions, they are run for the pure short-term greed of the upper 0.1% who own the bulk of them. A major cost factor for corporations is salaries – so they will do everything in their power to reduce salary costs, starting with “outsourcing” (to foreign countries where practical, by local union busting where possible).

The middle class is based on, for the most part, manufacturing jobs, and the Corporations have been spending their time over the last thirty years doing their best to move all manufacturing jobs overseas (despite the recognized lower quality of product coming from slave-state factories in such countries is Communist China).

The surprise is not that the middle class and the lower class (the 99%) have done so poorly, but rather that they have done so well under Republican rule (20 of the last 30 years). With the Republican Party taking the position over the last several years that their primary (some, like Mitch McConnel would say, their only) objective is to get Obama out of the White House, to the extent that they are willing to ruin the country in order to do so, it is no surprise that the economy has effectively tanked and is only slowly recovering.
Nov. 23rd, 2011 08:53 pm (UTC)
(with consideration for my age and lack of knowledge)

1981 was the first year that Reagan was in office, I think. From what little I do know, Reagan's policies were... Not well met/taken by the general population.

The Cold War (quiet possibly better known as The War In Which Everyone Tip-toed Around Everything And Glared Because Everything Was Very Tense And Someone's Finger Was On A Button) was on its last legs for both sides, quite possibly out of boredom and also because some had forgotten just what started the whole mess.

[and for my attempt at humor] MTV also launched that year. So... Was it the fault of music videos? Pretty sure there were a few things that we wish we could un-see from those first years of the channel (while it really was Music Television)
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