Sunday, September 06, 2009

Reagan Indoctrinated School Children

...America's revolutionary economic message [is one of] of free enterprise, low taxes, and open world trade ... that truth is fundamental to both liberty and prosperity ~ Ronald Reagan addressing middle school children on 11/14/1988.

President Obama plans to address our nation's school children on September 8th, 2009. The Department of Education's website notes that the speech will be "about persisting and succeeding in school". And that "The president will challenge students to work hard, set educational goals, and take responsibility for their learning". You may have heard that Republicans are "outraged", believing that the President will take the opportunity to indoctrinate the school children with his "socialist agenda".

Is this just another partisan attack, or are they really worried? Maybe they really are worried, considering the fact that their hero Ronald Reagan DID take the opportunity to interject conservative ideology when he addressed a group of school children back in 1988. The quote from Reagan I opened my post with certainly could be described as conservative indoctrination - or at least completely inappropriate.

Seeing as every US president from Ronald Reagan forward have followed a policy of "open world trade", perhaps Reagan's indoctrination was successful. Reagan got the ball rolling in 1986 with the Uruguay Round, a series of multilateral trade negotiations which dropped US tariffs from an average of 48% down to 3%.

The Uruguay Round eventually lead to the formation of the World Trade Organization in 1995 and the signing of NAFTA by President Bill Clinton in 1993 - although negotiations began in 1991 under President George H.W. Bush.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, hundreds of thousands of high-wage manufacturing jobs have been lost since the signing of NAFTA. Progressive talk show radio host Thom Hartmann puts it bluntly, credibly claiming that "Free trade is a guaranteed ticket to the poorhouse for any nation".

The sub prime mortgage crisis may have been what took us over the edge of the cliff, but it has been the Milton Freedman free trade polices we've been following since Reagan which has taken us to the edge. And, even though, during the Democratic primaries all the candidates appeared to acknowledge that NAFTA had it's "failings", now President Obama thinks that maybe NAFTA is not so bad after all.

Is "open world trade" good for US businesses because it allows them to export their wares without being slapped with high import tariffs (thus making their exported goods cheaper), and good for US (Wal-Mart) consumers who benefit from lower prices? Or are the primary beneficiaries trans-national corporations who export US jobs to lower wage countries and import their finished goods without having to worry about "protectionist" tariffs?

Another policy that funnels more money upwards to the determent of everyone else (except for workers in 3rd world countries who snagged some sweet pennies-per-hour jobs)? Maybe it's time we went back to a sane trade policy? A policy which was put forward by conservative Alexander Hamilton in his 1791 Report on Manufactures, adopted by Congress and largely adhered to until Reagan. Following sane trade polices, regulation of the private sector, and the application of progressive tax rates may be why the period starting in 1935 with the New Deal and ending with Reagan's massive tax cuts in 1981 was the last time America experienced sustained stable, steady growth (without bubbles).

Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, describing how our economy functioned during this time period, writes, "[it was a] virtuous cycle of prosperity ...where productivity growth was widely distributed in wage gains, which increased consumption, which increased corporate investment and expansion, which led to increased productivity growth [and so on, and so on]". Since Reagan took office productivity growth has been widely distributed in wage gains - for CEOs - while wages for ordinary workers has flatlined.

Back to President Obama's upcoming indoctrination of our school children - if protectionism, which was conservative in Hamilton's day, is now socialist - I say go for it. "Get good grades" and "stay in school" are both important messages, but how about instituting some policies that encourage companies to keep jobs in the US? It's kind of discouraging to students who want to get a good job after leaving school when they see our government instituting policies which encourage US businesses to take those jobs elsewhere.

SWTD #18


  1. A Concerned American9/07/2009 9:45 AM

    Liberals are so upset that the silent majority is no longer being silent, that their speech is becoming increasingly foolish. They see true democracy, in which people are free to get angry with representatives who don’t represent them, and they respond with insults, hate and tirades about conservatives.

    All I can say to then is Enjoy the revolution. We are not going to take your crap any longer

  2. To A Concerned American,

    We feel your pain.

    It must be awful to have had to endure 7 months of a new administration as it sets out its policies and programs.

    Afterall, you had your party in control of the US government for the last 8 years--6 of which were in COMPLETE control, and here we've had change for 7 whole months!

    Yes, I understand that in 7 months, you feel the burning need to have a "revolution" so that the country can go backward to the good old days of government spying on its citizens without warrants, of ignoring drowning cities, of torturing people, of giving tax cuts to the country's 1% richest citizens, and of watching the US bury over 4,000 of its military in a war of choice.

    Ah yes, the good old days. With the attention span of a Sesame Street toddler, you demand we return to the past, because, y'know, you've had it with these 7 whole months of change, haven't you!

    Let's put this in perspective. You're not gonna take OUR crap any LONGER?

    We had your guys for 2,920 DAYS!

    And Mr. Obama has been president for 259 DAYS.

    It appears this country had to take your CRAP for a very, very long time.

    Your complaint is laughable.

  3. I see nothing wrong with the word "protect." The right has tried to convince us that free trade is good for working Americans by lowering prices and opening markets. The markets that are so called open have workers that can't afford our products. It has driven down wages through foreign outsourcing. Any "lower prices" are negated by the lower paying jobs. Union recruitment is negligible. Most union shops were formed long ago. As unions shrink, wages and benefits shrink with them. How soon before we are a second or third world country?

  4. Truth, Union busting, supply side economics, and free markets....

    Reduced standard of living for everyone except the top 1% of our country....

    Plantation economics 101


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