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A personal reflection

Started by jameslbrown, 06/10/2004 09:21AM
Posted 06/10/2004 09:21AM Opening Post
I’ve been loosely following the ceremonies in California and Washington, and pleased to see the outpouring of love and respect for Ronald Reagan. Even his ideological opposites have been expressing respect for his character and vision. His passing has given me cause to reflect upon the fortunate times we live in.

I was a high school senior in 1979, and not terribly interested in politics. But I do distinctly remember an assembly speaker who boldly told our comfortable “upper middle class” school that in our futures we would never be able to afford homes as nice as our parent’s homes and that we would never have the disposable income that our families enjoyed. He made other dire economic predictions I don’t recall specifically. The speaker was a futurist of some sort; at the time I just thought he was an idiot and I assumed that he was merely trying to be provocative. Upon reflection though, in 1979 inflation was out of control, home interest rates were 13% or more, and the country was or would soon be suffering from hostage crisis induced collective lack of self-esteem. Thus, I guess the speaker had basis for his truly gloomy forecast.

I was in college and grad school from 1980 to 1986. On campus I naturally heard how “stupid” and “dangerous” Ronald Reagan was. How he was a moronic cowboy pushing the world to war and how Reagonomics would ruin us all. Well, when my wife and I graduated we were blessed with good jobs and bought our first home. We got an 8.5% loan and thought we were doing pretty well. We are closing on a new home later this month, far nicer than any my parents ever owned and the interest rate is below 4%. Inflation is under control. The economy has grown a bunch over these 20 years. The threat of nuclear annihilation is remote. By and large as a country we feel pretty good about ourselves.

I know that Ronald Reagan had some faults and made some mistakes. More importantly, I know that there have been many factors affecting the economic and political course of this country since 1988. For example, the chairmen of the Federal Reserve have done a masterful job. Bush the elder and WJC did not screw things up; whole new fields in technology have caused the economy to bloom etc. Certainly the strength of this country is a reflection of the strength of its people. But I believe now that Ronald Reagan, with his vision, leadership and unending optimism got the whole ball rolling for our times. In 1979 the U.S. could have gone the way of that high school speaker’s prediction and sunk into a 1930’s style economic abyss. We could have lost the cold war. We did not. Thanks Ron.