Wednesday, August 24, 2011


 "You can't help those who simply will not be helped. One problem that we've had, even in the best of times, is people who are sleeping on the grates, the homeless who are homeless, you might say, by choice." -- President Reagan, 1/31/84, on Good Morning America, defending his administration against charges of callousness.

I still remember the hoohooraw when when Ronnie Reagan spoke those words.

But, I think that we ought to revisit the idea and think harder about it.   The homeless will have to be dealt with, the underemployed are becoming an impressively sized voting bloc, those unable to keep up with the change being wrought upon them will fail.  Ronnie's words were spoken when only a small minority were failing, what will happen when it becomes significantly more widespread.

These words were spoken when times were as good as we had it in America.  All of the programs set by the the democratically held congress since WWII were in full force, and, by Ronnie's short-sighted, Hollywood inspired self-esteem, we had just started on spending the savings money that we had put aside for later generations (Which BTW, we have just spent the last of).

I think that we will be revisiting this issue, The NEETs, Parasite Singles, Freeters, and all the other erstwhile dysfunctions will be starting to bloom here soon.  These are descriptions of young people whose opportunities have deserted them and who have been raised to expect a lifestyle beyond what is available.

The dreams launched by marketing are of a particularly insidious sort.  They rely exclusively on on a strong current of wealth to fulfill.  Wealth is a chancy thing, more a consensual hallucination rather than a state of being.  It would appear that the system that allows the care and feeding of the marketing culture is having a spot of bother currently.  I don't see that there is any valid cure being developed.  The excess of production and growth that has been seen as normal is grinding to a halt, to be replaced by something significantly less.

I I think that folks will begin looking at themselves soon, and begin calibrating their lifestyles.  Young people will stay with parents longer.  Multi-generational homes will return to being normal.  The sad little artificial construct of the American nuclear family will revert to being something that is pitied.

There will be low wage or no wage jobs where folks can be fed and taken care of.  Group living arrangements will be crafted and attempted.  Back to the land movements will take root.  Homelessness and poverty will again raise their ugly and well-documented heads.

The society is going to change.  Are you going to waste all your energies trying to cling to a system that is doomed, or will you make the rewarding and difficult choice to begin anew?

1 comment:

russell1200 said...

I agree that some of our problems go back to Reagan. Oddly enough many of the market based reforms that people blame/credit to Reagan were started by Carter. So as always, you can make a case for almost anyone you want.

But to make a case for Reagan; the first signs of an extended downturn started in the mid-1970s. At that point we had a the Nixon-Ford-Carter as presidents and the ossified Democrats had been fat and happy in power forever. It is pretty easy to see where the problem was viewed at the time as a lack of leadership versus systemic.

It is further muddied by the fact that some of the things done by Reagan, simplifying tax codes may have been helpful in the long term, but others were just short term boosts.

Because of the massive number of warheads involved, the risk of the confrontation with the Soviets was still one of the greatest existential risks ever faced by humanity.

In summation Reagan gave a short term boost to the economy, and was part of the eventual easing of relations with the Soviets-Russia. Those are pretty significant accomplishments.

Bush Senior did not buy into Reagan, and thus started to dismantle the Reagan methodology. Everyone got mad at him - that he was an a--- h-le didn't help.

Since that 4 year hiatus, both the Democratic and Republican Presidents took certain portions of Reagan's approach, and ran with them far more then Reagan had ever envisioned as possible.

They took the easy route.

At the point that the American public gave both Bill Clinton and "W" two terms, the U.S. citizenry certainly shares in the blame.