“When it came to corporate greed, the Great Communicator [Ronald Reagan] was also the Great Enabler.” – William Kleinknecht
The book is a scathing, and well deserved, an indictment of that “empty suit” Ronald Reagan, and his ultra-grasping political creed, “Reaganism,” which directly led to the “Financial Meltdown of 2008.” The disastrous economic legacy of “hyper-capitalism,” that this “free market” zealot sold the country, (1981-89), along with his mean-spirited “gutting of the public sector,” is fully documented by the author William Kleinknecht.
Reagan is that same pious faker, who believed in “flying saucers” and let an astrologer set “his presidential schedule,” and “repeatedly misrepresented the past as a laissez-faire utopia.” The tome is entitled: The Man Who Sold the World: Ronald Reagan and the Betrayal of Main Street America, (2010).
It’s appropriate that the author had experience as a “crime reporter.” What he has written about, in a real sense, are enormous wrongs against the people — against the public good, that threaten the very existence of the Republic.
Kleinknecht doesn’t pull any punches. He’s furious over the fact that many still buy into the “myth of Reagan.” He insists that Reagan was “the least patriotic president in American history,” and that his economic policies helped to “wipe out the high-paying jobs that were the real backbone of the country,” leaving so many “psychically adrift.”
By promoting “self-interest and profit,” Reagan caused a “final rout of traditional human values … Trickle-down economics had proven to be a fallacy.”
The author examined the instruments of Reaganism: such as: “mergers, deregulation, tax cuts for the wealthy, privatization [and] globalization.” He concluded that these devices also helped “to weaken the family and eradicate small-town life and the sense of community,” like in the town where Reagan was born in 1911–Dixon, Illinois.
In early 1981, President Reagan pushed into law a “dramatic rollback in domestic spending.” It hit the state of Illinois particularly hard. The author reveals “an early casualty” of the cuts was home for “the mentally retarded,” located in Dixon. It was then the city’s largest employer, with 1,200 employees. As a result of federal cuts in Medicaid funding, it had to shut its doors.
In mid-January, 2009, I was in Los Angeles, CA, visiting with family. The weather was just delightful, so, one day, I signed up to take a bus tour, which included a sojourn up into the hills west of the city.
When we were in the ritzy Bel Air area, a mostly faux-gated community, the driver pointed out where the late President Reagan was living at the time of his death, on June 5, 2004, at the age of 94. It was a huge multimillion-dollar mansion, fit for royalty, supposedly purchased for him, and his wife, by Fat Cat Republicans. I was shocked, there were no sidewalks!
Reagan’s public persona was crafted, to a great extent, from 1937 to 1965, while working as an actor in “B” films in Tinseltown. On the surface, he came across as a motor mouth, incapable of grasping the complexity of any situation. He knew only black and white. (Does that remind you of someone who’s sitting in the White House today?)
The shadow side of Reagan, however, reveals that he was a snitch for the FBI, who ratted out his fellow members of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), during the days of the “Red Scare.”
Reagan also was a notorious womanizer, according to Marc Eliot’s expose: Reagan: The Hollywood Years. It was Reagan, too, as U.S. President, Kleinknecht reminds us, who “inspired union-busters … by ruthlessly firing the more than 11,000 striking air-traffic controllers, [PATC0)], and breaking their union in 1981.“For that act alone, many unionists are hoping he’s frying in hell.”
Kleinknecht, rightly so, dedicates an entire chapter to Reaganism, and what he describes as, “The Looting of America.” The point man for President Reagan and his reckless scheme to let the Banksters run amuck on Wall Street was his Secretary of the Treasury, Donald T. Regan, a former honcho at Merrill Lynch. He pushed in the U.S. Congress for the “deregulation of the financial sector.”
It would be wrong to blame only Republicans for Reaganism. Kleinknecht shows that the then-Speaker of the House, Thomas “Tip” O’Neill, now deceased, tried to put the brakes on Reagan’s daffy economic ideas, but that he soon — in April 1981 — caved in and waved the “white flag.”
There is just so much more in Kleinknecht’s book. He writes, in detail, about how Reagan, and his agents of deregulation, cruelly dismantled a “remarkably affluent and egalitarian society,” that had been built up over a hundred years from combining the “sweep of Populism, Progressivism and the New Deal.”
The Wirepullers, mostly from the “Sun Belt,” who pushed Reagan onto the national stage, didn’t give a good hoot about “abortion, affirmative action or school prayers.” They wanted “deep cuts in taxes and government regulators out of the way.” Reagan gave the Fat Cats, aka, the greedy one percent gang, what they wanted.
What did America get in return? Try disasters, like the S&L Scandal, AIG, Enron, WorldCom, Tyco, Lehman Brothers, and the cheating Bernard Madoff. It is time for those who have bought into the “Myth of Reagan” to own up to the grim reality.
At the moment, according to Forbes magazine, the three richest Americans hold more wealth than the “bottom fifty percent of the country.” That says a lot about the inequity of our federal tax system. The current occupant of the Oval Office, Donald Trump, another Fat Cat, and a Republican, hasn’t done a thing to change it.
When Trump signed into law a tax bill in December 2017, he supposedly told his cronies at Mar-a-Lago, “you all just got a lot richer” for Christmas. The bill lashed rates for “top earners and corporations,” according to CBS News. Experts estimated that Trump, himself, would save “eleven million dollars under the new plan.” Predictably, Trump claimed that he “wouldn’t benefit from it.”
Fast forward to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and its disturbing consequences. Start with this important one: the stock market has been acting very shaky. Be on guard, if the Fat Cats, led by Trump, try to pull off a “bailout” of it at the expense of the vast majority of Americans.
Finally, it is long past the time for the people to wake-up and takes their country back. And, when they do, they can thank author Kleinknecht for his fine book debunking the phony legend surrounding that ex-Hollywood B-Film Actor, one Ronald Reagan — a prelude to Donald Trump.
Bill Hughes is a native of Baltimore. He’s an attorney, author, professional actor and hobbyist photographer. In his salad days, he worked on the docks as a longshoreman. Bill also played on three championship soccer teams: sandlot with Jules Morstein; high school at Calvert Hall; and college at the University of Baltimore.