Sunday, March 29, 2009

"Morning in America" Replaced by "Nightmare on Main Street"

In 1980 and through out his two terms in office, the theme of the Reagan Administration was "Morning in America" and it could not be more accurate. I think back to the late 1970s when I was a teenager growing up under Jimmy Carter. In the late 1970s more countries had fallen to Communism than at any time since immediately after World War II. So called “unaligned” countries, particularly in Africa and South America fell under the grips of Communism. On the economic front, Americans were facing multiple demons: double digit inflation, double digit unemployment, and double digit interest rates. When Communist tyrants invaded Afghanistan, the US response was to not play games with the Soviets in the Olympics, a choice that punished our athletes and the untold number of Americans who would love to see them compete. Carter would try to make us feel better about our plight by doing fireside chats wearing a sweater (his subtle way of reminding us there was an energy crisis as well) and spending his time blaming Americans for our various problems. The crisis, we were told, was “a malaise” that had become rampant among the American people. Americans had become depressed and needed to believe in themselves again in order to be great again.

Ronald Reagan brought significant change to the American landscape. On the domestic front, Americans had been plagued by a welfare state that expanded under the Johnson Administration a couple of decades before. Those who did not want to work, did not have to. Government was entitled to as much of the public's money as it deemed necessary. Paying excessive taxes was considered "patriotic" and complaining about them was un-American. Democrats at this time enjoyed the jovial position of being the Santa Claus of the Welfare State and Republicans were relegated to being the scrooges financing government programs. It was no surprise that the Republican Party had been the minority party since 1932.

Ronald Reagan said to work was noble and to not work was a disgrace if one was able. Ronald Reagan declared that the government was taking the people's money and that is was the Congress, not the American people, that needed to be held accountable. His massive tax cuts in 1981 led to the longest period of prosperity since the booming 1920s. More importantly, Reagan changed the way people thought about government and became to believe that monies kept in the hands of the public was always better than money in the hands of government. In no time Republicans became the party of defenders of the taxpayer and Democrats became seen as thieves for those unwilling to work for themselves. In 1980 more than 30% described themselves as “card carrying Democrats.” By the end of the Reagan Administration, this number was down to single digits. Reagan changed America’s political demographics more than any person with the exception of Franklin Roosevelt or Abraham Lincoln.

Today, "Morning in America" almost seems like ancient history. Instead we are facing a "Nightmare on Main Street." Barack Obama is socializing medicine, destroying the energy industry, spreading a cancer through out the banking industry, destroying incentives for those who work, and is increasing entitlements for those who will not work. He is raising taxes on those who make $250,000 a year and more, as well as on those who drive cars, smoke cigarettes, use health care, have a job, or use money (thanks to his inflationary policies).

The Obama Administration promises to create a situation very similar to the one that catapulted Reagan into the White House. Even today, friends of liberty are wondering who could help fill the void. The challenge for us is to end the nightmare and usher a new era of prosperity and freedom that we have not seen in years. The time to begin that process is now.

Kevin Price is Host of the Price of Business, the longest running show on CNN 650 (M-F at 11 am), AOL Radio, and CBS Radio. Eric Bolling of Fox News and Fox Business says that Price’s Blog “is very influential and moves the blogosphere.” Steve Moore of the Wall Street Journal calls Price the “best business talk show host in the country.” Find out why and visit his blog at www.BizPlusBlog.com and his show site at www.PriceofBusiness.com.

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