01 May 2011

Gov. Walker fancies himself the next Reagan and why this should worry us

Back in February, Gov. Walker had a rather embarrassing and revealing phone conversation with Ian Murphy pretending to be multimillionaire David Koch.  As he carried on about his intentions with protesters and how to proceed with his plan to strip the collective bargaining rights of public employees, he compared himself to Ronald Reagan, "And I stood up and I pulled out a picture of Ronald Reagan, and I said, you know, this may seem a little melodramatic, but 30 years ago, Ronald Reagan, whose 100th birthday we just celebrated the day before, had one of the most defining moments of his political career, not just his presidency, when he fired the air-traffic controllers."

I have been waiting with bated breath for anyone to critically analyze Mr. Walker's aspirations and comparison.  Does he really see himself as the next Ronald Reagan? 

It has become an ubiquitous trend to revere Reagan as the winner of The Cold War, and the bastion of sound economic policy.  Unfortunately none of it is true.  A generous assessment of Reagan makes him an adequate to mediocre president.   A less generous assessment rates Reagan as one of the worst presidents. 

A brief look at Reagan's eight years reveals the following facts: 
  • he was the first president to turn the US into a debtor nation 
  • he was the first president to see unemployment rates hit 10%
  • during his presidency, homelessness reached 2 million people
  • he did little if anything to contribute to the fight against AIDS
  • he supported the Apartheid government in South Africa
  • he promoted covert operations throughout Latin America  
The Iran-Contra affair should be enough in itself to tarnish his presidency and was grounds for a criminal case in the International Court of Justice (IC]).  The World Court sanctioned the US.  In addition to his administration's support of the Contras in Nicaragua, Reagan invaded Grenada, illicitly supported the atrocities and slaughters in El Salvador, and funded paramilitary groups in Guatemala.  In short Reagan was no great president.  It reveals more about the person who acclaims Reagan than it should about Reagan.  Reagan's record is sealed.  The politicians who would love to promote the man as a true American hero have a very different agenda.

More relevant to Scott Walker's agenda - cutting taxes, cutting spending, balancing the budget, cutting programs for the needy - was Reagan's concerns, or lack of them, for the welfare of the people.  The rate of homelessness rose during the eighties to unprecedented numbers.  During the first years of his term, the US was thrust into a massive recession that eventually made Reagan raise taxes.  The other side effect of Reaganonmics was the largest growth of income disparity and national debt in the history of the US.  It continues to rise.  Additionally, under Reagan's harsh view of crime, incarceration rates rose exponentially for the first time in US history.  They continue to rise today.

Remarkably, the same tactics that were employed by Reagan are being instituted today as our saving grace.  The "new" republicans have only given rebirth to old policies, like "voodoo economics", that didn't work then and won't work now.

In the first few months of Scott Walker's administration, Gov. Walker, the Fitzgerald brothers and the rest of the lot have made it abundantly clear who they aim to target and whom they hold responsible for the State's problem.  They blame the poor, the indigent, the mentally ill, the handicapped, and the public employees.  They are propping up the corporations as our heroes and the only "people" who will rescue us through more jobs.  Even if new jobs are created, it must be said, poor folks won't be able to get to them because the administration is cutting public transit, just as he did as County Executive in Milwaukee County.  All the while, as the corporations are given a heroes welcome, they are making record breaking profits as working class people struggle to keep their homes.  Walker has religiously preached a hands-off policy with corporations that will lead to larger problems in the future.  (China's oppression of workers' rights comes to mind here.)

Another connection between Walker and Reagan is the effect Reagan had on the mental health system in California as Governor.  He decimated and dismantled the system.  Prior to his Gubernatorial election, Claifornia's mental health system was one of the best.  It slowly became one of the worst due to the huge cuts made by Reagan.  Gov. Walker has the same intentions in Wisconsin.  During a time when the country was thrust into a demoralizing Great Recession due to tax cuts and the costs of two wars, Wisconsin protected its unemployed by offering State health insurance to the underprivileged.  The Badger Care program was initiated by Tommy Thompson as a way to ensure that W2 recipients who were working were also receiving health coverage.  Walker's appointment, Dennis Smith, aims to make drastic cuts the Badger Care and Badger Care Plus programs.  The results of these cuts will be similar to the cuts that Reagan made.  Wisconsin won't experience growth.  Wisconsin will be thrust into greater poverty and more widespread disparity.  The inequality in income, education, and health will continue to rise.  The same misguided principles were promoted by Reagan; they failed California and they failed the nation.  

It seems quite true that Mr. Walker would love to run the State as Reagan ran California - picture Reagan munching on grapes on television while workers at vineyards were striking.  Just as Reagan did, Walker has further ambitions for higher office.  The only reason for his attacks on the public sector unions was additional fodder for his presidential resume. 

Read more about Reagan and AIDS: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2004/06/08/EDG777163F1.DTL
Read more about the dramatic ICJ case, Nicaragua v. United States: http://lawdigitalcommons.bc.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1426&context=iclr&sei-redir=1#search=%22world+court%22


Also, too noteworthy to pass up, the god particle may have been found.  Nietzsche once declared, "God is dead." To which the religionist replied, "the result of a syphilitic with a pen."

Over the last few days, scientists have reported that they may have discovered the Higgs boson particle.  This may not be the final piece needed to prove that there is no god but it provides vindication and indications for what was prior to the Big Bang.    The Higgs boson is essentially the smoking gun.  Religionists of course will always find a way to believe, and that's all right.  There's always a possibility.  But could we at least start working on combining all of the world's religions into one.  Maybe it'd end much of the warfare.

Read more about the particle:


Read about the link between faith and science:

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