The continuing fall of the U.S. economy clearly shows how this country has lost its financial, political, social and ethical balance.
It didn’t happen overnight. The footing started to slip under Ronald Reagan’s presidency. During the Reagan administration taxes, government services and government workers were depicted as bad for “free enterprise.”
In that period lawmakers also started to dismantle Depression-era regulations meant to prevent the financial collapse we’re witnessing now.
Greed ruled, and unbridled capitalism was revered. Progressive-era policies and thinking were derisively labeled “liberal.” Those in control tore out the pylons of democracy and good government and marched the economy and the nation to the right.
Poor and homeless people were seen as pariahs as the right and far right gained strength and power. Reagan started the sneer.
It picked up under the presidencies of George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. President George W. Bush set Social Darwinism in stone, condemning the have-nots, weakening the middle class and enlarging his base — the have-mores.
Never before has the nation had so many millionaires and billionaires and so many people who are poor and suffering.
The tilt to the right is obvious in the military buildup. It rocketed to new levels under Reagan who promoted it.
President Bush has made the military industrial complex a permanent fixture even though President Dwight Eisenhower warned of its danger years ago. The right and the far right have the media’s ear, promoting conservative dogma as mainstream, tilting America off balance and more to the far right.
It’s not an accident that people were convinced to follow Bush’s 2003 directive of war with Iraq. Questioning whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction was unpatriotic and out of step with the conservative slant.
Minorities and women, who had made great gains since the civil rights movement have lost ground financially, in education, jobs and justice. Children of middle-class minorities today are less likely to attain the same economic status as their parents compared with white kids who still can do better.
The right and far right have pushed their own sense of the ends justifies the means. Ethics and what’s moral just don’t matter. Toxic toys and deadly baby food were OK until too many people started to die. Subprime loans were OK until they started to pull down the global economy.
Bankruptcy doors were closed to the little people by laws that the big-money guys on the right and far right pushed through. No one seemed to care as long as only the little people cried, and their silent suffering went unrecorded.
But the tilt to the right went too far, crumbling the foundation of the country’s social, political, military, ethical and financial infrastructure. The architects of the fiasco now scream for help.
X Lewis W. Diuguid is a member of The Kansas City Star’s Editorial Board. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.