Philadelphia author and journalist Will Bunch in his recently released book "Tear Down This Myth" traces the political success story of Ronald Reagan from California's governor to the broader national stage as a two term president.
Bunch informs in great detail that under Reagan America went from being the world's leading creditor to the planet's heaviest debtor. A myth was created extolling Reagan's counterfeit credentials as a tax cutter and tough-minded steward whose leadership propelled America to a new wave of prosperity and national purpose.
The capstone of Bunch's book is the disparity between perception and reality. Reagan was a product of the entertainment industry and had his reformulated views shaped by his days as a cheerleader for General Electric.
Reagan starred in national television dramas on the G.E. Theater that conveyed in loaded terms that Adam Smith stood for deregulated capitalism, that this was the carefully constructed system embraced by America's Founding Fathers, and that the nation had shifted astray from its true national purpose.
When Reagan became president he had been coached not only by the G.E. team but by his millionaire team of advisers who had launched his political career and then comprised during his two terms as governor an advisory force known as his Kitchen Cabinet.
As numerous economists have stated, Adam Smith in his seminal work "The Wealth of Nations" carefully noted that the capitalist system he delineated depended upon certain elements of what we would currently term an equal or relatively equal playing field, meaning conditions of fairness.
When the unbridled engine of corporate capitalism entered the picture it became obvious to a leader of vision like Franklin Delano Roosevelt that regulation was needed in order for capitalism in any form to succeed.
That is why the Securities and Exchange Commission was needed, along with tough regulators such as then "boy wonder" William O. Douglas, who headed the agency and then went on to achieve legal history as the U.S. Supreme Court's leading voice for national conservation.
Another move in the right direction under FDR's leadership was passage of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, which established the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. It also included banking reforms designed to discourage speculation.
When Reagan assumed office there had already been a deregulatory move by his predecessor Jimmy Carter when the nation's airlines were deregulated. Under Reagan the process proceeded full speed ahead under the simplistically misleading mantra of "Get the government off of people's backs."
Hence protective safeguards were derided as socialistic and the liberalism that prevailed under Roosevelt, Truman and Kennedy was sharply derided. The term liberal was used for years by Reagan and ideological kinsfolk as a dirty word.
Fancy wording holds the key in a public relations generated political world.
Hence the toxic assets picture a collapsed American economy currently confronts revolves around carefully constructed words like "derivatives" and "swaps" to disguise the true nature of poisoned possessions that have left many Americans virtually penniless.
This is no more than a starting point. Considering the gravity of the picture and the reign of economic destruction heaped on the nation through slick promotional gimmickry where anarchy and fast buck artistry were advanced under the guise of "economic freedom" I will be writing much more on this theme.