Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Trader To His Class

There is a best selling book titled, “Trader To His Class,” written by H. W. Bands. It is a biography of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who was born into the privileged life of wealth but is seen for a radical Presidency that transformed American government during the "Great Depression" with his "New Deal" legislation. The examples of developing the social safety net of Social Security and enacting and signing legislation passing rules and regulations that curbed Wall Street’s and Banking's finical abuse during the 1920’s. These laws served the U.S. Citizens’ well until they were started to be disassembled in the 1980’s during the Ronald Reagan’s administration.

With this thought, it came to light that maybe this book's title applied more to Ronald Reagan whom many are celibrating his 100th birthday today.

Ronald Wilson Reagan was born in an apartment on the second floor of a commercial building in Tampico, Illinois on February 6, 1911, to John Edward Reagan and Nelle Reagan. Reagan's father was of poor Irish Catholic ancestry, and his mother of Scottish English ancestors.

In his youth, Ronny had a particularly strong faith in the goodness of people, which stemmed from the optimistic faith of his mother, Nelle, and the Disciples of Christ faith, which he was baptized into in 1922. For the time, Reagan was unusual in his opposition to racial discrimination, and recalled a time in the little town of Dixon when the local inn would not allow black people to stay there. Reagan brought them back to his house, where his mother invited them to stay the night and have breakfast the next morning.

Following the closure of the Pitney Store in late 1920, the Reagans moved to Dixon. He attended Dixon High School where he developed interests in acting, sports, and storytelling. His first job was as a lifeguard at the Rock River in Lowell Park, near Dixon, in 1926.

Reagan attended Eureka College, where he became a member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity, and majored in economics and sociology. He developed a reputation as a jack of all trades, excelling in campus politics, sports and theater. He was a member of the football team, captain of the swim team and was elected student body president. As student president, Reagan notably led a student revolt against the college president after he tried to cut back the faculty.

After graduating from Eureka in 1932, Reagan drove himself to Iowa, where he auditioned for jobs at many small town radio stations.

Reagan did make his way to California where he took a screen test in 1937 that led to a seven year contract with Warner Brothers studios. He spent the first few years of his Hollywood career in the “B” film unit, where, as Reagan said himself, “the producers didn't want them good, they wanted them Thursday".

Reagan was first elected to the Board of Directors of the Screen Actors Guild in 1941, serving as an alternate. Following World War II, he resumed service and became 3rd Vice president in 1946. The adoption of conflict of interest bylaws in 1947 led the SAG president and six board members to resign; Reagan was nominated in a special election for the position of president and subsequently elected. He would subsequently be chosen by the membership to seven additional one-terms, from 1947 to 1952 and in 1959. Reagan led SAG through eventful years that were marked by labor-management disputes, the Taft-Hartley Act.

Ronald Reagan Trader To His Class:

His betrayal to the working class started during the House Committee on Un-American activities (HUAC) hearings and the Hollywood Blacklist Era. Amid the “Red Scare” in the late 1940s, Reagan turned on his co-workers and provided the FBI with names of actors whom “HE BELIVED” (no proof provided to support his claims) to be communist sympathizers within the motion picture industry. Yes the “Union President Ronald Reagan” testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee on the subject as well throwing his Union Party Members and Co-workers to the “Hysterical Wolfs” of the McCarthy Era.

Reagan began his political career as a Liberal Democrat and admirer of Franklin D. Roosevelt, and active supporter of New Deal policies, but in the early 1950s he shifted to the right and, while remaining a Democrat, endorsed the presidential candidacies of Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952 and 1956 as well as Richard Nixon in the 1960 Nixon / Kennedy Presidential campaigns.

Reagan who once as a young man, "who was unusual in his opposition to racial discrimination, and brought back black people to his own home to stay because the local inn would not allow them to stay there;" was now opposed "Civil Rights" legislation in the 1960’s, saying "If an individual wants to discriminate against Negroes or others in selling or renting his house, it is his right to do so".

When legislation that would become Medicare (You now here the mindless Conservative Teabaggers shout that Obama better not touch their Medicare) was introduced in 1961, Reagan created a recording for the American Medical Association warning that such legislation would mean the end of freedom in America. Reagan said that if his listeners did not write letters to prevent it, "we will awake to find that we have socialism. And if you don't do this, and if I don't do it, one of these days, you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children, and our children's children, what it once was like in America when men were free." (Boy Does This Sound Familiar Today!?!?)

Only a short time into his 1980 Presidential Administration, Federal Air Traffic Controllers went on strike. Declaring the situation an emergency as described in the 1947 Taft Hartley Act, this once Union President Reagan stated that if the air traffic controllers "do not report for work within 48 hours, they have forfeited their jobs and will be terminated." Despite fear from some members of his cabinet over a potential political backlash, on August 5, Reagan fired 11,345 striking air traffic controllers who had ignored his order to return to work. This act started a national trend of union busting and the attacking for the next decades the downgrading quality of life for the “Working Middle Class” across the whole United States.

Quoting Charles Craver, a labor law professor at George Washington University Law School, the move gave Americans a new view of Reagan, who "sent a message to the private employer community that it would be all right to go up against the unions".

This position was in stark contrast to Reagan's past as a labor union president of the Screen Actor's Guild, as well as his support for the Polish labor union “Solidarity” in its fight against Soviet domination.

Ronald Reagan was now at this point not even practicing for his own country what he was preaching for others.



  1. Follow up addition to posting:

    Ronald Reagan is perhaps most often invoked by those who cast him as having "Held the line against tax increases."

    Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist, for example, often points to Reagan when calling for lower taxes and spending cuts; he says, by contrast, "tax hikes are what politicians do when they don't have the determination or the competence to govern."

    Conservatives also hail Reagan as a budget cutter willing to make hard choices to keep spending in line.

    Now For The Truthful Reality Check Facts:

    Yes, following an initial tax cut, Reagan actually ended up raising taxes ELEVEN TIMES. This fact is noted by former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson, a longtime Reagan friend and the person who co-chaired President Obama's fiscal commission that last year offered a deficit reduction proposal.

    "Ronald Reagan was never afraid to raise taxes," historian Douglas Brinkley, who edited Reagan's diaries, told NPR. "He knew that it was necessary at times. And so there's a false mythology out there about Reagan as this "Conservative President" who came in and just cut taxes and trimmed federal spending in a dramatic way. It didn't happen that way. It's false!"

    It is also important to note that Reagan's later tax increases did not wipe out the effects of his first term initial tax cuts. They only corrected about only half of the budget defect that was incurred by the initial cuts. (Much like someone only paying the minimum payments on a credit card and never really paying the initial charge from years before) For me this defines “Fiscal Irresponsibility,” not anything to immolate.

    As Peter Beinart points out, the 1983 payroll tax hike went to pay for Social Security and Medicare. ("Reagan raised taxes to pay for government run Health Care," Beinart writes.) Reagan also raised the gas tax and signed the largest corporate tax increase in history; an act Joshua Green writes would be "utterly unimaginable for any conservative to support today."

    These “FACTS” have largely been lost as the Ultra Conservative Right that has enshrined Reagan as its “Patron Saint,” and they will surely fade further amid the Narcissistic and Nihilistic laden speeches that will dominate this weekend's "Ronald Reagan’s Centennial" celebrations.

  2. As Ronald Reagan said, "Facts are stupid things."
    Reagan? He is the teabag equivalent of Mao Ze Dong...Not that Ronnie had any really profound ideas, but he sure fills the bill for a personality cult idol.
    We suffered because of him, we are still suffering because of the amoral opportunistic meddling criminal policies of his band of cronies and America will continue to suffer because of him.
    You know that he enacted an vague directive that would have granted him the powers to declare a state of emergency and suspend the constitution....Dick Cheney was the author of the language.

  3. Reagan was a mediocre President who constantly said he'd do one thing and then did the opposite. He hated the poor and minorities and idolized the ultra wealthy. He constantly appealed to America's baser instincts of self-centeredness, and the gluttonous "ME Generation" started with his presidency. Ultra conservatives have put him on a pedestal he definitely does not belong on, and they are deluding themselves with revisionist history about him.

  4. As I said on Microdot's blog, the reason the right is celebrating Reagan is because they have nothing else to celebrate- clearly not either Bush. Perhaps we can give them a little slack. The funny thing [read ironiocal] about this current group of right-wingers celebrating today is that their political agenda iw as far removed from Reagan as it from Lincoln.