A number of economic commentators have begun to agree that an enormous, generational shift of wealth in America has occurred. This vast operation, which I shall call The Great Reagan Robbery, was nothing less that a program to cap the standard of living of the majority of Americans at mid 1970s levels and transfer all future increases in national wealth to the top 1% of the population. Here is how it was executed.
1. A telegenic pitchman for corporate America, Ronald Reagan, was elected to undermine the legitimacy of government, glorify the private sector, and demonize the poor.
2. Labor union power was crippled by direct strike breaking actions (Reagan’s firing of the Air Traffic Controllers) and anti-union propaganda campaigns.
3. Taxation was made more regressive, effecting a huge transfer of wealth from the working class to high-earning professionals and investors.
4. Speculative bubbles and financial scams, like the S&L debacle, enriched well-connected investors at the expense of the taxpayers.
5. A successful class war against the poor was launched, resulting in cuts to welfare and other programs that reduced income inequality.
6. Rapid inflation in the price of amenities Americans had once taken for granted, such as safe neighborhoods, good education, and adequate health care, enriched affluent providers of housing, education, and medicine, as these became costly “luxuries” for the general population.
7. Americans who were losing economic ground were encouraged to load up on debt, further enriching the lenders and holders of capital.
8. A blanket of ideological propaganda concealed the problem of growing inequality by fostering a culture of worshiping the rich and maintaining the myth of universal access to riches.
The bottom line on The Great Reagan Robbery is that it accomplished the most massive transfer of wealth within American society in our entire history without arousing any politically significant resistance. It was a brilliantly executed class war, in which the rich decisively defeated the rest of us.
The problem the rich now face is that they succeeded too well. The momentum of the stealthy, unstoppable, robbing machine they created is continuing to push the majority of Americans into third-world debt slavery and subsistence existence, and this sharp decline will undermine the entire economy, including the fortunes of the rich.