Ronald Reagan, in mask form (
by Jeff Wilfahrt
Apr 30, 2013, 10:00 AM

The Open Psyche Wound

Back in the ’80s President Reagan grew famous for his disparaging remarks about the role of government. Government was too big, government spent too much money, government employed too many people and the words to fear were “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.

It was and remains an incredible, if not incredulous, statement. The spirit of that remark lives yet today.

With that type of utterance Reagan galvanized the conservative right. But it did more than that; it left an open wound in the psyche of this country. A wound that has yet to heal, scab, or let alone, scar over.

Like a MRSA staph infection this wound persists without remedy. When treatment is attempted with facts and figures showing the explosive growth of debt, deficit, government employee count and economic reeling under his presidency the wound relentlessly festers and weeps.

His own antidote was comprised of deregulation, free markets and unrestrained capitalism. Fortunately, for him and most of us, a technology boom was taking root. This technology boom masked the corrosive effects of these policies for over a decade. And in the Clinton years the final retirement of the national WWII debt in the mid ’90s was like a booster shot to Reagan’s prescription. Offshoring of labor and perhaps more importantly offshoring money was another supposed antidote. But eventually the wound won out. The remedies were largely snake oil and therefore ineffective.

The wound has left us with a deeply divided society. Admirers of the Reagan performance, and he was indeed a very skilled thespian, still take heart in the lines he delivered. So when his own people, David Stockman most recently, speak up and declare it was all an ill founded remedy, it remains dumbfounding how adherents still believe in the Reagan antidote.

It seems to follow that when shrub, W, took office and pursued the same Reagan remedy we went from stabilizing the wound to actually exacerbating the problem. In the last 40 years every serious market perturbation occurred under so called conservative administrations economic policies.

This open wound in the American psyche can be healed. It will take a new antidote.

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