The Disastrous Legacy Of Ronald Reagan In Charts

The last three decades have seen a monumental decline in virtually every qualitative measurement in America.  This can be directly linked to the conservative political paradigm that was ushered into dominance starting with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980.  Stagnant wages, rising costs, decreasing benefits, ballooning national debt, and a loss of freedoms have been the keynote of the Reagan Era.

The Drug War, Social Repression, and Incarceration

Where to begin?  Let’s start with the colossal failure known as the drug war.  Many states had decriminalized marijuana by the 1970s.  When the Reagan conservatives came to power, one of their central plans was to force cuts in recreational drug usage (including alcohol).  Thus began the Just Say No program and the drug war.  Costs quickly spiraled.

While a Harvard Study claims that legalizing drugs could save $76.8 billion per year, and 53% favor marijuana legalization, there are some vested industries at stake now, particularly the for-profit private prison/security complex who are entrenched in the bureaucratic establishment and hire powerful lobbyists to keep the drug war going.

All this money being spent to massively expand the government has to be justified somehow, so the authorities began to ‘fight back against crime’.  The number of arrests for marijuana offenses alone is approaching 1,000,000 people per year.  With an estimated 44% of Americans have tried or currently use it (compared to 22% in Holland), we have become a nation of criminals.  What better way to justify these bloated governmental budgets?

The spike in the number of incarcerated Americans reflects an increasing social repression.  Gilbert Mercier writes that the US is the worlds leading jailer, “According to the BJS, in 2008 over 7.3 million people were either on probation, in jail, in prison or on parole. This amounts to an astonishing 3.2 percent of all US adult residents or 1 in every 31 adults.” The following chart represents incarceration rates for a few countries:


Liam Fox expands on this, “America incarcerates more of it’s citizens than any other country in the world.  With only 5% of the world population, America has more than 25% of the world’s prisoners.  The steep incline in the number of Americans incarcerated began in 1980.  Since that time the number of Americans incarcerated has jumped from under 500,000 people to close to 2,500,000.   The advent of private prisons during that time has created a powerful lobby, on behalf of its Wall Street investors, to lengthen sentences.  Longer sentences means more prisoners.  More prisoners means more prisons.  More prisoners, and more prisons, means more profit.  As a result, Americans now spend almost $70 billion a year on a corrections system (including prison, probation and parole) being run largely for profit.”

Taxes, Economics, and Standard of Living

Although Ronald Reagan actually instituted one of the largest tax hikes in US history, he and the fiscal conservatives started their campaign to drastically reduce the top tax rate for the rich.

The conservative tax policy that unleashed the class war that ended the period known as the Great Compression (which followed the Great Depression), and was the terminus of an era where single income families enjoyed plenty of jobs, economic opportunity, and a larger degree of social mobility.

This in turn created the phenomena of wealth consolidation to go into overdrive, starting the drive towards income disparity and a gulf between rich and poor that hasn’t been seen since the Great Depression, a new conservative era known as The Great Divergence.

Additional charts for the share of wealth controlled by the top 10% and top 0.01%.  Ronald Reagan and the conservatives ushered in an era of unbridled greed.  An increasing amount of the share of the pie of wealth that is created by labor was gobbled up by those most well off to begin with.

The rich have reaped the vast majority of every economic expansion over the last 30 years, including the top 1% gaining two thirds of it in recent years. The top 0.1% have seen a 94% income growth since 2002. The richest of them all (the top 400) have seen an astounding 476% increase since 1992. The richest 74 people made as much as the 19 million lowest-paid people in America.

Today there is a higher Gini-Coefficient (which measures the wealth disparity in a nation) than the Great Depression.  The US now ranks 42nd from the worst in the world in terms of the gulf between rich and poor, slightly worse than Iran, Nigeria, and Cambodia.

Currently, one third of all the pay in the United States is raked in by corporate executives.  In 1970, the average CEO made 28 times what an average worker at his company made. By 2005, this had swelled to 465 times what an average worker made. This is phenomena exclusive to the US, and is not shared by other developed Western nations like Japan where an average CEO makes less than 20x what an average worker does.

Deficits and the National Debt

This is perhaps the most ironic part of the Reagan Legacy.  He railed against the national debt, even though it was decreasing with every president from FDR to Carter.  As soon as Reagan and the fiscal conservatives took control over economic policy, the very thing they talked about the most started to grow.

The national debt nearly tripled under Reagan.  We see a sudden change in the trendline for the national debt as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product as soon as Reagan became president as well:

In fact, Reagan and the Bushes are responsible for over 93% of the national debt:

Since the election of Reagan and the conservatives in 1980, America has been on a downward spiral.  The charts above are just the tip of the iceberg, but demonstrate in no uncertain terms that we are on the wrong track in America.  From turning the United States into a police state with the highest incarceration rate in the world, to waging class warfare on the poor so the rich can get richer, to massively ballooning the national debt, the Reagan Legacy is disastrous.

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76 Responses to The Disastrous Legacy Of Ronald Reagan In Charts

  1. Gilbert Mercier
    +21 Vote -1 Vote +1Gilbert Mercier
    February 7, 2011 at 12:37 am

    Thanks for this Mr. Olson. Beautiful work of deconstructing the mythology of Ronald Reagan by the numbers. The “Teflon” president was awful, he turned a somewhat reasonable GOP into a putrid aggregation of banksters, racists and Christian fundamentalists. Reagan is the political godfather of Sarah Palin. I have always wondered when his problems with Alzheimer started, and if he was still president at the onset of the disease?

    • +11 Vote -1 Vote +1Leslie Schwartz
      February 7, 2011 at 8:24 am

      Well said, I agree entirely.

      • +7 Vote -1 Vote +1Michael Quigg
        February 8, 2011 at 10:41 am

        Reagan’s son said he saw signs of his father’s Alzheimer’s towards the end of his FIRST term.

    • -78 Vote -1 Vote +1john
      February 7, 2011 at 7:11 pm

      “Republicans, conservatives, racists, Christians” Blah, blah, blah. Funny how the overwhelming majority of rich CEO’s are none of those things, except for racist. Because in reailty, they are liberal, democrat Jews. Period.

      • +28 Vote -1 Vote +1Adam G
        February 8, 2011 at 1:07 am

        Rockefeller, Koch, Buffet, Cargill, Ambani, MIttal, Walton et al….GOYIM you f*%^ing putz.

      • +9 Vote -1 Vote +1bill Olds
        February 8, 2011 at 7:33 am

        John,

        Any evidence to support your thoughts?

      • +15 Vote -1 Vote +1Faye Linda Wachs
        February 8, 2011 at 7:24 pm

        Jews make up less than .5% of the total population, and are over-represented as educators, not CEO’s. Frankly, it is your comment that is racist.

    • -12 Vote -1 Vote +1Jim Harrison
      February 8, 2011 at 4:17 am

      Benjamin Disraeli is famous for his quip about “lies, damned lies, and statistics.” The Reagan Administration is not correlated with or the cause for the statistics you’ve compiled. And funny you leave out the beginning of our fiscal mess (LBJ’s disastrous “guns and butter” regime) or the profoundly inept Carter fiasco. The problem is that George Washington was sworn in at 26 Wall St (always a government entagled with monied interests) and we have a duopoly representing monied interests who conduct a generally false debate for propaganda purposes designed to divide the electorate and perpetuate our plutocracy.

      • +17 Vote -1 Vote +1bill Olds
        February 8, 2011 at 7:36 am

        Jim,

        Would you like to point out where the lies are in the stats?

        The econmy boomed under LBJ and as inept as Carter was he didn’t leave the budget hole that Reagan did, we didn’t experience 9% unemployment, and we didn’t jail millions of Amdricans for a misdemeanor offense whiile allowing arms dealers to run amok.

        • Vote -1 Vote +1Mike
          February 10, 2011 at 7:40 pm

          Where correlation is represented as causation.

          I’m trying to stay as neutral as possible when stating this.

      • +20 Vote -1 Vote +1Geoff Ball
        February 9, 2011 at 9:01 am

        I would like to point that had we put Carter’s energy plan into effect we would not be as strung out on petroleum as we are now.

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  4. +17 Vote -1 Vote +1CindyG
    February 7, 2011 at 5:01 am

    The only thing missing here is a bibiography of original data sources for the graphs. I hope the author will please add these.

    • Ole Ole Olson
      +5 Vote -1 Vote +1Ole Ole Olson
      February 7, 2011 at 10:26 pm

      Tineye image search works very well for situations just like this. I’ll see if I can find the time to update the article at some point in the future.

    • +4 Vote -1 Vote +1bill Olds
      February 8, 2011 at 7:37 am

      Cindy,

      I agree that the charts aren’t adequatelt supported but the premises are as clearly true as they can be. Do you really doubt any of the conclusions?

  5. +7 Vote -1 Vote +1Nathan
    February 7, 2011 at 6:01 am

    @CindyG: most of the charts provide a lead on the source of the data. The rest are from public record.

  6. -47 Vote -1 Vote +1Arthur Werry
    February 7, 2011 at 6:16 am

    Graphic proof that the grapher has absolutely zero understanding of even basic civics. Congress approves spending (budgets start in the House, remember?) Interesting that no mention is made of the explosion of the national debt in the last two years under a Democrat president. Interesting, but not surprising that a Dem would use data selectively to “prove” a false point.

    • -44 Vote -1 Vote +1Mike
      February 7, 2011 at 6:56 am

      Thank you Arthur. This article is biased and actually quite pathetic. No mention is made of any tax ) raises or mortgage disasters caused by Jimmy Carter (anyone know what the interest rates were during his presidency?) I’m going to ask that they be researched because obviously a good portion of the people commenting on this article don’t research.

      I found this article on Digg, big surprise. This article is a joke. Kind of pathetic I feel sorry for the author.

      • +34 Vote -1 Vote +1Tigerpaw
        February 7, 2011 at 6:58 pm

        Carter – interest rates…….there’s the Boob alert again. Or, let’s be kinder and say, revisionist history.

        Anyone who ‘really’ knows interest rate trends during that period will know that rates were rising for the entire decade, from Nixon, through Ford’s WIN lapel button, which stood for Whip Inflation Now(?) and, therefore, PEAKING under Carter, who, by the way, is widely regarded, except by those who prefer ventures of fantasy, with the hiring of the person who began implementing use of tools to lessen their impact, Paul Voelker.

        Further, if you believe that you can blame, or credit, a president for interest rates, then you should applaud the current officeholder, under whose watch we’ve seen rates plummet to 50 year lows. What? No applause?

        Of course not. You have not stepped forward to give him credit, because, you also know that he is no more eligible for credit for these rates than Carter is to blame.

        Presidents don’t set interest rates! Even the Federal Reserve doesn’t set ALL interest rates. The vast majority of interest rates are set by long term trends, cycles and larger market forces, which have almost nothing to do with executive level political temporaries.

        Read more – type less.

      • +11 Vote -1 Vote +1bill Olds
        February 8, 2011 at 7:38 am

        Mike,

        Would you care to point out any tax increases or mortgages crisises under Carter? Are you sure you aren’t thinking about the S&L crisis under the elder Bush?

    • +65 Vote -1 Vote +1Kevin Day
      February 7, 2011 at 8:33 am

      Well, I did some research. I’m curious to see any empirical evidence you might present that can refute the author, because I can’t find any.

      For the first six year’s of Reagan’s term there was a fairly even R/D balance in Congress, as well as a very sympathetic Democratic-majority in the house. He was a very popular president, and had a slew of Southern Democrats (nicknamed “the boll weevils”) that allied with him.

      Congress at the time approved smaller budgets than what he proposed, for a total reduction of $16 billion. Despite this, the Reagan Administration managed to raise the national debt $1,860 billion during his term and left office with an unprecedented debt of $2.6 trillion.

      Here’s my source: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/GPO-CDOC-107sdoc18/pdf/GPO-CDOC-107sdoc18-1-12-4.pdf

      You can dismiss the numbers, blame congress, and create all the mythology you want around this guy, but the bare facts of his legacy cannot be shouted down by campire stories.

      Those of us who have a memory, are literate enough to read past page 1, and intelligent enough to think in the abstract and ask for evidence, know better.

      You’ve been hoodwinked by an actor. And a shoddy one, at that.

    • +8 Vote -1 Vote +1bill Olds
      February 8, 2011 at 7:44 am

      Arthur,

      here’s a fasct about civics you might want to consider. The President introduces the budget and Congress usually gives them most of what they want. Congress bears some of the responsibility, but anyone who was alive and breathing at the time knows who was pushing the tax cuts and defense spending boom, the mass pot arrests, the elimination of labor protections, and the general atmosphere that led to these results.

      Blaming Congress for the policies pushed by Reagan is akin to blaming the Poles for Hitler’s invasion.

    • +8 Vote -1 Vote +1George
      February 8, 2011 at 12:33 pm

      Seriously? Obviously the debt has gone up because the previous administration left a financial crisis when they left office. One they very well let happen with their deregulatory ideals. Republicans are no better if you claim that dems use data selectively because they are kings at that. Sometimes they even forget the data and just use passionate arguments instead of rational ones. And btw, the first big government handout to stem the crisis was done under the Bush administration, funny how few forget that fact.

  7. +5 Vote -1 Vote +1chris
    February 7, 2011 at 6:23 am

    Thank you so much.

  8. +6 Vote -1 Vote +1SlackerKeith
    February 7, 2011 at 6:35 am

    This is heresy! Ronald Reagan was a great man, regardless of his opinions or actions! Who cares that he thought trees cause pollution? He was “The Great Communicator”!

  9. -40 Vote -1 Vote +1RidgeRunner5
    February 7, 2011 at 8:24 am

    This article is full of biased garbage.

    Hey, author, how about showing the chart comparing the deficit to the GDP? Ya know, the one that shows Reagan at 3-4%, and Obama at 7-10%….

    • Ole Ole Olson
      +33 Vote -1 Vote +1Ole Ole Olson
      February 7, 2011 at 9:47 am

      US Govt Debt as a % of GDP is clearly displayed above, and always has been.

  10. -40 Vote -1 Vote +1Stue Varney
    February 7, 2011 at 8:44 am

    Left-wing nuts are funny.

    • +24 Vote -1 Vote +1Josh Crawford
      February 7, 2011 at 11:53 am

      And right wing nuts are NOT funny; in fact they are scary and dangerous. Which are you? And how does this article spark that response from you? What are you referring to?

    • +11 Vote -1 Vote +1jimmy jimmy
      February 7, 2011 at 1:35 pm

      you can’t even spell your own goddamned name.

  11. +36 Vote -1 Vote +1Indakind
    February 7, 2011 at 8:57 am

    RidgeRunner5 – You cannot compare Reagan and Obama…they started their terms in office under vastly different circumstances. Reagan started with a balanced budget and virtually no debt. He proceeded to destroy both. Obama started his term in the middle of a financial meltdown brought about by W and his predecessors. Teh extraordinary nature of the current crisis is nothing like the relatively clean slate with which Reagan started his term.

    • -3 Vote -1 Vote +1Bobby
      February 7, 2011 at 9:13 pm

      To say that Reagan inherited a clean slate is just plain wrong. It was the height of the Cold War, there was an oil crisis, and the misery index (unemployment rate plus inflation rate) was at its all time high.

      Obama inherited a financial crisis, but Reagan did too.

      • +9 Vote -1 Vote +1Archmac
        February 8, 2011 at 4:33 pm

        Well, if you were paying attention in 1981, the height of the Cold War was well past and the USSR was clearly already in decline, the oil crisis had ended 7 years earlier, the Misery Index was getting better, and, sorry, there is absolutely NO comparison between the economy in 1981 and the economy in 2009. Things were bad in 1981…the economy very nearly seized up completely in 2008.
        Reagn inherited a stomachache…Obama inherited a bleeding ulcer and stomach cancer.

  12. +19 Vote -1 Vote +1Tash Oh
    February 7, 2011 at 9:03 am

    I like turtles!

  13. Vote -1 Vote +1stillonline
    February 7, 2011 at 9:14 am

    How about a graph showing the increase in homelessness under Reagan? You can’t find one because homelessness didn’t exist until Reagan.

    • +14 Vote -1 Vote +1Jimbo2k7
      February 7, 2011 at 9:31 am

      Good grief, man.

      Homelessness certainly did exist. The policies of Reagan have made it progressively worse.

      Be thankful you still have your job.

      • -14 Vote -1 Vote +1RobertA.
        February 7, 2011 at 12:20 pm

        Let me see if I got this right…”policies” force an individual to choose to live on the street and not take help from the countless sources of aid available. Have you talked to the homeless? Have you asked them why they are there? I but you’d find some interesting results.

    • +10 Vote -1 Vote +1WanderingWonderer
      February 7, 2011 at 12:46 pm

      Because before that they were called hobos?

  14. -31 Vote -1 Vote +1Thomas
    February 7, 2011 at 9:30 am

    I came here expecting to see some terrible indictment of Reagan, and that’s all???

    Really, if that’s all the dirt you can dig up on him, then I am starting to actually respect the man.

    The incarceration rate graphs are showing a continuous trend that is pretty much the same for the last 30 years. How is that supposed to be related to Reagan?

    The divide between rich and poor: why would I care? (and it seems related to globalization rather than Reagan in my opinion) What’s important is the standard of living of the middle class – and there is no graph on that, which makes me think that it didn’t go down. So are we supposed to tax the hell of the next Bill Gates, for the sheer satisfaction of it, and live without the benefits of the “next big innovation” that he would invent???

    Meh.. sounds like Reagan was not so bad, if that’s all you got..

  15. +12 Vote -1 Vote +1Maka n Snce
    February 7, 2011 at 9:41 am

    I have a graph that shows conclusively that Reagan’s presidency directly resulted in the rise of justin bieber.

  16. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1whaaaaaaa
    February 7, 2011 at 9:46 am

    “homelessness didn’t exist until Reagan.”

    …..wut?

  17. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1nicholas nickleb
    February 7, 2011 at 10:19 am

    response to the incarceration graph…CRACK was big in the80′s
    “…………….tax hikes/wealth dis……..doesn’t surprise me at all
    response to the national debt…………speechless…

    This is how bad it gets when to appoint the wrong president. Obama shows some real promise and nothing but terrible things about the man. Remember the reason we had to take drastic measures to get America back to where it’s suppose to be is the direct result of a terrible presidency…. Don’t blame the doctor for the patients injury’s.

    • -3 Vote -1 Vote +1RobertA.
      February 7, 2011 at 12:17 pm

      “Promise” is worthless. Just as “hope” is a commitment to no one, for nothing at no time. Happy talk.

  18. -44 Vote -1 Vote +1Thata Ritte
    February 7, 2011 at 10:35 am

    It is time to add Reagan to Mount Rushmore. I guess every so many years we need a president as incompetent as obama to remind us of the greatness of Presidents like Reagan. We just need to hope that the incompetent ones do not dig too big a hole for us to get out of. Lickily it will be one and done for the current worthless sack in the oval office.

  19. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1Becca Stareyes
    February 7, 2011 at 10:52 am

    I’m curious about some of those incarceration plotted in units of percentage of population, rather than in raw numbers. The chart showing a clear inflection point at 1980 is pretty interesting even in the raw numbers.

  20. +14 Vote -1 Vote +1Randy
    February 7, 2011 at 11:36 am

    Obama bashers fail to realize that he had to spend his way out of a recession that very well could have turned into another great depression and that congress passed the stimulus package in agreement with Obama.

    • -26 Vote -1 Vote +1RobertA.
      February 7, 2011 at 12:15 pm

      Lets see…I owe for a house, a car and a college education. The solution: Buy another car and put in a swimming pool on credit!!! Sorry, you lose. Obama is generating short-term “look good” boosts to garner votes in 2012. This is band-aid economics at its best.

      • Ole Ole Olson
        +30 Vote -1 Vote +1Ole Ole Olson
        February 7, 2011 at 1:30 pm

        Roberta, a better analogy would be this: you x ditches you in the middle of the night after trashing your house, getting you fired, crashing your car, and running up your credit cards. In order to get back on your feet, you need to borrow more to fix your car, buy a new suit, and temporarily pay your way until you can find a better job (and a new significant other).

        • +5 Vote -1 Vote +1sinnerman
          February 7, 2011 at 8:34 pm

          Clever and insightful—well said.

      • +20 Vote -1 Vote +1roberts' mom
        February 7, 2011 at 5:12 pm

        oh, I see it that why the repubs didn’t include the two wars in the budget? oh you didn’t know they didn’t? oh you just love them blindly because they would never do something that backhanded? oh you don’t remember all those emergency bills to pay for the war spending outside of the “budget”?

        so… how much you think those two wars cost?
        and in the Tarp money that Bush requested at the end of 2008 as everything was failing? you think that was in the “budget” that is approved at the beginning of 2008?

        Add those things onto bushes budgets and what do you think you get?

        Spoiler alert = you get obama’s budget.

        public information – look it up.

        Then if you want to mad about it, do so consistently and demand that your representatives don’t do the backhanded, ‘oh this spending – this is budget spending.” crap.

  21. -21 Vote -1 Vote +1RobertA.
    February 7, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    Well, it sure looks convincing, but without any valid sources quoted for the data it is really just a pretty story. I can make up charts “proving” Reagan was just as good as you say he is bad. Statistics is the art of massaging numbers to reflect desired outcomes. In any case, why can’t the left live in the present? Politically speaking, Reagan is ancient history. There’s been PLENTY of hope and potential to change in the last two years to set all of this straight but, alas, no action from the left.

    • +18 Vote -1 Vote +1Kevin Day
      February 7, 2011 at 5:08 pm

      If Reagan is “ancient history” why are we still talking about him? Can you grasp the concept of “precedent”? How about “legacy”? Do you understand that things are the way they are now because people in “ancient history” made decisions that still affect the way things are today? Is your brain big enough to grasp that things are more complicated, nuanced and unpredictable than left/right, black/white, good/bad, or will you be an intellectual infant for the remainder of your existence?

  22. -6 Vote -1 Vote +1Gene
    February 7, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    I think the incarceration rates only tell one half of the story. In many big cities violent crime statistics have declined and continue to do so, in some cases reaching numbers that haven’t been seen since the late 1960s. Is that really disastrous for America?

    While on the subject of safety, while Reagan was President, the United States was essentially at war with the Soviet Union. Eastern Europe was under the control of the Kremlin. Since we’re speaking English and I don’t get Pravda delivered to my front porch, I think the USA won. Of course any war requires the expenditure of both blood and treasure.

    Ask the Poles, the Czechs, the former East Germans,the Hungarians, the Romanians etc. if Reagan was disastrous to them. I think you’ll get a different answer.

    • +4 Vote -1 Vote +1Dan
      February 7, 2011 at 8:51 pm

      Many people would argue that violent crime has decreased due to the Roe v Wade supreme court decision, more so than any criminal justice decision. Also, the Soviet Union collapsed due to decades of overspending and had nothing to do with Reagan or his “Star Wars” fantasy.

      • -5 Vote -1 Vote +1Bobby
        February 7, 2011 at 9:18 pm

        If you really think the Soviet Union collapse had nothing to do with Reagan then you are beyond help. I wonder why the Soviet Union was overspending? Could it have had anything to do with that arms race with the U.S. under Reagan?

  23. -12 Vote -1 Vote +1Ardiva
    February 7, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    This article resembles so much like the olden MEDIEVAL TIMES. Absolutely INCREDIBLE!!!!!!

  24. -5 Vote -1 Vote +1Joe
    February 7, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    There’s only 1 reason I can think of to explain why so many people like this article: They don’t know how to read charts. No shame in that, not everyone is a physicist… But I am, and those charts are loaded, some don’t actually provide any useful information, and they’re merely designed to trick a group of fools into hating on another group of fools (sorry but its true). Take the “increasing in national debt” chart: If you write anymore words on it then it wouldn’t be a chart it would be an essay. None of the graphs are scientific. They’re a stat version of advertisement. I’m saying this and I agree with the point you’re trying to make, it’s just that you’re article is designed to make poor people pissed at republicans rather than stimulate any intellectualism.

    • +8 Vote -1 Vote +1David
      February 9, 2011 at 4:29 pm

      This cartoon was made for you: http://xkcd.com/793/

      I think I particularly like the assertion that many words on a chart makes it unscientific.

  25. -16 Vote -1 Vote +1Bill
    February 7, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    The only way to fix the situation the U.S. is this, it starts with the person who you see in the mirror. Politicians and their parties, conservatives and liberals, wealthy and poor blame each other for the countries woes. The lazy way is our way (US) instant gratification and you yourself Ole are just as much to blame as anyone. To start to legalize that which is illegal is to revert to anarchy. The anarchist love this until they are in control then it is time to enforce their views. Why stop at drugs Ole! Let me guess you must enjoy a few joints and other illegal drugs on a daily basis, this way by making drugs legal you are not a law breaker any more. Problem solved! Ask all death row inmates if the death penalty is justice served, you will find that they all think it should be commuted and they be set free. I have found that when people stand to gain for free or little cost the attitude is alright bring it on. If they have to pay with out getting anything in return it suddenly is the worst thing to come along.

    • +13 Vote -1 Vote +1Dave
      February 8, 2011 at 8:03 am

      1) I doubt you will ever find the anarchists to be in power. It kinda goes against their ideology.

      2) When the majority of Americans want something to be legal, but the government continues to prosecute it, that is oppression.

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  27. +15 Vote -1 Vote +1Darren
    February 8, 2011 at 5:57 am

    Keep in mind that most of the money that Obama is borrowing now is to service the debt that Reagan and the Bush’s accumulated and to continue the wars that Bush started! The rest is to stimulate an economy that was nearly collapsed at the end of baby bush’s presidency!

  28. -1 Vote -1 Vote +1Jack
    February 8, 2011 at 6:46 am

    Debt is a huge problem and an interesting subject no doubt. Yet, these graphs do not show all factors that pertain to our national debt problem. At closer examination some even conflict with each other and how they can be interpreted. Very important factors and contributors are missing if one is to determine what the true null hypothesis is. Methodology examining a maintained hypothesis and the null hypothesis is nonexistent or is not presented to readers. Skewing results and omitting datasets will get us nowhere. I doubt that articles such as this will stimulate any unbiased intellectualism concerning our national debt.

    Bottom line, if our government doesn’t stop this petty bickering between left and right and focus on the problem at hand, we’ll have no chance to correct the problem. Well at least that’s my opinion and you know what they say about opinions.

    • Ole Ole Olson
      +6 Vote -1 Vote +1Ole Ole Olson
      February 8, 2011 at 4:00 pm

      Jack, feel free to add something to the discussion here. If you have any evidence that negates the sudden rise in deficits when fiscal conservatives took power in America, add it to the table. They talk a good game about fiscal responsibility, but in the end only seem to ‘borrow and spend’, particularly on things like the military budget, that gobble up half the annual budget.

  29. +10 Vote -1 Vote +1Jim Hicks
    February 8, 2011 at 10:13 am

    I was hoping to read some cogent arguments in opposition to these charts. Instead all I see is unsupported opinion and a lot of ranker from many quarters. In the words of the great communicator and I paraphrase; Are you better off now then you were 10 years ago? Should you be better off now then you were 10 years ago? The wealthy are playing on a world stage and we talk about Republican and Democratic labels. Where are the selfless leaders this country calls out for? It is possible for this government of 250 years to meet the challenges of the 21st century? The name calling, some of you like to engage in, isn’t helpful and only obscures what you have to say. One should listen and try to understand before attempting to be understood. Sorry for the lecture, I couldn’t help myself.

  30. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Blake
    February 8, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    How about we get this straight…all politicians lie to get into office. The same garbage has been spewing out of every politicians mouth for the past 40 years or so. “Jobs jobs jobs lower national debt.” Same problems, no resolution. I’m surprised people even vote.

  31. +10 Vote -1 Vote +1Vic Perri
    February 9, 2011 at 9:02 am

    Ronald Reagan changed the direction of America. There is no questioning that.The direction was to severely damage average, lower and middle class Americans to enrich the rich, wealthy and corporate.

    • -7 Vote -1 Vote +1Tara
      February 11, 2011 at 6:01 pm

      And what, exactly, is happening in our country right now?

      The opposite thing?

      Better come out of your fantasy-land cave.

  32. +5 Vote -1 Vote +1RickH
    February 9, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    I’d really enjoy seeing a chart from the great depression until present showing tax rates per year contrasting concentration of wealth. My guess is we will see proof that Reagan’s trickle down economics (giving huge tax breaks to the rich) has been a disaster for the poor and middle class. I’d appreciate anyone who can point me to that information whether it supports my hunch or not. Thank You.

    • Ole Ole Olson
      +5 Vote -1 Vote +1Ole Ole Olson
      February 9, 2011 at 6:04 pm

      I believe it’s in there. Check out the Plutocracy Reborn chart.

  33. Vote -1 Vote +1Outtanames999
    February 10, 2011 at 2:04 am

    One thing the Reagan years have in common with today is the generational changes that occurred. Back then, a flood of baby boomers were entering the workforce. Just about the same time, the cost of autos and homes doubled in a short period, forcing most baby boomers into two earner households. Today we have the boomlet kids entering the workforce at about the same rate as the boomers did – about 3 million per year graduating from college today. With most baby boomers still employed, the money supply and the job market cannot keep up with that increase from the new generation. There are plenty of houses and cars unlike in the 80′s, thus the decline in values will continue until the excess housing can be absorbed by the new household formations from the boomlet generation. Before the meltdown in 2008, there were approx. 148 million in the workforce. Today there are approx. 15 million fewer employed. Some of those jobs will come back and not all baby boomers will actually retire. There will be almost one boomlet kid for every baby boomer who retires, so the workforce will remain somewhere around 140-150 million over the next 20 years. When the baby boomers start dieing off starting in 2030 the wealth transfer will flatten somewhat the wealth disparities.

    • Ole Ole Olson
      +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Ole Ole Olson
      February 10, 2011 at 2:14 pm

      Excellent perspective. Thx for the demographic view.

  34. +6 Vote -1 Vote +1Nunya Biniss
    February 11, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    And…..he was an actor. An actor. A puppet. Here’s a script, deliver our plan. Hey Arnold, here’s a script, deliver our plan. Republicans are politically superior and manipulative but so unrepresentative. They will achieve their aims at any cost. They will persuade people to vote against their own good. People don’t even know why they don’t want “Obamacare,” they are just told so through Republican media outlets. They are manipulated to fight and die for objectionable rhetoric. They only get actors because they need popularity, being a minority group (getting 49% of the vote from 45% of the voting population is quite a minority). They won’t stop until they hand over the keys to a Military Police Rector who punishes the other religiously and torturously.

  35. -7 Vote -1 Vote +1Tara
    February 11, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    So…why do all of your charts stop at 2006?

    I guess this little “article” gives a pass to everything that’s gone wrong since then, right?

    We wouldn’t want the public thinking anything’s wrong.

  36. +7 Vote -1 Vote +1russell lee
    February 13, 2011 at 3:36 am

    while govenor in california, reagan put all the people who were in mental instututions out in the streets in the cold, thus crime iincreased in the country