Reagan – again

Yup. Recently read Gary Willis’ Bomb Power. (I didn’t finish it – by the middle I was skimming but not because it isn’t a superb and important book, which it is – but because it was overdue at the library and not renewable.)

But to the Reagan reference – this is a difficult time for my country and a big part of our current crises can be traced to regulatory failures. And as even children know, the dismantling and neutering of the regulatory apparatus began aggressively in Reagan’s administration. Clinton stopped the bleeding, but he didn’t do much to strengthen its bite – then George W. picked up where Reagan left off but with more enthusiasm. Wherever his administration was stymied by existing legislation, they got around that by installing lobbyists and industry insiders into the agencies they were charged to regulate. So they didn’t. And that was that and here we are.

BP gas stateion - small type says: You are responsible for any spills.

Willis notes the successes of Carter’s enforcement of existing legislation and then the addition of the 1978 Energy Act, created in response to the ‘oil shocks’ a few years earlier.

“Not surprisingly, it all worked. Between 1975 and 1985, American passenger vehicle mileage went from around 13.5 mpg to 27.5 mpg  – which helped to creat a global oil glut from the mid-80’s to the mid-90’s, which not only weakened OPEC, but also helped to unravel the Soviet Union, then the world’s second-largest producer . . . Then Reagan declare government to be the problem, ignoring the very recent and succesful ‘solution’ . . . He began by systematically dismantling his predecessor’s energy program. He removed the subsidies for wind and solar. So technology pioneered by American companies and financed by American taxpayers was sold to foreign firms. He relaxed pollution and mileage standards. Reagan stocked the agencies with people who did not believe in what they did. They were there to gut what they were supposed to be promoting.

Reagan’s generally sympathetic biographer Lou Cannon said of this: “Overall, Reagan left a ruinous regulatory legacy.”

Thanks guys. We in western Florida, where the Wall Street crisis cut the value of our homes by 40% and who are now dreading the loss of our beachs AND our tourist fueled economy thank you.

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