Monday, February 7, 2011

Remembering Reagan

I remember Ronald Reagan. He was the man with his head in the clouds and his hand in the pockets of the poor and middle class, spewing sententious garbage about government all the while he ripped us off. If our nation undergoes total financial collapse as some predict, Ronald Reagan, dead though he may be, will be greatly to blame. No one has done more to destroy the typical American's wellbeing than St. Ronald.

Peter Dreier also remembers Reagan, and for him, as for me, the memory is not a fond one. Near the end of his article we find this paragraph:


Another of Reagan’s enduring legacies is the steep increase in the number of homeless people, which by the late 1980s had swollen to 600,000 on any given night—and 1.2 million over the course of a year. Many were Vietnam veterans, children and laid-off workers.

In early 1984 on “Good Morning America,” Reagan defended himself against charges of callousness toward the poor in a classic blaming-the-victim statement. He said that “people who are sleeping on the grates…the homeless…are homeless, you might say, by choice.”


I was not homeless in the Reagan era. But I encountered a lot of homeless people, because I bicycled to and from work along the hike-and-bike trails which often followed the paths of bayous, under the bridges of many city streets. Under each bridge was a homeless person, or sometimes more than one if the bridge was long enough. Each of the homeless had an improvised shelter. Many of them... disturbingly many... had alarm clocks beside their sleeping bags. I took this to mean that they had jobs, but the jobs did not pay enough for them to afford even the lowest rent. That was my memory of the Reagan era.

You may celebrate St. Ronnie's centennial any way you please. I plan to fantasize pissing on his grave.

AFTERTHOUGHT:  Here's "Homeless" by the incomparable Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

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