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Ronald Reagan - A Safer World Thirty Years Ago?
by Jack Wellman
2011-02-06 10:32:51
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When Ronald Reagan took office on January 20th, 1981, I had just turned 27.  It has been almost thirty years now.  At that time I was working in radio as a commercial production manager with an annual salary of $31,000.  I was doing well financially despite the economy difficulties of the nation.  The U.S. had just endured a painful and expensive oil embargo that had crippled the economy, sent inflation spiraling, and caused unemployment to skyrocket.  By the end of the Ronald Reagan’s second term as president, the job market had vastly improved, inflation was under one percent, and the economy began to expand.  New businesses in the private sector had exploded like never before.

The nation seemed a much safer place in during the president’s tenure in office since Reagan increased the size of the military.  Investments grew with greater confidence on Wall Street.  The growth of small businesses soared at a higher pace than had ever occurred in the nation’s history.  People began to feel good again about America’s prospects.  People had a more positive feeling about the nation’s direction and held a brighter outlook in about all aspects of their personal lives. 

The late president changed the face of Eastern Europe too building up the U.S. military like few predecessors had ever done before.  Although he was not the primary cause of the end of the Cold War and the freedom of Eastern Germany, he played a huge role.  Speaking at the Berlin Wall on June 12, 1987, Reagan challenged Gorbachev to go further, saying: "General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

As I look back today on that era in American history, there is a sense of nostalgia as compared to this year.  I don’t necessarily miss the fashions or music but I miss this sense of peace, safety, and economic security.  Families seemed to have a more traditional view of life.  Priorities where focused on helping others and patriotism swelled with pride again in America.  Even though I am happier today than I was in 1981, there was a more peaceful, stable world in that year.   There were fewer uncertainties.  With less Congressional spending families were not as concerned with saddling their children’s future with astronomical debts. They didn’t worry about whether their children would find jobs or not.  These were happier and more carefree days; the days when Ronald Reagan was president of the United States.

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Emanuel Paparella2011-02-06 11:16:47
Indeed Jack, to pursue this line of thinking, if you ask baby war boomers, those born right after World War II and now beginning to retire, they will tend to wax nostalgic for the good old days of the Eisenhower Administration in the fifties when people were polite, the nation governed by a World War II hero was prosperous and at peace (between the Korean and the Vietnam war) and well respected, the envy of the rest of the world, and all seemed well with the universe, an American universe despite the cold war with the Soviet Union. Then came the sixties and a search for a more fair and just society wherein people would not be deprived of their civil rights and all would have health care, and suddenly times were not to tranquil and uneventful any longer. Some began advising their country men to love it or leave and other to change it or lose it. At that point people began fantasizing for the good old fifties. Which means that with the passage of time people tend to transform the hard facts of history with a mythologized narration of the past as found in their mind, and begin talking of the golden age. In reality there is no such thing as the golden age; there is only nostalgia for a time that never was or a time that could have been different from what it was, the world as it should be, and never materialized. Perhaps more than nostalgia, what we desperately need nowadays is regret for accepting the world as it is, rather than the way it should be.

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