Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Or as Dude has commented, you could concentrate on the differences. Though the differences he mentions are mainly with circumstance and not with leadership:

1) You can't deny that Bush is a Reaganite. No doubt he marked the differences between Reagan's foreign policy and his dad's and ultimately chose the former well before Perle and Rice got him up to speed in 1998. I’m guessing he started developing his diplomatic philosophy after his dad lost to Clinton. But I must confess that I'm not quite sure what Dude’s point is regarding when Reagan and Bush each developed their foreign policy strategies.
2) I’m sure someone is willing to point out that we sell arms to Egypt and Saudi Arabia, two countries that prefer not to have a de-Baathed democratic Iraq in their backyard. The Iran/Contra scandal is a significant blemish on Reagan’s record. By the time all is said and done, Bush may well have a scandal to mar his record. So far the opposition hasn’t found it.
3) Regarding net job gains: again, the circumstances are very different but not necessarily the men. Bush took over right as the tech bubble had burst. There was no bubble that I know of that Reagan inherited, except perhaps the inflation bubble. Surely you don't think Bush is responsible for the bulk of job losses that happened before he had a chance to implement any part of his economic policy? But granted, Bush might have a better job record if he'd cut taxes even sooner than he did.
4) Of course Reagan worked with NATO. NATO was an alliance tailor made for the cold war, but not the war on terror. I would assert that the same spirit that provoked Reagan to position Pershing IIs in Germany (which caused a great stir among our European allies - though I guess they signed off on it in the same way the Security Council passed 1441)...that same spirit, I say, can be seen in Bush cleaning house of obsolete arms agreements and revamping our foreign policy. Don't look now, but the Cold War is over and so is the usefulness of many of the agreements, alliances and stratagems that were created to fight it. When an alliance no longer works, you must change it or scrap it – but you shouldn’t let it sit there and tie your hands from protecting your interests. I recall George Washington warning against long-term foreign alliances. I also recall the web of such alliances that facilitated so much suffering during the Great War. I believe both Reagan and Bush remembered those things as well. Neither settled for the status quo or the conventional wisdom – much to the chagrin of foreign leaders and many legislators. Does that mean that NATO is irrelevant? Not necessarily, but it’s going to have to continue changing to meet the new needs. The same goes for the U.N.
5) I doubt Bush condemned the gassing of Kurds when it happened. Oh well, that’s no reason not to condemn it now.


Steve said...

Well, I wouldn't say that he was responsible for the joblosses, but in hindsight - was the tax cut really all that benficial? It always struck me much like the unpopular rich kid buying friends.

Jeffrey Hill said...

He did run on a platform of tax cuts. If he bought friends with it, then he did it with their own money. I think that's a difference between the right and left regarding taxes. The left tends to view tax money as government money to be doled out accordingly, whereas the right sees it as private money. With the latter, how can tax cuts for the rich be giving money to the rich? To the right, it's letting them keep their money. And should the government be authorized to determine how much money an individual can make?

Dude said...

Actually, there is no government cap on how much a person can make. However, there is a cap on how much a person can make and -not- get taxed. I don't see Donald Trump giving up on making more money just because he gets taxed more than he thinks he should.

And Bush didn't necessarily buy those rich friends with their own money. Based on the deficits we're encountering, he bought them with our children's money. And he bought the old friends with our money - remember that every time you pay the 15.3% payroll tax (half is usually covered by your employer).

Also, a lot of Reagan's tax cuts shifted the tax burden to the lower class. So it was income redistribution.

One thing that irks me about the whole rugged individualism ideology is that it assumes that everyone starts out with an equal shot. And for every Horatio Alger, you can find 100 people who crapped out. You can't tell me that someone from the Kansas City, Missouri School District has the same opportunities as Paris Hilton. However, there should be at least a baseline, and that baseline should be a good high school education. If people choose to go to college, fine, but we need to make sure people have a good start if they stick it out to high school graduation. The truth is, the schools are failing, and Bush's answer was to push an under-funded mandate. Also, the No Child Left Behind is re-orienting schools to teaching for the test. It needs to be improved so that there is accountability, but that there are enough resources to make education as worthwhile as it could be.

Another problem with school funding is that businesses weasel their way out of paying taxes, and then come back with sponsorships. They see schools as a marketing campaign, rather than a way to increase the talent of the future employment pool.

Government gets knocked a lot for what it does poorly, but it doesn't get credit for what it does well. A list of our government's accomplishments includes winning WWII, the Manhattan Project, the Interstate system, maintaining monetary policy, keeping workers from getting killed in the workplace (every workplace accident I covered in the newspapers was due to not following OSHA regulations), creating the Internet, maintaining food safety, reducing pollution.

I'm willing to admit that some things are best left to the private sector. Airline deregulation has been good, overall. I also think the Telecommunications Act of 1996 was good. The savings and loan deregulation didn't work so well, which ended up costing us anyways.

One benefit of food, occupational and health regulations: people live longer, which allows them to _consume_ longer. Definitely a benefit for a corporation, even if it hates paying taxes to maintain those regulations.