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The Reagan Legacy

January 11, 1987

I must disagree with Wattenberg. I think that after six years of the Reagan presidency, America is in worse shape. The $300-billion defense budget is theft. It robs the homeless, the sick, and America's unemployed of a chance at a good life.

America's health-care system is in a shambles, and thousands live in the streets after tiring of looking for jobs that don't exist.

The infrastructures of America's major cities are falling apart, and educating this country's young people in public schools is becoming nearly a joke. The Social Security system is also approaching bankruptcy.

Yet more and more money is being poured into "defense," where spurious contracts with ridiculous cost overruns are the norm and weapon systems are built that make America more vulnerable, not less.

The defense industry creates far fewer jobs than the same amount of money invested in education, health care and research, rebuilding America's cities or environmental reclamation. Pouring money into weapons should not make this country proud. To propagate such waste while more and more of our citizens sleep in the streets or cannot find work is shameful.

Reagan has taken compassion out of public policy. He has made it "hip" to be selfish. Reagan's view that people on welfare are lazy has infected our consciousness with the notion that we need only to care about ourselves.

Reagan's vision for America reaches down to the lowest common denominator. Greed is in vogue. He has replaced a national desire to end injustice with a simple, primitive fear of being taken advantage of by poor people who aren't really poor, but just lazy. He has cheapened and narrowed the American Dream, not broadened it or added to it.


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