Common sense is the most fairly distributed thing in the world, for each one thinks he is so well-endowed with it that even those who are hardest to satisfy in all other matters are not in the habit of desiring more of it than they already have. René Descartes
President Reagan walks along the White House colonnade, 1981. (Photo:
From time to time, someone under 30 will ask me, "When did this all
begin, America's downward slide?" They say they've heard of a time when
working people could raise a family and send the kids to college on just
one parent's income (and that college in states like California and New
York was almost free). That anyone who wanted a decent paying job could
get one. That people only worked five days a week, eight hours a day,
got the whole weekend off and had a paid vacation every summer.
That many jobs were union jobs, from baggers at the grocery store to the guy painting your house.
And this meant that no matter how "lowly" your job was you had
guarantees of a pension, occasional raises, health insurance and someone
to stick up for you if you were unfairly treated.
Young people have heard of this mythical time -- but it was no myth, it
was real. And when they ask, "When did this all end?", I say, "It ended
on this day: August 5th, 1981."
Beginning on this date, 30 years ago, Big Business and the Right Wing
decided to "go for it" -- to see if they could actually destroy the
middle class so that they could become richer themselves.