Most importantly, "Reagan was extreme. Beginning of his administration, one of the first things was to call in scabs--hadn't been done for a long time, and it's illegal in most countries--in the air controller strike. Reagan essentially--by "Reagan," I mean his administration; I don't know what he knew--but they basically told the business world that they're not going to apply the labor laws. So, that means you can break unions any way you like. And in fact, the number of firing of union organizers, illegal firing, I think probably tripled during the Reagan years."
The reason we do not know if Reagan always knew about much that was going on around the white house was that Reagan took long naps and developed Alzheimer's during his term in office. It is quite clear that people, like George Herbert Walker Bush, thought they were in charge throughout the 1980s. (Some claim that Nancy Reagan ran the White House.)
THE MYTHS AND DEIFICATION OF REAGAN
Noam Chomsky lists numerous myths and shortcomings of the Ronald Reagan Era--an Era that damaged America economically, spiritually, and socio-politically. First, Chomsky reflects, " This deification of Reagan is extremely interesting and a very--it's scandalous, but it tells a lot about the country. I mean, when Reagan left office, he was the most unpopular living president, apart from Nixon, even below Carter. If you look at his years in office, he was not particularly popular. He was more or less average. He severely harmed the American economy. When he came into office, the United States was the world's leading creditor. By the time he left, it was the world's leading debtor. He was fiscally totally irresponsible--wild spending, no fiscal responsibility. Government actually grew during the Reagan years."
Despite the wild-spending of the Reagan Administration, "He [Reagan] was . . . a passionate opponent of the free market. I mean, the way he's being presented [in the 2011 press and media] is astonishing. He was the most protectionist president in post-war American history. He essentially virtually doubled protective barriers to try to preserve incompetent U.S. management, which was being driven out by superior Japanese production."
Chomsky added, "During his years [as President] , we had the first major fiscal crises. During the '50s, '60s and '70s, the New Deal regulations were still in effect, and that prevented financial crises. The financialization of the economy began to take off in the '70s, but with the deregulation, of course you start getting crises. Reagan left office with the biggest financial crisis since the Depression: the home savings and loan."
Lacking time in this Democracy Now interview to more fully critique the "abominable" international relations debacles carried out by the Ronald Reagan administration, Chomsky just noted, "I mean, if we gained our optimism by killing hundreds of thousands of people in Central America and destroying any hope for democracy and freedom and supporting South Africa while it killed about a million-and-a-half people in neighboring countries, and on and on, if that's the way we get back our optimism, we're in bad trouble."
Chomsky concluded his critique of the cultural memory of Ronald Reagan being promoted by today's media by likening the deification of Reagan to the deification of North Korean leaders, such as
MY SPIN ON REAGAN ERA
I personally remember living through the Reagan Era in the USA and abroad. It was a depressing eight years.