Reprinted from Smirking Chimp
In 1987 the film "Wall Street" summed up the general feeling in Reagan's United States with Gordon Gecko's legendary speech that hinged on one phrase.
"Greed is Good."
That became the private mantra for vulture capitalists and hedgefund managers through to today -- and it made a catchy case for "trickledown" Reaganomics.
But that film didn't invent the idea -- it just spelled it out.
Seven years before that film came out -- from the very beginning of the Reagan era -- that idea was applied to every aspect of our society.
Public programs were privatized -- and common resources handed over to private corporations.
Reaganomics -- the idea that greed is good and profits naturally lead to justice and equality for all -- has had a number of dramatic effects on US society.
It's led to the rise of charter schools and for-profit colleges and the decline of public education while student debt has exploded.
It's given us a health-care system that promotes profits over people -- a system where pharmaceutical companies spend more on advertising prescription drugs than on research and development of new and more affordable treatments.
It's led to the rise of for-profit prisons that create profits out of human misery.
But what Reaganomics didn't create is any shared prosperity.
It has created an unholy amount of wealth -- but that wealth is concentrated in the hands of very few -- while the vast majority of Americans since the Reagan presidency have seen their standard of living decline.
In 1980 -- the richest families only owned about 10 percent of US wealth -- whereas the bottom 90 percent of families possessed about one third of all the wealth in the United States.
But now -- the families in top one hundredth of the 1 percent own nearly as much as the bottom 90 percent of families.
At the beginning of the Reagan era -- homelessness and poverty exploded -- and it didn't decline in any significant way for another 20 years.