Individualism and its Corruption of the Political Legacy of President Ronald Reagan
President Reagan’s regime in 1981-1989 was typical of massive greed, corruption, rampant individualism and selfishness of politicians, investors and government officials who grabbed, manipulated and squandered national resources for their own benefit. It was the era where amassing wealth became a national obsession. Instead of seeking for individual rights and civic obligation for the common good, everyone seemed to care for his/her needs first. Individualism was so powerful that each citizen would be shut up in the solitude of his own heart. But all this arose as a result of Reagan’s contempt for government and his glorification of self-interest. Officials placed personal gains above public interest (Boyer, 980, p.404). The cloud of opportunities and greed overrode federal obligation. By the end of Reagan’s tenor, 138 administration officials had been convicted with corruption claims.
Ideally, the era’s get rich quick drive saw the corporate takeovers, highly leveraged buyouts, and junk-bond millionaires face imprisonment after being convicted with white collar crimes. Commented Sterner postulated that the era had the most selfish generation in the United States, Major concerns that surfaced included deceptive pricing, escalated military spending, inflated labor costs as well as pentagon-procurement abuses. Federal agencies such the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) were so corrupt to the point that its top officials propagated fraudulent contracts worth millions to ‘political connected’ builders and consultants. Wedtech Company, for example, won $250 million in no-bid minority contracts but ended up collapsing and being declared bankrupt after its insiders faced multiple scandals. Attorney General Edwin Meese was also charged for taking bribes and falsifying income tax returns.
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Individualism also crippled investments. High flying deal makers made headlines and ruled Wall Street. The torrent of mergers involved hostile takeovers by riders. The high interest rates in the late 1970s impelled S&Ls to raise prices to attract deposits even though their capital was tied up in low-interest mortgages. As evident from the above, individualism corrupted the legacy of Reagan presidency and in the end, he declared that all he wanted to see was a country where someone could get rich.
Boyer, P. (1980). Promises to Keep: The United States since World War II. Chapter: 7 – A section from this week’s reading from Boyer is entitled “Individualism Rampant: American Life in the 1980s” (pp 404-407).
The 1980s – Facts & Summary – HISTORY.com. (n.d.). Accessed on 11 March 2017 Retrieved from http://www.history.com/topics/1980s