Reactionary forces: Nostalgia for a time that never existed

Just getting my daily diet of politics (I’m not particularly fond of the ‘politics panel’ that they have since it turns into a yelling match over who can say something that gets the biggest reaction – in other words it’s no ‘Mclachlan Group’ which I find interesting to watch) and there was an interesting point regarding the regression in social views by the Republicans and the partially informed voter base harking back to the ‘good old days’ when a father could work a 40 hour per week job and support a family with mum being able to stay home with the kids:


Although Jess McIntosh (vice president of communications for ‘Emily’s List’) noted that it would be generous to construe reactionary forces with a nostalgia for better times in the past it is also important to understand that the liberalisation of the economy and destabilisation of the work place occurred hand in hand. For many ‘working class Joe’s’ out there there is the conflation of the economic and social changes as being one in the same – that to reverse the economic you need to reverse the social with Republicans of course giving a narrative that doesn’t even bear the closest resemblance to reality. The narrative they give is that the US economy back in the ‘good old days’ was ‘free market capitalism’ and ‘less regulation’ whilst ignoring the fact that the economy was heavily regulated, AT&T was a government regulated monopoly because of the belief that a single player in a capital intensive industry such as fixed line telecommunications would only be viable via a single player that was regulated (breaking it up simply created regional monopolies so the natural monopoly more or less remained). Then there was the regulation of the airline industry (the industry was deregulated under President Carter so the narrative of him being a pinko commie doesn’t hold water) where there were price floors to ensure that there wasn’t a race to the bottom and destabilisation of the industry over all (once again, a highly capital intensive industry with few players and the government tried to play the fine line between protecting consumers whilst ensuring modest profits for the business and their shareholders) so the airlines tried to compete in other ways such as more generous on flight service (so began the joke about regulators ensuring that sandwich sizes were the same between airlines).

So given that background you can see that the narrative of the ‘free market America of the past’ never existed – it was high protectionist, high regulated and personal income taxes sitting north of 60% not to mention the large amount of transfers from the top to the bottom along with free university at land grant universities, the GI bill for returning soldiers, large public works projects as the government stood up being the employer of last resort during the economic down turn. Then there was the rise of the religious right and Reaganism and some how Christianity and social conservatism got dragged along for the ride so you had this vision of America where the good old days were that of mum, dad, 2.5 kids and a house in the suburbs all made possible via the free market when in reality it was Reagan’s very policies that undid the idealised past that many harken back for. As for the rebellion against the liberalisation of social norms, that happens to be a great distraction that the powers that be use – “don’t be concerned about how you’re being shafted by the 1%, focus on that gay couple over there! yeah! it’s all those liberal social values that are to blame for the break down of society!”. Correlation doesn’t equal causation: don’t conflate social liberalisation to economic liberalisation resulting in the average punter being a royal screw job.

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