What did Reagan effect?

I originally wanted to post this in GQ, in order to constrain the bullshit from both sides, but I figured it would last about 34 minutes before getting moved here. I myself am highly opinionated on the issue, but I recognize that real information is heavily tinted by the source, be it Heritage or CEPR or whatever.

My question is whether it is possible to find valid information about the real short and long term effects of Reagan Administration policies. I was following a discussion elsewhere, and it was little more than “Morning in America” vs. “President 666”. Charts and stats being flung about with abandon, with little regard to much other than numbers that made him look good or numbers that made him look bad (tweak the basis of a graph just so and a goat becomes a hero – statistics are very hard to trust).

So what reliable, unbiased information can be had about the long term economic and social outcomes that the Reagan Administration can reasonably be given credit/blame for? And s it possible to look into a question like this without descending into a polemic froth?

You seem to assume that it was Reagan that led the Reagan administration.
The powers that run that administration actually ran three administrations.

grits teeth

He didn’t effect anything. He affected some things though.

He effected a change in the underlying political structure of the US by selling people on economic theories that Americans had largely abandoned in the 1930s.

I am aware that the man himself was something of a stooge, a figurehead for a some-sort-of Nostra, but many people view him as a heroic leader who rescued the country from a “Carter malaise”. In that respect, I use “Reagan”, rightly or wrongly, to mean the entire group that used him as cover.

Yes, “effect” is the word I meant to use, I do know the difference. “Affecting” things is almost trivial.

Please name them.

He used his very amiable affect to change public perception of its personal relationship with the US President.

Without taking a pro- or anti- position, I’ll just say I’m confused by what you’re looking for. You want “reliable, unbiased information…about the long term economic and social outcomes” without statistics, charts, or graphs?

Isn’t social and particularly economic information without statistics just…opinion?

He was the anti-Nixon IMFO (In my foreigner’s opinion) from what I can tell. He was style over substance unlike Nixon. He could with his looks and charm get away with anything, even Iran-Contra. He made a hash of economics which will probably be his ultimate legacy when the final judgement is entered.

Historians rank Reagan well above average among Presidents for leadership qualities, but below average for qualifications and quality of appointments, ending up in the middle of the pack overall.
(Cite, showing that his “aggregate ranking” is boosted by Wall Street Journal surveys.)

The Nixon Administration led to political disillusionment in America. That, economic “stagflation”, the Iran hostage crisis, and perceived ineffectiveness of Jimmy Carter meant that America was ready for a charismatic leader such as it hadn’t seen since JFK. Reagan was seen to fulfill that role. His popularity led Congress and the public to adopt his agenda, leading to new directions for America, especially with his “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem” philosophy. (“Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other.”) There’s no doubt that deregulation led by Reagan effected great change in America; whether good or bad may be debatable.

Reagan is widely credited with hastening the downfall of the Soviet Union and the Iron Curtain. Whether this is valid or not, I don’t know, but it is true that there were no major foreign policy debacles on Reagan’s watch.

You don’t count Iran-Contra as a foreign policy debacle?

Not on the SDMB.


Reagan had a net negative effect upon:

[li]American politics - This country would likely be far more racial progressive now than it is without Reagan and his “Welfare Queens” election politics[/li][li]Healthcare - Reagan ignored AIDS at a time when the US could have gotten it under control. Had he shown an iota of leadership concerning the disease then it’s likely that hundreds of thousands of Americans would now still be alive.[/li][li]US/Latin American relations - Did Reagan have a policy on this area other than “give guns to the Contras?” If he did, he sure kept it hidden for eight years.[/li][li]Equal rights - For man clearly marching to the tune of his own wife’s drum, Reagan held surprisingly archaic views upon women’s place in our society. As with race, a period without Reagan as President probably would have been more benifical for American women.[/li][/ol]

Frankly, the entire eight year Reagan term (and its George H.W. sequel) were a crapfest for the country. A few people did extremely well, some got by, and the remainder got screwed.

Not much of a legacy.

Cuban missile crisis, Vietnam War, allowing Saddam to misread U.S. views and invade Kuwait, perhaps encouraging Pakistan-Taliban alliance – those were major debacles, and I did write “major.” Without defending U.S. imperialism or Reagan foreign policy, if Iran-Contra was the most significant minor foreign policy debacle in those eight years, he was spectactularly successful.

You can do all kinds of prestidigitation with statistics. Forbes, for instance, can show that Carter had a better job creation record than Reagan. But job creation is kind of an incomplete statistic. What if 90% of those jobs are part-time? Does the creation of part-time jobs obscure those that are created to replace people moving to full-time? How can one qualitatively analyze a stat like this?

I mean, sure, you can look at figures, but if the numbers become the end-all, you tend to lose sight of what they actually mean. Maybe humanity really is not more important than economics, but I tend to think there has to be some sort of balance in the analysis of socio-economic issues. Any single chart is just a snapshot through a peephole.

The Reagan Effect:

But see also Tear Down This Myth.

That cite is somewhat of a False Dichotomy in the way it splits the stats up in the charts by months. It seems to give an impression that things were actually better under Carter which is nonsense. Your comment has merits, however. I vividly remember in the late 70’s 300 adults showing up to apply for a part-time job at the Dairy Queen because their unemployment benefits ran out.

It is impossible for me to judge Reagan without remembering the disaster of the previous administration. Carter meant well but was completely inept at everything involved with being President. There was little Reagan could have done that would have made very many long for the Carter years.

I think that:

[li]The Camp David Accords[/li][li]The peaceful transfer of the Panama Canal[/li][li]The change in US foreign policy emphasis towards human rights[/li][li]The creation of the Department of Energy and the streamlining of federal energy policies[/li][li]The behind teh scene nogotiating which led to the release of the US hostages held by Iran.[/li][/ol]

Among many other things, make your last paragraph more a statement of opinion than of historical fact.

He was a good diplomat. Brought Israel and Egypt together.