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(POSTWAR WELFARE STATE to THATCHER and REAGAN – continued)

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POSTWAR WELFARE STATE to THATCHER and REAGAN (6 of 7)

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Ronald Reagan, an Introduction

Ronald Reagan had been impressed by President Franklin Roosevelt's confidence that, in Reagan's words, "we could lick any problem." But during the war, as an army officer directing studio projects in California, he found government bureaucracy comically inept. After the war, however, he remained a New Deal Democrat and interested in social justice for all. At the same time, he was a little disturbed by the unfairness in taxing actors. He was in the 94 percent tax bracket. He was to describe it as the government taking "most of what I earned." note42   Work for actors, he complained, was off and on.

Reagan was a lifetime member of the AFL-CIO. He led the Screen Actor's Guild in its first strike. An, described in his memoirs, An American Life, he was annoyed with the antics of Communists in Hollywood who were trying to exercise what they saw as their deserved leadership in the labor movement.

Reagan visited Britain in the winter of 1948-49 while making the movie The Hasty Heart. Britain was still suffering from the effects of World War II and the Labour governments austerity policies. The winter was exceptionally cold and the air was bad. Reagan was miserable. Just about everything in Britain bothered him. In the 1970s he was to describe what he found of Britain's Labour government and its welfare state as having been a defining state in his political journey. note43

By the 1960s, Reagan was supporting the conservative positions of Barry Goldwater, including working for Goldwater's run for the presidency. In 1966 he began his eight years as governor of California. In January 1981 he became the 40th President of the United States.

In his inaugural address, Reagan said,

We suffer from the longest and one of the worst sustained inflations in our national history. It distorts our economic decisions, penalizes thrift, and crushes the struggling young and the fixed-income elderly alike. It threatens to shatter the lives of millions of our people.

Idle industries have cast workers into unemployment, causing human misery and personal indignity. Those who do work are denied a fair return for their labor by a tax system which penalizes successful achievement and keeps us from maintaining full productivity.

But great as our tax burden is, it has not kept pace with public spending. For decades, we have piled deficit upon deficit, mortgaging our future and our children's future for the temporary convenience of the present. To continue this long trend is to guarantee tremendous social, cultural, political, and economic upheavals.

You and I, as individuals, can, by borrowing, live beyond our means, but for only a limited period of time. Why, then, should we think that collectively, as a nation, we are not bound by that same limitation?

We must act today in order to preserve tomorrow. And let there be no misunderstanding – we are going to begin to act, beginning today.

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