"Get the government off people's backs!" Email Print

The above headline was President Ronald Reagan's famous saying, which became a Republican big business "mantra."

The passage of time permits us to fairly analyze this popular big business slogan to see exactly how it worked in practice.

In 2008 we vividly see how decidedly dangerous and foolish Reagan's slogan really was.

By 2008 the meltdown of the mortgage market demonstrates dramatically what happened when the government "got off" regulating the U.S. banks' mortgage loan departments.

U.S. banks were fraudulently fueling the hot home sales market.  How?  Many banks were hastily making loans to home buyers with bad credit ratings.  Interest only loans were popular.  (30 percent of California home mortgages were interest only.)  

At the moment, payment on both principal and interest were required by these mortgage contracts.  These risky buyers defaulted.

At a recent stockholders meeting of Washington Mutual Bank, which ranks high on the list of banks with mortgages in default, bank officials admitted that loan officers were given bonuses when approving loans for risky borrowers, with bad credit histories and potential insufficient income when both principal and interest would be required by mortgage contracts.

In other words, economic bonuses were given to loan officers, providing mortgages for buyers who could never pay back the loans.

Now, in 2008, there are 2 ½ million homes facing foreclosure!  During the Great Depression 2 ½ million home owners faced foreclosure, and by strange coincidence, this is identical to the number of refugees, 2 ½ million who have lost their homes in Iraq as a result of the current conflict.

Why would U.S. banks make such "sure to default" loans?

U.S. banks, working with Wall Street, simply packaged these sub-prime loans, labeling them "mortgage securities."

"Securities" was the key word scam artists used to persuade bankers all over the world to fall for these often worthless mortgages.

How much have world bankers lost in this unique mortgage securities "scam operation"?  The estimates range between $300 to $400 billion.

When Bear-Stearns commercial banks needed to be bailed out - where did they go?

Bear-Sterns went directly to the U.S. government for bail-out billions.  In 1987 when the savings and loan industry had made unsafe loans they went to the U.S. government to bail them out with approximately $500 billion.

What these bankers really wanted was to figure out a way to make money on un-supervised, unfair mortgages and bilk someone - cheat someone to make their billions who got hurt?

  1.  The sub-prime borrowers - whose mortgages collapsed (2 ½ million borrowers) with bad credit ratings and no adequate income to own a home by paying for a legitimate mortgage.  (Paying both interest and principal.)

  2.  Bankers lost billions around the world ($300-$400 billion) not realizing at first that U.S. banks had cheated them, selling them loans without adequate credit or income from borrowers.

  3.  Legitimate home owners have been hard hit.  Millions of homes that heated up the housing market never should have been built or sold.  These homes were nothing more than victims of unethical banks without adequate government control.

  4.  The entire U.S. economy is on a downturn in 2008.  For the first time in U.S. history the government is sending out checks to taxpayers to stimulate the stagnant, inflated economy.

This is the end result of Reagan's "Get the government off people's backs!" false philosophy.  

As for the food we eat, a story in the Seattle Times on May 10, 2008 was headlined:

"Feds want court to block wider testing for Mad Cow" meaning, of course, Mad Cow Disease.

This article by Sam Hananel for the Associated Press stated:

"The Bush administration Friday urged a federal appeals court to stop meat-packers from testing all their animals for Mad Cow Disease.

"Less then 1% of slaughtered cows are now tested for the disease under agriculture department guidelines.

"The government seeks to reverse a lower court ruling that allowed Kansas-based Creekstone Farms to conduct more comprehensive testing to satisfy demand from overseas customers in Japan and elsewhere."

How could testing less than 1% of the cows for Mad-Cow Disease properly protect U.S. consumers?

Apparently getting U.S. government health inspectors to follow the "Get the government off people's backs!" when it comes to what we eat is not a safe idea.

It was under the Reagan Republican administration that the U.S. fought to place one of the most repressive Islamic groups, the Taliban, in power.  

Currently the Bush administration has the U.S. fighting to depose the Taliban from power in Afghanistan.

What investigation has there been to determine if placing the Taliban in power at a great cost in lives a few years ago made sense, when we are now trying to overthrow all Taliban power and bring some semblance of stability and peace to this troubled area.  

Our foreign policy in the entire Middle East is confusing.  As the ill-fated Iraq War rages on relentlessly, it has devolved into a religious civil war.

The U.S. is still promoting the proposal for foreign oil investors to obtain long term leasing of 63 of Iraq's 80 oil wells.  So far the Iraqis have refused to sign this deal.  Some ask:  Were these oil leases the real reason for the Iraq War?

Could it be that Bush and Cheney are fully aware that there are those leaders throughout the world that are determined that all those responsible for launching the Iraq War death toll and destruction be held responsible?

The Geneva Conventions' war rules were signed by the U.S. government.  Only the World Court at The Hague can determine how to judge this Iraq War debacle, so that nothing like this ever happens again.

In a nuclear world, we cannot afford to do any less!

If Bush and Cheney expect U.S. citizens to follow the laws of the land, they must respect all laws, including the Geneva Conventions.      


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was used here as a Reagan slogan. It referred to destroying the kinds of regulations, such at work places, that made people safer.  It referred to anti-trust and freedom from the kind of monopoly that now thrives in the media thanks to Reagan's scuttling the equal time provision of the FCC.

I have written frequently about how the right hypocritically uses Reagan's mantra to help big business and keeps the government riding people's backs in the realm of the Bill of Rights and what used to constitute laws of privacy.

Hence, Reagan wanted government "off of people's backs" in areas where citizens needed protection and saw nothing wrong with trampling individual rights and liberties on behalf of big government.

Thanks for your response.    

by Bob Kendall on 05/15/2008 03:36:19 PM EST