Week 8 - Reagan Revolution.docx - History 40C Week 8 Module...

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History 40C: Week 8 Module: Reagan Revolution Economic conditions of 1970s Primary source is Ronald Reagan's first inaugural address, delivered in 1981. The 1970s were a difficult period economically within the United States. The decade saw the rise of stagflation, which involved growing inflation. There was rise in expense of things, along with slow job growth and unemployment. People were economically precarious, while the things that they needed to live their lives, were getting more expensive. In addition, the 1970s saw a recurring energy crisis. The energy crisis begins in the early part of the decade as oil producing countries in the Middle East retaliate against the United States for its support of Israel during the Yom Kippur War and restricts the sale of oil to the United States. There is another energy crisis at the end of the decade in response to the Iranian revolution and the perceived US support of the Shah, Iran restricts oil shipments to the United States. There is a shortage of gasoline, prices go up, and as a result, truckers go on strike in protest of the high cost of gasoline, which restricts the flow of agricultural products to markets across the country. In addition, the 1970s sees a decline in US productivity and employment. The United States faces competition from both European and Asian countries, and it loses 23% of its share of the total world market. We specifically see a decline in US dominance in car manufacturing as Japanese cars start encroaching upon the automobile market. Reagan approach to government When the 1980 election takes place and when Ronald Reagan offers his first inaugural address, the country is going through a period of substantial economic difficulty. The economic conditions of the 1970s were not comparable to what was happening in the 1930s. Like Roosevelt’s address after the great depression, Reagan's address is a similar response by a president who sees it's his responsibility in his inaugural to address the nation's economic crisis, but the context of the address is very different from Franklin Roosevelt’s. If Roosevelt makes the case that we need an active interventionist government to address the economic calamity of the Depression, that the government should be responding to this emergency as though it was at war, Reagan's response to the economic calamity of the 1970s is not an expansion of government support, but a restriction of government's role. He notably says right now the solution to our problem is not government, but government is the problem that if we want to understand why the country is going through such hard times, it's not because the government is too small, it's because government has gotten to be too big. He resists the idea that society is so complex that we need a group of experts within government, an elite group in order to orchestrate and organize a proper response to a highly complex society, and that instead, we need to rely on the good sense and responsibility of all citizens to govern themselves rather than rely on expert elites to govern for them. This

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