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Hollywood actor, fortieth President of the United States
Ronald Reagan

Ronald Wilson Reagan (6 February 1911 – 5 June 2004) was an American politician and actor who served as the 40th President of the United States from 1981 to 1989. Prior to the presidency, he was a Hollywood actor and union leader before serving as the 33rd Governor of California from 1967 to 1975.


6 Feb 1911, Ronald Wilson Reagan, in Tampico, Illinois


5 Jun 2004, in Los Angeles


Booze Busting: The New Prohibition, by James Bovard, Freedom Daily, Dec 1998
Discusses various anti-alcohol laws and enforcement actions, including the law raising the minimum drinking age during the Reagan administration, and what medical research has to say about moderate alcohol consumption
Perhaps the most harmful example of the anti-alcohol bias in recent legislation occurred in 1984, when Congress and President Reagan jammed a new minimum drinking age of 21 down the throats of 26 states ... Upon signing the bill, Reagan declared, "We know that drinking, plus driving, spell death and disaster. We know that people in the 18 to 20 age group are more likely to be in alcohol-related accidents than those in any other age group." ... Reagan concluded, "With the problem so clear-cut and the proven solution at hand, we have no misgiving about this judicious use of federal power."
Clark For President: A Report on the 1980 Libertarian Presidential Campaign, by Edward H. Crane III (Communications Director), Chris Hocker (National Coordinator), Dec 1980
Post-mortem analysis of the Clark campaign, focusing on what the authors consider were the ten most important aspects, and in terms of what was learned that could be useful to later campaigns
[W]e constantly confronted the need to distinguish Ed Clark from the other serious candidates in terms of issues, while not omitting or downplaying any salient issue. This became a particular problem vis-a-vis Reagan, who was regularly portrayed in the news media as a hard-core advocate of the pure free market. There were two ways to counter this: by talking about Reagan's real economic record, and by emphasizing Libert-arian differences with him on civil liberties and foreign policy.
Democracy Versus Liberty, by James Bovard, The Freeman, Aug 2006
Discusses the dangers of equating liberty with "self-government" as majority rule
In his 1989 farewell address, Ronald Reagan asserted, "'We the People' tell the government what to do, it doesn't tell us. 'We the people' are the driver—the government is the car. And we decide where it should go, and by what route, and how fast." But the American people did not choose to drive into Beirut and get hundreds of Marines blown up, or choose to run up the largest budget deficits in American history, or provide thousands of antitank weapons to Ayatollah Khomeini, or have a slew of top political appointees either lie or get caught in conflicts of interest or other abuses of power or ethical quandaries between 1981 and 1988.
Do Elections Guarantee Freedom?, by James Bovard, Freedom Daily, Nov 2007
Discusses whether democratic elections achieve the purported objective of "will of the people" controlling the government
In his 1989 farewell address, President Ronald Reagan asserted,
"We the People" tell the government what to do, it doesn't tell us. "We the people" are the driver—the government is the car ...
But the American people did not choose to "drive" into Beirut and get hundreds of Marines blown up, choose to run up the largest budget deficits in American history, provide thousands of anti-tank weapons to Ayatollah Khomeini, or have a slew of top political appointees either lie or get caught in conflicts of interest or other abuses of power or ethical quandaries between 1981 and 1988.
The Drug War as a Socialist Enterprise, by Milton Friedman, Friedman & Szasz on Liberty and Drugs, 16 Nov 1991
Chapter adapted from keynote address at Fifth International Conference on Drug Policy Reform; examines why, 20 years after his admonition against the drug war, the government continues its attempts at enforcement, in spite of the predicted results
[Arnold S.] Trebach: I believe you were a supporter of Ronald Reagan.
Friedman: I still am, but not of everything that he did ... There are two areas in which I think the Reagan administration performed very badly. One was the drug war and the other was foreign trade ... Reagan was a man of principle. He is the first president in my life who was elected because the people had come around to agreeing with him, rather than because he was looking at polls and saying what the people wanted to hear. He was saying exactly the same thing in 1980 ... as he was in 1964 when he supported Mr. Goldwater.
Examining Reagan's Record on Free Trade, by Sheldon Richman, The Wall Street Journal, 10 May 1982
Analyzes several actions taken by the Reagan administration that belie Mr. Reagan's alleged pro-free trade stance
Mr. Reagan wants to be known as a free-trader ... On taking office, the President installed officials who pay lip service to free trade ... [In the Japanese auto case] he exhibited a remarkable penchant for Orwellian newspeak. Throughout the debate [he] professed allegiance to free trade. Yet the Japanese officials finally agreed to "voluntary" quotas when Mr. Reagan threatened to sign a Senate bill to impose harsher restrictions ... He [also] seeks extraordinary powers to seize ships in international waters, close ports and other entrances and fine employers for hiring illegal aliens.
Flat Tax Folly, by Laurence M. Vance, Mises Daily, 14 Apr 2006
A review of Flat Tax Revolution (2005) by Steve Forbes, also presenting five problems with the flat tax proposal
Forbes is a typical Republican. Reagan is praised as a great tax cutter, but no mention is made of the Social Security tax rate increasing from 10.16 percent when he took office to 12.12 percent when he left, or the Medicare tax rate increasing from 2.1 percent when he took office to 2.9 percent when he left. And what about Reagan's record spending and deficits? Forbes also praises Reagan for "a massive military buildup" while he criticizes Carter for "gutting the military."
The Future of an Illusion: Kerry's Tax Policy, by Charles Adams, 21 Sep 2004
Discusses presidential candidate John Kerry's proposal to tax "the rich" and provides several historical examples of how the wealthy avoid being affected by higher tax rates
Ronald Reagan's tax planning is just one simple example of how the rich can easily avoid the upper tax brackets. Someone noticed what a fine golf swing Reagan had, and the answer was that when he reached the top tax bracket, he stopped working and played golf for the rest of the year. Many wealthy doctors (and others) do the same thing, closing down their medical practice around August and then taking a vacation from earning money for the rest of the year ... However, the Rabbi Trust and Reagan's golf habits are ... just two of many routine ways to avoid Kerry's soak the rich tax strategy.
Related Topics: Democratic Party, Taxation
The Iranian Threat That Never Was, by Sheldon Richman, 26 Mar 2014
Introductory review of Gareth Porter's Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare (2014), covering the period from the 1950's to the 1979 revolution and early interference from the Reagan administration
Continuing the U.S. hostility toward the Islamic Republic begun by the Carter administration, and siding with Iraq when Saddam Hussein's military attacked Iran, the Reagan administration imposed "a series of interventions ... to prevent international assistance of any kind to the Iranian nuclear program." Not only did President Reagan block American firms from helping the Iranians; he also pressured American allies to participate in the embargo. This was in clear violation of the NPT, which recognizes the "right" of participating states to acquire nuclear technology for civilian purposes.
Related Topics: Electric Power, Iran
It Came From Washington, by Paul Craig Roberts, CounterPunch, 29 Jun 2012
Examines U.S. government adversarial actions towards Russia and China through NATO, in the Middle East and in the Pacific
When President Reagan nominated me as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy, he told me that we had to restore the US economy, to rescue it from stagflation, in order to bring the full weight of a powerful economy to bear on the Soviet leadership in order to convince them to negotiate the end of the cold war. Reagan said that there was no reason to live any longer under the threat of nuclear war. The Reagan administration achieved both goals, only to see these accomplishments discarded by successor administrations.
A Legacy of Anti-Terrorist Failure in Lebanon, by James Bovard, Freedom Daily, Oct 2006
In the wake of a July 2006 invasion of Lebanon by Israeli forces, details Israeli and U.S. involvement in Lebanon, starting with the 1982 Operation Peace for Galilee, the Sabra and Shatila massacre, and the 1983 attacks on the U.S. embassy and Marine HQ
Reagan repeatedly called for Israeli withdrawal from Beirut and declared, "Israel must have learned that there is no way it can impose its own solutions on hatreds as deep and bitter as those that produced this tragedy." ... On September 13, 1983, Reagan authorized Marine commanders in Lebanon to call in air strikes and other attacks against the Muslims to help the Christian Lebanese army ... Shortly afterwards, Reagan withdrew most of the U.S. troops from Lebanon. His actions enraged neoconservatives who seemed to believe that America was obliged to pay any price to ensure the success of Operation Peace for Galilee.
Related Topics: Israel, Lebanon, Terrorism
Machiavelli and U.S. Politics, Part 3: Lies and Appearances, by Lawrence M. Ludlow, 19 Aug 2005
Continues examination of Machiavelli's teachings and comparison to recent U.S. presidential promises and actions
Didn't President Reagan tell his supporters that overgrown government was itself the problem, not the solution? Didn't he vow to eliminate draft registration, the Department of Education, and the Department of Energy? ... Reagan is remembered for opening the curtains on 'morning in America' despite saddling taxpayers with massive debt and profligate spending, ... expanding bureaucracies, and an extension of criminal law that has stuffed our prisons with nonviolent offenders. Even his tiny cut in marginal tax rates in 1981 was offset by tax hikes later that year — not to mention bracket creep from inflation.
Our Elective Monarchy, by Sheldon Richman, 16 Jun 2004
Comments on the "fit for a king" funeral for Ronald Reagan and the similar treatment given to other U.S. Presidents, contrasting them to the treatment of Prime Ministers in Great Britain
Witnessing the state funeral and worshipful wall-to-wall cable-television coverage, [a] Martian [visiting the United States last week] would have sworn that Ronald Reagan had been the king of America ... The Washington Post called it "a funeral fit for a king" ... [A]ll culminated in Reagan's lying in state under the Capitol dome ... For several days Ronald Reagan was the State. (Selective memory helps, for example, the "memory" that Reagan was an unreconstructed cold warrior. You'd never know from the past week that he retracted the "evil empire" charge when he warmed up to Gorbachev.)
Paul Poirot, RIP, by Gary North, 21 Feb 2006
Memorial essay, focusing mostly on Poirot's role as editor of The Freeman
Each person leaves a legacy. Its visibility is usually narrowly confined, but it is there ... Poirot's legacy is a generation of people who learned the basics of free market economics from The Freeman ... There is a photo hanging in FEE's headquarters. Ronald Reagan is reading a copy of The Freeman, with Mrs. Reagan's head on his shoulder. She is asleep. The photo ran first in a New York City newspaper (not the Times). That photo recorded for posterity a representative sample of Poirot's legacy.
The Power of Persuasion, by Jeff Riggenbach, Mises Daily, 20 May 2011
Historical account of the Persuasion magazine, edited by Joan Kennedy Taylor between Sept 1964 and May 1968
Ronald Reagan, the consummate conservative politician, would exemplify this problem more than a decade later ... [In 1980], as the Republican nominee for the presidency, he promised voters to end compulsory draft registration, which had been resurrected by the incumbent president, Jimmy Carter. But in 1982, Reagan reneged on this promise, explaining that ... it could hardly be denied that "we live in a dangerous world," and "in the event of a future threat to national safety, registration could save the United States as much as six weeks in mobilizing emergency manpower."
The Reagan Record On Trade: Rhetoric Vs. Reality [PDF], by Sheldon Richman, Policy Analysis, 30 May 1988
Analysis of Reagan's stance on free trade and protectionism, contrasting what he and those in his administration said with a lengthy list of actual quotas, tariffs and trade negotiation results
After more than seven years in office, Ronald Reagan is still widely regarded as a devoted free trader ... A recent example of Reagan's free-trade rhetoric came ... [when] he said the American trade deficit was a sign of strength ... Unfortunately, a look at the record leads to the question: With free traders like this, who needs protectionists? ... Many people would be surprised to learn that under Ronald Reagan the American economy is more closed than it was before he came to Washington ... Reagan says that one of his heroes is Frederic Bastiat. Reagan ought to reread Bastiat ...
The Reagan Roadmap for Antiterrorism Disaster, by James Bovard, CounterPunch, 8 Oct 2003
Details events before and after the 23 Oct 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut
[On] April 23, 1983, Reagan announced to the press: "The tragic and brutal attack on our embassy in Beirut has shocked us all and filled us with grief ..." ... On September 13, Reagan authorized Marine commanders in Lebanon to call in air strikes and other attacks against the Muslims to help the Christian Lebanese army. ... After the "arms for hostages" deal became public ... Reagan's credibility was devastated. Reagan went into such a tailspin after the crisis broke that his new chief of staff ... briefly examined invoking the Twenty-Fifth Amendment to remove Reagan from office because of medical unfitness.
Reasoning on the Nature of Things, by Clarence B. Carson, The Freeman, Feb 1982
Discusses how natural law doctrines were repudiated by utilitarians, why natural rights are important from an economic viewpoint, how the rights to life, liberty and property can be construed and what the author understands as the "social contract"
The election of Reagan to the presidency, the gaining of a Republican majority in the Senate, and the increase of conservatives in the House, have been interpreted as a major change in the thrust of government. Also, Reagan has been most vigorous in promoting his economic program during the first six months or so in his term of office. There has been considerable talk of economic freedom, of freeing enterprise, of removing government controls, and the like. But the justifications of these, so far as I am aware, have been made almost solely in utilitarian and pragmatic terms.
The Secret State, by Carl Oglesby, 19 Dec 1991
Details various events from the dismantling of the Office of Strategic Services after World War II to the 1991 death of Danny Casolaro, which Oglesby said are reason to be worried about "a secret and invisible state within the public state"
1980: October Surprise
... Barbara Honegger, activist in the Reagan 1980 campaign, and ... Carter national security aide Gary Sick ... claim in outline that in 1980 William Casey, long-time U.S. super-spy but at that point without the least portfolio, led a secret Reagan campaign delegation to Europe to strike a secret deal ... In the alleged deal, Iran agreed not to release the hostages until the U.S. presidential race was over, thus denying President Carter the political benefit of getting the hostages back. Reagan agreed that, if elected, he would help Iran acquire certain weapons.
Standing armies, political mischief, by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., WorldNetDaily, 5 Oct 2000
Discusses a poll by the Wall Street Journal about a possible "October Surprise" that would bolster the presidential aspirations of Al Gore
American history is strewn with politicians who used foreign adventures to bolster their domestic political standing. But the idea of an October Surprise' in particular is of recent vintage. It began with the charge by the political Left, backed by no shortage of evidence, that in 1980, the Reagan campaign arranged for Iran to hold the American hostages until after the election and release them at Reagan's inauguration. Conservatives at the time dismissed such charges as the ravings of former Stalinists trying to discredit the savior of the free world.
To Defeat the Assault on Liberty, Our Appeals Must Be Moral, by Jim Powell, 13 May 2013
Argues, by providing several historical examples, that "compelling moral appeals for liberty" are needed to confront various current problems such as government spending and debt, higher taxes and disregard of constitutional limits on executive power
Ronald Reagan stood out as a rare leader who could express moral appeals for liberty ... [He] knew how to deal with class warfare, too: "Since when do we in America believe that our society is made up of two diametrically opposed classes—one rich, one poor—both in a permanent state of conflict and neither able to get ahead except at the expense of the other? Since when do we in America accept this alien, discredited theory of social and class warfare? Since when do we in America endorse the politics of envy?" ... [H]e had been speaking ... and debating for some three decades before [1980] ...
A Tribute to the Polish People, by Lawrence Reed, The Freeman, Oct 2009
Larry reminisces about a visit with the Polish underground movement in November 1986
While the constellation of strong leaders in Britain, the United States, and the Vatican (Thatcher, Reagan, and John Paul II) helped the process of communist disintegration immensely, those very same leaders rightfully and repeatedly credited the defiant spirit of the Poles. "The people of Poland," declared Reagan, "are giving us an imperishable example of courage and devotion to the values of freedom in the face of relentless opposition ... The torch of liberty is hot. It warms those who hold it high. It burns those who try to extinguish it."
Related Topics: Communism, Milton Friedman, Poland
Under the Shadow of Inflationomics, by Hans F. Sennholz, 1 Jun 2006
Explains how inflation has its roots in central banking and fiat money, and describes the influence of Keynesian economics on the policies of U.S. presidents from Richard Nixon to George W. Bush
The Reagan Administration (1981-1989) reversed long-standing Keynesian trends by pursuing a supply-side economic program of tax and non-defense budget cuts. The program built on the thought that high tax rates and government regulation discourage private investment in areas that fuel economic expansion, and that more capital in the hands of private investors will benefit the rest of the population ... Economic expansion remained relatively modest although the rate of inflation fell below 4 percent during President Reagan's tenure.
Warring as Lying Throughout American History, by James Bovard, Freedom Daily, Feb 2008
Recounts how U.S. Presidents and their administrations since James Polk have been deceitful about wars and military engagements
Reagan paved the way for subsequent presidents in immersing anti-terrorist policy in swamps of falsehoods. In October 1983 ..., a Muslim suicide bomber devastated a U.S. Marine barracks ... Reagan portrayed [it] as unstoppable, falsely claiming that the truck "crashed through a series of barriers, including a chain-link fence and barbed-wire entanglements. The guards opened fire, but it was too late." In reality, [they] did not fire because they were prohibited from having loaded weapons—one of many pathetic failures of defense that the Reagan administration sought to sweep under the carpet.


Claiming Paine: The contested legacy of the most controversial founding father, by Katherine Mangu-Ward, Reason, Jul 2007
Review of the book Thomas Paine and the Promise of America (2006) by Harvey J. Kaye
Accepting the nomination at the 1980 Republican convention, [Reagan] said of the American people: "They are concerned, yes; they're not frightened. They are disturbed, but not dismayed. They are the kind of men and women Tom Paine had in mind when he wrote, during the darkest days of the American Revolution, 'We have it in our power to begin the world over again.'" Kaye is aghast: How did [he] manage to use Paine to "bolster conservatism ..."? "Arguably," Kaye writes, referring to Reagan's days as president of [the] Screen Actors Guild, "only a onetime man of the left could have done so ..."


Best of Both Worlds: An Interview with Milton Friedman, by Milton Friedman, Brian Doherty, Reason, Jun 1995
Topics discussed include: the new Congress, flat taxes, the withholding tax, the people who influenced him, what led him to write about policy issues, libertarianism and how his political views have changed over the years
Milton Friedman: ... I expected so much out of the Reagan administration and was disappointed. I'm a great admirer of Ronald Reagan himself, and I suspect he would have gotten much more done if it hadn't been for the Cold War and the problem of Nicaragua and El Salvador. But nonetheless, there's no doubt that while he talked about cutting down the size of government, he did not succeed. He did slow it down—you've got to give him credit for some achievements. But not the massive reduction that he hoped for and planned for. That makes me hesitant now.
Interview with Karl Hess, by Karl Hess, A. Lin Neumann, Reason, May 1982
Topics discussed include the Republican Party, National Review, AEI, Goldwater, Rothbard, anarchism, the Vietnam War, Carter and Reagan, fascism, urban enterprise zones, the environment, and authoritarianism vs. freedom
HESS: ... The Reagan administration is increasing the debt and the national expenditure, not decreasing them, but they're doing it in a popular way ... You see, perfectly reasonable people who can tell you that you can never solve domestic problems by throwing money at them, like Reagan, are eager to tell you that you can solve international problems by throwing money at them ... Reagan is a perfectly decent middle-class American who believes the rhetoric. The rhetoric isn't bad—I like the rhetoric, too. But I don't think he studies the legislation very hard.


Leonard Liggio on the Rise of the Modern American Libertarian Movement, by Jacob G. Hornberger, Leonard Liggio, 9 Mar 1995
Talk given at Vienna Coffee Club (Future of Freedom Foundation). Liggio starts off with the New Deal and covers many events and individuals both at the core and the periphery of the modern libertarian movement

The introductory paragraph uses material from the Wikipedia article "Ronald Reagan" as of 31 May 2018, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.