Monday, December 19, 2011

The K-Car that saved the Reagan Presidency

One of the things I hate most is when a politician uses someone’s name in vain to prove something that they are not. Many of the Conservative Talkers and Republicans love to state “I’m a Reagan Conservative; I follow the principles of Reagan.”

I’m not about to knock our 40th President around, I generally like Ronald Reagan, but I’m tired of the golden pedestal many put him on, they’ve embellished and rewritten his legacy more and more as time moves on, as if he did everything alone and he alone brought the US back to greatness.

Reagan knew one thing going into his presidency, he needed to work with the Democrats to get any type of prosperity rolling again in the US.

The 1970’s took the US into the doldrums when dinosaur industries of Steel and Coal died, oil embargos caused ripple effects through the Big 3 of Detroit, a once mighty military was crumbling after a decade and a half of involvement in Vietnam, unemployment hovered around 7.8% and everyday there was fear of a nuclear attack from USSR.

Reagan had an advantage in the fact that the technical innovations of the 1970’s were set to take a huge step forward thanks to competition, consumption, and affordability.

The Con-talkers will always tell us that is was Reagan’s determination and tax cuts that saved the US, but Reagan spent huge amounts of money on rebuilding our military. Reagan had spent so much the triple the US deficit and his spending caused the Soviets to eventually cry “Uncle.”

The other fact of the Reagan tax cuts that many Con-talkers speak highly of is that they didn’t last long and Reagan knew he had to raise taxes to raise revenue, actually raising taxes several times during his 2 terms.
But affordable technological innovations saved the US more than Reagan’s friendly persona and faux tax cuts. Consumerism ran rampant as technology exploded in the 1980’s, opening new industries from computers to automotive to everyday convenience.

It was more than “Keeping up with the Jones,” it was more like “Keeping up with the Jones, Smiths, Does, etc.”

Much of that technology was being development or was on the market in the late 1970’s, yet not affordable to the mass US population. Video Cassette Recorders (VCR), home gaming systems, personal computer and cable television took hold of consumer minds and checkbooks.

The growth of Cable television created regional cable providers, thus job creation. Americans were tired of only getting 3-4 regular channels and cable television offered 20-30 channels that included Home Box Office (HBO) and other movie channels. Smaller channels soon followed such as MTV and ESPN.

But with cable television expanding viewership, it also expanded merchandising opportunities as well. Saturday morning cartoons were filled with vibrant colors and sugary sweet cereal advertising. Smurfs, Justice League, Cabbage Patch Kids and G.I.Joe merchandise grew and as it grew so did the realm of the of Toy R’ Us and Kay-Bee Toys stores.

As the toy stores grew so did another “want” or “must have,” the home gaming system.

Home gaming systems like Atari and Intellivision were making their way into homes. Gaming development start-up companies were popping up all along the West Coast; some survived and died before the doors even opened. It was a new sector and the growth was unlimited at that point. Parents and their children tossed aside the Monopoly board game and cozy up on the couch to challenge Mario Bros nightly.

The Video Cassette Recorders (VCR) was a product of the 1970’s, but they became more affordable in the 1980’s with the help of Hollywood, as they saw a tsunami of money rush to them as people were buying their favorite movies for obscene amounts of money. But it was the entrepreneur spirit that started the small Ma & Pa corner rental video store, which also became an outlet the pornography industry as well.

The Music industry as well worked with innovations and started to move away from the Platinum album and produce more on Cassette tapes. The cheaper to produce and smaller Cassette tape had people running to local music stores so they could have their “music on the go” for their vehicles and Walkmans.

You can’t talk about the 1980’s without mentioning Apple and Steve Jobs. Jobs’ dream of a home computer in every home came to life in the beginning of the decade. Soon IBM, Commodore and Texas Instruments were building cheaper computers for anyone to buy.

Gas was around $1.19/gallon and foreign carmakers Honda, Datsun and Toyota saw their sales triple as Detroit just couldn’t put together a respectful product. The Ford Pinto and Chevy Vega were deplorable vehicles of the 1970’s, but Americans bought them because many were still skeptical of foreign brands.

Ford eventually gave us the Escort, which became one of the best selling cars of the decade.

Chrysler took a different route and created a new genre of vehicle, the mini-van.

Many Automotive experts will tell you that the Mini-van saved Chrysler from certain doom, that’s partially true. The Mini-van brought people into the Chrysler/Dodge/Plymouth show rooms, but when the consumer realized they couldn’t afford it, they turned to the odd shape Omni/Horizon and boring K-Car model, so boring was the K-car that it didn’t have a real name.

With all this new technology spewing out and families traveling about, well they needed places to eat on the fly and McDonald’s, Burger King, Pizza Hut and so on saw their industry explode.

Just as a Reagan Presidency thrived under technological innovations, so did the Clinton Presidency with the advancement of the Dot.Com boom.

As we listen to all the GOP candidates and even Pres “O” talk about “bringing America back to greatness” one has to wonder where the next Innovation or industrial sector boom will come from?

The majority of experts keep pointing to the Energy sector with the drilling of Natural Gas deposits throughout the Nation. But how long will that last and at what cost to the communities that are currently thriving under this sector?

One thing is definite, Reagan's 2 terms fielded oppurtunity in just about every sector of business, but tax cuts were only a portion of the growth. Unemployment through his terms average 8.5% and even rose as high as 10.5% after he signed his first tax cut.

The faux Con-talker historians need to revise their notes and give credit to the innovators and risk-takers that today are missed, as well as the growth of Government during his tenure.

That’s it, jump in your faux wood grain mini-van and pick me up a Happy Meal along the way, because it tastes better with a Guinness and thus, time to pay the political tab.

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