The history of America since 1980

Brad DeLong spells it out:

  1. The end of the Cold War
  2. Other winner-take-all factors that have, in combination with
    education, pushed American income polarization back to Gilded Age
  3. The failure of American taxpayers to support their state and local
    governments in expanding funding for public education–and the impact
    of reduced public education effort in sharpening the distinction
    between rich and poor.
  4. The computer revolution in productivity growth.
  5. The rise of China (and soon, we hope, India) as industrial powers.
  6. The extraordinary social liberalization of America–if you had told
    any Republican in 1980 that 2008 would see (a) a Negro with an
    Arabic-Swahili name beating a veteran fighter pilot in the presidential
    polls and (b) gay marriage as the big cultural issue of the day, said
    Republican would have blown several gaskets. And if you had said that
    this would have been the result of an "Age of Reagan" said Republican
    would have melted down completely.

I’m mostly on board (and read the broader post) but, in addition to mentioning Latinos, I’ll suggest two revisions.  First, on #3 I doubt if the stagnation of American lower education is the result of insufficient dollars.  It is notoriously difficult to find a convincing link between educational expenditures and educational quality and I don’t think that is econometric problems.  On #6 I never saw most of the Reagan Republicans as especially prudish or socially conservative; that was just a lie told to one of the interest groups attending the party.  Revolution in the Head — which is oddly enough a social history of the Beatles — is especially good on the connection between 1960s morals and the Reagan Revolution.


Comments for this post are closed