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Reagan Conservatism

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The 1980s, the era of free living, independence, wild and rampant drug use, flower children, love and peace… oh, that’s the 1960s. The 1980s? The era of Reagan conservatism that challenged many of the habits and beliefs developed in the sixties; forget the hippies in fields of flowers, and shift the mindset to corporate goons on Wall Street. Shift the burning of bras in streets, to the return of classic American values. While those in the sixties might have been motivated by love and the desire for world peace, the next generation was driven by the hunger for power and love, the love of money. “Greed is good, greed in all its forms has marked the upward surge of mankind.” Gordon Gekko, Wall Street. Alright, he may not be a real human…show more content…
The previous decades saw increased the decriminalization of certain drugs, such as marijuana, as they began to be used more casually. However, the 1980s and the specifically the Reagan administration saw the “War on Drugs” start. Led by Nancy Reagan, the “Just Say No” campaign dominated the headlines as parents became concerned about their children using drugs (Goode & Ben-Yehuda, n.d.). Under new leadership, the government began to criminalize drug use to unprecedented levels. In a span of seventeen years, from 1980 to 1997, the number of the incarcerated individuals imprisoned due to non-violent drug offenses increased from forty thousand to five hundred thousand (Drugpolicy.org, n.d.). At the start of the decade only 2% of Americans viewed drugs in America as a major issue, but after only nine years, that number grew to an astonishing 64%. The media and politicians contributed to this meteoric rise in such a short time. Television networks and news programs began to cover the negative side effects of drugs that were ignored during the two previous free living decades. Politicians viewed the “War on Drugs” as an opportunity to strengthen their name recognition since the majority of drug related legislature became front page news. The 1980s saw the birth of a highly addictive and inexpensive drug, crack cocaine. This spinoff of the considered designer…show more content…
Were Americans more greedy during the 1980s? The top 1% began to control almost 50% of the US household wealth because of the Reagan tax cuts for the rich and greed. Wall Street business shifted towards more money motivated actions and get rich quick investments. Corporations were more interested in acquiring more assets and smaller companies to gain immediate financial success, instead of investing companies and researching for the future (West, 1994). Greed could certainly account for this new technique utilized in the business world. They were certainly earning and spending more than ever before on the surface. Expenditures on non necessities such as on automobiles, watches, and fashion clothing increased exponentially during the decade. However, the increase in charitable givings of Americans saw a 58%, second to only to the amount increase in automobile expenditures. Charitable giving increased from seventy-seven billion to one hundred twenty billion in a mere nine years, after only increasing forty billion in twenty-five years. While they were spending more on non necessities for themselves, they were also more charitable (McKenzie, n.d.). Does the increase in the amount of giving discredit the nickname of “The Decade of Greed” awarded to the 1980s? It depends on how you view the statistics. Americans were certainly interested in acquiring more wealth and assets, but what decades weren’t also motivated by the color of
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