It is amazing to me how people get a selective memory when speaking about those that have passed away. Case in point, President Reagan. He passed away this week, and from news reports, you would think that the man was Mother Teresa. I’ll concede the fact that he’s responsible for scaring the bejesus out of Gorbachev and ending the cold war, and he was a good public speaker, but he wasn’t a saint! Since it seems that the media outlets and the Republican spin machine will continue talking about the “good” of Reagan, let’s talk a little about the bad and the ugly, shall we?

The Bad: Reaganomics. This so-called economic concept of Ronald Reagan was that if you cut taxes you would increase Federal Revenues since economic activity would increase. The increase in economic activity would bring with it increased Federal tax revenues. In other words the tax cut would be self liquidating and self paying since any lost revenues for the moment would almost immediately be made up by increased revenues in the future. It didn’t cost anything, therefore, to lower taxes and the economy would be stimulated to new heights.

In truth, Reaganomics was a smoke screen for a hidden agenda. Taxes were cut, only in the first year of his presidency, to keep the American public happy while a plan to increase the national debt by $2.5 trillion was being concocted. What for? The United States systematically overspent on national defense to crush the Soviet Union since it was obvious they couldn’t keep up. It took Reaganomics only 8 years to increase the national debt from $1 trillion to about $3.5 trillion!

Reaganomics Key Points:

  • The national debt when Ronald Reagan took office was about $1 trillion. That included in it all the debt run up for the Revolutionary war, the Spanish-American war, the Civil war, World War I, World War II, the Korean war, the Vietnam war and all the Social wars of the 1930’s and subsequent years. In other words it took the United States from 1776 until 1980 or more than 200 years to accumulate a national debt of $1 trillion.
  • Ronald Reagan left us a national debt of about $3.5 trillion or $3,500 billion.
  • Given the spending habits established by the legacy of Ronald Reagan the national debt is now a little over $7 trillion!
  • The interest cost on the national debt now runs about $318 billion a year! When Ronald Reagan took office they were about $53 billion a year.

So, feel free to give Reagan props for ending the Cold War, but don’t perpetuate the myth of fabulous Reaganomics. The end of the Cold War came with a $2.5 trillion price tag attached to it, don’t try and tell us that it was free!

The Ugly: the closing of mental health hospitals in California and across the United States. Is it any wonder that California seems to have all of the crazy homeless people? State mental hospitals were taken away by Governor Reagan in the seventies, and federal mental health programs were later taken away by President Reagan in the eighties.

When Ronald Reagan was governor of California he systematically began closing down mental hospitals, later as president he would cut aid for federally-funded community mental health programs. It is not a coincidence that the homeless populations in the state of California grew in the seventies and eighties. The people were put out on the street when mental hospitals started to close all over the state.

Seeing an increase in crime, and brutal murders by Herb Mullin, a mental hospital patient, the state legislature passed a law that would stop Reagan from closing even more state-funded mental health hospitals. But Reagan would not be outdone. In 1980, congress proposed new legislation (PL 96-398) called the community mental health systems act (crafted by Ted Kennedy), but the program was killed by newly-elected President Ronald Reagan. This action ended the federal community mental health centers (see timeline on this link) program and its funding.

In closing, the next time you pass by a homeless person in downtown San Francisco screaming to themselves at the top of their lungs, remember Reagan. And if your kids need to go out and get jobs at age 9 to pay down the national debt, be sure to tell them that they can thank Ronald Reagan, and now President Bush, for their misfortune.


  1. Also see, “Reagan: man of contradictions?”

    #1 by Nugget — June 8, 2004 @ 5:07 am

  2. I’m waiting to see how the conservatives deal with Nancy Reagan’s push for stem cell research.

    #2 by Meerenai — June 8, 2004 @ 9:36 am

  3. You imply that Reagan closed down the state mental hospitals as though he was callous and didn’t care. Before he did this, there 37,000 patints in 11 stae hospitals. The ACLU was suing on behalf of patients being involuntarily committed. the Lanterman-Petris-Short act replaced the large state hospitals with county operated mental health care systems and provided a legal basis for institutionalizing patients. Thanks to the ACLU pressure, involuntary treatment caused the mental heath population to rapidly decline. There are still 5 state hospitals today. Please stop perpetuating this liberal myth.

    #3 by Alan Hagedorn — July 25, 2004 @ 8:45 am

  4. To close or not to close the mental hospitals is on the contrary an elitist invention since the beginning of asylums’. Read Deviance and Medicalization
    From Badness to Sickness by Peter Conrad and Joseph W. Schneider and do your homework. Please stop perpetuating conservative ignorance.

    #4 by Jean — September 21, 2004 @ 3:31 am

  5. Yes but “Involuntary treatment” is made for the mentally ill, many of whom were incapable of making their own discision. Surely it would have been better to reform mental health service rather than just close all the available facilities.

    #5 by Alf — November 10, 2004 @ 11:51 am

  6. Thank you for reminding folks of the heinous acts of the former Governor and President Reagan. Recently I saw a President Reagan stamp on correspondence from a homeless shelter to which I donate and felt physically ill. If Reagan hadn’t shut down all of those mental hospitals I wonder how many of the people that use that shelter would be getting treatment and hopefully getting better instead of living on the streets endangering themselves and possibly others. Sometimes I am really embarrassed to be an American; all this wealth and we still can’t spare a little extra to help out our own citizens who really need it. Thanks again for giving me faith that some of my fellow citizens have their priorities in line with good, instead of greed.

    #6 by Tara McKenzie — November 18, 2007 @ 11:53 am

  7. In answer to Tara’s comment, all of this wealth in the United States is concentrated in the upper one percent and they don’t care. They have guard gated communities and live in fairy tail worlds while the rest of us grovel for the crumbs. You have to wonder how many people have been killed by mentally ill people who would have been helped if Reagan hadn’t cut mental health care in this nation.

    #7 by Hannah Stevens — April 4, 2009 @ 6:28 am

  8. Reagan cut funding to a mental health facility that was holding a violent criminal that, when he was released, raped my wife and damaged her forever.
    Reagan was also shot by a mentally ill man.
    You would think that the shooting would have changed his mind, but no. Reagan had no soul. He was pure evil and I hope he rots in hell.

    #8 by Christian Rudolph — September 3, 2009 @ 11:26 pm

  9. Also, Reagan was not in any way responsible for the Soviet Union collapsing economically.
    The collapse was caused by the Saudis, who got into a price war by flooding the market with cheap oil, destroying the Russian market and causing the nation to collapse economically and then politically.
    Read about it in the book _The End of Oil_.
    Reagan took credit, but he had nothing to do with it.
    He lied about everything, especially this.
    Stop crediting this evil man with this. He had not the power to destroy Soviet Russia. They did that themselves by not diversifying their markets, and having a failed economic system.

    #9 by Christian Rudolph — September 3, 2009 @ 11:31 pm

  10. People with serious mental illness (SMI) do not perpetrate more violence against others than those without SMI. In fact, people with SMI are more likely than members of the general public to be victims of violence themselves.

    However, partly because we have a horribly inadequate mental health care system in this country, people with SMI are more likely to have substance abuse problems than members of the general public. And substance abuse is associated with an increase in violent behavior towards others.

    So let’s not scapegoat people with SMI without foundation here.


    #10 by derrp — March 8, 2010 @ 7:53 am

  11. As the result of cuts in mental health treatment, many are placed in group homes and are neglected. Group homes are for profit organizations. Many times they are understaffed or have poorly trained staff. I can attest to this because I have worked at Saint Elizabeths in Washington, DC and was responsible for treating the chronically mental ill in the community.

    #11 by joan turner — March 4, 2011 @ 4:34 pm

  12. All these many years and still the machinations of this man can get people riled! There is something to be said for karma considering how he spent his last years!

    #12 by FM Henderson — April 16, 2011 @ 8:59 pm

  13. I am non partisan, therefore, my opinion is based on what I saw and had to put up with for 20 yrs. while living in San Fransicko. I had to put up with the crazies day in and day out. I am referring to very sick, aggressive, filthy, crazy people who stab you, assault you, verbally abuse you, and hit you for no reason at all. It is a known fact that the men rape the crazy/homeless women. These people were let out of the mental hospitals for the poor, they couldn’t/can’t pay for their hospitalizations, Rx, care, etc. I remember Mr. Reagan saying that he was saving money by not funding this institutions anymore and that their families should take care of them. In principle this sounds o.k. but in reality it is very hard for families who are not trained, don’t have the means, are uneducated, have to work overtime, and leave the sick person alone at home by themselves because you never know what they will do when you are away. Also, the crazies have more rights than you and me. I know all this because most of the time I had to work until after 10pm and it was frightening to walk the streets in the San Francisco “Financial District”, wait for the bus on Market St. to get home. I saw a lot of stuff and being a woman it was scary.

    #13 by Only Me — May 25, 2011 @ 1:58 pm

  14. Ronald Reagan was the best president in the history of this country. It took a incompetent leftist boob like Jimmy Carter to almost destroy this country to get him. We now have an even less competent radical Marxist in the Whitehouse who no one knew but now has a horrible record to run on. Let’s hope we get another Reagan like conservative to stop and begin to reverse the damage that has been done to this country since the end of the Reagan boom. (2007)

    #14 by mike reagan — July 4, 2011 @ 11:09 am

  15. Amazing that something so huge can be hidden from the people. Also that most have forgotten that this is the reason our ecomony sucks, inherited DEBT. Let’s also not forget that Reagan was merely a puppet, GHWBush is truly to blame!!

    #15 by Freddie Ward — August 13, 2011 @ 6:36 pm

  16. I keep reminding people of this, amazing how so many aren’t aware.

    #16 by anne louise — December 28, 2011 @ 9:21 am

  17. Just like liberal “alternate lifestyles”. (and Alternate reality.) You can’t show any respect for anybody unless they are a liberal sh!t stupid. If the thing about the mental hospitals is true,and Reagan systematically began closing down mental hospitals.then that explains what must have happened to the liberals. You folks have made “The Twilight Zone” a constant reality in the lives of healthy people. …and So…It is true what Mr. Reagan said; “Well, the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they are ignorant, but that they know so much that isn’t so.” President Reagan was always good enough to suggest liberals as and relate to them as friends. It is clear that he was far to nice to them all.

    #17 by RandyLeanear — January 26, 2012 @ 5:09 am

  18. Randy and others above… have bashed liberals and quoted Reagan’s friendly condescentions….what purpose does that serve. I wish people would promote education and not ignorance and wasting time and space. It doesn’t matter whether you are liberal or conservative…many are siding differently depending upon issues. Looking at the facts and having lived through the Reagan Era, I respectfully find the deceased president nothing more than a person of ignorance. It was amazing to me to watch him bumble his way through speeches and not have a clue on the issues. I could never understand how someone could cast a vote for him or the Bushes either. But, look at the facts and you see that he demolished the working class, increased homelessness, demolished (not just carefully revised) social programs, and of course provided the division of wealth that has largely remained intact today (other than some gap closure by Clinton’s years that now has been reverted again in a large fashion). Stereotypical invasive, illegal foreign policy which was twisted to give him credit for ending the Cold War, asa stated in other comments were things that he had little impact on and took credit for all the while (like Bush) participating in and supporting illegal activities in foreign lands abusing others and our tax money, arming the Iranians and Saddam Hussein as well (there were so many other ridiculous decisions he made). To me the list of moronic moves by his 8 years will fill books for all time to come, and yet so many seem to think he should be listed and respected highly….are you kidding me?????

    #18 by Reggie — February 7, 2012 @ 9:25 am

  19. Randy, in your case, you fit your quote to a “t”. You should learn to read and research before you react. He did in fact close mental hospitals just as he did, in fact grant amnesty to more than 3 million illegals. In the amnesty bill, he also eliminated the strict sanctions placed on employers who hire illegals.

    However, you are a fine example of the “far right” voters. Facts mean nothing, you just care to bash liberals, but liberals never voted for amnesty during his presidency and liberals did not close mental hospitals.

    #19 by Nicki — April 29, 2012 @ 11:19 am

  20. Thank you for this blog. I hear everywhere that those who voted for Obama and stick with him consider him the Messiah, but frankly I’ve never seen anything in liberals to rival the way conservatives worship Reagan and even the Bushes. It makes me shudder–this blind devotion to politicians who spout Christian beliefs but who live and seek the high life. When Christ multiplied loaves and fishes and heaven provided manna I think he set the example of socialism, I didn’t read that he fed the Wall Street moneychangers. I believe most would not admire Reagan if they truly understood what his party really stands for, because THAT party favors the wealthy minority. They want us grovelling for low paying jobs. Bush wanted Mexican truck drivers to be able to work in this country, while out the other side of his mouth he said he wanted to secure borders! I’d like to know how many war veterans are on the street, thanks to Reagan’s MH closings, I met one of them the other day outside a restaurant, he didn’t look like he’d been thanked very well. And lets not forget his deregulations–you don’t want government (taxpayer) oversight when you’re helping your wealthy banker friends to be enriched. I personally thank Reagan for sending us Blah Blah Blah “non-mainstream” radio, which presents only one side of an issue and generally does it with just adding a pinch of truth to a pot of spiced up lies. The American public is bombarded with ignorance and of course with NCLBehind “by rote” eye-glazing learning replaces critical thinking in our schools.

    #20 by Rose — June 24, 2012 @ 4:46 pm

  21. I was not old enough to recall when Reagan shut the doors to hospitals and left responsibility to families to oversee the well being of their loved ones. I can see, however, how strong the sense of entitlement that people feel and the visceral hate in your tones when government takes away services. “Rot in hell” one person wrote. Entitlements are why we are falling to pieces as a country. People refuse to do the push ups needed in life. Most people expect so much that is proving to be unsustainable. Why hasn’t Obama re-opened these hospitals? Why didn’t Clinton? Some of these posts are near 10 years old. Obama has run the deficit up near $6 TRILLION in 4 years! What say you now?

    #21 by Terry — July 11, 2012 @ 7:42 am

  22. Terry (just above), you need not be old enough to remember Reagan, as he is NOT the cause. Poor choices, perhaps, but in light of the anti-human rights group the ACLU and many others who were constantly pressuring (even winning a supreme court battle) to have mental patients have rights to refuse treatment, many leaders caved. Unfortunately so. I dare say that many, many problems are created by the mentally ill, both Axis I and Axis deviations. They create somatic complaints in all involved with them, at the very least. It truly would be better to institutionalize the vast majority of shcizophrenics, and many bi-polars. Yes, we have medicines now, but the mentally ill don’t like taking them. Period. The Axis II murder, steal, threaten, etc. They are the politicians, the power mongers that make you walk on eggshells, and yes, even in the ‘cloth’ as some of them seek power over others that way. Psychologists have got such GOOD diagnostic tools now, but we don’t want to stimitize or diagnose (especially since Axis II are incurable and insurance doesn’t want to pay, so we lable them all as bipolar…….total nonsense). Would be better to institutionalize a lot, if not all, of them. Medicate them (not over-medicate), treat them humanely, Guarantee you that the kid who massacred all in the movie theatre in Colorado last night is a schiz. Just as the one who shot the ARiz. senator and others. I’m the first one for constitutional liberties, but victims don’t seem to have them these days. Our founders meant that those who perpatrate them would lose theirs, not keep them in the face of their victims. Institutionalizing would not need be an entitlement, but rather prevention and humaness to take the insanity out of the mainstream of society. Even the sociopaths who never commit violence do commit emotional, mental, physical (somatic illness), and often financial havoc on those around them. Commit them. OH, and all quit blaming Reagan; wasn’t perfect, don’t worship him. But the vast majority of deinstitutionalization began with JFK, and continued with the pot-smokers of that generation and the legal battles that ensued from JFK’s decisions (whose sister received an involuntary lobotomy) and the general ‘feel’ of the civil rights movement (which unfortunately branched to mean that ALL people had equal rights, even if not in their right mind).

    #22 by Rebecca — July 20, 2012 @ 3:54 pm

  23. One simply needs to research the Bill, crafted by one (R) and two (D). The pressure from the ACLU (see Rebecca above)to give the MI their dues rights led to this. Reagan, under this pressure, signed the Bill. The Myth is that he single-handedly concocted this terror because he was an evil person, again, MYTH. When the MI were granted their ACLU induced freedom, there were a lot less people in the institutions, which were no longer needed, and the cuts were made, meaning that they closed and/or consolidated the remaining hospitals. Here is a simple link:

    You can also Google LPS Act or Lanterman – Petris – Short Act

    This Act had become the model for the rest of the States. I can go on and on, but let’s just start with the simple facts, the internet is not lacking on general research capabilities.

    Agree or disagree? Facts are facts.

    #23 by Doug — July 22, 2012 @ 12:57 pm

  24. It amazes me how Liberals spread a myth or lie and everyone jumps on the bandwagon. The ACLU sued to release mentally ill patients who had been committed involuntarily & establish “the rights of the mentally ill”. Once this was accomplished, most mentally ill patients were free to leave the hospitals, which they did. Reagan closed virtually empty hospitals.

    You can thank the ACLU for the release of tens of thousands of mentally ill patients that now live on the streets, don’t get medication, commit crimes against unsuspecting citizens and even murder. Stop blaming Reagan! Blame the true villains – the ACLU.

    #24 by AMERICAN 1ST — September 1, 2012 @ 6:12 am

  25. Sounds to me that whether or not the ACLU had anything to do with the release of mental patients that, since you call mental hospitals and other social services “entitlements,” t you were and are supportive of their release and any other “social” or “humane” cutbacks except handouts–tax breaks and subsidies–to the Wealthy and to big business. Social services are a helluva lot better solution than having to arm yourself with a gun and shoot everyone you catch robbing or burglarizing you or your property. Do you think, even if rightously protecting your property that you won’t spend hours getting legal representation and in court? Or do you think everyone who says they were protecting their property will get a legal “pass” based on their word? Face it, we are fed a line of bull when we are told that everyone can and must take care of their own–that is the ideal but when it doesn’t work out that way, the rest of us have to deal with all those loose ends. If you feel the ACLU was wrong, then put your effort into correcting it. But you don’t–Reagon and his followers will take that as their out since you call social services “entitlements” instead of protective and humane services that benefit even those of us who will never use them. I don’t like to be criticized for believing the disproportionately large taxes my family pays should go toward keeping others fed so desperation does not lead them to acts against me and mine.

    #25 by Rose — September 1, 2012 @ 3:28 pm

  26. Wow good information…

    #26 by Joyce Miller — September 7, 2012 @ 4:37 pm

  27. Reagan psyched ou the Soviets by pretending to be builcng Star Wars a system of missiles orbiting abovr Earth in space. He was an actor and that was pure malarkey, never happened. It got the rooskies to spend themselves silly on military to their undoing. Two questions: Where did all the money that funded this non-existant program go? And why are we now on the same road to destruction of our empire?

    #27 by maureen — October 15, 2012 @ 6:59 pm

  28. Now you are not only blaming Bush for Obama’s failures – you are going all the way back to Reagan. Remember, it was Clinton who enacted a law that all lenders must lend to everyone even if they can’t afford the loan. Also, it was the democrats in California who felt it was more humane to have mental patients in communities close to home. Of course, once prop 13 came into place, those communities couldn’t afford the institution. Don’t blame Reagan.

    #28 by Leigh Fairchild — October 19, 2012 @ 2:57 pm

  29. I found this page because I have a family member that is headed for the streets due to mental illness. There is no one in the family that has the money or means to care for them. They are poor, so homeless shelters and alleyways are the only option. Without insurance, their seems to be no hospital care anymore at all. California State mental hospitals only admit patients anymore with a court order. Called them recently.

    It amazes me how hardcore liberals and conservatives both are fanatical and down right scary. They both sides are the problem, they both have increased the debt on a road to power and wealth. Lied to the people and manipulated the system for the better of the few. Till we can work together to make things better, we will continue to fall and fail. There is no limit to how far. Till this bipartisan BS stops, I for one will wait for all these idiots to destroy each other and everything. Then once they’ve collapsed this civilization… MAYBE those that remain will be willing to work together to make a better society for everyone. That is the only way i see change so long as this petty bickering continues.

    Together we stand…divided we fall.

    #29 by Mike — November 30, 2012 @ 11:44 pm

  30. Mike: I agree with you wholeheartedly. All the side taking and fault blaming must stop and politicians need to work for the people not the corporations and lobbyists who represent them.d

    #30 by Cliff — January 16, 2013 @ 2:10 pm

  31. In the end, and to no matter who’s at fault, it shall cause the decent of a Nation and thereof, cause the fall of many into oblivion as the good and guilty become equal TO suffer at the same hand of fate via our bad judgment and inaction upon any issue that harms the growth of a society.

    Who will gain anything through blame and finger pointing ? yet and more so, what more can be gained through working together in one voice to rectify the problems that bring the very civilization in which we live to the precipice of destruction.

    #31 by James Morgan — May 10, 2013 @ 7:35 am

  32. Where do you think all of the mentally ill ended up, after the hospitals were closed ?
    Reference material is posted at:
    The Privatization of Prisons For Profit and cover-up

    #32 by Toxic Reverend — July 23, 2013 @ 7:46 pm

  33. Reagan worshipers live in a fact free universe.
    As Governor,Reagan shifted patients from hospitals to “board and care facilities” most of which were operated by his campaign contributors, like Beverly Enterprises,which is what caused hospitals to close and giving the mentally ill rights so they were treated humanely did not cause the closures.
    As POTUS,Reagan gutted the Community Mental Health Care funding.
    And Obama has done nothing but improve conditions in the US after the Bush Great Recession and World wide financial crisis.Jobs are up, unemployment is down, DOW is up, home prices are up and the Affordable Care Act does try to fix the problem Reagan caused by ensuring mental health parity and universal coverage so hospitals are not stuck paying for uncompensated care due to Reagan’s EMTALA law.
    P.S. The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) did not cause the housing collapse,the law was around since 1977 idiots.It was Bush who pushed the no-doc loans and lax regulation of derivatives and credit default swaps.Check out Bush’s speech

    #33 by Bushdrools — July 23, 2014 @ 9:41 pm

  34. Haha Bushdrools…you simply know nothing…you simply do not. Fact free universe,jobs up (why because Biden said so?) Dow up…great! How many middle class neighbors do you know in the stock market? Just rich borrowing at ultra low interest rates from other rich and cashing in on a stock market bubble that will burst.Unemployment? Yeah…you are dumb. 93 million able bodied Americans out of the work force…ALL TIME HIGH. You still buy into the manufacturing of the phony UE rate by the BLS? The (un)affordable care act that insured 2 million people? What about the other 44 million?

    Hey everyone look! Another shit for brain who takes current events and facts and is still 0% correct! Nice going, glad to know mugshots still exist. Utopia certainly is not here!

    #34 by Doug the Plunderer — July 23, 2014 @ 10:21 pm

  35. And yet, the facts about Reagan cited by Bushdrools were not disputed by Plunderer.

    #35 by Rose — July 24, 2014 @ 6:20 pm

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