Joseph Palermo: For example, contrary to the mythology that sometimes fogs President Ronald Reagan’s overall fiscal record, the tax burden of working Americans increased during the 1980s, as did the national debt, and the overall size of the government. By 1986, the cumulative federal debt had reached $2 trillion, which was more than the United States had accumulated in its entire previous history.
Joseph Palermo: The wide dissemination of Beck’s views wouldn’t matter much if the United States were in better shape today. But the status quo that is emerging cannot help but create a highly volatile electorate for years to come. Class lines are hardening, mobility is stifled, unemployment will remain near double digits for many years, there is a sea of angry voters who are susceptible to jingoistic appeals and conspiracy theories (like the ones Beck promotes). The ongoing fiscal crisis at the local, state, and federal levels has led to the heartless rollback of public institutions at exactly the time when they are needed the most.