View Full Version : Ronald Wilson Reagan--- Syllables

Alan D. Hyde
06-07-2004, 02:12 PM
Here's the text of the first speech of his that I ever heard:

Ronald Reagan:

A Time for Choosing

Speech, 1964

"I am going to talk of controversial things. I make no apology for this.

It's time we asked ourselves if we still know the freedoms intended for us by the Founding Fathers.

James Madison said, "We base all our experiments on the capacity of mankind for self government."

This idea? that government was beholden to the people, that it had no other source of power is still the newest, most unique idea in all the long history of man's relation to man. This is the issue of this election: Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American Revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.

You and I are told we must choose between a left or right, but I suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There is only an up or down. Up to man's age-old dream-the maximum of individual freedom consistent with order or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. Regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would sacrifice freedom for security have embarked on this downward path. Plutarch warned, "The real destroyer of the liberties of the people is he who spreads among them bounties, donations and benefits."

The Founding Fathers knew a government can't control the economy without controlling people. And they knew when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose. So we have come to a time for choosing.

Public servants say, always with the best of intentions, "What greater service we could render if only we had a little more money and a little more power." But the truth is that outside of its legitimate function, government does nothing as well or as economically as the private sector.

Yet any time you and I question the schemes of the do-gooders, we're denounced as being opposed to their humanitarian goals. It seems impossible to legitimately debate their solutions with the assumption that all of us share the desire to help the less fortunate. They tell us we're always "against," never "for" anything.

We are for a provision that destitution should not follow unemployment by reason of old age, and to that end we have accepted Social Security as a step toward meeting the problem. However, we are against those entrusted with this program when they practice deception regarding its fiscal shortcomings, when they charge that any criticism of the program means that we want to end payments....

We are for aiding our allies by sharing our material blessings with nations which share our fundamental beliefs, but we are against doling out money government to government, creating bureaucracy, if not socialism, all over the world.

We need true tax reform that will at least make a start toward I restoring for our children the American Dream that wealth is denied to no one, that each individual has the right to fly as high as his strength and ability will take him.... But we can not have such reform while our tax policy is engineered by people who view the tax as a means of achieving changes in our social structure....

Have we the courage and the will to face up to the immorality and discrimination of the progressive tax, and demand a return to traditional proportionate taxation? . . . Today in our country the tax collector's share is 37 cents of -very dollar earned. Freedom has never been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp.

Are you willing to spend time studying the issues, making yourself aware, and then conveying that information to family and friends? Will you resist the temptation to get a government handout for your community? Realize that the doctor's fight against socialized medicine is your fight. We can't socialize the doctors without socializing the patients. Recognize that government invasion of public power is eventually an assault upon your own business. If some among you fear taking a stand because you are afraid of reprisals from customers, clients, or even government, recognize that you are just feeding the crocodile hoping he'll eat you last.

If all of this seems like a great deal of trouble, think what's at stake. We are faced with the most evil enemy mankind has known in his long climb from the swamp to the stars. There can be no security anywhere in the free world if there is no fiscal and economic stability within the United States. Those who ask us to trade our freedom for the soup kitchen of the welfare state are architects of a policy of accommodation.

They say the world has become too complex for simple answers. They are wrong. There are no easy answers, but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right. Winston Churchill said that "the destiny of man is not measured by material computation. When great forces are on the move in the world, we learn we are spirits-not animals." And he said, "There is something going on in time and space, and beyond time and space, which, whether we like it or not, spells duty."

You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we will sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness. If we fail, at least let our children and our children's children say of us we justified our brief moment here. We did all that could be done."


Ronald Wilson Reagan did all that HE could do. God rest his soul... and guide, guard and prosper his family.

Now it's OUR turn to do ALL that WE can do.


Here's a link to a site from which videos (and possibly DVDs) of his speeches may be ordered:


[ 06-07-2004, 03:33 PM: Message edited by: Alan D. Hyde ]

ken mcclure
06-07-2004, 02:16 PM
What a difference 40 years can make.

Thanks, Alan

Keith Wilson
06-07-2004, 02:28 PM
Lovely rhetoric, with some truth. The problem is that we hear it with 21st century ears, and when translated into actual policy what we think we hear is very diferent from what he was proposing. I suspect that even many of the conservatives here would balk at what Goldwater was actually advocating in 1964. The one time Reagan actually talks about concrete policy rather than principle, we get this, something that George W. Bush wouldn't try even in his wildest dreams :

Have we the courage and the will to face up to the immorality and discrimination of the progressive tax, and demand a return to traditional proportionate taxation? Under the rhetotic is a false dichotomy, a hideous oversimplification, the reason that Reagan for all his amiability and contagious optimism was not a good president. It is this:

There is only an up or down. Up to man's age-old dream-the maximum of individual freedom consistent with order or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism.
Freedom has never been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp.Really? In 1964? Lyndon Johnson was actually a totalitarian? Oh my!

06-07-2004, 02:36 PM
Proportionate taxation is tantamount to slavery for the lowest wage earners.

Jack Heinlen
06-07-2004, 02:39 PM
Freedom has never been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp. I think, perhaps, that he was refering to the Kremlin, not to Johnson.

Chimeras of memory, some read, a very few apprehended.

Strange time. The world on the edge of annhilation: JFK gunned down, a two-bit southern con-man with a knack for homey drawl, toilet humor and blackmail in the Whitehouse(see, it's okay to speak ill of dead presidents after forty years).

I have the sneaking suspicion that that speech was written by a young Pat Buchanon. Could be wrong.

[ 06-07-2004, 03:42 PM: Message edited by: Jack Heinlen ]

Alan D. Hyde
06-07-2004, 02:39 PM
Keith, a society's affairs, like a gyroscope, must always be in motion if balance is to be maintained.

That motion must be forward, or back.

I therefore see no false dichotemy in Mr. Reagan's words, though indeed there IS a dichotemy.

The rivers of history push at our backs.

And the rivers of history flow toward freedom.


Jack, "A Time to Choose" is "The Speech." RWR wrote it himself.

[ 06-07-2004, 03:51 PM: Message edited by: Alan D. Hyde ]

Matt J.
06-07-2004, 02:42 PM
Anyone know how much money is gifted to the government in taxes, for say... 2002, or 2003, if the numbers are available? As in, what's our governments net revenue? Also, what's the total earned by american citizens (legal, since the illegals don't have to pay) for the same period? Simple question. How much did we make, and how much did Uncle Sam take? Anyone with a reference or numbers from a reliable source. I don't have time to look up the numbers.


06-07-2004, 02:45 PM
Still irked that Johnson got Civil Rights enacted Jack? tongue.gif

Dan McCosh
06-07-2004, 02:51 PM
In 1964, I earned $1.28 for a 10-hour day working in the fields in Calfornia, at the end of which I stood at a table set up in the field to collect social security taxes (which was there to be sure the non-U.S. citizens working paid taxes). When Reagan took office, he tripled the taxes for social security while cutting taxes in the high income brackets. This speech puts it all iln perspective.

Jack Heinlen
06-07-2004, 02:56 PM
Still irked that Johnson got Civil Rights enacted Jack? No. I disagree with some of the provisions of Johnson's civil rights work, specifically quotas that were promised never to be quotas.

I think in even the greasiest character there are good things. His senseless murder of thousands of Americans and Vietnamese outways the good he did.

Read a little about LBJ. A more unctious person who ascended to our highest office would be difficult to finger. None have been choir boys, but Johnson takes the cake.

Alan D. Hyde
06-07-2004, 02:56 PM
Dan, in 1964 I was 15 years old, and worked as a bag boy for Standard Grocery. Pay was $1.55/hour, plus tips (if any :D ).

They were hiring. Landing one of those jobs was no accomplishment; ANYONE could have had whatever number of hours they wished.

Looks like you made a bad deal back then: is that supposed to be someone else's fault other than your own?


[ 06-07-2004, 03:59 PM: Message edited by: Alan D. Hyde ]

Keith Wilson
06-07-2004, 03:05 PM
Matt - I happen to have it right here. Note that the total federal taxes as a percent of GDP has been pretty much constant for 50 years, and total taxes for 35 years or so. And actually, illegal immigrants pay too, at least if they work at a normal job rather than for cash only. Sorry about going off-topic, but he asked . . .

And the rivers of history flow toward freedom Yes, Alan, I agree with you, at least when I'm felling optimistic, and out of genuine respect for Mr. Reagan, I'll try to be as optimistic as I can. However, what most conservatives (and all libertarians) ignore is that there are many other sources of coercion, of restrictions on individual freedom, than government. We had MUCH smaller government in the US about 100 years ago. Were things better for most people? Were the vast majority of the citizens more free? Hardly. I agree with maximizing freedom. I think this is best done by finding some elusive balance between totalitarianism on one hand and laissez-faire capitalism (effectively the rule of the rich) on the other. Finding the balance - well, nobody ever said it'd be easy.

06-07-2004, 03:09 PM
Keith; Do you know what the per-capita tax average, in dollars, was in recent years?

Dan McCosh
06-07-2004, 03:15 PM
In 1964, minimum wage was $1.25 an hour, but agricultural workers were exempt. I tried picking fruit when I ran out of money on a cross-country adventure, but the pay wouldn't get me through a day. I got a job in a gas station a week later in Colorado, where I made enough to eat. In fact, I went back to college, but I didn't assume that the men, women and children working in that field all had that opportunity. The reality was, when the work ended, they were often loaded into trucks or planes and shipped out of the country.

Matt J.
06-07-2004, 03:18 PM
Sorry, Alan, for dragging this off-topic. I'm just trying to understand this bickering about progressive versus proportionate taxation.

Alan D. Hyde
06-07-2004, 03:30 PM
Dan, corruption, and single-party socialist rule, explains why the Mexicans, though they got a bad deal here, came here because what they got here was better than the deal they could get in their own country.

Equally to the point, along with direct taxation, is the indirect taxation levied in the form of regulation.

Take a look (and notice the Reagan restoration):




[ 06-07-2004, 04:43 PM: Message edited by: Alan D. Hyde ]

06-07-2004, 03:33 PM
Originally posted by Matt J.:
Sorry, Alan, for dragging this off-topic. I'm just trying to understand this bickering about progressive versus proportionate taxation.I believe that proportionate taxes is the same thing as the flat tax. That is, everyone pays the exact same percentage (proportion) of their income.

The reason I'm asking for the per-capita average is to illustrate how pernicious this is. My guess is that the average dollar amount of taxes paid under the current progressive system exceeds gross income of someone at or just above the poverty line.

Even if it does not, the impact of paying the same rate varies with actual income. Keeping it simple, if the tax rate is 10% (oh happy day! ;) ), someone who makes $10,000/yr is going to get hit harder than someone who makes $100,000/yr. Yes, the proportion is the same, but the impact is disproportionate.

IMO, it only really makes any kind of sense if the government is small enough to operate on a tiny fraction of the lowest wage earners. In today's world, defense expenditures would eat up the entire tax revenue if that tiny fraction where the only income base the government could operate on.

Matt J.
06-07-2004, 03:40 PM
So what does someone who only earns 10,000 now pay? I imagine that's welfare or unemployment money anyway.

It looks from the above chart (that the existing tax code is assinine) that the average tax is around 28%. Why can't people pay 28%, no loopholes, no capital gains, no exceptions. Set the percentage, collect it. Period.

To say 10% off of $10k is not a realistic argument. That person can't afford to eat, clothe, and power watever they live in on anyway. If they can, then they're thrifty. How is it so wrong to say a man making $10k pays too much in $1k, when a man making 10 times as much pays 10 times as much? How can that possibly be wrong?

Dan McCosh
06-07-2004, 03:45 PM
Mexico's government has been in the hands of an oligarchy mainly representing a handful of wealthy families for decades. It's hardly socialist. The tax rate is so low that the basic infrastructure has virtually collapsed. (annual taxes on an $100,000 house in Mexico City are about $200.) Even the limited-access highways are in the hands of private ownership, which is why the tolls are extraordinary and the highways are nearly empty. In an odd sort of way, it's a model for why trickle-down economics doesn't work.

Keith Wilson
06-07-2004, 03:46 PM
Meerkat: I haven't been able to find really coherent data, but dividing federal reciepts + state and local receipts by population would get you a plausible number. Like all tax data, though, per capita averages are not helpful at all. First, because income isn't a normal distribution - long tail off to the high end - and actual tax rate is a complex function of income and other factors, just dividing the take by the numebr of people doesn't tell you much. Federal tax rates vary widely by state (mainly because of differences in income levels) and by income. It's much more accurate to consider all taxes rather than just federal; state and local taxes tend to be pretty regressive.

Here's a table of Federal taxes per capita by state for 2001 (http://www.ppinys.org/reports/jtf/Table%2030.htm). Here's a table (http://www.retirementliving.com/RLtaxburdens.html) that shows state and local taxes, both per capital percentage and dollars - still averages, though. Here's a very long and detailed report on distribution of state and local taxes (http://www.itepnet.org/wp2000/text.pdf)

Alan D. Hyde
06-07-2004, 03:50 PM
Matt, chances are good they'd pay no Federal Income Tax at all, and might receive a payment instead, in the form of an earned income credit.

They would pay $765 of Social Security tax.

State income taxation would be -0- in New Hampshire, but likely fairly high in Maine. It varies by jurisdiction.


06-07-2004, 03:53 PM
Matt; Look at it this way, using your 28% average:

If I'm making $20,000, I'm a couple of thousand above the ~$18,000 poverty level. If I pay 28% of that ($5,600), I'm now well below the poverty level at $14,600.

If I'm making $100,000, I'm well into the middle class. If I pay 28% of that ($28,000), I'm still comfortably well off ($78,000). I also, incidentally, make more use of the goods and services that "my" tax dollars are spent on.

How's that eqitable?

(Edited to add:) I believe the current minimum fedral tax is now 10%. Below a certain threshold, tax credits kick in and one can indeed receive a "refund" that equals or exceeds one's tax liability.

Alan: I think you're changing horses in midstream: we're talking about proportionate taxes, not taxes as they are now.

[ 06-07-2004, 04:56 PM: Message edited by: Meerkat ]

L.W. Baxter
06-07-2004, 04:06 PM
Originally posted by Dan McCosh:
In an odd sort of way, it's a model for why trickle-down economics doesn't work.That's a very perceptive argument, Dan.

How did you come by your information about property taxes in Mexico City?


Matt J.
06-07-2004, 04:08 PM
OK, Meer, I'll make my tax code 3 paragraphs instead of 2, (instead of XX thousand pages). Pick a minimum. Anyone who's taxes would put them below that minimum, only pay taxes to that minimum. i.e, your $20K person would only pay $2k of thier taxes if the minimum is set to $18k. I, and I bet most people, would support that simple rule. It's not complicated.

I didn't say we'd do away with sales tax. Let the people keeping over $70k pay more in sales taxes. Those go to states.

I'm sorry if this offends any government employees out there, but if my tax plan means the budget needs to be cut, give me a list and I'll start cutting. I'll cut this monster until it [i]can't]/i] bleed anymore. THere's a lot of fat to be trimmed anyway.

A coworker's wife was just told she'll probably have the rest of the week off... Reagan's funeral services. Yep, you guessed it, federal government (and I like this part:) "worker".

06-07-2004, 04:21 PM
Sales taxes are proportionate - everyone pays the same percentage. I don't see how one can charge the more affluent a different rate... ?

I'll see your 2 paragraphs and raise you to 3 lines! ;) I have a different proposal:

* NO exemptions, period.

* The tax rate is 1% per $10,000 of income for individuals.

* The tax rate is 2% per $10,000 of income for businesses. (They use the infrastructure more heavily.)

I agree that the federal government needs to be trimmed, but I'd imagine we'd disagree on where and how much. ;)

Keith Wilson
06-07-2004, 04:22 PM
How is it so wrong to say a man making $10k pays too much in $1k, when a man making 10 times as much pays 10 times as much? How can that possibly be wrong? Iíll take a stab at this one; Iíve made this argument here before, and Iíll recap it now. Itís fundamentally philosophical and moral argument; a fair number of political questions turn out to be if you look at them clearly.

OK, Iíll give once again the theoretical argument why a ďflat taxĒ (everybody pays an equal percentage of income) is a bad idea. I must point out that for it to be truly flat, it would necessitate a complete overhaul of ALL taxes; if it just replaces the income tax we would have a system where you pay a greater percentage as you make less, and I donít think anyone would argue for that.

The argument is based on the fact that human beings are of all roughly the same size and have the same basic requirements for life, and that the things you buy first as your income rises are more important. Consider the impact of a tax that takes a fixed percentage of income Ė letís say for sake of argument, 20% - on people who make various amounts of money.

For someone really poor, a subsistence farmer in Botswana, for example, that 20% can mean the difference between life and death, between having enough to eat and starvation. There are very few people that poor in the US now, but itís the limiting case.

For someone poor by US standards, say making minimum wage, the 20% will make a very large difference in the quality of oneís life. It could be the difference between being able to pay the rent or not, to be able to afford going to the doctor or dentist, buying a warm enough coat for the winter Ė a big deal, although probably not life and death.

For someone making somewhat more money, say $40K the difference will be less, though still significant. It may be the difference between buying a house and renting, between having savings and none, between being able to send the kids to college or not. It may be the difference between moderate security and living two paychecks from bankruptcy, or it may just be a significant increase in ease and comfort.

For someone in the upper middle class making, say $80K, the difference in quality of life will be smaller, but real. It may be a very real difference in financial security, a larger nest egg, a vastly reduced vulnerability to bad luck, or it may be mainly incremental; a newer or fancier car, a nicer house, building a boat or not (had to get it in somewhere), sending kids to private or public college, that sort of thing.

Now, if you have someone moderately wealthy making say $300K, the difference will start to get smaller, and will almost be entirely incremental Ė more savings and investments, vacation home or not, perhaps, that kind of thing. The difference in comfort, security and quality of life is fairly small. And for someone really rich, $1 million or over, the difference in day-to-day life is vanishingly small.

Now, I certainly think that hard work and enterprise should be rewarded. I also think that all citizens have the duty to help pay for the government, since we all enjoy its benefits, For all we complain about it, it could be a lot worse; examples, alas abound. I think that the burden should be more or less equally distributed. As the examples above demonstrate, taxing a constant percentage of income does not do this, rather, taxes have a much larger impact on those with less money. Thatís why progressive taxation is much fairer IMO; it distributes the burden, the pain, if you will, more evenly.

Note that this has nothing to do with how much should be collected; thatís another argument altogether.

And I'd recommend you look at that long distributional analysis of state and local taxes that I referenced. As they are currently set up, when you consider all taxes, in most states you pay a larger percentage the less you make.

[ 06-07-2004, 05:25 PM: Message edited by: Keith Wilson ]

Matt J.
06-07-2004, 04:41 PM
Meer, I intended to say that someone with $70k income will spend like someone with a $70k income. No matter whether you like progressive or proportional / flat taxes, that doesn't change. It's not a matter of trickle down, though that seems to be the way it's labeled. It's a matter of $70K buys more than $7k. They will spend it. Having some people out there with money in the pocket to buy whatever mindless entertainment they like (how about a wooden sailboat, or a computer to chit-chat on here?).

Keith, I see you're point. I understand it. I empathize with it. But I nonetheless disagree with your view.

To say that it's unfair, because someone making 40, 60, 80, 300K won't "feel" it as much, is morally wrong. I don't see it as my right to say they should "feel" the pinch as much (or more, since we're asking them to pay proportionally more). They're already contributing more, proportionally more. They use the roads, because they have $70K, more than someone who has $20K? I doubt it. They're one person. If they are using the roads more, then they're also buyingmore gas, and that's a huge source or transportation revenue - the gas tax. So again, they are paying more by fundamental things we should try to regulate by charging them "more, more".

I think it's a matter of perspective. There are people making more, and people making less. To say it's up to us to fine the people making more, and relieving the people making less, is morally wrong, IMO.

Meer, I don't have a huge problem with your idea, except that it's progressive. ;) Find out what rate can be forced to work. Set the rate. If we need a bottom line number, set one. Collect taxes. It's not wrong to ask a person making $30K to pay $5000 any more than it is to ask a person making $300K to pay $50K. 10 times the income, ten times the contribution to society at large.

Thanks for keeping this an amiable exchange. I appreciate both your thoughts and sincerity. I do disagree with you, perhaps fundamentally, but I am interested to see how we can be so opposite in our thinking.

I gotta go home, now, my wife is calling. :D


06-07-2004, 04:55 PM
Keith; To your point: you're aware of this (as far as I know) recent phenomena of the "working homeless" - those who work, but can't make enough to pay for shelter? There was a news story about it recently.

Matt; A poor person is not going to spend as much on gas or use the roads as much. He/she simply can't afford the fuel, insurance and regular maintenence to do other than the minimum driving he/she needs to (this makes the generous assumption that he/she is actually affluent enough to afford a car!). There's also the fear of the catastrophe of a mechanical breakdown and either finding some way to pay for the repair or lose mobility (and, arguably, the least common denominator of being in mainstream american society)!

At the other end of the spectrum (as recently pointed to by another news story about high fuel costs), someone who can afford a $30,000 SUV isn't going to be chaffed much by paying $50/tank instead of $30/tank.

06-07-2004, 04:57 PM
Conrad; ... and the those at the very top, including 100's of the Fortune 500 pay... ZERO! :mad:

06-07-2004, 06:06 PM
I deleted my prior post in an effort to make it more readable. Here's the relevant stuff, the percentage of Federal Income Taxes paid by the top 1%, 5%, 10%. 25%, and 50% of all income earners.

So, in 2001 the top 1% (first column after 100%) of all income earners paid 33% of all Federal Income taxes, and the top 10% paid almost 2/3 of all income taxes. The bottom 50% (from zero to about $40K/yr.) pay only 4% of the total income taxes.

Those of you earning less than $40,000/year may thank the rest of us for carrying your share of the load. ;)

1986.............................................. ............................................. 100.00 25.75 42.57 54.69 76.02 93.54
1987.............................................. ............................................. 100.00 24.81 43.26 55.61 76.92 93.93
1988.............................................. ............................................. 100.00 27.58 45.62 57.28 77.84 94.28
1989.............................................. ............................................. 100.00 25.24 43.94 55.78 77.22 94.17
1990.............................................. ............................................. 100.00 25.13 43.64 55.36 77.02 94.19
1991.............................................. ............................................. 100.00 24.82 43.38 55.82 77.29 94.52
1992.............................................. ............................................. 100.00 27.54 45.88 58.01 78.48 94.94
1993.............................................. ............................................. 100.00 29.01 47.36 59.24 79.27 95.19
1994.............................................. ............................................. 100.00 28.86 47.52 59.45 79.55 95.23
1995.............................................. ............................................. 100.00 30.26 48.91 60.75 80.36 95.39
1996.............................................. ............................................. 100.00 32.31 50.97 62.51 81.32 95.68
1997.............................................. ............................................. 100.00 33.17 51.87 63.20 81.67 95.72
1998.............................................. ............................................. 100.00 34.75 53.84 65.04 82.69 95.79
1999.............................................. ............................................. 100.00 36.18 55.45 66.45 83.54 96.00
2000.............................................. ............................................. 100.00 37.42 56.47 67.33 84.01 96.09
2001.............................................. ............................................. 100.00 33.89 53.25 64.89 82.90 96.03
N/A-- Not applicable.

[ 06-07-2004, 07:13 PM: Message edited by: Conrad ]

L.W. Baxter
06-07-2004, 06:22 PM
Looking at the Federal income tax by itself is not meaningless, but almost.

The graph Keith posted shows that as a proportion of total tax revenue, Federal individual income taxes and corporate taxes have decreased while "social insurance" AKA payroll taxes, have increased. Payroll taxes are the most regressive taxes there are, even more so than sales taxes.

Dan McCosh
06-07-2004, 06:35 PM
Re: L.W. Baxter. The tax info comes from my son, who lives and works in Mexico City. He actually pays about $80 a year on a house he bought for $80,000, but that's due to some kind of subsidy. Of course, he pays for private schools.....