Sunday, September 25, 2011

Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

Our second daughter Sara has gotten a job in the LA area and moved into her first apartment sans roommates. Marla and I went down to visit with her and take her shopping for a few household items. While we were there we made a visit to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. I love to visit Presidential Libraries. They are wonderful places to learn about more contemporary US history and in the Case of the Reagan Library, history that we lived through. The Library had exhibits on Reagan's early life, his Hollywood life, his time as Governor of the State of California, and his eight years as President of the United States. He was Governor of California for much of my childhood and school days. He was President during my early adult years as a young married.
They had his airplane "Air Force One" reassembled in the museum as well as his helicopter "Marine One". They had an exact, to scale recreation of the Oval Office.
When President Reagan took office in January of 1981 I was finishing my degree in Finance at BYU. The National Unemployment Rate was 13%, Inflation was running at 13%. Most mortgage interest rates to buy a house were 14 -15%. A very high percentage of college graduates could not find employment in their field. They were working as waiters or day laborers or anything they could get. It was a scary time to graduate and enter the work force. The general assumption was that we would have those conditions for the unforeseeable future. My professors were predicting 7 -10 % inflation as the new normal condition. They said I would never see a single digit mortgage interest rate in my lifetime and gasoline would be costing $5.00 a gallon in a couple of years and for as far as we could see. Our people were being held hostage in the middle east, with prior rescue efforts ending in a disastrous death of all involved. The Soviet Union seemed to be growing in power and influence and Japan seemed to be buying up everything in America and was destined to be the world's leading economic power. That was our world when Reagan took office. I remember how cruel the media was towards Reagan. He was thought of as not too bright just B list actor. He was accused of falling asleep in cabinet meetings and on the verge of leading America into a Nuclear showdown with the Soviets.
The museum reminded me of many of the things that Reagan did. He was principled. He believed in a smaller Federal Government, lower taxes and less regulation. He was willing to take on the Powerful Government Unions, starting with firing all of the striking air traffic controllers. He was positive, never critical of his opponents. He was optimistic, talking about "a new day in America". He had faith the American people and the free markets. He faced the harsh criticisms of the media with jokes and a sense of humor.
I found a great deal of similarities in the problems of today and problems the country faced 30 years ago. It was inspiring to see how wonderfully things improved thanks to his policies and beliefs. It gave me hope that perhaps we can figure our way out of the current economic policies.
We had a great time with Sara and an inspiring day with President Reagan.