1985 | Pop
Spotify | Amazon
“We're talking 'bout reaganomics, oh lord down in the congress. -- They're passing all kinds of bills, from up there on capitol hill, we've tried it.”
- This a 1982 song written and first recorded by The Valentine Brothers, John Valentine and Billy Valentine.
- The Valentine Brothers' version peaked at #41 on the Billboard R&B charts, while the Simply Red single hit #28 on the US Billboard pop chart in 1986.
- The song was #6 of the top ten "Tracks of the Year" for 1982 by NME.
THE HOT TAKES
Good ol' Reaganomics. A full analysis of the policies of Reagan is far, far beyond the scope of a single song write-up. It's actually a bit beyond me presently, even without a limit on scope. Some things Reagan did were fine, others were disastrous. Ending some price controls? Awesome. Decreasing the rate of increase on federal spending? A timid step in the right direction. Increasing the military budget? Terrible. Decreasing the highest marginal tax rates? Great! The unfortunate corner we find ourselves backed into is this: Because we support things like deregulation, abolishing the income tax, removing wage and price controls, and other aggressive moves towards liberty, we are lumped in with "supply siders" or "Reaganites," or "budget hawks." We are none of those things. We stand separate from them, in a significant way. Rather than reformers, we are abolitionists!
I love Simply Red, and their brand of blue eyed soul. This song is by far their most political, and in my opinion, reveals a lot about what passes for common political thought and economic understanding in the Western world. “We’re talkin’ ‘bout Reaganomics,” lays out pretty clearly the target of the song. Aside from “Reaganomics,” though, which I’m not really gonna get into, we have two prevailing ideas. 1) That people are entitled to a “social safety net,” and 2) That economies need to be managed, and by a central authority.
First things first. “Public” money is stolen money and no one owes the government or anyone they are not responsible for, the fruits of their labour. While I do believe in charity and helping others where you can, forced charity is not real charity and only victimizes those who are forced to pay for it. Secondly, managed economies are uninformed and inefficient and lead towards more State control.
While I sympathize completely with people who are struggling, I am not interested in talking about continuing the programs and thinking that perpetuates a system that purports to help some at the expense of others. As a libertarian I am ready to talk about real solutions that don’t perpetuate State predation.
And here I thought he only had the one hit. Nevertheless this is one of those songs I’m not sure I see the same thing as the other collaborators. Personally the song wreaks of an attempt to shrug responsibility for one’s lot in life on those around them. Obviously blaming the world for your bad luck is as unlibertarian a situation as I can imagine. But i would be remiss to suggest there’s nothing to learn in the song. There is a pervasive idea of libertarians as hyper-individualists with little regard or care for others and in my experience that assessment certainly rings false. Sure we have our assholes the same as any other group but our motivations fit the same pattern as the general population. We probably spend more time on what we see as solutions than on lamenting the story that made us act. We don’t spend time on the fancy dramatization and unfortunately that’s the hook. It’s why we fail to move people via the arts...that and a hundred years of socialists propagandizing our children but I digress. When you listen to this song and how it paints even bland conservatism as an enemy of the poor you can see how thoroughly people concerned with economic answers for emotional issues are villains. Go out and spread the word but remember that while we want logos, they need pathos.