Thank you all for the great emails about Reagan. It's wonderful to think about a man and the relationship he might have with a nation.


“When the lord calls me home, whenever that day may be. I will leave with the greatest love for this country and eternal optimism for its future”-Ronald Reagan November 5, 1984

Former President Ronald Reagan has died.

Born on February 6, 1911 in Tampico, Illinois, Ronald Reagan played football and acted in college. First a radio personality, and later an actor, Reagan parlayed his celebrity to become president of the Screen Actors Guild. Embroiled in battles over Communism’s penetration of Hollywood, Reagan became a conservative, and a political icon was born.

Reagan was elected Governor of California in 1966 and oversaw many of the state’s most tumultuous years. Later he ran against Jimmy Carter, the malaise that afflicted America, and Communism. On January 20, 1981, Ronald Reagan took office as the President of the United States. A radical form of conservatism was reborn, and America’s political landscape was changed forever.

Perhaps the least appreciated or most subtle part of the Reagan legacy is his unbounded optimism and faith that America's future is bright as long as America remains true to its principles. To Reagan, as he reiterated at the 1992 Republican National Convention, America can be forever young.

But a renewed sense of the possible wasn’t the only legacy left by Reagan.

-The “Reagan Doctrine” believed that the Soviet Empire needed to be ended for the peace and prosperity of the globe. He spent billions of dollars to wage a militarily cold, yet economically hot, war against the “Evil Empire”. Reagan’s policy of “Peace through Strength” hastened the end of the Soviet Union and ultimately brought democracy and capitalism to the far corners of the world.

-Reagan strongly believed that the size and scope of the government should be reduced in non-essential areas. Second only to military rearmament, tax cuts were the priority of the early Reagan administration. He worked to reduce the marginal tax rate to spur economic growth. While deficits occurred over the short term, he brought in an era of unprecedented growth and economic vitality. He oversaw an economic expansion that lasted for 93 months. The expansion continued for the length of his taxation policy, ending once his successor George Bush deviated from the Reagan economic textbook.

-The Reagan years were also marked by the scandal of the Iran-Contra affair. Selling arms to Iran in exchange for a release of seven U.S. hostages held in Lebanon was in direct conflict with the administration’s stated position. When the clandestine trade was exposed it was discovered that some of the funds had been siphoned off to support the Contras in Nicaragua. While there were clear violations of law, and the President’s image had been tarnished, Reagan remains the most popular modern President.

President Reagan survived scandal and assassination attempts. He battled the Evil Empire and the crushing weight of American self-doubt. Through it all he always believed in America and her ideals. A patriot in the most generous sense of the word, Ronald Reagan gave generations of Americans a new perspective from which to view the world.

We've done our part. And as I walk off into the city streets, a final word to the men and women of the Reagan revolution, the men and women across America who for 8 years did the work that brought America back. My friends: We did it. We weren't just marking time. We made a difference. We made the city stronger, we made the city freer, and we left her in good hands. All in all, not bad, not bad at all.
-President Ronald Wilson Reagan, Farewell Address to the Nation, January 20th, 1989.


We pay orthodontists an average of $350,000, and no one would say that their impact on the lives of kids is greater than a teacher's.

Dave Eggers writes another Heart Breaking Tale, this one about teachers. Why does America, he wonders, have such a conflicted relationship with teachers? On one hand they are viewed as saints, caregivers, custodians of our collective futures, on the other, they get paid less than many other professions that have relatively less impact on societal well being.

The latest statistics put the average teacher's salary at about $46,000; some teachers earn a little more, some a little less (the average teacher's salaryÂ?not the starting salaryÂ?is $38,000 in Kansas, $36,000 in New Mexico, and $32,000 in South Dakota). Overall, that's about the same that we pay pile-driver operators ($45,980) and about $8,000 less than the average elevator repairman pulls down. Meanwhile, a San Francisco dockworker makes about $115,000, while the clerk who logs shipping records into the longshoreman's computer makes $136,000.

Some of the conflict in people's minds may stem from the view that teachers and their unions are more concerned with their job security than with educating the young. Other's consider salary not to be the true indicator of the esteem in which we hold various professions, (noting that the President of the US gets paid less than the man who greenlighted The Swan). Eggers retorts, "When teachers are forced to tend the yards of students' homes, to clean houses, or to sell stereos on nights and weekends, the quality of education is diminished, the profession is disrespected, and we parody the notion that we hold our schools and teachers in the highest regard."