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At the same time, students were not afraid to broaden their education in the liberal arts: between 19 the number of college students went from 2.5 million to 8.8 million and those who graduated did so with little debt or small federal loans with reasonable interest rates.powerfully shows that while we often think of the 1950s and 1960s as golden years of widespread prosperity, much of this economic leveling was achieved through federal policies and not the invisible hand of laissez-faire markets.
A large portion of the book is devoted to undercutting the idea that the postwar welfare state was simply an automatic process of applying wartime scale and mobilization to domestic needs.
Rather, Goldfield wants to show that the social provisioning of this period was linked to moral sentiment — people supported Pell Grants for the same reason they were in favor of voting rights — because everyone deserves a fair shake. He begins by talking about the working-class sons and daughters of immigrants who attended Tilden High School in Brooklyn (of which he was one, but he barely pauses to note this), but he never quite integrates these characters into the book.
It comes from the Reagan regeneration of the Republican Party, and its conviction that experiments in the welfare state, from the New Deal to Nixon’s own Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), were failures that overreached into personal freedoms.
Yet, Reagan voters were some of those who benefited the most from 50 years of social programs.
FEBRUARY 12, 2018 AT THE TOP of the federal government are a set of people who believe that if government is big, it is also tyrannical.
The national conversation has swung so far in this direction in some quarters that doctors charged with researching gerontology are “death panels,” staff from the Bureau of Land Management are no better than occupying troops and should be shot at, and the relief provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency after major disasters is a dress rehearsal for overthrowing democratic rule.
Those who were middle-aged when they cast their ballot for the Gipper had grown up in homes bought with the G. Bill, learned to drive on federal highways that used infrastructure spending, and were educated at secondary schools and universities expanded in the 1950s and ’60s.
If they were women or people of color, their new and improved political and economic status depended on the intervention of federal courts to guarantee equal rights.
Now even liberals, who are generally supportive of large-scale social programs, are reluctant to express admiration for the national government outright: they do so in the moderated language of local control, public-private partnerships, and market-based programs like Obamacare.
Ronald Reagan’s blustery joke is now the exalted truth to many: the most terrifying nine words in the English language really are “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” But this fear of big government is not perennial; it is not inherited from the Jeffersonian yeoman farmers nor the Jacksonian frontiersmen.