Reagan’s policy initiatives led to era of economic prosperity

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To the Editor:

I realize that Bernie Niemeier’s publisher’s column in your May issue [“Who’s the real Trojan horse?”] was intended to be light, tongue-in-cheek fare.  But buried in the middle of it was this statement:

“[T]rickle-down economics, popularized during the Reagan era, have never performed as promised.  If anything, they’ve contributed to economic inequality.”
If I had heard this from a Democratic Party spokesman, I would just roll my eyes and move on.  From the publisher of the state’s leading business publication, however, I expect more objectivity.

While the economy has indeed performed poorly for going on 16 years now, the period from 1982-1999 — the period ignited by Reagan’s policy initiatives — was one of the strongest, sustained periods of economic expansion in this nation’s history.  There is a wealth of objective economic data proving that the greatest beneficiaries of this were the middle and working classes, who saw benefits directly, not as scraps falling from the tables of the upper crust.  I am sure most of your readers would join me in hoping that we will see that kind of success recur in our lifetimes.

You should also know that “trickle-down economics” is a pejorative term, used during the 1980s by Reagan’s opponents.  Using that term is not persuasive.  It merely identifies the writer as a partisan, not an objective commentator. 

Most of the article was a joke, by design.  The attempt to revise history to massage Mr. Niemeier’s personal political beliefs was not funny.

Brad Marrs


Mega-region proposal would create more auto-oriented sprawl 

To the Editor:

I suppose it is well not to have high expectations from a business magazine, which, after all, is about promoting business. But I guess I had higher expectations from Virginia Business than a uni-dimensional piece for a new mega-region between Hampton Roads and Richmond [“A big league move?” March issue], perhaps because of its excellent coverage of the urban renaissance in Norfolk, Richmond and elsewhere, and its recognition of the benefits.

The mega-region you outline appears to be little more than massive, auto-oriented suburban sprawl destroying the farms, forests and natural lands currently existing in eastern Henrico, Charles City, New Kent and what is left of James City and York counties’ non-sprawled areas.  Why do this? Little justification is offered other than the claim that Virginia’s economy needs a boost because of defense cuts and the larger region will have more political leverage.

Nothing is said of smart growth, alternative transportation or quality of life. Nor is there any recognition that a lot of businesses are not just looking for a plot of green space near an interstate interchange to cheaply destroy but want a region that is attractive — culturally, recreationally and beauty-wise — to educated young people that are uninterested in a region offering little but banal auto arteries lined by corporate chain big boxes, fast-food franchises, convenience stores and isolated auto subdivisions. Nor is there any discussion of economic costs, e.g., will the Historic Triangle’s national reputation and tourism be damaged by the vast auto sprawl you advocate, or how will the resulting environmental degradation affect us (what will become of the James River or Chesapeake Bay as forests are cut down and more tainted storm water pours into the watershed?).

Nor are alternatives discussed — why not better revitalize urban Newport News and Hampton, as well as continue Norfolk’s and Richmond’s renaissances? Why not get a higher-speed rail link going, with frequent trains — between Main Street Station in Richmond, downtown Norfolk and downtown Newport News — connected to a region-wide, light-rail system that goes most everywhere in Hampton Roads? Now that‘s a vision with the potential to create lots of good jobs for both regions.

I fear the vision you espouse is all about a lot of easy money for influential landowners, lawyers, accountants, developers, bankers and other entrenched interests, who see the damaging pathways of the past as more certain and obtainable in the near term than alternatives.

Mark Perreault

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