Taking the train from Westchester County to Grand Central Station, you pass some dreadful slums. The abandoned houses in these neighborhoods are boarded up, but some are adorned with fake windows—”Occupied-Look” decals—that are supposed to trick you into believing they are real windows. New York slumlords can buy these decals from the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (100 Gold St., NYC) for $10 apiece, thoughtfully ranged in color from “Full Shade White” to “Black & Grey.” Is this not an emblem of life in the America of Ronald Reagan, the New York of Ed Koch?
Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal constituted, let us say, a quarter-revolution. It introduced the rudiments of a welfare state and made “the socialization of concern” into a national value. It signified not a society egalitarian or eve just, but at least one that modulated the harshness of “rugged individualism.” All later administrations, at least until that of Reagan, more or less accepted the New Deal legacy. Under Reagan America experienced, let us say, a quarter-counterrevolution....
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