Guns and the America’s Culture Wars Richard J. Garfunkel March 27, 2018

America is undergoing its latest chapter of the “Culture and Economic War,” between the lower middle class whites and the poorer minorities, which began under the un-enlightened Reagan Era of anti-government, low taxes on the rich, de-regulation, and the revival of  the fanciful mid 1840’s idea of “American Exceptionalism” and Reagan’s fantasized concept of the “Shining City on the Hill!” Throughout his eight years in the Oval Office, Reagan created this Hollywood illusion of a “renewed sense of optimism” to a so-called, beleaguered nation disillusioned by war and scandal. He repeatedly described America as the “shining city upon a hill.” In his 1989 farewell address, Reagan said:

“…in my mind, it was a tall proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace, a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity, and if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here.”

Of course, that was his idealized view of what we were really about, what our history was and his distorted view of the future. In fact, his administration was fraught with scandals regarding Iran-Contra and eventually would blow-up with the Savings & Loan disaster that cost the country $1 trillion. He came into office not after a war, but picked up the problems of the Carter Administration which was the victim of the 2nd OPEC Oil Embargo, which Nixon had never really resolved. So after his eight years, what did we have in America? The beginning of the end to the Middle Class in America. On the surface, in the Reagan Years, 16 million jobs were created, more than the eight years of Eisenhower, the almost fourteen years of both Bushes and Ford (in Nixon’s five years, 9.4 million jobs were created) combined. Ironically, there were 10.5 million jobs created in Carter’s four years, and since Truman, the Democratic Administrations have created more than 2.5 times as many jobs as the Republicans.

But, what of Reagan’s legacy? Much of those 16 million jobs were connected to the Defense Industry which included his ill-fated Star Wars Program and his 600 ship US Navy, which lasted about two weeks until more older and obsolete ships were de-commissioned. Unemployment, which was 7.5% on January 20, 1981 would rise back to 7.3%, by the time his successor, George HW Bush (#41) left office on January 20, 1993. In between, the National Debt had quadrupled. By the way, at the end of the Gulf War, his Bush #41’s job approval was at 90%. On November 3, 1992, he received 37.45% of the vote, the second lowest percentage for an incumbent president seeking re-election in our history (William Howard Taft received 23.17%).

In between, because of Reagan’s tax cuts and excessive spending, we experienced a growth in the billionaire class. There had been between 10-12 billionaires for decades. Within four years this number grew to 49. That pace has continued to accelerate. By 1992, it had grown to 100 and now there are almost 600. In between, we have seen the exporting of jobs, the growth of the big box stores, and the real beginning of the next chapter of America’s emerging “Cultural and Economic War.” As the Middle Class shrunk with the growth of the upper and lower middle classes, fringe and impact neighbors expanded. That is the legacy of Reagan, whose administration started the country on its downward path of “starving” the government. What has been the result, declining infrastructure, greater deficits, the Crash of 2008 as a result of deregulation and the Deriviative Bubble, and expensive foreign adventurism. Much of today’s National Debt can be attributed to the ill-fated, Bush #43 policy of “guns and butter.”  Tax cuts during wartime is indicative of the Voodoo Economics under Reagan. Add on to that the non-financed Part D (Drug) Medicare Plan, and the crash of 2008, our worst economic setback since the Great Depression! What was the result of that, by June of 2009, the DJIA at 6600 and unemployment ay 10.5 %. So much for Reagan and the two Bush presidencies.

The dominance of the white, Protestant, male hegemony that reached its peak on VJ Day, September 2, 1945, began to erode. On that day, over 98% of all the Senate and House seats were held by Protestant white males. The same could be said for every Flag Rank officer in the America Armed Forces, every Governor of every state, the CEO of every Fortune 500 Company, the head of every hospital, every university and college (aside women’s schools), every prestigious law firm, and almost every police department. The American, Protestant male, was now the most powerful group of people in the history of the World.

Since that day, what has happened? Well this ultimate and unprecedented American and World power began to erode. First it was Catholics, and then Jews. Next it was women, Blacks, Latinos, Asians and even Gays. In fact, it was addition to some by subtraction from others. As Jim Crow started to abate in the 15 to 20 years after the end of WW II, women also sought their place in the sun. As these various religious and ethnic groups, with America’s women started to gain power, who lost it? The answer is obvious. Well, White Protestant America and its new Eurocentric allies has invested in the most corrupt human who has ever been elected to office in a Western government since the end of WWII. In the words of cartoonist Walt Kelly’s character, Pogo, “We have met the enemy, and it is us!”


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A lifelong New Yorker, who now lives full-time in Palm Beach County, Richard was raised in Mount Vernon, New York and he was educated in the Mount Vernon public schools He graduated from Boston University with a BA in American History. After spending a year on Wall Street as a research analyst with Bache & Co., he joined a manufacturing and importing firm, where over the next twenty-five years he rose to the position of chief operating officer. After the sale of that business, Richard entered into the financial services field with Metropolitan Life and is a Registered Representative, who has been associated with Acorn Financial Services which is affiliated with John Hancock Life Insurance Company of Boston, Ma. Today, he is a retired broker who had specialized in long-term care insurance and financial planning. One of Richard’s recent activities was to advise and encourage communities to seek ways to incorporate “sustainability and resiliency” into their future infrastructure planning. After a lifetime in politics, with many years working as a district leader, which involved party organizational work, campaign chair activity and numerous other political tasks, Richard has been involved with numerous civic and social causes. In recent years, Richard served in 2005 as the campaign coordinator of the Re-Elect Paul Feiner Campaign in Greenburgh, NY and he again chaired Supervisor Feiner’s successful landslide victory in 2007. Over the next few years, he advised a number of political candidates. He has served as an appointed Deputy Supervisor of the Town of Greenburgh, with responsibilities regarding the town’s “liaison program.” He was a member of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board of the Town of Greenburgh, NY. Richard has lectured on FDR, The New Deal and 20th century American history in the Mount Vernon schools, at the Westchester Council of Social Studies annual conference in White Plains, and at many senior citizen groups, which include appearances at the Old Guard of White Plains, the Rotary Clubs of Elmsford and White Plains, and various synagogue groups around Westchester. In the winter of 2006 Richard was the leader of the VOCAL forum, sponsored by the Westchester County Office of Aging, which addresses the concerns of Westchester County’s Intergenerational Advocacy Educational Speak-out forums for senior citizens. Richard has given lectures for the Active Retirement Project, which is co-sponsored by the Jewish Community Center on the Hudson, the Greenburgh Hebrew Center, and other groups around Westchester County. Richard also is the founder and Chairperson of the Jon Breen Memorial Fund, that judges and grants annual prizes to students at Mount Vernon High School who submit essays on public policy themes. He also sponsors the Henry M. Littlefield History Prize for the leading MVHS history student. Richard serves on the Student College Scholarship Committee of Mount Vernon High School. In past years Richard chaired and moderated the Jon Breen Fund Award’s cablecast program with the Mayor and local and school officials. Richard has been a member of Blythedale Children’s Hospital’s Planned Giving Professional Advisory Board, and was a founding member of the committee to re-new the FDR Birthday Balls of the 1930’s and 1940’s with the March of Dimes’ effort to eliminate birth defects. Their renewal dinner was held at Hyde Park on January 30, 2003. Richard is currently an active contributor to the Roosevelt Institute, which is involved in many pursuits which included the opening of the Henry A. Wallace Center at Hyde Park, and the Eleanor Roosevelt – Val-Kill Foundation. In 2007, he proposed to the City of Mount Vernon an effort to develop an arts, educational, and cultural center as part of a downtown re-development effort. Richard was a team partner with the Infrastructure & Energy Solutions Group. IEFG which has developed innovative strategies for the 21st Century. Richard hosted a weekly program on WVOX-1460 AM radio, called “The Advocates,” which was concerned with “public policy” issues. The show, which was aired from 2007 until May 15, 2013, has had amongst its guests; Representative Charles Rangel, Chairperson of the House Ways and Means Committee, Mr. Jonathan Alter of Newsweek, along with hundreds of others. All the 300 shows are archived at Richard currently gives lectures on Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, FDR and the Jewish Community, The New Deal, FDR and Douglas MacArthur, 20th Century American Foreign Policy Resulting in Conflict, and Israel’s Right to Exist. Richard lives in Boynton Beach, Fl, with his wife Linda of 44 years. They have two married children. Their daughter Dana is a Rutgers College graduate, with a MS from Boston University, and is the Assistant Director of Recruitment at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Their son Jon is an electrical engineering graduate of Princeton University and a senior software architect at NY/Mellon Bank in NYC. Richard J. Garfunkel Recent Appearances: KTI Synagogue, Rye Brook, NY- Long Term Care & Estate Conservation- Anshe Shalom Synagogue, New Rochelle, NY- Long Term Care- American Legion Post, Valhalla, NY- Long Term Care and Asset Protection- Doyle Senior Ctr, New Rochelle, NY-Long Term Care and Asset Protection- AME Methodist Ministers, New Rochelle, NY, LTC and Charitable Giving- Profession Women in Construction, Elmsford, NY, LTC and Business Benefits- Kol Ami Synagogue- White Plains, NY, Long Term Care and Disability - Beth El Men's Club-New Rochelle, NY-Long Term Care-Is it Necessary- Greater NY Dental Meeting Javits Ctr, NY, NY- LTC and Disability- IBEW Local #3 , White Plains, NY, Long Term Care and Asset Protection, Health Fair -Bethel Synagogue, New Rochelle, NY-LTC and Disability, Heath Fair- Riverdale Mens Club CSAIR- Riverdale, NY- LTC- Life Weight Watchers of Westchester and the Bronx-LTC and Tax Implications Sunrise Assisted Living of Fleetwood, Mount Vernon, NY-LTC Sprain Brook Manor of Scarsdale-LTC- November 15, 2001 Sunrise Assisted Living of Stamford, Connecticut, February 2002 Kol Ami Synagogue, White Plains, NY, February, 2002 The Old Guard Society of White Plains, NY, April, 2002 The Westchester Meadows, Valhalla, NY August, 2002 Kol Ami Synagogue, White Plains, NY, October, 2002 JCC of Scarsdale, Scarsdale, NY, November, 2002 The Westchester Meadows, Valhalla, NY, January, 2003 The Rotary Club of White Plains, NY January, 2003 The Westchester Meadows, Valhalla, NY April, 2003 Westchester Reform Temple, Scarsdale, NY January, 2004 Mount Vernon High School, Mount Vernon, NY March 2004 Kol Ami/JCC of White Plains, NY November, 2004 The Westchester Reform Temple, Scarsdale, January 2005 The Sunrise of Fleetwood, Mount Vernon, April, 2005 The Woodlands of Ardsley, assisted living, November, 2005 The Woodlands of Ardsley, assisted living, December, 2005 The Woodlands of Ardsley, assisted living, January, 2005 Rotary Club of Elmsford, April, 2006 Kiwanis Club of Yonkers, June, 2006 Greenburgh Jewish Center, November, 2006 Temple Kol Ami, White Plains, February, 2007 Hebrew Institute, White Plains, March, 2007 Temple Kol Ami, White Plains, NY, April, 2007 Westchester Meadows. Valhalla, November, 2007 Hebrew Institute. White Plains, November, 2007 Art Zuckerman Radio Show- January, 2008 JCC of the Hudson, Tarrytown, February, 2008 Matt O’Shaughnessy Radio Show, March, 2008 WVOX –Election Night Coverage, November, 2008 WVOX – Inaugural Coverage, January 20, 2009 The Advocates-host of the WVOX Radio Show, 2007- 2010 Rotary Club of Pleasantville, February, 2009 Hebrew Institute of White Plains, May, 2009 JCC Hudson, Tarrytown, December, 2009-10-11-12 Brandeis Club, Yonkers, March 25, 2010

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