Deficit spending is for suckers

Read more about why The Lincoln State is also The Sucker State.
Check out the website honoring President Ronald Reagan at Eureka.

By birth, I’m a sucker. So was the late President Ronald Reagan. The man currently in the White House chose to be a sucker. President Barack Obama moved to Illinois as a young adult.

Illinois natives and residents are suckers just as Oklahomans are sooners. Don’t ask me why such lore amuses, but it does and so persists.

On a recent visit to Illinois I was reminded why that sucker Ronald Reagan—not always perceived by brainiacs as the fastest gun in this intellectual shootout called life—for me still foreshadows the smart guy currently in the White House.

Obama started life in the paradise of Hawaii, was young in the Far East and graduated from our elite institutions of higher education. Reagan started life in quarters over a business in Tampico, spent his youth in Dixon and graduated from tiny Eureka College, a few miles from my hometown in The Sucker State.

Still, Reagan made a case for Eureka being as good as Columbia or Harvard (unless you’re after killer credentials).

“Eureka, of course, is a Greek word that means ‘I have found it,’ and it described perfectly the sense of discovery I felt the day I arrived there in the fall of 1928,” he said. “Eureka was everything I had dreamed it would be and more.”

That quote is one of many Reagan left us displayed at a museum in his honor on his college campus. I visited it by taking a short jaunt from my nearby hometown of Peoria Heights while back there this month for a high school reunion.

“The most valuable lesson I learned at Eureka is that each individual makes a difference,” Reagan said.

Obama may have learned a similar lesson at his elite universities, but I’m uncertain if a Pacific childhood made them resonate in ways similar to one spent growing up in central Illinois.

While in my native state I drove the Reagan trail (which includes Peoria Heights, by the way) and was reminded by his birthplace, his boyhood home community and his small college town, now population 4,900, that this idyllic setting provides great grounding.

I also was reminded in those few days traveling Illinois that it is just as broke as Nevada or California but seems in worse shape because the infrastructure is crumbling before your eyes.

Reagan was called conservative and Obama is liberal, but a common trait of both appears to be spending and deficits.

You’ll recall it was the immediate past vice president, Dick Cheney, who contended that Reagan taught folks deficits don’t matter (though, of course, they do).

At least Reagan spent on weapons to break the Soviet Union, so we did things with the money. Obama props up government with his stimulus spending, throwing a comparative pittance at infrastructure.

Deficit spending doesn’t really work well, but priming the pump for real things makes more sense than priming it to keep government gold-plated even as roads and bridges go to seed.

So Illinois is crumbling proof real suckers live there, as well as in other states where Obama’s soft-headed stimulus isn’t helping. But with attitudes altering, suckers all over may wake up and choose other options in the free marketplace of ideas.

Another Reagan quote from the museum at his alma mater captures my attitude: “Freedom is the right to question and change the established way of doing things. It is the continuing revolution of the marketplace.”