Do you remember during the financial crisis when various commentators on the left were saying that Ronald Reagan had brought in an era of almost laissez-faire? In an April 13, 2008 article in the New York Times, for example, Peter S. Goodman wrote:

Five years later, Ronald Reagan entered the White House, elevating Mr. Friedman’s laissez-faire ideals into a veritable set of commandments. Taxes were cut, regulations slashed and public industries sold into private hands, all in the name of clearing government from the path to riches.

I took on his article, paragraph by paragraph, here.

I always wondered whether people who made that claim were simply spinning or were profoundly ignorant. Although I lean to the former explanation, I still don’t know for sure.

But someone who clearly understands how little we moved towards laissez-faire under Reagan is MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell. Check out this video, which is only 2 minutes long and is illuminating. Or, if you’re in a hurry, check out this statement by O’Donnell from that 2-minute discussion:

Newsweek did a cover so many years ago – I can’t remember – saying we’re all socialists now. Medicare is a socialist program. Social Security is a socialist program. No politicians advocate the abolition of Social Security, therefore they embrace socialism at some level, Bernie [Sanders] much more than others. But he’s not afraid of that word.

O’Donnell went even beyond where I would feel comfortable. We are NOT all socialists now. But many politicians are and it is true that Medicare and Social Security are socialist programs. This doesn’t mean, of course, that the aforementioned Peter S. Goodman agrees with O’Donnell, but it’s good to see O’Donnell getting closer to the truth than many of his colleagues on the left did only a few years ago.