okay so I posted about the “REAGANOMICS WORKS” I found on campus scrawled into the concrete and for some reason I was possessed to send my professor this stupid email at two in the morning:
Your Shakespeare class last quarter was, as always, a pleasure to attend. However, that is not what this email is about. I know this is an extremely random question, but you used to be Dean of Arts and Humanities, so I figure that if anyone has knowledge of these matters, it would be you.
On the sidewalk that runs between Warren Lecture Hall and the Literature Building, faintly scrawled in the concrete is a graffito that simply reads “REAGANOMICS WORKS” in all caps. I’ve walked past it a hundred times with no explanation and this two-word phrase vexes and haunts me. What do I make of this? Does Reaganomics really work, as this vandalism claims? Do you know anything at all about when this came about or who is responsible?
Anyway, I hope you’re having a nice spring quarter.
and then I regretted sending it to him but he responded:
Thanks very much. It’s always great to have you in class and I’m glad you enjoyed the Shakespeare course this past term.
I know what you mean about these kind of random things written on walls and sidewalks. I can tell you, from a legal point of view, what’s at stake:
Because this is a public university, writing on sidewalks is seen as protected speech, as it is understood to be the expression of opinion on a public, shared space.
Writing on buildings, walls, or structures of the U of C, however, is NOT protected speech, as it is a statement affixed to a building with a defined educational purpose.
So, people have taken to writing on the sidewalks because they can.
having said that, I doubt that Reaganomics works. I remember the 1980s when it was tried out, and it largely contributed to the disparity in wealth and compensation between management and labor and between the top few and the many below. It was understood to benefit corporations, but not individuals. I’m sure it’s all more complicated than that, but that’s how it was publicly discussed back in the 80s.
It’s all debatable; economists will have more to say than I do.
suffice it to say, most narrowly, that writing on the sidewalk is not technically vandalism (writing on a building would be); though it doesn’t make it any less annoying or challenging (or threatening, at its worst).
all my best