The Future Is Here
We may earn a commission from links on this page

What happened when a 7th grader asked Ronald Reagan to declare his bedroom a federal disaster area

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

In 1984, a young boy named Andy Smith came up with a clever scheme to get his room cleaned with minimal effort: he would convince President Ronald Reagan to have his room declared a federal disaster area and then clean his room with the resulting funds. But the president didn't exactly send folks in biohazard suits to take care of the task.

Letters of Note found this exchange in Reagan: A Life In Letters. Young Andy Smith of Irmo, South Carolina, wrote the following letter to Reagan:

Today my mother declared my bedroom a disaster area. I would like to request federal funds to hire a crew to clean up my room.


Now if eighties movies were truth, Reagan would have ordered a team of specially trained government cleaners to right Andy's disastrous room, resulting in all sorts of wacky hijinks. But, unsurprisingly, the Republican president didn't believe that the public sector should be funding Andy's room clean-up. Writing back to the 7th grader, Reagan cited the numerous disasters the US government was already dealing with, and offered this instead:

May I make a suggestion? This administration, believing that government has done many things that could better be done by volunteers at the local level, has sponsored a Private Sector Initiative program, calling upon people to practice voluntarism in the solving of a number of local problems.


Read the rest of Reagan's letter at Letters of Note.

Top image from Wikimedia Commons.