Third Party & Independents Archives

The Gilded Age Is Upon Us, Again.

In Sunday’s Washington Post Francois Furstenberg reminds us of an earlier time of economic despair and of the beginnings of the welfare state. He relates that the political and economic situation of the ‘gilded age’ is highly analogous to the current era of ‘greed is good’.

The gilded age was fraught with periods of economic booms and busts. A major financial crisis began with the failure of Jay Cooke & CO, the nation’s prime investment bank. This bank, and many others failed due to offering risky loans based on overvalued property.

Economic decline continued for over five years, the longest such stretch in US history. By 1876, half of the railroad companies had declared bankruptcy. Almost half of iron works were shuttered and coal production collapsed. Demand for goods dropped leading to high unemployment, reduced wages and deflation slashed wholesale prices by 30%.

There was no central bank and government stimulus had not yet been invented. Neither political party offered any meaningful solution, dividing over the spoils rather than issues and neither challenged their corporate masters. Republican Mark Hanna said, in 1895, “There are two things that are important in politics, the first is money and I can’t remember what the second one is.”

With the government on the sidelines political movements began to emerge such as antimonopoly coalitions, reform parties and labor candidates. The gap between wealth and workers became great extremely divisive causing frequent strikes, a bombing that killed 8 in Chicago, and increasing violence in labor conflicts. State and federal militias were called out to squelch such activity. In 1877, Pennsylvania militia fired on crowds causing President Rutherford B. Hayes to send federal troops to the area.

The spectacular concentration of wealth garnered by the the richest Americans and the inability of government to manage the crisis brought the nation to the edge of class warfare and social disintegration. People began to think of the US as taking on the European social order with their aristocrats and permanent underclass. Wealthy Americans began to fear instability.

Francois concludes with “The Gilded Age plutocrats who first acceded to a social welfare system and state regulations did not do so from the goodness of their hearts. They did so because the alternatives seemed so much more terrifying.”

The Gilded Age covers the period, 1877-1917, when the US was moving from an agrarian to an industrialized base. The major difference in the times is that in moving to a globalised economy corporations have become super wealthy with corporate profits accruing to the corporations and their owners. It’s clear the corpocracy has run the working class into a box. The country seems headed for a repeat of the Gilded Age. CEO pay is up some 436% from 1970 while the average worker pay is up 26%. Millions under/unemployed and the gov’t seems incapable or uninterested to create jobs or take any meaningful action.

The Gilded Age brought forth many 3rd party candidates and reform activists. The Progressive movement was established with the hope of regaining control of the government from special interest groups.

Otherwise, we have the corpocracy we deserve.

Posted by Roy Ellis at July 3, 2011 7:12 PM
Comments
Comment #325244

Roy good work. I am a bit surprised to see you talking about the gilded age and the excesses of the time.

Those that follow Glenn Beck have been railing against the progressives and the progressive era, as if it was the cause of the problems of this country, for some time. Many yearn for the return to the days and the ways of the time before the progressive era which as we know was the gilded age, the golden age of conservatism.

Posted by: j2t2 at July 3, 2011 8:59 PM
Comment #325248

Gilded Age

j2t2, listening to Beck and repeating some of his information doesn’t make one a fatalistic Beckian, IMO.

I advocate for a sane centrist position. Progressives were able to accomplish many important reform initiatives but seem to have waned in recent decades.

And, some of the laws put in place have been way diluted or twisted toward the opposition. For example, anti-trust and globalisation, income tax and corporate welfare. Social Security is a great ponzi, has worked well to this point. But, I don’t believe that bringing one-two million people to citizenship yearly plus however many illegals come across, is the way to restore SS in light of 20 some million un/underemployed. That’s right up there with using corn for ethanol, IMO.

Centrist, and sticking with the call for a 3rd party with a diff - - -
Otherwise - - -

Posted by: Roy Ellis at July 3, 2011 10:22 PM
Comment #325263

I was sent this by a friend, the author is unknown but I believe it is in answer to why progressives changed their name to liberals.

“The agenda of liberals has greatly changed over the years to the degree that it has become a pejorative. So now they hide under the upscale word — progressives. Progressive have been around for decades, but the liberals thought ‘liberal’ was a better word — until recently.

You must be careful of confusing dictionary definitions with the reality of the current political climate.

Here is the best way to differentiate between conservatives and liberals:

If a conservative doesn’t like guns, he doesn`t buy one.

If a liberal doesn’t like guns, he wants guns outlawed.

If a conservative is a vegetarian, he doesn’t eat meat.

If a liberal is a vegetarian, he wants meat products banned.

If a conservative is homosexual, he quietly leads his life.

If a liberal is homosexual, he demands legislated respect.

If a conservative is down-and-out, he tries to better his situation.

A liberal wants to know who is going to fix it for him.

If a conservative doesn’t like a talk show host, he switches channels.

Liberals want those they don’t like to be silenced.

If a conservative is a non-believer, he doesn’t go to church.

If a liberal is a non-believer he wants any mention of religion silenced.

If a conservative needs health care he shops for it, or looks for a job that will provide it.

A liberal demands that the rest of us provide for it.

A conservative will read this and will forward it, so his friends can have a good laugh.

A liberal will read this and delete it, because he’s offended.

Posted by: Mike at July 4, 2011 1:43 PM
Comment #325269

mike

i saw that one a few years ago. it’s absolutely spot on though. funny how e-mails seem to resurface every few years.

Posted by: dbs at July 4, 2011 2:39 PM
Comment #325271


Yea, we know.

You are either a conservative or you are not a real American, you are unpatriotic, an enemy of America.

You are either a laissez faire, caveat emptor free market conservative or you are a socialists or a communists.

You are either a hard working conservative or your a lazy good for nothing looking for a hand out.

You are either a born again evangelical Christian or you are going to hell.

There are many more reasons why conservatives think of themselves as superior humans, demanding that all others concede their superiority.

Their superiority is manifest in their ability to judge other humans as inferior product.

The point to remember about the Gilded Age is that it was followed by the Progressive Era which could be characterized as a second or a continuation of the revolution.

Mike, In the last few decades, despite the rhetoric to the contrary, conservatives and liberals have worked quite well with one another. The results of their magnanimous work have given us our great economy.

Our manufacturing base has been replaced by great paying high tech jobs and we are enjoying the very low prices that we were promised. The Republican led, liberal conceding, counter revolution has produced amazing results, and when we all wake up from this bad dream, we will be overjoyed.

It has been 20 years now and the current president, like his two predecessors, is still talking about those future high tech jobs that are going to put our people to work and save our economy.


Posted by: jlw at July 4, 2011 3:25 PM
Comment #325286

jlw, you do realize this email was meant as a joke, don’t you? Lighten up a little.

Posted by: Mike at July 4, 2011 9:44 PM
Comment #325288

Yer on a roll, jlw!

Lemme try… for those who would like to see where globalisation takes us in their lifetime we might try to speed up the process of globalizing for quicker results.

We could privatize social security and allow workers to dabble in the stock market with their SS funds.

We could offer a ‘head fee’ of, say $10k, for each immigrant willing to come to the US and take those jobs we won’t do.

We could start a ‘spring offensive’ to counter the ‘spring revolutions’.

We could provide seed money for the Muslim Brotherhood.
We could approve more ‘AFTA’s and pay off the unions for related jobs that would be lost.

We could get a jump start on creating a permanent underclass by putting all under/unemployed on a gov’t subsidy.

We could re-implement the NAU.

We could offer subsidies to foreign nations who will invest sovereign funds in purchasing US assets.

We could require that 75% instead of the current 50% of graduate student positions be made available for foreign students.

We could mandate that any domestic mfctr who is about to innovate a new product, immediately sell out lock-stock and barrel to any multi-national corporation.

We could set a date whereby all US workers would sign up for wage reductions to somewhere between $8-12, each wage assigned by a weekly lottery.

If we just adopted these few things we could, within a few years, see where globalisation will take us. Otherwise, it’s going to take another 20 years or so.

Posted by: Roy Ellis at July 4, 2011 10:07 PM
Comment #325332


“jlw, you do realize this email was meant as a joke.”

dbs said,

“mike

i saw that one a few years ago. it’s absolutely spot on though.”

I’ve seen it before as well, posted on WatchBlog.

In the last few decades, the distinctions between progressive and liberal have drifted apart. Anyone who thinks differently should look at the Democratic caucuses in the Congress and the voting records of the members of those caucuses.

The liberals rejected the progressives to form the conservative/liberal alliance that has given us our great economy.

“There are two things that are important in politics, the first is money and I can’t remember what the other one is.”


Roy, from the beginning of human civilization, there has always been a permanent underclass, surfs, peons, unskilled labor, call them what you will. How we treat them is what has changed.

Government interventions helped move many of the permanent underclass into a large middle class, much to the chagrin of capitol. Workers were almost on a par with capitol in influencing the government. That trend has been in the process of reverting to the good old days in recent decades.


Posted by: jlw at July 6, 2011 3:48 PM
Comment #325409

jlw, with the corpocracy pushing for globalisation and harmonization of the world it’s a natural that the US will produce a larger class of nonworkers. Salaries for the upper crust have increased way more tban inflation while falling for the lowercrust. Uppercrust workers are working longer hours per week while the lowercrust hours are being cut. More workers are losing the 40 hour work week status, being relegated to less than 40 and being assigned as part time workers, losing benefits in the process.

Unemployment has ticked up to 9.2%. Education, once thought of as the great equalizer, is now less so. Those with a BA represent 4% of the unemployed. A HS educated person represents 8% and those without HS are 10.5% of the unemployed. Tuition costs seem tied to the gold market.
But, education can’t solve the job problem. The US lost about 3M jobs to globalisation. That is, American workers lost those jobs and workers of foreign nations gained those jobs. As long as the proft differential remains high for goods produced abroad there will be little interest in creating new companies in this country. Thus, increasing the number of degreed workers goes to naught.

The corpocracy understands that and has to play the game that ‘jobs are right around the corner’, just be patient. In fact, the corpocracy, in pursuing globalisation, planned for the winding down of US mfctring which naturally will serve to bring wages down. With globalisation, corporations were able to move their smoke stack industries off shore and hire workers from a relatively cheap labor pool.

The corpocracy is simply allowing globalisation to run its course. They understand that business development and worker wages will continue to decline in this country until the profit differential in mfctring a product shifts in favor of the US. We can see that the corpocracy hasn’t rushed to start up any new coal mines or any kind of major business ventures. Now, if a small company innovates a new product then some multi-national will step in and buy up the company or the product. Mergers and buyouts are about the only business going on in the US right now. They will buy off some unions for the loss of jobs related to new AFTA’s, etc.

No indication the corpocracy is doing anything to change the situation. They will spend as necessary to keep things from spiraling out of control, a Greece for instance. And, they will knock off a couple of corporate welfare perks on the tax code, easily and quietly reinstated at some point. Balancing trade through a VAT is seen as an egregious act. A flat tax, which can’t be manipulated by the corpocracy, gets more hits in a poker game than on google. They aren’t calling China, our benevolent benefactor, on the carpet. No ruffling the feathers of the WTO/IMF crowd.

From all indications one has to believe their plan is on course, if not on schedule. Easy to predict that folks will be looking to toss out the Pres in 2016 due to the lack of jobs.

Posted by: Roy Ellis at July 8, 2011 6:49 PM
Comment #325468


Roy, www.latenightinthemidlands.com/china…

Posted by: jlw at July 9, 2011 1:34 PM
Comment #325564

Mike - You apparently don’t know any Liberals or don’t listen to them. Also, you should recognize that applying labels to a person usually only gets the picture half-right - but I’m going to do it anyway. A person can be an economic conservative but a social liberal. Most Liberals I know want more freedom for people, but realize that the Conservative agenda gives people less freedom.
I’ve heard it said that Liberals want the USA to be more like Canada and Conservatives want us to be more like Mexico. When 1% of the people control most of the wealth as they do in the U.S., it is a little difficult for a poor person to pull themselves up.

Posted by: Dr Tom at July 10, 2011 6:49 PM
Comment #325667

The rich get richer, everyone else gets poorer. Meanwhile, our tax dollars are used to spew Faux News propaganda for the New Gilded Age Robber Barons.

Having earned $10.4 billion in profits, News Corp. would have been expected to pay $3.6 billion at the 35 percent corporate tax rate. Instead, it actually collected $4.8 billion in income tax refunds, all or nearly all from the U.S. government.
It pays to be Murdoch. Just ask US gov’t

And now the rich (of both major political parties) want to steal the Social Security and Medicare away from old people, children, the sick and the disabled.
Anyone angry yet?
Time for a new Progressive Era, yes?

Posted by: Adrienne at July 13, 2011 11:06 AM
Comment #325682


“Time for a new Progressive Era, yes?”

Time to reconstitute the old Progressive Party and tell liberal corpocrats to fend for themselves or choose between Progressives or Republicans, yes?

Let’s not pretend that Rupert gets the good tax treatment because of Republicans alone. It is not time yet to believe the Democrats rhetoric about these tax incentives for corporations.

Posted by: jlw at July 13, 2011 3:37 PM
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