Taughannock Falls

Taughannock Falls
from: althouse.blogspot.com

Friday, April 1, 2011

Robber Barons redux

Jon from Michigan, in his reply to Paul Krugman's recent NYT piece, hits the proverbial nail on the head.

Some time ago it seemed to me that the Republican Party and its right-wing allies in the media and among certain religious denominations were intent on undoing each and every progressive social policy and program adopted in this country since the first day of Franklin D. Roosevelt's first term in office. Their tactics in this war on the middle class and the poor have been consistent and all too successful: when in power, run up huge deficits that make it impossible for Democratic administrations to do anything new; make sure that their corporate bedmates get everything they want in the way of deregulation and tax cuts. Recent events in Wisconsin and elsewhere are beginnning to convince me that I've had it all wrong. These people are, I now believe, intent on rolling back all that has been achieved by and for the unprivileged men and women of this country since about about 1890. They seem bent on restoring the Gilded Age of the great monopolists, plutocrats, and robber barons. They see nothing wrong with the growing inequalities of income and wealth in the United States, because they hope to join the super-rich themselves, first by continuing to rig the game in favor of the rich, and then by securing the ongoing patronage of the tycoons who bought their offices for them in the first place. Being reactionary in this country used to mean something along the lines of wanting to turn back the clock to the mythical good old days of the 1950s (good for white Americans perhaps). Now, however, these people seem to have come unglued to such an extent that they would like to put an entire century of social progress down the memory hole. All this would be laughable if it weren't so bitterly hateful and sad, just like the perpetrators.
It seems to me that the most important force preventing a return to the age of robber barons is the American labor movement. Politicians can be helpful, but we need to strengthen unions before we can do anything else. Ordinary citizens will never have the money to buy all the favorable media and political influence they want. Viable unions, in opposing the interests of plutocrats, are the only ones who can stop the total destruction of workers' gains from the last century.


mlee33 said...

I think some of these neo-confederate nut-jobs are aiming a few decades further back, to the 1850s!

Cletis L. Stump said...

I agree with you, Ulysses. Also, life in the 50's was very difficult for many "white" people as well as for others. I ate so much commodity meat I break out when I see a can of Spam. Power is never given over freely. There is a dynamic tension which is ever present and this struggle will not settle anything. We fight always because that is what is required. Many forgot that and now we have much farther to go than we would have if we had tended the vineyard.