We are ankle deep into the new century and I got the “Turn of The Century Blues”.
The turn of the century has brought with it many challenges and so many negative changes that radical movements have risen up against the entrepreneurs s turning our major industries into oligopolies and controlling our banking and financial worlds. These “Barbarians At The Gates” have used every legal loophole at their disposal. They have created corporate philanthropic foundations to support and then control, through monetary influence, the very institutions they claim they are trying to help. They have accrued more wealth and income than at any other time in our history and want more. They have virtually bought both houses of Congress and every legislature in the country, and even some big city governments as well.
Will we ever be safe from these vultures? Will no politicians come to their ethical senses and rescue this republic from their talons? Will Democrats and Republicans alike simply accept their unregulated gifts? Will we ever be saved?
As Gabe Kaplan’s (OK, who remembers him?) old gym teacher and a former football coach used to say, “The faces may change, but the s–t remains the same.” Was that the 21st century or 20th century? Turns out it is both.
Of course now we refer to Gates, Broad, Walton, and Koch et al. Of course we have to deal with the “Citizens’ United” Supreme Court rulings. Of course we fight vs. Goldman Sachs and the hedge fund guys. Of course we have to deal with their control of education, media, and government through their financial influence.
But of course this has happened before and has been beaten before.
So lets go back about 100 years when a few GIANT corporations formed in the last decades (after a long drawn-out war and its aftermath during the ’60s and ’70s) controlled our economy, our politics, and our education system. Change the names to Carnegie, Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Ford, and Morgan. Change NCLB, RTTT, and Common Core to Frederick Winslow Taylor’s Scientific Management.
Who helped design and pay for the public (common) schools of 100 years ago and their role to develop obedient factory workers? Were state and federal legislatures owned by these Robber barons? Was the lack of powerful laws to stop them a problem? Were there “fringe” groups like rural “populists” and more urban “progressives” and unions speaking up? YES.
And did it take decades to get executives and legislatures, first at the local levels (Washington. Oregon, and Wisconsin) to act before the federal government did? Did new outlier media reporters called MUCK-rakers come to the aid of those “radical” groups and government officials? YES.
Finally, did presidents from both sides of the aisle Teddy Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and Woodrow Wilson with their congresses finally and reluctantly take action? Were constitutional Amendments added to overturn reactionary Supreme Court Decisions and prevent new ones? YES!
Republicans Teddy and Taft busted the Trusts by suing them under the underused Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890. T.R. got Congress to pass the Mann, Hepburn, and Elkins Acts as well as the Pure Food and Drug and Meat Inspection Acts. Taft got Congress to pass both the Clayton anti-Trust and the Federal Trade Commission Acts in 1914.
Under Democrat Woodrow Wilson, the 16th Amendment laid the groundwork for a graduated, progressive income tax to help alleviate the unequal distribution of income of the time. The 17th gave us real representation in the Senate by having Senate seats become elected and not appointed by corrupt state legislatures. Ok, the 18th was a mistake but at least they were talking about people getting high legally or illegally.
And finally, the 19th finally gave voting rights to half the adult population in the country.
Go check it. I wont bore you here with a paper on the subject, just some questions for you to investigate for yourselves.
So people, there actually is hope to end this century’s “Turn of The Century Blues.”