Living in Gilded Age America


The top one percent of Americans in terms of wealth own nearly two-thirds of all securities held in the United States. They capture forty percent of the wealth and income growth in America.

Corporations have the protection of the courts and workingmen and women are cowed and held in subjection, their worker’s organizations crushed. Mass unemployment, low wages, despair, and seedy poverty permeate the land. Political leaders in both parties are openly allied with the wealthy and well-connected and largely see to their interests. Money flows into election campaigns and the common people are lied to and propagandized for the benefit of those in power. Political corruption is rampant. Increasing numbers of Americans face losing their right to vote via mass disenfranchisement due to skin color, economic condition, and their status as part of the criminal element.

The United States in 1886? Yes. The United States in 2011? Yes.

We’ve returned to the Gilded Age and Americans are being told to get used to it and like it. We don’t. They didn’t like it in the 1880’s either.

The nation’s economic difficulties are of little concern to those that govern and influence those that govern. The past thirty years has been one long march where wealth has flowed upward to those already well provided for. Truly wealthy Americans earn the most money in times like these. They can buy up assets at pennys on the dollar.

What is different now is that the wealth available to be looted from the middle class is almost gone. It has reached the point where middle class Americans or those who used to be in that economic group no longer have the disposable income to spend enough to provide the base of support to the U.S. economy and drive it to growth and maintain its robust condition. That day has passed. Certainly the poorest among us are not going to confidently spend their way to prosperity for all of us.

Insufficient demand for goods and services leads employers to do the intelligent thing: don’t hire anyone new to do work that does not need doing and perhaps trim their employment rolls to accommodate the sliding demand for those goods and services.

Now, a minority in Congress drove a budget bill to passage that makes it impossible for government to bail out either business or the consumer who no longer consumes. The Stock Market figured this out this week. The wealthy will have to seek their profits overseas. But overseas markets are now in even greater turmoil. Greece, Italy and other nations face economic collapse. So, turn to good old reliable China and its dynamic growth to furnish the increased profit. But China’s growth is slowing and now it faces a contracting economy like everyone else.

Isn’t capitalism wonderful! Not that state socialism is even as good. But what might happen if the wealth flowed downward for just a little while and a small measure of the imbalance we live with now were redressed?

The middle class would return and they would spend money. That would force employers to hire people to meet the increased demand for goods and services. Those people would work, earn money and spend it. then they all would pay taxes on their earnings and the deficit would shrink. But of course that would mean the wealthiest among us and their ignorant allies of the Tea Baggging Nation would face ruin.

So, we live in Gilded Age America. A new Gospel of Wealth must be devised to explain to Americans not so lucky as to be in the top one or two percent of income earners why their lives will be impoverished unnecessarily. They could vote the bums out but corporate interests will flood the air waves and make Americans worry about Sharia Law, abortion, the invasion of foreigners, terrorists, and Obama. They’ll celebrate the American flag and God and guns and everyone’s heart will swell and they will stay home from the voting booth. Or if they do go out to vote they will find they did not properly register to vote far enough in advance of the election. They will find their name on a list of convicted felons. They will find that they do not have proper papers to remain in the United States, They will find they do not have a proper Voter Photo ID to exercise their Constitutional rights to reject a government which cheats them and then laughs in their faces when they fall on them.

Yes, it is wonderful to live again in Gilded Age America. The poor are losers just like social justice advocates, liberals, the unemployed, people of color, people with a minority sexual orientation. Struggles For Justice is proud to stand with all these people. There is dignity in the human spirit and the nobility of the struggle for justice! That cannot be taken away from anyone unless they let them take it from them.

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