Monopoly Capitalism

The PBS “Roosevelts” Series Inspires Need For Progressive Leadership To Stop New “Gilded Age”!

The Ken Burns PBS series, “The Roosevelts”, started on Sunday night and continues through Saturday night, a 14 hour event, and is easily the best documentary presented on PBS in many years!

Seeing the story of Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt  and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt inspired a desire in this author and blogger of the need for Progressive leadership of the type that TR and FDR and Eleanor represented, now in the 21st Century, to stop the abuses and damage that right wing conservatism has done, creating a new “Gilded Age’, and seeing wealthy billionaires wield power, and attempt fix elections, similar to JP Morgan and other millionaires at the time of TR in the White House.

But TR used the Presidency and federal power to crack down on unregulated capitalism, in what became known as the Progressive Era, and future Presidents of both parties, including Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama followed suit, but except for FDR and JFK, not in the same exciting vein and dynamic leadership that TR represented!

We now desperately need a new “Progressive Era”, but the right wing Supreme Court, picked by conservative Republicans, has done great damage, and the Congressional Republicans have made it very difficult for President Obama to accomplish many of his goals, although he has done a great deal that can be commended, despite strong obstructionism!

But to recognize the democratic nation that TR and FDR promoted, we need a massive change, and this series could have such an effect on the American psyche in the future, and we should all pray for that as the only way to advance democracy, justice, and true freedom in America in the future!

The Rehabilitation Of President Calvin Coolidge: Is It Legitimate?

In an age of conservative talk radio and Fox News Channel, and the constant conservative attempt to transform our law, our science, our history, our politics, our economics, our educational system, the charge is on to rehabilitate a hero of conservatives, including Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Michael Savage, and many others.

That “hero” is our 30th President, Calvin Coolidge, who served five and a half years in the White House, from August 1923 to March 1929, succeeding President Warren G. Harding, and winning an easy victory over Democratic nominee John W. Davis and Progressive Party nominee Robert La Follette, Sr. in the 1924 Presidential Election.

Calvin Coolidge can be given credit for several things:

His administration paid off the national debt by the time he left office, a debt built up by our involvement in the First World War.

His Presidency was a clean one, and the corruption of the Harding Administration, the greatest since Ulysses S. Grant, was fully prosecuted, leading to convictions and prison terms for some of the Harding personnel.

Coolidge picked a distinguished Vice President, Charles G. Dawes, who would have made an outstanding President.

Coolidge selected Harlan Fiske Stone as his Attorney General, and then appointed him to the Supreme Court, and Stone was later elevated to Chief Justice in 1941 by Franklin D. Roosevelt, turning out to be one of the all time, outstanding Supreme Court Justices in American history.

However, Coolidge also was responsible for:

The promotion, by his tax policies under Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon, of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer, an earlier version of “Reaganomics” and “Bushonomics”.

The raising of protective tariffs to their all time high, leading to the revival of monopoly capitalism in America, harming small business, labor and consumers alike.

The refusal to regulate big business in any form, by his appointments to the Federal Trade Commission and the Interstate Commerce Commission, and his decision NOT to use the Clayton Anti Trust Act and Sherman Anti Trust Act in lawsuits against corporations.

His refusal to help depression ridden farmers, by his veto of the McNary Haugen plan, which was desired by farm state Republicans.

His criticism of organized labor set back the labor movement until the time of FDR.

A new book by Amity Shlaes, is the most detailed and strong defense of Calvin Coolidge, but it fails to recognize that the Great Crash of the stock market, eight months after Coolidge left the Presidency, and Herbert Hoover became President, is not due only to Hoover, but much more to Coolidge and his policies in office.

Herbert Hoover has taken too much blame for the Great Depression. He can be blamed for his slow reaction to the collapse of the economy, but it is clear that Coolidge, with his doctrinal belief in “Laizzez Faire”, would not have been willing to take even the belated actions that Hoover took in 1931-1932, for which conservatives condemn him, by saying Hoover was the forerunner of the New Deal of FDR!

Just because Amity Shlaes, who is connected to the George W. Bush Institute, loves Calvin Coolidge does not make Coolidge, suddenly, a great or near great President. And neither does the fact that Ronald Reagan displayed his portrait, in place of Thomas Jefferson, add to Coolidge’s appropriate rating as, at the best, a below average, or even, a mediocre President.

In fact, to put Herbert Hoover lower really is a miscarriage of justice, as Hoover became the victim of the short sighted Coolidge policies!

Traits We Need In Our President: Competence, Compassion, Empathy, Sincerity—Barack Obama Possesses All Four, While Mitt Romney “Maybe” At Most Has Competence!

Essential qualities needed in an American President, particularly in this 21st century of a complex world, and a growing population of what is now 315 million people, would include:

Competence
Compassion
Empathy
Sincerity

We need a leader who demonstrates care about ALL of us, not just the elite and wealthy!

We need a leader who has known struggle in his life at some point–such as Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama—whether it is:

Family Problems And Issues While Growing To Adulthood—Truman, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Clinton, Obama
Personal Health Issues—Roosevelt, Kennedy
Major Challenges To Success—Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Nixon, Reagan, Obama

Only the two Bushes really did not have major family problems while growing to adulthood; personal health issues; or major challenges to success.

But even they had compassion and empathy for the disabled (the elder Bush), and for the victims of September 11 (the younger Bush), although later, both the elder and younger Bush botched up the emergency of Hurricane Andrew and Hurricane Katrina in a massive wave of incompetence!

Barack Obama possesses all of these qualities mentioned above, while Mitt Romney has not proved his worth in these regards, even so much as competence as Massachusetts Governor, although he has rose colored glasses in looking back on what was, basically, a term in office that made him so unpopular he could not have won reelection as Governor of his state had he decided to run!

Mitt Romney, simply, does not have the qualities needed for our Presidency in the 21st century. He lacks, for sure, compassion, empathy, and sincerity!

He is much more like Herbert Hoover, and yet, even Herbert Hoover first became famous for reacting properly in human tragedies in the time of the Mississippi River Flood of 1927, the massive Soviet relief effort in the 1920s, and the Belgian relief effort in World War I!

So we would have to push Romney back to the Gilded Age of monopoly capitalism, before the Progressive Era ended the concept of a limited government, which had ignored the needs of its citizens en masse!

The 20th century dawned, and the battle for the federal government to play a major role in people’s lives began, and we are not about to revert to the late 19th century!

Sorry, Mr. Romney, your attempt to go back one hundred years and more to the worst times of the Gilded Age is rejected, and YOU ARE FIRED as a potential President of the United States this coming Tuesday, November 6, 2012!

Back To The Gilded Age: The Gospel Of Wealth And Social Darwinism

In the Gilded Age of the late 19th century in America, there were prevailing philosophies that influenced the growth of economic concentration and social conservatism and justified them.

The first was the “Gospel of Wealth”, published by steel industrialist Andrew Carnegie, that argued that America should honor and respect the great capitalists, despite the reality that the growth of monopoly capitalism was curbing small business opportunities, promoting the exploitation of working people, and providing lack of competition in pricing of products for consumers. Instead, the great capitalists should be applauded and respected for their “great” contributions to America!

Social Darwinism, based on a distortion of the ideas of Charles Darwin and Adam Smith, was a philosophy based on the writings of British writer Herbert Spencer and American sociologist William Graham Sumner, justifying the “laissez faire” viewpoint of Adam Smith on economics, and applying it to society regarding the struggle for survival and survival of the fittest of Charles Darwin in his evolutionary theory. So therefore, government should NOT intervene to give aid and support to the poor, the sick, the disadvantaged, and instead let nature take its course, as that would advance society, eliminating the weak in society through natural causes.

What Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan offer is a return to the Gospel of Wealth and Social Darwinism.

The question is whether we are ready to reverse 140 years of history and revert to the 19th century in the 21st century, and leave tens of millions of Americans behind as we surge forward on the growth of monopoly capitalism and concentration of wealth to a level not even seen in the Gilded Age!

Back To The Era Of Calvin Coolidge On The 88th Anniversary Of His Ascendancy To The Presidency!

On August 3, 1923, Calvin Coolidge became the 30th President of the United States upon the death of President Warren G. Harding.

While everyone who studies the era of the 1920s sees Coolidge as an improvement on Harding (regarded the worst President of the 20th century and one of the bottom two or three in all of American history), the fact is that the Coolidge Administration ushered in a full return to the mentality of the Gilded Age, leading to a revival of monopoly capitalism, exploitation of labor, a growing maldistribution of wealth,and the lowest level of taxation of the rich and the corporations in the entire 20th century!

And we all know what that led to: the Great Depression, which lasted ten years, and was only overcome by World War II and the highest level of taxation of the rich and corporations in the century, followed by very high levels of taxation under Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower in the 1950s, and lower but substantial rates even under Republicans Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan and Democrat Bill Clinton, among others.

And the country prospered even when Bill Clinton RAISED taxes in the early 1990s, and we had a balanced budget in the last years of the Clinton Presidency.

But then, we moved in the opposite direction under George W. Bush, the lowest taxation levels of the rich and corporations since 1928, the last full year of Calvin Coolidge in office and the year before the Great Depression occurred under Herbert Hoover.

Now we are faced with the strong likelihood of a revival of the Great Recession, but the Republicans have made low taxation a religion that is ultimately going to destroy the social fabric of this nation, and endangers all of us with the possibility of violence and bloodshed as conditions deteriorate to the worst since the 1930s!

This is a terrifying time, and one has to ask, what happened to patriotism, the idea that we sacrifice for each other, and that the rich and corporations pay their fair share of taxation to sustain the country’s economy! Apparently, greed and selfishness rule as they did in the Gilded Age and the 1920s, as if we have made no progress in the 80 plus years since the beginning of the Great Depression!