Day: August 30, 2011

Nostalgia For The 19th Century: The “Good Old Days” Of The Gilded Age?

Here we are in the second decade of the 21st century, and yet the Tea Party Movement and the Republican Party contains within itself a great nostalgia for the past–the 19th century Gilded Age!

Why is the Gilded Age seen in such a positive light by the Right Wing of the Republican Party? Let us count the ways in no special order!

1. Labor unions were struggling to survive, and workers were working long hours under horrible work conditions with no protection and no basic rights for the working men, women and children. Yes, children as young as 6 were working for menial pay, as well as women being paid less than men.

2. Immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe and Asia were being discriminated against, and paid less than “native born” workers, and living in slums in the big cities.

3. Women had no rights legally and were not allowed to vote or control their work conditions.

4. No one had any health care, pension, minimum wage protection or sick leave or vacation leave, and could be fired on a whim of the employer.

5. African Americans mostly lived in the South and faced segregation, lynchings, and sharecropper poverty, and civil rights of any kind did not exist.

6. Corporations ruled in America, major monopolies which corrupted the political system on all levels–national, state and local.

7. State and local governments controlled just about every aspect of their population’s lives in a very inadequate manner, and the federal government was extremely minimal in its impact upon the people.

8. There was no social safety net of any kind, other than churches and other organizations which were unable to do much for those less fortunate, in poverty, or having serious medical ills.

9. Racial supremacy was a widely held belief, along with Laissez Faire Economics and Social Darwinism.

10. Education was minimal for the vast majority of the population, and therefore allowed little social mobility for the average American.

11. If natural disasters occurred, little assistance or aid was available, except to pray to God for divine guidance.

This nostalgia today is VERY SIMILAR to the above reality of the Gilded Age, but we have had a century of reform, including the Progressive Era, the New Deal, the Great Society and other reforms on specific issues at other times!

We have had reform oriented Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon and Barack Obama promote major changes that have made America a better nation!

Now the proposal of the Right Wing in the GOP is to reverse the reforms and changes that have made America an improved nation over the past century. The desire is to negate, to veto, to wipe out the social safety net, labor reforms, and so many other hard earned reforms. This is being offered as the GOP answer to the economic crisis we are in, as if making things worse and protecting the corporations and the extremely wealthy is the answer to our difficulties!

Returning to the Gilded Age is precisely the wrong thing to do! We cannot allow such a disaster to occur in 2011, or EVER!

Ironic: Stalemate On Capitol Hill Would Nearly Balance The Budget By Lack Of Action, Raising Taxes On The Wealthy And Corporations!

It has recently been recognized that the budget stalemate on Capitol Hill could actually have a great result at the end of 2012, just in time for the inauguration of the new Presidential term!

The reason is that the so called “Bush tax cuts” expire then, and if the Democratic Senate and Republican House do not cooperate on budget issues, and if President Obama determines he will make no deals with the GOP, as he has done too often in the past, the accomplishment will be that trillions of dollars will be raised through taxation, and the nation will come close to balancing the budget!

The deficit would be cut by almost 40 percent under the circumstances of NOT having any legislation, and the richest 5 percent of the population, who received half the entire benefit of the Bush tax cuts, would have to pay up in major ways, about time!

The tax rates would go back to those of the Clinton Presidency, when 23 million new jobs were created, as compared to 3 million under George W. Bush!

If Congress does nothing, a total of $7 trillion in revenue will be available over the next ten years, solving most of the problem of growing debt by increased taxation!

So the attitude of the Obama Administration and the Democratic Party should be to stall, create gridlock and stalemate, which the Republicans have been excellent at doing, and turn the tables on the Republicans and their wealthy taxpayer-corporation supporters! If the elite could pay even higher tax rates under Dwight D. Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan, more so than even under Bill Clinton, and economic growth was the result, the answer is to “Bring It On!”

Alabama Surpasses Arizona With Hateful, Nativist Anti Immigration Law!

After the uproar over the Arizona illegal immigration law of 2010, now being appealed in the federal courts, one would have thought that no state could surpass them in narrow mindedness, hate, and nativism, but that has now become the case with the state of Alabama.

The state of some of the worst examples of “Jim Crow” segregation for many generations, and the state of infamous segregationist George C. Wallace, has now put into action an anti immigration law that is described by many as the cruelest imaginable!

Four Alabama church leaders–Episcopal, Methodist, and Roman Catholic–have led the fight against the law, which goes into effect two days from now!

They say it criminalizes acts of Christian compassion by making potential criminals of anyone who may work or live with them or show them consideration!

Undocumented immigrants may not work, rent a home, sign any contract, and can be stopped by the police to check their status if there is suspicion of any kind!

Anyone who knowingly “conceals, harbors, or shields” an illegal immigrant can be charged with a crime–including renting a place to live, driving that person to church, or taking them to a doctor!

Schools must check the status of all students, and businesses can lose licenses to operate if they hire illegal, undocumented immigrants!

Harassment and racial profiling are the result, and the Justice Department and the American Civil Liberties Union are suing to block enforcement!

This situation reminds one of the anti Jewish actions taken by Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany in the mid 1930s, with the Nuremburg Laws coming to mind. Of course, many will say that is ridiculous as a comparison, but is it really, when one looks at the past history of African Americans in Alabama during the near century of “Jim Crow” laws and racial violence by the Ku Klux Klan and other terrorist groups, and also the intimidation visited against Jews and Catholics?

The only people who can celebrate this law are the KKK, and other white supremacy groups! It puts Alabama to shame, and puts it back on the list of the ten worst states, a group that it might have been escaping with some racial progress in recent years, but now rapidly disappearing with this hateful, nativist, despicable legislation!