Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Second Gilded Age

For a great number of people life is a continuous struggle in the USA, working multiple jobs, spending long hours at the workplace, and yet no sign of upward mobility. Things look so bleak that there seems to be no future, however, this is not the first time the helplessness has prevailed over this country. Actually, we are now at the second gilded age. The first was at the turn of the nineteenth century, it was the time of the robber barons, when Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, and Vanderbilt reigned supreme.

“What do I care for the law”? Vanderbilt had quipped, “Hain’t I got the power?” Indeed, 48 of the 73 men holding cabinet posts between 1868 and 1896 either lobbied for the rail road, worked for them, presided over their boards, or, had relatives connected to that business. Things were actually even worse than today. In 1873, the Chief Justice of the Wisconsin’s Supreme Court, Edward G. Ryan warned the graduating class of the state university, “The question will arise, and arise in your day, … which shall rule—wealth, or man; which shall lead—money or intellect; who shall fill public stations—educated and patriotic men, or the feudal serfs of corporate capital?”

Speaking in 1890, populist reformer, Mary Lease declared, “Wall Street owns the country. It is no longer a government of the people, by the people and for the people, but Government of Wall Street, by Wall Street and for Wall Street.” Ohio Republican Senator John Sherman pushed his colleagues to act against the corporate power and was instrumental in getting the Sherman’s Antitrust Act passed in the Senate by 52 to 1 vote on July 2nd, 1890.

Initially Antitrust law was used against organized labor, but since President Teddy Roosevelt things started changing. The Republican president used the act against Harriman’s giant conglomerate Northern Securities Company that controlled transportation sector in the Northwest. President William Howard Taft, another Republican stalwart broke up Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company in 1911. The gigantic Bell System, AT&T was broken up under President Roland Reagan.

It is a tragedy that today’s Republican Party has become a corporate poodle breaking away from the tradition of their great leaders, and the Democratic Party serves as the poor second fiddle to the same master! Truly speaking the GOP started changing in the 1920s when increasingly the party began depending on the dole out from the corporations. Even after the great depression of 1929, the Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt encouraged cooperation between businesses, until he appointed Thurman Arnold in charge of the antitrust division of the Justice Department in 1938.

We are now at the peak of the second gilded edge, where power has been totally concentrated at the hand of the new robber barons. The situation is probably much worse now since the rich has nearly total control of the Media, thanks to Bill Clinton. The only ray of hope is coming from the internet where the playing field is nearly even. The young educated mass is increasingly becoming alert and conscious of their situation. Will they be able to bring a new revolution to restore the people power? Will they be able to bring the freedom of the little people back?

The youth say, yes. I say, I hope.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The United States is a Failed Democracy

What is a failed democracy?

When a handful rich groups of people set the rules to enhance the wealth of comparatively few at the top, while a vast majority of people remain in poverty and financially unsecured, and the bottom of the society feel totally helpless to change their lot then it can be said that the democratic system has failed in that society. The rich wield sufficient power and have resources to control the politicians, regulatory heads, and the judicial system to ensure that the “free market” works for them.

The US is controlled by the Military-Industrial complex for the benefit of the very rich. The two political parties, Republican and Democratic, both serve the same master. There is a slight difference between the two parties, while the Republican Party is a wholly owned subsidiary of the corporate America, the tool of the rich; the Democratic Party is the 2nd fiddle to them only to create the impression of sham democracy. There are handful leaders in the Democratic Party who are still fighting for the poor, but they can be counted in one hand.

It would naturally follow that poor would elect the Democrats who are marginally better for the interest of the vast majority, however, through the control of the overwhelming media the Republicans are able to deceive the people and poison their mind against the Democratic Party. The relentless air waves in the United States create multiple wages to deceive and divide people. In addition, the Republican Party uses voter Suppression, Gerrymandering, and other illegal means to win elections and keep their control. Today the Republican Party has a total grid lock on Power with the control of Presidency, Senate, House, Governorship, and the soon to be majority again in the Supreme Court.

We should not blame the mass for this situation. Hillary Clinton had famously called the Republican voters “deplorable.” Nevertheless, it is the subsequent Democratic Presidents who are responsible for this situation today. The Democratic icon Bill Clinton was the first modern President who campaigned as a progressive leader but ruled as a Republican. Among his greatest crime against people were signing of the Telecommunication Act, dismantling of Glass-Steagall Act, signing of Trade agreement NAFTA, Welfare Reform etc.

If Bill Clinton was incidental in harming interest of the poor, his Democratic successor Barrack Obama was no better. Obama presided over the 2007-8 depression which was caused by the biggest financial irregularity by the big banks and the Wall Street investment farms, yet his Justice Department did not prosecute a single Wall Street official. He provided huge subsidy to the big banks while allowed millions of people to lose their houses because of their inability to pay their mortgages.

Barrack Obama campaigned with the promise to stop wars but once elected he sent more troops to Afghanistan, started new wars in Libya, Syria, and Yemen. He created an Affordable Care Act, only to serve the interest of the big insurance company. He had control of both the Senate and the house, yet, he declared he would not support a single payer option even before any negotiation started.

With the election of Donald Trump the rich had acquired total control of political machinery and the situation looks very bleak. They did not waste any time in proclaiming removal of regulations that keep the rich from totally going berserk, and started signing executive orders one after another. The Democratic leadership is appeasing the Republicans. Only a handful rebels from the Democratic Party are still fighting for the common people against all odds. Nevertheless, the future does not look promising, at least, not in the near future.