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John Eby: So this is what it was like living through the 1920s

Published 10:47pm Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The summer I went to college so I could graduate early I took a class on the 1920s.
I always imagined what it might be like to be alive then.
Didn’t expect my fantasy to be fulfilled, but you have to go back 82 years to 1929 for the inequality where the top 1 percent of households take such a lopsided amount.
Did you see where the President was railing against “a small group (who) had concentrated into their own hands an almost complete control over other people’s property, other people’s money, other people’s labor — other people’s lives.”
And by the President I mean Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
FDR’s New Deal followed by four years the 1929 Great Depression.
Republicans occupied the White House throughout the 1920s, with Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover, while the Supreme Court sided with big business, striking down labor standards, minimum wages and other protections.
An economy this hollowed out by the chasm between the super rich and everyone else couldn’t prosper because who could afford to buy their products, except the markets are less frequently on these shores.
Maybe that’s why tycoons seem out of touch with our troubles.
Before we really started talking about globalization, businesses drained jobs to places like China and a new word, outsourced, entered the lexicon.
They live behind fortress walls in gated communities and shelter corporate income offshore from enormous profits generated outside America.
At the least, entrenched members of Congress ought to be required periodically to live in the America their myopic policies create.
Our missing middle class doesn’t even merit mention in the frequent Republican candidate debates, which breathless pundits cover like they matter for an election a year from now.
Sarah Palin! Donald Trump! Mitch Daniels! Jeb Bush! Michele Bachmann! Rick Perry! Mitt Romney! Chris Christie!
Try to keep up at home with the need for fresh meat to feed the relentless media maw. I
t must be about time to slip Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum into the pinata limelight.
Herman Cain, with his 9-9-9 tax plan which, Jon Huntsman, is right, sounds like a Godfather Pizza deal, but people are responding to trying to simplify the tax code. He said Oct. 5, “Don’t blame Wall Street. Don’t blame the big banks. If you don’t have a job and you’re not rich, blame yourself.”
Some suspect his campaign is cover for a book tour.
Perry and Romney probably don’t want to be reminded of 2004 when Democrats Howard Dean and Dick Gephardt pounded the stuffing out of each other and the nomination went to John Kerry.
Since Jimmy Carter after Watergate, we mostly prefer people unqualified for the biggest job on Earth who posture as Washington outsiders.
George H.W. Bush was a notable exception and we made him pay for loose tax lips, although Bill Clinton couldn’t otherwise have produced balanced budgets.
President Barack Obama said in Florida Sept. 29, “This is a great, great country that had gotten a little soft, and we didn’t have that same competitive edge we needed over the last couple of decades. We need to get back on track.”
A pretty conservative utterance considering the cries of blasphemy it unleashed.
Yet we rank next to last in one measure of 44 countries in things like research and development. We’re ninth in college graduates and 51st in science and math education.
In 2002, just 6 percent of degrees were in engineering, compared to 20 percent for Japan and 16 percent for Germany.
As many Americans work in the prison business as in the auto industry.
A very telling statistic about our priorities is that the federal government spends $4 on each adult over 65 versus $1 on every child younger than 18.
We keep doling out tax cuts to people who don’t need them while slashing social programs, relying on social media and angry talk-show hosts for information, then wonder at our culture of incivility and rampant extremism.
The right has the Tea Party and the left has Occupy Wall Street, which turned a month old Oct. 17 in Zuccotti Park.
Fox ridicules them as incoherent, but to sum up, fairness.

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  • Username75

    Our present Economic Situation didn’t happen Overnight.
    It has headed this way since 1979, and Supply Side Economics,
    with a Unhealthy mixture of Aynn Rand.
    We first blamed the Poorest of the Poor, who were receiving
    A Rent Subsidy We called Welfare.
    To Us they were all Lazy Druggies, Wino’s, and bums.
    They were costing us almost 2 cents on Our Tax Dollars.
    For their Welfare and Food Stamps.
    We did not recognize, all We were doing were mostly Subsidizing
    Slumlords and Grocers.
    Yes Grocers for each Dollar these dirty rotten Scum spent with
    Food stamps another 45 Cents were split between the Grocers,
    and the Banks “Factoring” them.
    This Infusion of Funds to the Slumlords went to mostly Middle Class
    Property Owners.
    Instead of allowing Welfare recipients from getting education, or
    Child care We forbid it, then blamed them for being both poor, and Ignorant.
    The Same Middle Class that received back 35 Cents of their tax Dollars,
    begrudged the poor 2 Pennies, and that was Class Warfare.
    Then We went after those Evil blue Collar Workers, with
    the Same Fervor Southern Whites Went after the Blacks.
    We now are indeed soon facing the same Economic Disparities
    We had in the 20′s until 1932 When FDR became president.
    What We did on top of creating the Economic We now have, By Your Vote.
    We stripped all the Protections that Wisdom Demanded since the
    Depression, By Your Vote and Approval.
    If We had just not Ignored the lessons of History, We would not be here.
    Soon We will roll back the Time to the Conditions of the 1870′s and 1880′s
    I guarantee You will not enjoy those.
    But the Same Economic philosophy We have proved over, and Over
    Again Will remain, the same ol Supply Side Trickle Down Policies ,
    that have always Wrong Will remain America’s Dream.
    And Once again most Americans Will Vote against their own best interest.
    After All they vote for Slogans, Propaganda, and Lies rather than Reason.
    Sam Taylor

  • mikea0815

    No John, this is NOT what it was like to live in the 1920′s. You blame the depression on Republican policies before 1929, and lionize FDR for what he supposedly did. The truth of the matter is, that the policies of FDR and his Secretary of Labor, Frances Perkins, not only prolonged the depression, but created the dependence society that we are enduring today. When one speaks of the supposed concentration of wealth today and compares it to the concentration of wealth in the early 20th century, it would be appropriate to note that much of the poverty of the early 20th was the result of immigration. Legal immigration I might add. Today’s lack of wealth is again as a result of a huge influx of immigrants, with over 10 million of them illegal! You conveniently failed to note that fact in your “editorial.” You also failed to make note of the fact that in today’s society these immigrants, legal or not, may receive payments from our government for their housing, care, and feeding. That did not exist in the 1920′s. Is there exploitation of these immigrants? You bet there is. Why? THEY AREN’T HERE LEGALLY! When they report exploitation they risk deportation. Many of the laws enacted in the 30′s were in response to exploitation.

    When you equate the OWS crowds to the tent cities that were erected in the 20′s you do disservice to those who encamped in Washington to petition for what their government promised them for their service. General Pershing suffered greatly having to obey orders to disperse them. Today’s authorities seem to think that the demands for wealth redistribution policies are justified, and the support of such groups as AFL-CIO, SEIU, MoveOn.Org, The Muslim Brotherhood, The American Nazi Party et. al. is perfectly acceptable. No John, you learned little in your class about the 1920′s other than perhaps that the gangsters controlled Chicago. Corruption still exists there, just in the name of the government.

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