A friend once told me that the wealthy elite didn't want to just "roll back" the New Deal, they wanted to roll back the entire 20th Century. His point was that all the social gains of the 20th Century were granted to us in order to combat global communism, and that with the collapse of communism the wealthy elite are going it take it all back. I didn't fully appreciate his sentiments until recently.
The recent upsurge
in global piracy seems strange and exotic in
today's world, but in fact it is rather appropriate in the full
context of national events.
Below is a list of trends which show the 21st Century is going to look a lot more like the 19th Century than the 20th Century.
Can we finally stop saying "Big Labor"? Last
union membership had shrunk to 11.8% of the total
workforce and only 6.6% of the private sector.
You have to go all the way back to 1900 to find such a small union footprint in the private sector.
Second Gilded Age
Along with the destruction of labor unions and the middle
class we've see a dramatic rise in inequality. The U.S. has
inequality in the developed world.
Inequality has hit levels not seen since the Robber Barons.
"the cruellest of our revenue laws, I will venture to affirm,
are mild and gentle in comparison of some of those which the
clamour of our merchants and manufacturers has extorted from the
legislature for the support of their own absurd and oppressive
monopolies. Like the laws of Draco, these laws may be said to be
all written in blood."
- Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations
Like all monopolies, the monopoly of colonial trade imposes costs throughout the rest of the economy and reduces the competitiveness of the rest of the economy.Pretty much every economist since Adam Smith, from David Ricardo to John Maynard Keynes, supported anti-monopoly laws. That is until Milton Friedman and Alan Greenspan came along in the 1980's. We are now witnessing the results of Friedman/Greenspan's faith in free-market fundamentalism.
It's really quite simple, and only the most extreme right-wingers still deny that monopolies happen and they are bad for the economy and democracy.
There is no reasonable person denying that
corporate America is increasingly concentrated.
For example, recall in the 1980's that a telecommunications monopoly was a bad thing, and now look at AT&T today.
Most of Standard Oil has been reconstituted.
Monsanto has monopolized seed production.
The list goes on and on.
So why don't we read about this financial monopoly in the press? Well, that's another story.
Of the 1,500 daily newspapers in the country, 99 percent are the only daily in their cities. Of the 11,800 cable systems, all but a handful are monopolies in their cities. Of the 11,000 commercial radio stations, six or eight formats (all-talk, all-news, variations of rock music, rap, adult contemporary, etc.), with an all but uniform content within each format, dominate programming in every city. The four commercial television networks and their local affiliates carry programs of essentially the same type, with only the meagerly financed public stations offering a genuine alternative. Thus, most of the media meet the tongue-twisting argot of Wall Street in J being oligopolies that are collections of local monopolies.No place has a more concentrated monopoly than Wall Street. Nor one more dependent on the taxpayer.
7:14 PM PT: Return of Gilded Age Politics