On this the fourth anniversary of the Citizen’s United decision we note that these eye popping stories of the symptoms of inequality are starting to pile up. Just how much money has been hoovered up by the wealthiest people in the world should be disturbing to anybody with a pulse and two synapses to rub together. Worker productivity keeps going up and the proceeds of that created wealth keep filtering up to the elite .01%.
Had a political discussion with a young nephew and a brother-in-law recently where the nephew’s inchoate political view was decidedly anarchist – we need a revolution. My brother-in-law is a DLC Democrat who was horrified that a young person would advocate anarchy. I was more neutral on the anarchy, warning that it doesn’t always work out the way you hope. But stories like the above make me wonder if a little anarchy might not be what we need to rebalance our human portfolio.
It sure doesn’t seem like another great progressive era is in the offing. It’s needed today as much as it was in the 1893-1910 period, and the bell was answered by some unlikely figures like Teddy Roosevelt and William Taft. One cannot imagine today’s GOP, or their corporate and finance masters, tolerating the needed reforms in the Citizen’s United age. Even with the reforms of the Progressive Age we still could not prevent the Great Depression of the 30s. That financial conflagration spawned even more desperate regulatory and safety net reforms that were successful in preventing further economic tumult for 40 years. But those improvements have been eroded for the last 30 years and here we stand – with more overall wealth, innovation, technology, etc. but more insecurity for more people than since 1929. The meltdown of 2007-2010 has not been met by even the minimum legislative reaction that the so-called Progressive Age enacted. Nope, we are whistling through the middle classes’ grave yard.
In the early part of the 20th century there were enough fair minded men in both parties to act, even minimally, to protect their own system from itself, if nothing else. Unfortunately, today one of the major parties has been taken over by such medieval know-nothing moralization of economics that the idea any fair minded core of that party could emerge, like Roosevelt and Taft, and work to reform the inequities, seems farfetched. I do not see the change we need coming except for the one party rule that has come about in California and brought the Golden State back from the brink.
In my darkest moments I do have gleeful thoughts of marauding hordes going over the fences of gated communities while these super wealthy pashas of self-congratulatory indulgence have pathetically locked themselves in their panic rooms.