8 Ways America is Headed Back to the Robber-Baron Gilded Age
July 05, 2012We are recreating the Gilded Age, a period when corporations ruled this nation, buying politicians, using violence against unions and engaging in open corruption.
1. Unregulated Corporate Capitalism Creates Economic Collapse
In the late 19th century, corrupt railroad capitalists created the Panic of 1873 and Panic of 1893 through lying about their business activities, buying off politicians and siphoning off capital into their own pockets. Railroad corporations set up phony corporations that allowed them to embezzle money from the railroad into their bank accounts. When exposed, the entire economy collapsed as banks failed around the country. The Panic of 1893 lasted five years, created 25% unemployment, and was the worst economic crisis in American history before the Great Depression.
In the early 21st century, the poorly regulated financial industry plunged the nation into the longest economic downturn since the Depression. Like in the Gilded Age, none of the culprits have served a day in prison.
2. Union Busting
In the Gilded Age, business used the power of the state to crush labor unions. President Hayes called in the Army to break the Great Railroad Strike of 1877; President Cleveland did the same against the Pullman strikers in 1894.
Today’s corporations don’t have to use such blunt force to destroy unions, but like in the past, they convince the government to do their bidding. Whether it is holding up FAA renewal in order to make it harder for airline employees to unionize, Republican members of the National Labor Relations Board leaking material on cases to Republican insiders, or governors Scott Walker and John Kasich seeking to bust their states’ public sector unions, not since before the Great Depression has the government attacked unions with such force.
3. Income Inequality
Today, we have the highest levels of income inequality since the 1920s and the gap is widening to late 19th century levels with great speed. In those days, individuals like John D. Rockefeller had more money than the federal government, while the majority of Americans lived in squalor, poverty and disease.
In the Progressive Era, we started creating laws like the federal income tax, child labor laws and workers’ compensation to begin giving workers a fair share of the pie. For decades, labor fought to increase their share and by the 1970s, had turned much of the working class into the middle class. Today, that middle class is under attack by a new generation of plutocrats who wish to recreate the massive fortunes of the Gilded Age.
4. Open Purchase of Elections
In 1890, copper magnate William Clark paid Montana lawmakers $140,000 to elect him to the U.S. Senate. While most plutocrats did not share Clark’s interest in being politicians, they ensured their lackeys would serve in office, often by offering corporate stock to politicians. Disgusted by this corruption, America in the Progressive Era of the early 20th century created a number of reforms, including the 17th Amendment that created direct elections of senators, as well as a 1912 Montana state law limiting corporate expenditures in politics.
5. Supreme Court Partisanship
In the Gilded Age, the Supreme Court interpreted laws not as to the intent of the lawmakers, but to promote business interests. It refused to enforce the 14th Amendment to stop segregation, but it did create the idea that a corporation was a person with rights. The Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890 was intended to moderate monopolies; the Supreme Court only enforced it against unions since organized labor “unfairly restrained trade.”
Today’s Supreme Court has resorted to this aggressively partisan stance. The Court is fine with the open flouting of the 4th Amendment, allowing strip searches of middle-school girls if they’re suspected to be carrying drugs, but creates a grotesque expansion of the 14th Amendment in the Citizens United decision. Meanwhile, Antonin Scalia just took the opportunity in a Supreme Court dissent to lambast his colleagues for striking down much of the Arizona anti-immigration law by approvingly citing 19th-century laws in the South that limited the movement of African Americans.
6. Violations of Civil Liberties
In the late 19th century, civil and military authorities looked down upon protesting citizens. Widespread violations of civil liberties took place when Americans protested for almost any reasons, whether it was labor unions, political gatherings in Washington, D.C., or African Americans organizing to protect themselves from white supremacists. Police shot strikers and thugs and mobs murdered organizers.
Today we are seeing a growing recreation of this society with no respect for civil liberties. The use of police violence against Occupy protesters, like the pepper-spraying of nonviolent activists at the University of California-Davis did spawn some outrage. But in the aftermath of the PATRIOT Act, the authorities have tremendous power to suppress protest and are not afraid to use it against peaceful citizens.
7. Voter Repression
The Gilded Age saw the rolling back of Reconstruction, with black people unable to vote in the South due to the grandfather clause, poll taxes, literacy tests, and threat of violence. Conservative extremists have chafed at black people voting ever since the civil rights movement ended segregation.
Today, voter ID laws and voter roll-purging seek to limit black voting again. Florida Governor Rick Scott hopes to purge enough black people from the voting rolls to swing the Sunshine State to Mitt Romney this fall, while a lawmaker in Pennsylvania openly said the Keystone State’s recently passed voter ID law would do the same. Even more shocking, the recently released Texas Republican Party platform has a plank calling for the repeal of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, passed in the wake of police beatings of civil rights protestors in Selma, Alabama.
8. Anti-Immigration Fervor
In the Gilded Age, Americans feared the millions of people coming from eastern and southern Europe, the Middle East and Asia to work in the nation’s growing economy. Fearing these immigrants would never assimilate, Americans looked to bar their entry. Beginning with the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882 and continuing through the Immigration Act of 1924, the country slowly closed its doors to the world’s tired and hungry.
Today’s immigrants face an increasingly militarized border, states like Arizona trying to usurp federal immigration policy, and increased numbers of deportations. Conservatives fear the changes Latinos could bring to the United States and talk about English-only laws and the evils of bilingual education. They also recognize the likelihood of Latinos voting for the Democratic Party in coming decades and thus use the same kind of voter repression strategies that target black voters.
Source

8 Ways America is Headed Back to the Robber-Baron Gilded Age

July 05, 2012

We are recreating the Gilded Age, a period when corporations ruled this nation, buying politicians, using violence against unions and engaging in open corruption.

1. Unregulated Corporate Capitalism Creates Economic Collapse

In the late 19th century, corrupt railroad capitalists created the Panic of 1873 and Panic of 1893 through lying about their business activities, buying off politicians and siphoning off capital into their own pockets. Railroad corporations set up phony corporations that allowed them to embezzle money from the railroad into their bank accounts. When exposed, the entire economy collapsed as banks failed around the country. The Panic of 1893 lasted five years, created 25% unemployment, and was the worst economic crisis in American history before the Great Depression.

In the early 21st century, the poorly regulated financial industry plunged the nation into the longest economic downturn since the Depression. Like in the Gilded Age, none of the culprits have served a day in prison.

2. Union Busting

In the Gilded Age, business used the power of the state to crush labor unions. President Hayes called in the Army to break the Great Railroad Strike of 1877; President Cleveland did the same against the Pullman strikers in 1894.

Today’s corporations don’t have to use such blunt force to destroy unions, but like in the past, they convince the government to do their bidding. Whether it is holding up FAA renewal in order to make it harder for airline employees to unionize, Republican members of the National Labor Relations Board leaking material on cases to Republican insiders, or governors Scott Walker and John Kasich seeking to bust their states’ public sector unions, not since before the Great Depression has the government attacked unions with such force.

3. Income Inequality

Today, we have the highest levels of income inequality since the 1920s and the gap is widening to late 19th century levels with great speed. In those days, individuals like John D. Rockefeller had more money than the federal government, while the majority of Americans lived in squalor, poverty and disease.

In the Progressive Era, we started creating laws like the federal income tax, child labor laws and workers’ compensation to begin giving workers a fair share of the pie. For decades, labor fought to increase their share and by the 1970s, had turned much of the working class into the middle class. Today, that middle class is under attack by a new generation of plutocrats who wish to recreate the massive fortunes of the Gilded Age.

4. Open Purchase of Elections

In 1890, copper magnate William Clark paid Montana lawmakers $140,000 to elect him to the U.S. Senate. While most plutocrats did not share Clark’s interest in being politicians, they ensured their lackeys would serve in office, often by offering corporate stock to politicians. Disgusted by this corruption, America in the Progressive Era of the early 20th century created a number of reforms, including the 17th Amendment that created direct elections of senators, as well as a 1912 Montana state law limiting corporate expenditures in politics.

5. Supreme Court Partisanship

In the Gilded Age, the Supreme Court interpreted laws not as to the intent of the lawmakers, but to promote business interests. It refused to enforce the 14th Amendment to stop segregation, but it did create the idea that a corporation was a person with rights. The Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890 was intended to moderate monopolies; the Supreme Court only enforced it against unions since organized labor “unfairly restrained trade.”

Today’s Supreme Court has resorted to this aggressively partisan stance. The Court is fine with the open flouting of the 4th Amendment, allowing strip searches of middle-school girls if they’re suspected to be carrying drugs, but creates a grotesque expansion of the 14th Amendment in the Citizens United decision. Meanwhile, Antonin Scalia just took the opportunity in a Supreme Court dissent to lambast his colleagues for striking down much of the Arizona anti-immigration law by approvingly citing 19th-century laws in the South that limited the movement of African Americans.

6. Violations of Civil Liberties

In the late 19th century, civil and military authorities looked down upon protesting citizens. Widespread violations of civil liberties took place when Americans protested for almost any reasons, whether it was labor unions, political gatherings in Washington, D.C., or African Americans organizing to protect themselves from white supremacists. Police shot strikers and thugs and mobs murdered organizers.

Today we are seeing a growing recreation of this society with no respect for civil liberties. The use of police violence against Occupy protesters, like the pepper-spraying of nonviolent activists at the University of California-Davis did spawn some outrage. But in the aftermath of the PATRIOT Act, the authorities have tremendous power to suppress protest and are not afraid to use it against peaceful citizens.

7. Voter Repression

The Gilded Age saw the rolling back of Reconstruction, with black people unable to vote in the South due to the grandfather clause, poll taxes, literacy tests, and threat of violence. Conservative extremists have chafed at black people voting ever since the civil rights movement ended segregation.

Today, voter ID laws and voter roll-purging seek to limit black voting again. Florida Governor Rick Scott hopes to purge enough black people from the voting rolls to swing the Sunshine State to Mitt Romney this fall, while a lawmaker in Pennsylvania openly said the Keystone State’s recently passed voter ID law would do the same. Even more shocking, the recently released Texas Republican Party platform has a plank calling for the repeal of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, passed in the wake of police beatings of civil rights protestors in Selma, Alabama.

8. Anti-Immigration Fervor

In the Gilded Age, Americans feared the millions of people coming from eastern and southern Europe, the Middle East and Asia to work in the nation’s growing economy. Fearing these immigrants would never assimilate, Americans looked to bar their entry. Beginning with the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882 and continuing through the Immigration Act of 1924, the country slowly closed its doors to the world’s tired and hungry.

Today’s immigrants face an increasingly militarized border, states like Arizona trying to usurp federal immigration policy, and increased numbers of deportations. Conservatives fear the changes Latinos could bring to the United States and talk about English-only laws and the evils of bilingual education. They also recognize the likelihood of Latinos voting for the Democratic Party in coming decades and thus use the same kind of voter repression strategies that target black voters.

Source

Top 10 facts about the gender wage gap:

1. In 2010 women who worked full time, year round, still only earned 77 percent of what men earned.

2. In 2010, in nearly two-thirds of families (63.9 percent), a mother was either the breadwinner—either a single working mother or bringing home as much or more than her husband—or a co-breadwinner—bringing home at least a quarter of the family’s earnings. When women’s wages are lowered due to gender discrimination, their families’ incomes are often significantly lowered as well.

3. In 2010, the latest year for which data are available, white women earned 78.1 percent compared to white men, African American women earned 89.8 percent compared to black men, Hispanic women earned 91.3 percent compared to Hispanic men, and Asian women earned 79.7 percent compared to Asian men.

4. College-educated women earn 5 percent less the first year out of school than their male peers. Ten years later, even if they keep working on par with those men, the women earn 12 percent less.

5. The top 10 jobs held by women include: secretaries and administrative assistants (number one); elementary and middle-school teachers (number four); retail salespeople (number six); and maids and housekeepers (number 10). These jobs typically pay less than male-dominated jobs and are fueling the gender wage gap.

6. Over a 40-year working career, the average woman loses $431,000 as the result of the wage gap.

7. For working women between the ages of 25 to 29, the annual wage gap is $1,702. In the last five years before retirement, however, the annual wage gap jumps to $14,352.

8. Single women earn only 78.8 percent of what married women earn, and only 57 cents for every dollar that married males earn.

9. More than 40 percent of the wage gap cannot be explained by occupation, work experience, race, or union membership.

10. Mothers earn about 7 percent less per child than childless women.

Source

The folks at Occupy Animator have broken down the reasons we Occupy in terms even non-occupiers can understand: facts, figures and dollars. For instance, did you know that 81% of the stock market is owned by 10% of Americans? Or that 18 members of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors were found to have serious conflicts of interest? This simple listing of facts proves devastating, as it starkly presents the consequences of an unequal society. - Occupy by the Numbers

The American Spring: Steps OWS must take to further the movement
With the reoccupation of Occupy Wall Street in Union Square, occupiers are reenergizing with the six-month anniversary of the protests that began on Sept. 17. While physical occupations offer a space for the disenfranchised 99 percent to gather and mobilize, the stakes have become too high to not advance the movement immediately.
Police force is continuing. Wall Street is still as destructive as ever and corporate gluttony remains an infiltrating poison in not only American lives, but in lives all over the world. Six months into the possible revolutionary force, Occupiers must think of the next step and the step that proceeds to progress the movement into even more of a vehicle for transformation.
Inclusion of everyone in the 99 percent
While the focus of OWS has been corporate greed and income inequality, occupiers must begin to include other 99 percenters in the equation. Racial minorities, women, the LGBT community, the homeless and the disabled make up the majority of the 99 percent and have a history of being disenfranchised by the 1 percent’s corporate agenda. With the inclusion of racial issues, women’s reproductive rights and income inequality, gay rights, homelessness and disability issues, the movement will only gain more momentum.
Because capitalism has not only created most of these problems, but has swept them under the American political radar, occupiers must bring them to the forefront, along with economic inequality, to show the full scope of how our financial system has completely abandoned and abused a vast majority of the American people. With the inclusion of these other 99 percenters, more people are likely to come out in support of OWS and join the fight for a better world.
Capitalism thrives off of exploited populations, not just the working class. The systematic oppression of these minority groups has gone on to subject 99 percent of the United States to financial disarray, extreme poverty and invasive and discriminatory governmental practices. There is a reason why black households earn less than any other race. American politicians have campaigned to put governmental control on women’s bodies and the marriage rights of the LGBT community. Just as OWS has brought to light the rampant corruption of Wall Street, it must also publicize how capitalism is imposing upon the rights of every part of the 99 percent.
Find the source and an alternative
In order to create large-scale change, OWS has to pinpoint the root of each issue – whether it is economic inequality, marriage inequality, income inequality or job inequality. The movement must become strictly anti-capitalist and publicize the problems created by the strictly for-profit system. Why is it that more than four million people in the United States are surviving on about $60 a month? Why is it that we have more available foreclosed homes than we have homeless people? Our capitalist system survives to make a profit, not to provide for human need.
Especially with the 2012 presidential elections in the near future, we need to see that the capitalist system has provided us with a failed and corrupt two-party electoral system – vote for millionaire A or millionaire B. Vote for an open capitalist or an open capitalist veiled in so-called “liberalism.” The treatment of American workers as commodities has opened the flood gates for exploitation of every kind. An alternative has never been presented as capitalists have created the illusion that this isn’t a system we chose; it is put in place as just the natural progression of economics.
Capitalism is often advertised as a system that fosters economic growth – economic growth for whom? As the tag line of OWS has presented, capitalism is extreme economic growth for the one percent and economic decay for the rest. While capitalists control the means of production, workers are forced to survive off of the scraps those at the top so graciously leave for the rest. This is why Wall Street bonuses swelled to more than $121,150 last year while extreme poverty has more than doubled in the last 16 years, according to the National Poverty Center.
Mobilize for change
As occupations across the country and the world reorganize against capitalism and the one percent, action is needed on a widespread scale. OWS has promoted port shut downs, strikes, boycotts, petitions and even coordinated occupiers to run for office. We need even more action now. As the messages of inequality across the board have become more visible because of OWS, action must continue to follow.
Even though naysayers and skeptics may say the Occupy Movement has yet to create change, we must recognize how deep-rooted this economic system is. It has infiltrated our politics, food industry, job market, media system, education, environment, culture and many other aspects of life. Capitalism has come to deteriorate the American people so much so that it will take massive mobilization through protest, the replacement of political figures, a shift in consciousness and values and the uprising of the working class to crumble this failed money-hungry system. It couldn’t be done in the past six months alone and perhaps not even in the next six months. But the movement cannot fizzle out. The most strenuous part of Occupy still lies ahead.
In the past six months, we’ve brought to light the disgusting, misogynistic, racist and gluttonous ways of the capitalist one percent. But that is only part of the process for change. The next six months must focus on uniting the 99 percent against the imperialist rulers of the United States.
So, welcome to the American Spring. We are the 99 percent and too big to fail. 
- G.Razo

The American Spring: Steps OWS must take to further the movement

With the reoccupation of Occupy Wall Street in Union Square, occupiers are reenergizing with the six-month anniversary of the protests that began on Sept. 17. While physical occupations offer a space for the disenfranchised 99 percent to gather and mobilize, the stakes have become too high to not advance the movement immediately.

Police force is continuing. Wall Street is still as destructive as ever and corporate gluttony remains an infiltrating poison in not only American lives, but in lives all over the world. Six months into the possible revolutionary force, Occupiers must think of the next step and the step that proceeds to progress the movement into even more of a vehicle for transformation.

Inclusion of everyone in the 99 percent

While the focus of OWS has been corporate greed and income inequality, occupiers must begin to include other 99 percenters in the equation. Racial minorities, women, the LGBT community, the homeless and the disabled make up the majority of the 99 percent and have a history of being disenfranchised by the 1 percent’s corporate agenda. With the inclusion of racial issues, women’s reproductive rights and income inequality, gay rights, homelessness and disability issues, the movement will only gain more momentum.

Because capitalism has not only created most of these problems, but has swept them under the American political radar, occupiers must bring them to the forefront, along with economic inequality, to show the full scope of how our financial system has completely abandoned and abused a vast majority of the American people. With the inclusion of these other 99 percenters, more people are likely to come out in support of OWS and join the fight for a better world.

Capitalism thrives off of exploited populations, not just the working class. The systematic oppression of these minority groups has gone on to subject 99 percent of the United States to financial disarray, extreme poverty and invasive and discriminatory governmental practices. There is a reason why black households earn less than any other race. American politicians have campaigned to put governmental control on women’s bodies and the marriage rights of the LGBT community. Just as OWS has brought to light the rampant corruption of Wall Street, it must also publicize how capitalism is imposing upon the rights of every part of the 99 percent.

Find the source and an alternative

In order to create large-scale change, OWS has to pinpoint the root of each issue – whether it is economic inequality, marriage inequality, income inequality or job inequality. The movement must become strictly anti-capitalist and publicize the problems created by the strictly for-profit system. Why is it that more than four million people in the United States are surviving on about $60 a month? Why is it that we have more available foreclosed homes than we have homeless people? Our capitalist system survives to make a profit, not to provide for human need.

Especially with the 2012 presidential elections in the near future, we need to see that the capitalist system has provided us with a failed and corrupt two-party electoral system – vote for millionaire A or millionaire B. Vote for an open capitalist or an open capitalist veiled in so-called “liberalism.” The treatment of American workers as commodities has opened the flood gates for exploitation of every kind. An alternative has never been presented as capitalists have created the illusion that this isn’t a system we chose; it is put in place as just the natural progression of economics.

Capitalism is often advertised as a system that fosters economic growth – economic growth for whom? As the tag line of OWS has presented, capitalism is extreme economic growth for the one percent and economic decay for the rest. While capitalists control the means of production, workers are forced to survive off of the scraps those at the top so graciously leave for the rest. This is why Wall Street bonuses swelled to more than $121,150 last year while extreme poverty has more than doubled in the last 16 years, according to the National Poverty Center.

Mobilize for change

As occupations across the country and the world reorganize against capitalism and the one percent, action is needed on a widespread scale. OWS has promoted port shut downs, strikes, boycotts, petitions and even coordinated occupiers to run for office. We need even more action now. As the messages of inequality across the board have become more visible because of OWS, action must continue to follow.

Even though naysayers and skeptics may say the Occupy Movement has yet to create change, we must recognize how deep-rooted this economic system is. It has infiltrated our politics, food industry, job market, media system, education, environment, culture and many other aspects of life. Capitalism has come to deteriorate the American people so much so that it will take massive mobilization through protest, the replacement of political figures, a shift in consciousness and values and the uprising of the working class to crumble this failed money-hungry system. It couldn’t be done in the past six months alone and perhaps not even in the next six months. But the movement cannot fizzle out. The most strenuous part of Occupy still lies ahead.

In the past six months, we’ve brought to light the disgusting, misogynistic, racist and gluttonous ways of the capitalist one percent. But that is only part of the process for change. The next six months must focus on uniting the 99 percent against the imperialist rulers of the United States.

So, welcome to the American Spring. We are the 99 percent and too big to fail. 

- G.Razo

JP Morgan Chase Ceo Jamie Dimon, who was paid more than $23 million in 2011, says newspaper pay is "just damn outrageous" & that journalists don’t even make money for their respective media outlets.
As a journalism student who has worked at various newspapers for the past four years, I can say my pay is definitely outrageous - outrageously low. I’ve been expected to write for less than minimum wage and most of the time, for free. Especially coming from a man whose salary last year alone is more than an entire city newspaper pays its employees in a year, Dimon’s arrogance & sense of entitlement is outrageous.
This perfectly depicts a downfall of a capitalist system - how is that that journalists are expected to make less than a CEO? Does a CEO do more work than a journalist? Are they somehow smarter or more entitled to millions of dollars each year? In defending his own pay, Dimons noted, “We are going to pay competitively…we need top talent.”
His & other CEO’s pay is not competitive. It is pay in the millions of dollars each year at the exploitation of millions of Americans. Every million that goes into their pocket is less for education, less for new schools, less for healthcare, less for housing. -GR

JP Morgan Chase Ceo Jamie Dimon, who was paid more than $23 million in 2011, says newspaper pay is "just damn outrageous" & that journalists don’t even make money for their respective media outlets.

As a journalism student who has worked at various newspapers for the past four years, I can say my pay is definitely outrageous - outrageously low. I’ve been expected to write for less than minimum wage and most of the time, for free. Especially coming from a man whose salary last year alone is more than an entire city newspaper pays its employees in a year, Dimon’s arrogance & sense of entitlement is outrageous.

This perfectly depicts a downfall of a capitalist system - how is that that journalists are expected to make less than a CEO? Does a CEO do more work than a journalist? Are they somehow smarter or more entitled to millions of dollars each year? In defending his own pay, Dimons noted, “We are going to pay competitively…we need top talent.”

His & other CEO’s pay is not competitive. It is pay in the millions of dollars each year at the exploitation of millions of Americans. Every million that goes into their pocket is less for education, less for new schools, less for healthcare, less for housing. -GR