September 7, 2012
Imagine a United States with enormous and growing levels of income inequality. An America with long-term unemployment and people giving up hope for the future. An America where corporations buy politicians and ignore the desires of everyday people. An America where a lack of regulation leads to a boom-and-bust economy that allows the 1% to get even more wealthy while throwing millions of Americans out of work.
That I could be talking about today or the Gilded Age is telling. The end of the 19th century saw corporations at their height of influence and power, with plutocrats literally buying off legislatures to elect their men to the U.S. Senate and individuals like John D. Rockefeller and J.P. Morgan having more money than the entire federal government.
Americans fixed a lot of these problems in the 20th century. The mid-20th century was a period when more Americans had a larger share of the pie, with a growing middle-class, high rates of unionization, an expanding consumer economy leading to home ownership, working-class people going to college without much debt, and a better life for all, even if too often minorities were denied inclusion in this society. READ MORE