Return to the 19th century

Jun 8 2012 - 12:58pm

The Republican Party wishes to welcome you back to the 19th century. The 19th century was remarkable in many ways. It was the time of the industrial revolution. Men, women, and children worked six and seven days a week for wages that maintained them in little more than abject poverty.

The old and incapacitated had to be cared for by family members who themselves had little time and resources to do so. Adequate health care was little known to the working classes. Except for the well to do, there was no such thing as retirement benefits or pensions. The country was controlled by ruthless industrial magnates who not only controlled the government, but were the government.

Attempts by workers to plead for living wages were met with ruthless repression -- not only by the corporations they were working for, but by the local government authorities who were bought and paid for by those corporations.

So what was the political ideology that spawned these conditions? It was a laissez-faire free market system in which the primary role of government was to promote the accumulation of private and corporate wealth rather than serve the social needs of society. Only through a free market system removed from government interference could the "legitimate" needs of society be satisfied. The poor and working classes chose to be where they were by their own choice, so there could be little sympathy for their plight. It was a self-serving system for and by the wealthy to control all aspects of society in favor of their own interests. It still is the basic political ideology of the Republican Party.

Jump forward to the last 10 years of Republican rule. You may question this considering that a Democratic majority was elected to both the House and the Senate in 2008. Even with that majority, the Republicans controlled the political agenda with their use of the filibuster and a constant stream of propaganda financed by the wealthy and corporate America. So now with their control of the house, what do we have? We have a continuation of Republican control that over the eight years of the Bush Administration sent this country into the greatest recession since the Great Depression of 1929, and sent 14 million people to the unemployment lines.

So how does this relate to the 19th century? You need only to look at the Republican agenda to see the parallel. Virtually every social program enacted to correct the social disparities of the 19th and early 20th centuries are under attack by the Republican Party and the Tea Party that controls it. The attack continues on many fronts. From gutting critically needed social programs by diluting their size and effectiveness, to outright dismantling the major programs that the poor and middle class paid for or relied on to sustain an acceptable standard of living in their remaining years. Only by forcing these cuts can the necessary tax cuts for the rich and corporate America be accomplished, supposedly for the benefit of everyone. In fact, it is all to further one ideology. That is to maintain a totally free and unregulated market in which the only role of government is to promote the free market accumulation of private and corporate wealth.

It's an ideology that is not only self-serving for those who proclaim it, but a complete myth fed by constant propaganda claiming that the working classes are its greatest beneficiary. It is propaganda that is nothing less than double-speak, a widely publicized tax reduction proclaimed to further the economic well being of the American people, when in fact it is primarily pay back to the wealthy who paid for and control the Republican Party. It is legislation claimed to improve the health insurance system for the benefit of the American people, when in fact it is intended to protect the profits of the insurance and drug industries.

It claims to protect the environment when in fact its intent is to degrade the environment by gutting the laws that protect against industrial pollution, air pollution, and the exploitation of our last remaining wild lands. It is denial of climate change, let alone man-caused climate change, when the real basis for the denial is to protect corporate America from regulations that would negatively affect its profits and influence over the political process.

So what is the destiny of America? Are we to see the continuing income explosion in the disparity between the super rich and the middle and lower classes? Are we going to see a continuous reduction in the programs that have protected the poor, elderly, incapacitated, and helpless for generations?

Are we going to see an increasing number of people dependent on a free market health insurance system that rejects applicants, disallows coverage, cancels policies, and restricts treatment of any medical problems that would diminish an insurance company's profits? Are we going to look over a landscape of oil and gas wells, strip mines, high end commercial developments, and off road destruction of the most pristine and irreplaceable landscapes on earth? Some one some where needs to speak up. They must do so if America is to survive that return to the 19th century.

Allen lives in Roy.

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