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October 21, 2013


Robert I. Winner

Long time no see. I find this analysis interesting and agree with much of it. However, there are some historical perspectives worth considering, I think. First, your apt comparison with the Gilded Age fails to recognize that it was called "Gilded" as a derogatory term as compared with a prior "Golden Age". That is, the Gilded Age was rich in veneer not substance. At such times corrupt politics easily prevail and we get such disasters as the Jim Crow laws you mention and extreme divisions of wealth and power. Second, there is an interaction of the spirit of the times with a longstanding facet of American democracy: the relatively wealthy have since the early days of our founding been concerned that the masses could use the mechanisms of democracy to steal from them. The very existence and structure of the U.S. Senate was to some extent born of this concern. The fact that only people of substance could vote in the early days evidences the narrow-minded idea that no one else has skin in this game. Now comes the graduated income tax and then the New Deal and all that followed from it plus successive waves of immigration and the advances of civil rights. Combined with the evident fear of many of the "haves," it's not too hard to find one source of the anger you write about. It has ever been the case that the wealthy can find lots of people to stand with them, even when it is illogical to do so. Eventually, you get the kind of situation we have in North Carolina where there are people come to power who seem to believe it is immoral to tax some people to buy anything for someone else, even when the "anythings" include a reasonable education or access to a doctor or subsistence-level nutrition for infants. So, we are in one of those times where the fear of change and, let's be frank, greed are lashed together in the political process. Will technology be a prime ingredient in breaking out of this? I can imagine scenarios where it will. But the timing, as always, is unpredictable.

John Graffio

The key to the anger is in the next to the last paragraph, “Losers of rigged games can become very angry, as history has revealed repeatedly."

The "big" players have molded and shaped the "system" to their specifications, which locks out all small players, be it access to job opportunities, working capital, housing, education and so forth.

This translates to a scenario in which you have great talent(s) in all demographic divisions, but most of these talented, hardworking people have no hope of using their talents to change their life circumstances.

I don't think optimism is called for; history has been ignored long enough. These folks will only stay cornered for so long, after which simmering in quiet anger will erupt into drastic action.

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