Posted Monday night, December 18, 2017.
“Gilded Age legislators and judges tended to stand by passively while industrialists hammered out profits from the working class, the environment, and the more timorous among their competitors.”
The Protectors of Our Industries Puck, February 1883. Via Wikipedia.
Twain called it the Gilded Age, and the rich greedy bastards who own and run the contemporary Republican Party think he meant it as a compliment and want to take us back to those days:
The chaotic brawling for dollars buffeted the American economy to and fro, causing frequent panics that desolated many lives. The Panic of 1873 launched five and a half years of gloom known as the Long Depression. During that time, half of the nation’s railway companies went into receivership, some 54,000 U.S businesses defaulted on more than $1.3 billion, and unemployment estimates reached as high as three million. The terms “tramp” and “bum” entered the American vernacular. a few years of relative stability intervened before the stock market crash of 1884 paralyzed banking investments and caused the failure of more than 10,000 companies nationwide. The worst was yet to come. The Panic of 1893 ranked as the country’s most serious economic crisis to date. Some 500 banks failed, as did a number of major railroads and another 15,000 companies. Although recovery began in 1896, the U.S. economy continued to seesaw uncertainly for the rest of the decade.
Amid the donnybrook, government shrugged. Often outpaced intellectually, and drawn mostly from the privileged classes---“the millionaires’ club,” the U.S. Senate was called---Gilded Age legislators and judges tended to stand by passively while industrialists hammered out profits from the working class, the environment, and the more timorous among their competitors. Dishonesty compounded the problem of incompetence. Bribes and kickbacks circulated so freely during the late 1800s that some cynics believed the only honest politician was the one who stayed bought.
---from The Man Who Made the Movies: The Meteoric Rise and Tragic Fall of William Fox by Vanda Krefft.