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The return of the Gilded Age

Since the time of President Ronald Reagan the Republican Party has worked tirelessly to give advantage to the movers and shakers of corporate America, almost always to the disadvantage of working men and women.

Economic research shows that there has been a steady increase in productivity by the American worker since 1945. That increase in productivity was matched by increases in wages until 1980, when Reagan and the new conservative ideology took over in America.

Since 1980, productivity has grown by about 80 percent, but wages for American workers and the household income of the bottom 90 percent has been flat.

Meanwhile, those in the top 1 percent have seen their incomes grow about 224 percent and the top 0.1 percent gained 390 percent. If median household income had kept pace with the overall increase in wealth in this country, it would now be nearly $92,000, not $50,000.

After the concentration of wealth created by the industrial build-up during the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican president, said of it: “Corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow.”

He also said: “It is the eternal struggle between two principles, right and wrong, throughout the world. It is the same spirit that says ‘you toil and work and earn bread, and I’ll eat it.'”

For over 30 years, the wealthiest in this country, through their influence with the Republican Party, have benefitted from the toil and work of the rest of us, and kept the gains for themselves.

The Republicans and their elite wealthy benefactors have now also gamed the electoral system so they can spend all that extra cash to convince the rest of us of their good intentions. Governor Scott Walker is their new poster boy in the campaign against working Americans. He has scoured the rest of the country to fund his recall campaign. Last month the pro-Walker forces outspent the recall supporters at a rate of over 25 to 1. They think that by spending enough money on deceptive advertising, they can control your vote and control you.

Lincoln also said of democracy: “As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy.”

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