The outrage is that liberals like President Obama are still saying, after boosting the government from 7 percent of GDP to 40 percent in one century, that it's still not enough.
But it is still discouraging to read a chap like Barry Rubin making the Brooke argument. All that Progressivism was all very well--it had a point--but now we need to "pull up" before we "go too far."
There is such a thing as balance. America’s rapid industrialization after the Civil War put the system out of balance and threatened to wreck the country’s constitutionally-mandated system. Robber barons, monopolies, exploitation of labor, and the buying and selling of legislatures were all commonplace. Only due to reforms, largely backed by Democratic presidents before most of us were born, was the balance corrected.So legislatures were not being bought and sold in, say, 1812? Labor was less exploited, as in plantation slavery and indentured servitude? Let's get real here. In 1900, the price of illuminating oil had been reduced by 90 percent--by Standard Oil. The price of steel was down by 66 percent--by US Steel. Railroads blanketed the nation so that, for the first time in history, farmers could sell their grain to the world. But people were migrating to the US in their millions (because they could do it safely and inexpensively in the new steamships). That kept wages down.
Here was the problem. The political elite was afraid that the new rich, the men who had built the big corporations, would contest for political power. Of course they would. After all, politics for politicians isn't everything, it is the only thing.
So the Progressives set about shredding the power of the business elite and institutionalizing their own power--to control politics, to control commerce, and to control the culture. To do that, they needed a scapegoat, and what better than to stigmatize the new barons of business as monopolists and robber barons and exploiters?
The cure was worse than the disease. The Progressives turned the proud self-made business elite into cringing crony capitalists. And they created "social insurance" programs that weren't social, they were regimental; and they weren't insurance, they were Ponzi schemes.
Here we are, 100 years later, and the "progressives," relabeled "liberals" who were relabeled "Progressives," are still retelling their "narrative."
Well, the postmodernists say that the "narrative" that historians tell us is really an apology for power. When President Obama tells us a story of exploitation he is merely setting us up for bigger and bigger government.
Back in the 19th century, people were quite a bit rougher with each other than we are today. You can tell that from the lynching statistics, and I mean 50 white-on-white lynchings a year and 50 white-on-black lynchings a year in the 1880s. But how bad was it? Well, when the school inspector went visiting factories employing 13-year-old children in 1912 she found that the children much preferred work to school. Why? Because their employers treated them better than their teachers.