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The Second and Final Gilded Age

The Second and Final Gilded Age

New data shows that the total wealth of the top 1% of Americans just hit a record $44 trillion. Corporate profits are also hitting record highs, raking in $2.8 trillion in the last three months of 2023 alone. And that’s after taxes. It won’t surprise you to hear, given these massive numbers, that inflation is being driven primarily by corporate greed and these staggering, record profits. By raising the cost of food, housing, and every basic need corporations are facilitating a gargantuan transfer of wealth from the working class to the 1%. In doing so they’re cementing this era’s position as the second Gilded Age.

Via Talmon Smith – NYT

For most of you, that’s probably not new information. Inequality has been soaring since the Reagan era, and even though workers have been creating more and more wealth, we’re seeing a smaller and smaller share of the value we produce. But this Gilded Age is slightly different from the first, and more importantly our remedy for this era should be separate and distinct.

The Gilded Age of the late 1800s is typically defined by extreme inequality and the monopolistic consolidation of industries. A handful of men, the Robber Barons, controlled the railroads, mines, newspapers, and, ultimately, the country. The concentration of wealth was so extreme that one man, John D. Rockefeller, is estimated to have been worth approximately $400 billion at the peak of his wealth, which was about 2% of the entire U.S. economy. Others like Andrew Carnegie, J. P. Morgan, and Cornelius Vanderbilt also pillaged and ruled the country with ruthless business tactics, exploitation of workers, and political corruption.

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