By Edith Morgan
Where is the America I knew? I came here in 1941; this was the only country still taking in refugees, and we got in at the last minute (two months before Pearl Harbor). The U.S. quotas were full, and we were saved only because FDR established a special quota for “political refugees.”
The America I found was still struggling to recover from the crash of 1929, which finally ended when we entered World War II and the government went into full war production.
At that time, the America I knew was governed by two kinds of people: the usual politicians, beholden to various pressure groups, and the statesmen, the REAL public servants who truly wanted to work to better the lot of all people.
It was a time when “the customer was always right”, when banks were a service (not a business) as was the U.S. Post Office, and he teachers, policemen, and firemen were all public servants whose jobs were not expected to make a profit, but were legitimate expense that taxes were used to support. Most Americans agreed that an education was a valuable asset, and all of us looked up to our teachers and learned what we were expected to learn….
The airwaves were the property of the public, and stations were required to renew their licenses every three years, after consulting their publics as to how satisfied they were with the offerings.
Corporations were creatures of the state, chartered to do business according to certain rules and charters could be revoked under certain conditions. And under Teddy Roosevelt, the antitrust laws were rigorously enforced, so that no corporations could become big enough to sink the economy again.
How did were change so much that money is now everything? That “we know the price of everything and the value of nothing”? That lying has become an accepted national art (as advertising becomes more and more ubiquitous and more exaggerated), and that even freedom has a price? How have we come to accept the idea that government, which is usually all that stands between the individual and depredations of those who seek power over us, is blamed for our ills.
There is not a rule or law that has been passed that was not the RESULT of some citizens’ request for protection. Maybe we overdid it, passing laws to respond to single cases (which could be reversed if needed), but at least the individual in America could always expect his government to respond to him (unlike his employer), and to protect him overseas.
Now we are subject to the whims and greed and power mad urges of the very rich, many of whom inherited their money from parents who actually earned their money. Not one of them has invented anything, as all the inventors I know of began with hunches and ideas, often tinkering for a long time in garages and studies or labs, surviving on government grants, the support of the family or schools until they invented something that succeeded in making them rich (like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs).
Where did this vagrant notion originate that if we throw more money at those who already have too much they will suddenly become creative and inventive? There is no evidence that they will do anything except to squirrel away more money, buy more expensive “toys” and such more assets out of smaller businesses, while overcharging the taxpayers for their services.
It is high time that the American people stop to think, reverse the deadly course we are on, and once again become the America that was once a beacon to other nations. The preamble to our constitution begins with the words: “We the people”, not “We the states” nor “we the corporations.”