Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad Robber Barons

As I’ve discussed in this blog before, I am a fan of what’s viewed as “shock radio.” Specifically, I really enjoy both Howard Stern and Bubba the Love Sponge on Sirius Channel 101. I’ve been a Sirius subscriber since 2005 and I’ve really enjoyed it; I’m listening to Sirius Pops right now as I compose this blog. My only complaint with them is that they might not resign Bubba whose contract ends in December, and that would really annoy me. I’m hoping they won’t do that. If you’re looking for a good Christmas present this year, I do heartily recommend that you give the gift of Sirius

The reason I bring Bubba up is because he often discusses politics and “Spice Boy”, one of the shows cast members, lamented that the “Republicans just know how to work better.” Work in the parlance of that particular radio show meant that they knew how to lie well and present a convincing story for others to believe. This is just another way of restating the rather old joke, “No, I don’t belong to an organized political party. I’m a Democrat.”

Case in point, a right-wing friend of mine just sent me this story about how Barack Obama won’t let any gun owners be part of his administration. Well, at least that’s what the Illinois State Rifle Association says because apparently some questionnaire asks:

“Do you or any members of your immediate family own a gun? If so, provide complete ownership and registration information. Has the registration ever lapsed? Please also describe how and by whom it is used and whether it has been the cause of any personal injuries or property damage.”

Therefore, Barack hates gun owners. Therefore, he’s coming to confiscate everyone’s guns. Of course, these days the President of the United States is a rather powerful person; you know, “Leader of the Free World” and all of that jazz. So it stands to reason that there might be people out there who might try to do the President harm- hence the Secret Service and all.  And it does stand to reason that perhaps Barack’s security team might want to know about firearms an applicant has access to and whether they’ve ever caused any “personal injuries”. I don’t know. If I were going to be President (and I’m thankful I’m not ever going to be) I’d probably want to ask that question to. 

To me, what this story really sheds light on is the gullibility of the Republican base. They seem to get worked up by all kinds of stories about Barack’s radical Muslim heritage or his ties to black radicals that clearly mean that he hates America. Now I know that the Democrats have their fair share of ignorant voters as well, as the Howard Stern show’s Sal Governale recently showed. I’m sure that the Republican attack stories, which are mostly not true or grossly exaggerated, will continue to make the rounds, but the Republicans soundly lost the last election so I expect I will start hearing a lot more left wing lies than right wing for the next few years.

Case in point, I recently called the Randi Rhodes show. I used to listen to her on the now defunct Air America radio in Dallas back in 2003 and 2004. Yes, you heard me correctly. I so hated the Bush Administration and his legion of flag-waving minions that I was driven into the arms of the any who would have common cause with me, and in this case the arms happened to be Randi’s. Her show was a bit hard to take, even back then. She doesn’t seem to know when a bit has gone to long and she just beats her audience over the head with her parody elements and impersonations. That, and it seems like at least 40% of her on air time is devoted to commercials. 

Well, things didn’t work out to well for Randi. She got kicked off of Air America radio for calling Hillary Clinton a “whore”. Probably just as well, Air America went bankrupt. Well now Randi’s doing Podcast and a streaming radio show over the internet. Yesterday she was talking about AIG and the bank bailout and I thought I’d give her a call. Randi kept saying that the only way to prevent abuses in the banking industry was through regulation. In fact, she said that’s all a government could do. 

That seemed an absurd assertion. You can’t regulate away human greed. As I pointed out in my call to her, industries that are prone to greed and abuse will simply take control of the agencies that are supposed to be watchdogging them as the drug industry has done with the FDA. Truly, if she wants to end the reign of the few powerful organizations such as AIG, then what we need is not a bailout, but a liquidation. If allowed to fail, the big organizations would cease to exist. Their assets would be sold to the remaining companies who are hopefully more virtuous (or at least better funded) and life continues on. If instead, the government bails the industry out, then the big are not only allowed to grow bigger, but now they have the implied guarantee of future government bailouts the next time they get into trouble. Honestly, you Democrats, if big companies are what you fear, then you should become cheerleaders for liquidation, not advocates for endless bailouts!

Randi cut me off. She told such talk would lead back to the bad old days of the “Robber Barons.” That Barack Obama was someone who could regulate away the abuses of the system caused by greed because he had come without lobbyists and would therefore take Washington control away from the evil corporations and give it back to the people. She wouldn’t let me get a word in edgewise, then she went to commercial break… again.

I find two things vaguely humorous about this. The first is that Randi had just been saying that we need to keep our expectations of Barack down because “He’s only human.” Yet she then went on to tell me how he, free from lobbyist control, was going to liberate the Washington world from the greedy bankers. The second was the whole “Robber Baron” thing is a huge Democrat talking point. We can’t go back to the days before the Federal Reserve and the New Deal, and all those other wonderful government programs. Hell no! That’s back when the Robber Barons robbed us blind! Except they didn’t. The later half of the 1800s was one of the most prosperous times for us all as a people. The real wages of the average worker increased year after year despite the fact that there was no minimum wage laws. People were far more free to do as they pleased when it came to the wonderful vice laws of today’s society.  Really, when you look over the history of the time, I don’t see the part where the evil Robber Barons swoop in and take away everyone’s money- probably because it never happened. 

The Robber Barons are just an old Democratic chestnut. They are the equivalent as the Bogeyman: a shadowy figure who is up to no good and will get you when you least expect it. This is, of course, merely a lie put forth so that people will seek the protection of the government. The Robber Baron is the Democratic equivalent of the Islamic Terrorist; he is that figure who is so terrible that we must look to the government for protection. Here’s a question, who can name one? Come on, think hard. If they were so terrible, certainly we should be able to remember at least one.

Well here’s one for you, Jay Gould. As it turns out, he really wasn’t such a bad guy. Sure, he tried to take money from people, but not the working man. He didn’t have much worth taking. No, Mr. Gould was a Wall Street raider. He endeavored to take money from the other people that had it: the Rockefellers,  Morgans, and Vanderbilts. Don’t believe me, here, read it for yourself in Dark Genius of Wall Street: The Misunderstood Life of Jay Gould, King of the Robber Barons. Now I’m sure Mr. Gould would have loved to own a monopoly and rip off the average consumer, but that’s not what he did. Instead, that’s what the bankers did. 

The real mustache twirling villains in the tales of the late 1800s are not the Jay Goulds of the world, but rather the “money trust” of Rockefeller and Morgan. The banking families had huge wealth, but they wanted more. They wanted a lock on the power to create money and government protection in case their organizations were ever in danger. So they set about creating what G Edward Griffin called the The Creature from Jekyll Island.  And it is a monopoly far worse than anything Jay Gould or Bill Gates could put together. What’s worse, it had a mandate from our government that says it gets to basically do whatever it deems necessary to make sure that its member banks stay profitable. 

So really Randi, who’s afraid of the Robber Barons of the 1800s. Not me. I’m more afraid of the ones who are with us today… and have the power to print our money.

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