Most people no longer realize the historical significance of the term "robber baron," but chances are your grandfather or great-grandfather would. If your ancestors worked in their mills, garment factories, docks, or coal mines they not only knew the Robber Barons; they reviled them.
While working in the sweat shops and mines of the Robber Barons they also lived in their company houses and bought their food and clothing at inflated prices at their company store. They worked until they died in those sweatshops of the pampered elite, slaving their lives away in those crowded, dangerous and low-paying jobs, with no job security, no chance of retirement, and no way to a better life for their families; sound familiar? Today’s Robber Barons like Willard “Mitt” Romney operate and treat workers much the same way as the Robber Barons of yesteryear.
It was scarcely a century ago that hard working Americans, recent immigrants from Italy, Ireland and Poland worked in those sweatshops and mines. They lived in one-room tenements where the front stoop provided the only source of fresh air for themselves and their children.
While our workers struggled to survive in the crowded, unhealthy tenements the Robber Barons were building their grand, ocean front, summer palaces in Newport, Rhode Island. American royalty like the Astors and Vanderbilts constructed their 70 room mansions with carriage houses and horse stables but only lived in them a few weeks a year, but there they stand today, like the castles of European royalty.
Willard Romney, like the Robber Barons of old, has his own palatial mansions, three to be exact. Romney’s weekend vacation home is a 10 million dollar estate in Wolfeboro, N.H., all 5400 square feet with an additional guest house. Now you can better understand Mitts response to a question about our foreclosure crisis posed to him in an interview with the Los Vegas Review, Mitt said: “Don’t try to stop the foreclosure process. Allow investors to buy homes and put renters in them." In Mitt's way of thinking common Americans don’t need to own their own homes they should go back to renting company houses.
The difference between the old Robber Barons and the new version is that the new version produces nothing. They just make their millions by scattering the bones of the companies built with the blood, sweat, and tears of hard-working Americans.
When American workers protest the injustice of corporations like Bain Capital, today’s Robber Barons don’t retaliate by kicking them out of their company houses anymore but rather they just outsource their jobs to India or China with the same end result. Hard working Americans lose their jobs and eventually their homes and no one bails them out.
The Robber Barons would have us believe that their accumulated billions is the result of their superior knowledge in the use of skilled and unskilled workers or their ingenious ability to satisfy technology driven demand, but that is a lie. The key to the concentration of billions in wealth is a “political” phenomenon rather than an economic one.
Today’s Robber Barons like their predecessors utilize their inherited wealth and political power to avoid paying taxes. As Billionaire Princess Leona Helmsley said, “only little people pay taxes” and that approach plays out as Romney uses his offshore tax havens to avoid paying taxes like those same little people. As today’s Robber Barons are avoiding taxes on their accumulated billions it is becoming clear that their wealth is by no means of their own creation, but is rather like a tax levied upon productive workers of the American economy.
Good, hard-working Americans do not pay their taxes so that billionaires can write off their tax responsibility for private jets and country club memberships for their CEO’s.
The choice for voters in November has become crystal clear, if you want the Robber Barons like Willard Romney to continue their assault on workers’ rights, public education, Social Security and Medicare, then go ahead, vote for the Republicans. But if you still believe in equal opportunity to reach the American Dream, if you still see public education and not private education as the path to equal opportunity, if you believe that Americans should not be forced to work until they die and need Social Security intact, then the Democratic Party is your only hope.
Note: I invite those with an opposing view to write their own rebuttal.
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