Eighty years ago today the last Republican Great Depression started with “Black Tuesday” the stock market crash of October 29, 1929. Wall Street survived this calamity, but it showed in a very dramatic way how bad things could get without proper regulation. Luckily, we had a president at the time with the foresight and intelligence to understand what needed to be done. Franklin D. Roosevelt was a member of what we now call the “Investor Class.” During most of the 1930's he re-regulated the economy and raised taxes on the very rich up to 91 percent. This, along with setting up ways through government employment to get people back to work, he managed to mostly reverse the depression and get the economy back on track. However, it took a world war to get the economy back to pre-depression levels. Now, due to a systematic unraveling of all the good regulations that were setup to end the depression and to make sure it never happened again, we are back in the same place again. Beginning with the last couple of years of the Carter Administration, then to Reagan, Bush 1, Clinton, and then “W”, congress, led mostly by the Republicans, managed to change all the regulations to let the Wall Street loonies do it again. Now we have an average of over half a million people losing their jobs every month with no signs of it slowing down. We have the top 1% of people in this country controlling 98% of the wealth and the rest of us are making less now than we did in 1974 in inflation adjusted dollars. In 1974 it was possible for one person in a household to have a full-time job and the other person could stay home. Now it takes two incomes to survive, unless of course you happen to be a CEO of a big corporation and make over $5000.00 an hour. The common denominator from both of the market collapses of 1929 and 2008 seems to be income concentrated to the richest people and low taxes for the same group. The middle class seems to be the stabilizing force for prosperity in the economy. When the distribution of wealth is more equal, the economy grows and all classes prosper. Why is it that we didn't learn this lesson the first time?
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