Our history has been marked by intense and often violent class struggles, and the government has played a partisan role in these conflicts, mostly on the side of big business.
In 1845 in New York, Baltimore, New Orleans, St. Louis and other urban areas, the richest 1% owned the biggest share of wealth, while a third of the population lived in destitution. Poverty and overcrowding brought cholera and typhoid epidemics and while the wealthy were able to flee to avoid these epidemics, the poor often died. Many of the impoverished were addicted to drugs and alcohol and young girls often labored from 6am to midnight for small wages. Children as young as 9 and 10 toiled 14-hour shifts and suffered from malnutrition and sickness and disease.
In the battle between labor and capital, civil authorities intervened almost invariably on the side of the owning class, using state militia, police and federal troops to crush strikes and quell disturbances.
[...] cities have competing newspapers under separate ownership major companies distribute virtually all the magazines sold on newsstands corporate conglomerates control most of the book sales revenues, and a few bookstore chains enjoy over 70% of book sales giant networks ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox dominate the television industry, and a handful of corporations command most of the nation's radio audience. NBC is owned by GE, Capital Cities/ABC by Disney and CBS who agreed to bankroll the rightist McLaughlin Group. Banks such as Morgan Guaranty Trust and Citibank are among the major stockholders of networks. [...]
[...] With the start of WWII, business and government became even more entwined. Business leaders occupied top government posts, leaders were able to set the terms of war production, freezing wages and let profits soar. From the 1950s to today, successive Democrats and Republican administrations have supported the corporate business system with subsidies, tax favors and military spending programs that transformed the U.S. into a permanent war economy. In the late 1950s, the Eisenhower administration sought to undo what conservatives called the “creeping socialism” of the New Deal by handing over to private corporations some $50 billion worth of off-shore oil reserves, government-owned synthetic rubber factories, public lands, public power and atomic installations. [...]
[...] First came the “National Recovery Administration” set up “code authorities” usually composed of the leading corporate representatives in each industry, to restrict production and set minimum price requirements more beneficial to big business. In attempting to spur production, the Reconstruction Finance Corporation alone lent $15 billion to big business. The Federal Housing Program stimulated private construction, subsidies to construction firms and protection for mortgage bankers with little benefit to the millions of ill-housed. The New Deals efforts in agriculture primarily benefited the large producers through a series of price supports and production cutbacks. [...]
[...] Corporate records were open to public scrutiny and state legislators limited the rates that corporations could charge. In time, with the growing power of the business class, all such democratic controls were eliminated. In the 1st half of the 19th century, the government used “eminent domain” to take land from farmers and give it to canal and railroad companies. The idea of fair price was replaced with the doctrine caveat emptor (let the buyer beware). When workers were maimed or killed on the job, employers were not held responsible. [...]
[...] While the PBS has become more sensitive to race, gender, and multiculturalism in recent years, it virtually ignores working-class concerns out of fear of alienating corporate underwriters. In sum, the media are neither objective nor honest in their portrayal of important issues. The news is a product not only of deliberate manipulation but also of the ideological and economic power structure under which journalists operate and into which they are socialized. The Fairness Law required that time be given to an opposing viewpoint after a station broadcasted an editorial opinion. [...]
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