Erik Loomis argues that America is “Headed Back to the Robber-Baron Era,” writing that “We are recreating the Gilded Age, a period when corporations ruled this nation, buying politicians, using violence against unions and engaging in open corruption.”
The donors at Mitt Romney’s Hampton’s fundraiser sure seemed to agree with Loomis — excepting, of course, that they think a return to the Gilded Age would be a good thing. A new Gilded Age might spare them the tyrannical horror of a potential 4.6 percent increase for taxes on income above $400,000.
And while Romney and Republican governors beat the drum for laying off more firefighters, insurance companies now employ private firefighters to protect the property of their high-end clients.
Then, in keeping with the Age of the Robber Barons theme, we learn that Florida is now facing “what the Centers for Disease Control describe as the worst tuberculosis outbreak in the United States in 20 years.”
Actually, it’s not accurate to say that Florida is “facing” this outbreak. Republican Gov. Rick Scott is doing everything he can not to face this outbreak. He even closed the state’s primary hospital for treating tuberculosis cases.
And to add to our Bring Back the 19th Century theme, here’s news that black lung disease is making a comeback. It seems “the system for monitoring miners’ exposure to the dust that causes black lung allows companies to cheat or exploit loopholes” and “even when companies get caught, they have little to fear.”
But on the positive side, we’ve got at least one Alabama judge ruling against county debtors prisons and explicitly stating that abusive pro-corporate robber-baron policies from the 1800s are “disgraceful.”
… shut down what he called a “debtors prison” run by Harpersville Municipal Court and a private probation company that he said amounted to a “judicially sanctioned extortion racket,” court records show.
Circuit Judge Hub Harrington took control of all cases in Harpersville involving people jailed for failing to pay court fines and fees. He also ordered the city’s mayor and all council members to attend an Aug. 20 injunction hearing and future court hearings in the case.
Harrington filed the order Wednesday afternoon on a lawsuit filed in 2010 on behalf of Dana Burdette, contending that Harpersville Municipal Court routinely violated defendants’ Constitutional rights. If they were unable to immediately pay court-imposed fines and fees, defendants often were trapped by the system into paying several times that amount, the judge found.