Watching local Baltimore TV is a window into autocratic propaganda third world media. Our news stations are used to keep people uninformed and thinking progressive things are being done----especially for the poor---
AND THE OPPOSITE IS BEING DONE BECAUSE MARYLAND CONGRESSIONAL POLS ARE BRINGING LOBBYING MONEY BACK TO LOCAL POLITICS TO MAKE SURE THE FARM TEAM OF GLOBAL CORPORATE TRIBUNAL POLS ARE RE-ELECTED/NEWLY ELECTED.
Right now, all the HOUSE congressional pols are being shown in advertisement paid for by a national non-profit that has Maryland Congressional pols STANDING WITH OUR KIDS----PUSHING PROGRESSIVE POLICY LIKE READING TO CHILDREN AND FEEDING CHILDREN WELL at the same time the policies installed by these same pols are driving the deepest poverty and unemployment in Baltimore and the systemic corporate fraud left unrecovered---much of it coming from Baltimore ----is starving our city government so poor families are indeed starving and under extreme duress.
ALL THIS HAPPENS BECAUSE CUMMINGS, SARBANES, CARDIN, MIKULSKI ----AND ALL OTHER HOUSE AND SENATE POLS IN MARYLAND WORK FOR GLOBAL CORPORATIONS AND WALL STREET. THEY SERVE WALL STREET WHILE PRETENDING TO BE PROGRESSIVE AND DEMOCRATS.
These pols are deliberately keeping unemployment high----they are deliberately sending on economic crash after the other with the goal of taking all of the American people's wealth and transferring it to Wall Street and the rich.
THEY DO IT DELIBERATELY AND THEY ARE A DISGRACE!
We see FEED THE AMERICAN CHILDREN campaigns that are just like Save the Children African campaigns----the American people are now being sold as charity cases. Same goes for our VETERANS. So, the wealthy of the world are now being asked to donate for an American whose life savings was stolen by massive and systemic corporate and Wall Street fraud----making these wealthy of the world wealthy. Gutting all of our social services and programs nationally while pretending massive debt by corporate fraud must be met by attacking our first world society
THIS IS THE LEGACY OF CUMMINGS, SARBANES, CARDIN, AND MIKULSKI AND ALL THE REST OF THE CLINTON NEO-LIBERALS AND NEO-CONSERVATIVES RUNNING AS DEMOCRATS IN BALTIMORE.
About Feeding America
Our mission is to feed America’s hungry through a nationwide network of member food banks and engage our country in the fight to end hunger.
For 35 years, Feeding America has responded to the hunger crisis in America by providing food to people in need through a nationwide network of food banks.
The concept of food banking was developed by John van Hengel in Phoenix, AZ in the late 1960s. Van Hengel, a retired businessman, had been volunteering at a soup kitchen trying to find food to serve the hungry. One day, he met a desperate mother who regularly rummaged through grocery store garbage bins to find food for her children. She suggested that there should be a place where, instead of being thrown out, discarded food could be stored for people to pick up—similar to the way “banks” store money for future use. With that, an industry was born.
Van Hengel established St. Mary’s Food Bank in Phoenix, AZ as the nation’s first food bank. In its initial year, van Hengel and his team of volunteers distributed 275,000 pounds of food to people in need. Word of the food bank’s success quickly spread, and states began to take note. By 1977, food banks had been established in 18 cities across the country.
As the number of food banks began to increase, van Hengel created a national organization for food banks and in 1979 he established Second Harvest, which was later called America’s Second Harvest the Nation’s Food Bank Network. In 2008, the network changed its name to Feeding America to better reflect the mission of the organization.
Today, Feeding America is the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization—a powerful and efficient network of 200 food banks across the country. As food insecurity rates hold steady at the highest levels ever, the Feeding America network of food banks has risen to meet the need. We feed 46.5 million people at risk of hunger, including 12 million children and seven million seniors. To learn more about how we get food to people in need, please visit “About Us.” Support Feeding America and help solve hunger. Donate. Volunteer. Advocate. Educate.
All of Maryland's Congressional pols worked for decades privatizing our Veteran's Administration and then pretended to make the Defense Industry take some of the austerity cuts because the Defense Industry is ground zero for private military contractor fraud-----and what did we see?
The defense cuts went to downsizing the US troops and their benefits and wages-----just so the US military could be more and more privatized to a global mercenary force. THEY DID THIS DELIBERATELY! IT IS A DISGRACE---THESE POLS ARE A DISGRACE!
So, now that Federal Veteran's Administration is being slashed and privatized----SAVE THE VETERANS-----advertising around the world for charity to support US Veterans.
THIS IS WHAT WE REMEMBER WHEN WE GO TO THE POLLS---NOT ADS SHOWING THESE SAME POLS PRETENDING TO CARE ABOUT CHILDREN.
One advertisement for Veterans has a former military officer hawking subprime mortgage loans to veterans just before this coming bond market crash so those vets will lose their homes.....and it is deliberate. Below you see a person who states a non-profits for VETS---he may be honest but none of these non-profits are educating about all of the systemic corporate fraud and the government corruption that if recovered would fully fund the Veterans Administration so that makes them duplicitous and I feel opportunistic.
Save Our Veterans, Inc. is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana. Save Our Veterans provides skills training, educational opportunities, and paths to employment and housing. Save Our Veterans has proudly SERVED hundreds of Veterans throughout the United States.
Victor Wakley, Founder and President of Save Our Veteran recounts what made him take the initiative to found Save Our Veterans in 2009.
Victor stated that throughout his nephews formative years he had helped his sister raise him. He was proud to see his nephew enlist into the Army at age 19 and serve his country in the Iraq War. Unfortunately, like many soldiers, his nephew came home…but NOT the same. Victor’s nephew barricaded himself in his mother’s home for almost 7 months sleeping during the day and patrolling the house at night with a high powered rifle almost as if he had never left the war zone. Victor recounts his heartache when he realized his nephew may be suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. He acted hyper cautious, anxious, and nearly paranoid behavior in public. Victor was distraught thinking of ways to help him.
After securing employment for his nephew in the construction business Victor began to see a change in his attitude and behavior. He noticed his nephew formed strong bonds with all the other veterans from current and past wars on the job site. Victor learned first hand quickly his nephew was able to reintegrate into society through the shared veteran bond of his fellow workers.
At this point Victor founded Save Our Veterans!!!
Save Our Veterans is a 501 (c) 3 Not-For-Profit Organization founded to help Veterans of all United States Armed Forces acclimate themselves back into society.
These same Congressional pols-----Cummings, Sarbanes, Cardin, and Mikulski pushed health care reform simply so this Republican health plan could end Medicare and Medicaid---THEY DID NOT DO IT BECAUSE HEALTH COSTS WERE TO HIGH BECAUSE OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ACCESSING TOO MUCH HEALTH CARE. They did it for the same reasons---and these same pols were in office----that Clinton did the breaking of Glass Steagall and bank deregulation----SO BANKS COULD CONSOLIDATE, DEREGULATE, AND GO GLOBAL WITH NO OVERSIGHT AND ACCOUNTABILITY. That is what Maryland Congressional pols had as a goal. This will make the US look like Baltimore where Baltimore citizens live 20 year shorter lives from lack of access to ordinary care that Medicare and Medicaid required.
THAT IS HOW MUCH CUMMINGS, SARBANES, CARDIN, AND MIKULSKI LOVES CHILDREN.
Shifts in Charity Health Care
- The New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/09/opinion/shifts-in-charity-health-care.htmlJun 8, 2014 ...
Health care reform was supposed to relieve the financial strain on hospitals that have provided a lot of free charity care to poor and uninsured ...
Shifts in Charity Health Care
By THE EDITORIAL BOARDJUNE 8, 2014
Health care reform was supposed to relieve the financial strain on hospitals that have provided a lot of free charity care to poor and uninsured patients. The reform law, known as the Affordable Care Act, was expected to insure most of those patients either through expanded state Medicaid programs for the poor or through subsidized private insurance for middle-income patients, thereby funneling new revenues to hospitals that had previously absorbed the costs of uncompensated care.
In return for the new income streams, hospitals that treat large numbers of the poor and get special subsidies to defray the cost would have those subsidies reduced on the theory that they would no longer need as much help.
But after the Supreme Court ruled that the reform law could not force states to expand their Medicaid programs, 20 or more states declined to do so. That failure has hurt some big urban hospitals, because their charity care burden remains essentially the same even as their federal aid has been cut. Even in California, which has expanded its Medicaid program, public hospitals that serve the poorest patients could face a big funding shortfall in future years, according to a study just published by researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles.
A recent report in The Times by Abby Goodnough found that some hospital systems have started tightening the requirements for charity care in efforts to push uninsured people into signing up for subsidized health plans on the insurance exchanges created by the reform law. In St. Louis, for example, Barnes-Jewish Hospital has started charging co-payments to uninsured patients no matter how poor they are. Those at or below the poverty level ($11,670 for an individual) are charged $100 for emergency care and $50 for an office visit.
But some medical centers have seen their charity care costs decline. A report late last month in Kaiser Health News and USA Today said that Seattle’s largest “safety net” hospital, run by the University of Washington, saw its proportion of uninsured patients drop from 12 percent last year to a surprisingly low 2 percent this spring, putting the hospital on track to increase its revenue by $20 million this year from annual revenues of about $800 million.
How all of this will shake out is still uncertain. Some vulnerable groups may find it even harder to get the care they need. Through a quirk in the reform law, residents below the poverty line in states that have failed to expand Medicaid are not eligible for either Medicaid or for subsidized coverage on the insurance exchanges. Undocumented immigrants are not eligible for Medicaid or the subsidized coverage. And some low-income people who have enrolled in subsidized health plans may have trouble paying their cost-sharing.
There are some ways to address these gaps. All states ought to expand their Medicaid programs since the federal government is offering very generous matching funds. Hospitals should move aggressively to help people enroll in Medicaid or in subsidized plans on the exchanges. And federal health officials need to review regularly whether health plan co-payments are actually affordable to those living on very modest incomes.
- A Congressional pol does not have to have large lobby donations to dominate local politics----in Baltimore, elections are so captured and rigged that City Council pols may have tens of thousands----a Mayor a few hundreds of thousands. Same with State Assembly pols. These Congressional pols are the folks that create the political machines in their home districts so if Baltimore is captured by a gorilla named Johns Hopkins and a Wall Street sucking machine named Baltimore Development----neo-conservative and global corporate to the bone----
So, when local media and 501c3s pretend that a candidate has popular support it is because these Congressional political machines tell the media who to allow in the primary elections at state and local level. These candidates don't really have popular support----THESE ELECTION VENUES AND MEDIA ARE SIMPLY LYING, CHEATING, AND STEALING ELECTIONS. The Congressional pols and the media work for the same corporations while running as a candidate to represent you and me in government.
Every big labor union I followed supported a Clinton neo-liberal so they are supporting the same Wall Street global corporations as the corporate lobbyists.
Now, these Clinton neo-liberals want us to believe that corporate lobbying is just recently out of control and this is what drives our pols to creating corporate policy but the video with the article below shows----this has been going on since Reagan/Clinton in the 1980s and 1990s. Look locally at Baltimore and other cities and that is when the Master Plans for corporate return to cities started
AND THAT SHOWS WHEN THE CONGRESSIONAL POLS RUNNING AS DEMOCRATS BECAME SIMPLY CORPORATE AND WEALTH CLINTON NEO-LIBERALS ---OR IN BALTIMORE'S CASE---HOPKINS' NEO-CONSERVATIVES RUNNING AS DEMOCRATS.
The entire campaign finance fight is simply an opening to AMEND THE CONSTITUTION TIED TO AMENDING FOR TRANS PACIFIC TRADE PACT====TPP====which is illegal and a COUP against the American people. Your pol votes for TPP----they will be committing treason-----ergo, AMEND THE CONSTITUTION.
CUMMINGS, SARBANES (SR), CARDIN WERE ALL IN OFFICE DURING CLINTON'S BREAKING GLASS STEAGALL AND HAVE BEEN WITH EMPIRE BUILDING SINCE----AS HAS ALL MARYLAND POLS RUNNING AS DEMOCRATS. Hello! The Democratic Party platform is labor and justice and nothing about creating massive wealth and power for a few!
Who Owns Congress? A Campaign Cash Seating Chart What if members of Congress were seated not by party but according to their major business sponsors? We gave it a try.
What if members of Congress were seated not by party but according to the industries which gave them the most money over their entire careers?
—By Dave Gilson
| September/October 2010 Issue
Corporations now spend more lobbying Congress than taxpayers spend funding Congress
Updated by Ezra Klein on July 15, 2015, 10:11 a.m. ET @ezraklein
Corporations now spend about $2.6 billion a year on reported lobbying expenditures – more than the $2 billion we spend to fund the House ($1.16 billion) and Senate ($820 million).
Those numbers come from political scientist Lee Drutman, author of the book The Business of America Is Lobbying, who notes, over email, that they've fallen slightly out of date. In 2014 the House's operating budget was $1.18 billion, and the Senate's operating budget was $860 million. That pays for, among other things, all congressional staff. Add in the funds for the Congressional Budget Office and the Congressional Research Service — the two most important agencies meant to inform members of Congress about the issues corporate America is lobbying them on — and you've added another $150 million to the tab.
Which is to say, Drutman's point stands: businesses* are spending more money lobbying the House and Senate than taxpayers are spending running the House and Senate and informing its members. And that should scare you, for two reasons.
Problem #1: how Congress outsources its thinking to lobbyists Good news, though! It is for rent. (Melina Mara/the Washington Post via Getty Images)
Lobbying, to most people, looks like bribery. And there's certainly an element of bribery — the lobbyist who refuses to contribute to the reelection campaign isn't going to get a meeting, much less an ally. But after the bribery comes the lobbyist's real job: persuasion.
No legislator wants to feel bought. What they want to feel is convinced. It's the lobbyist's job to give them that feeling —to make them feel like they're casting the right vote, not just the vote they were paid to cast.
Lobbying thrives on ignorance and apathy. No member of Congress can be expert on all the issues that cross his or her desk. But members of Congress can be expert, or at least think they're expert, on some issues. Those are the issues where lobbying is hardest — and least effective. Lobbyists can't make Republicans vote for Obamacare or Democrats vote for Paul Ryan's budget. Their sorcery rarely works on issues ruled by ideology.
But their spells are powerful when cast upon obscure subparagraphs, technical amendments, and legislation that will never make headlines. It's in that vast gap between how many issues members of Congress — and their staffs — can know and care about, and how many issues they're being asked to vote on, where lobbying is most powerful. And there is so, so much money in that gap.
The way it will work is that an obscure tax break that neither the congressman nor his staff has ever heard of will be set to expire. Neither the congressman nor his staff will have any particular opinion as to whether the tax break should be renewed. But the congressman will get a request for a meeting from a lobbyist who has been a big supporter of his campaigns. It'll only take 20 minutes, the lobbyist promises — no big deal.
And you know what? The lobbyist will make a good case for keeping that tax break. The lobbyist, after all, was hired because she is good at making cases. She will walk in prepared, knowledgeable, charismatic. She'll know how the tax provision will affect businesses in that member's district — maybe she'll even have brought some business owners from the congressman's district along. Hell, she might even know the congressman already, or have worked for him in the past (more on that in a minute). Corporate America is buying a lot of talent with that $2.4 billion.
But even if the lobbyist makes a bad case, the congressman may never realize it. Congress has a very limited amount of money with which to inform itself. Corporate America has vastly more money with which to inform Congress. It's easy to make an argument sound good when no is arguing the other side.
That's what those numbers show: the forces of corporate lobbying have much more money to "inform" Congress than Congress has money to inform itself.
This wasn't always true, Drutman writes. The corporate lobbying budget only began regularly exceeding Congress's operating budget in the early 2000s. But the gap has been widening since then, and that's good news for lobbyists, who are at their best when they're making arguments that no one is even bothering to check, much less rebut.
Problem #2: money makes the door revolve Remember this handsome devil? (Tom Williams/Roll Call/Getty Images)
The Center for Responsive Politics found that more than half of members of Congress who left the body after 2010 are now lobbying, or have lobbying-related jobs.
The fact that corporations spend more lobbying Congress than Congress spends on itself is a disaster — it means there's a massive pay gap between the people serving in Congress and the people lobbying Congress, and everyone working in Congress knows it. What's worse, they know how to fix it. As one frustrated congressman wrote:
Congress is no longer a destination but a journey. Committee assignments are mainly valuable as part of the interview process for a far more lucrative job as a K Street lobbyist. You are considered naïve if you are not currying favor with wealthy corporations under your jurisdiction. It's become routine to see members of Congress drop their seat in Congress like a hot rock when a particularly lush vacancy opens up.
That pay gap opens space for corruption to ooze through the system. Lobbyists try to get members of Congress, and their staffs, thinking about a high-paying lobbying job as early as they possibly can — sometimes years before they actually leave the Capitol. What they want is for members of Congress and their staffs to treat every day on the Hill as a job interview for the lobbying gig they want when they leave the Hill. As disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff wrote in his memoir:
I would say a few magic words: "When you are done working for the Congressman, you should come work for me at my firm."
With that, assuming the staffer had any interest in leaving Capitol Hill for K Street—and almost 90 percent of them do, I would own him and, consequently, that entire office. No rules had been broken, at least not yet. No one even knew what was happening, but suddenly, every move that staffer made, he made with his future at my firm in mind. His paycheck may have been signed by the Congress, but he was already working for me, influencing his office for my clients’ best interests. It was a perfect—and perfectly corrupt—arrangement.
This matters because relationships matter. Remember, lobbying is about persuasion. And no one is more persuasive than your friend, or your former colleague. Lobbying firms know that sending fresh-faced kids six months out of Princeton to lecture a member of Congress about agricultural subsidies probably isn't going to end well. What they want to do is send the staffer that member of Congress spent six years working with — a person that member of Congress actually respects, actually listens to, actually likes — to talk to him about agricultural subsidies.
That's why it's so valuable for lobbying firms to hire former members of Congress and ex-congressional staffers. It's not just that those relationships help the lobbying firms get in the door; it's that those relationships help the lobbying firms be persuasive once they're in the room.
The solution nobody likes: spend more money on Congress Think this'll be enough, oh hallowed legislative body? (George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images)
It's easy to read all this and want to regulate the problem out of existence. Rep. Rob Blum, a Republican from Iowa, is pushing a bill banning members of Congress from lobbying their ex-colleagues for life.
But as Andrew Prokop argues, that kind of legislation probably won't work. In addition to potentially being unconstitutional, it'll just replace lobbying with shadow lobbying. So long as there's a huge gap between what Congress knows and what it needs to know, and between what Congress pays and what lobbying pays, this space between will fill with corruption.
Which means the real solution is to reduce the size of those gaps. It means, in other words, that we need to pay members of Congress and their staff more, and give Congress more money to build up its own informational resources. As Drutman writes, we need to "invest more in government by giving government, especially Congress, the resources to hire and retain the most experienced and expert staff."
Since no one likes Congress, no one likes the idea of giving Congress more money. But spending about $2 billion annually on an organization that collectively controls around $4 trillion in annual spending is a recipe for disaster. The less of our money we spend on Congress, the more of our money lobbyists are going to convince Congress to spend on their clients.
*Similar points apply to lobbying by unions and advocacy organizations. But the magnitude of their spending is simply much lower. "For every dollar spent on lobbying by labor unions and public interest groups, large corporations and their associations now spend $34," writes Drutman. "Of the 100 organizations that spend the most on lobbying, 95 consistently represent business."
WATCH: 'How the rich stole the recovery in one chart'
This Tammany Hall fraud and corruption is what was unleashed during Reagan/Clinton and dismantling all Federal agencies of oversight and accountability and Clinton's use of Executive Order the Federalism Act as did Obama----was deliberately setting the stage of looting the US Treasury and American wealth with the goal of restructuring American society. Note that it was the influx of immigrants into New York City that made all of this fraud and corruption far more easy as the middle-class moving to the suburbs were not there to make sure honesty and integrity prevailed. The current push to create International Economic Zones will make this permanent Tammany Hall in the US. Note that Boss Tweed was captured and jailed when a US government recovered control of NYC. Today, it is our Federal government that is taken with no plans to stop the VISIGOTH looting---SO IT MUST BE THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT RECOVERED BY THE PEOPLE THAT STOP OUR NATIONAL LEADERS FROM SELLING US OUT WITH TRANS PACIFIC TRADE PACT. MARYLAND LED THE WAY WITH INSTALLING THESE TPP GLOBAL POLICIES AND ALLOWED THE LOOTING THESE FEW DECADES FLOW BECAUSE OF THIS GOAL.
We the People can reverse this if we engage and become the candidates in all primaries against these global pols. please don't think it better to join the plunder by working for these thieves......your financial gains will be temporary and you and your children will face this coming autocratic global rule.
THE POLS IN MARYLAND ARE SIMPLY A TWEED RING AND WE CAN ATTACK THIS BY GAINING CONTROL OF BALTIMORE CITY HALL
Gilded Age Scandal and Corruption
Next Outline Use ← → keys to navigate The Tweed Ring and Machine Politics The late nineteenth and very early twentieth centuries in America are often referred to as the “Gilded Age.” The origin of this name is usually attributed to Mark Twain who co-authored a novel entitled The Gilded Age. The term is metaphoric on several levels. It can be taken to reference an obsession with appearances. Unlike “golden,” which has positive associations of beauty and value, the word “gilded” carries connotations of cheap commercialization, shoddiness, and fakery. Twain’s novel is about social climbers and get-rich-quick schemers who are all show and no substance, like a gold-painted trinket. “Gilded Age” also suggests a fascination with gold itself and with the wealth and power that gold symbolizes.
Concern with gold was certainly heightened by U.S. money being minted in scarce gold coins. In addition, gilding, in the sense of gold plating, is often done to make objects beautiful that must also be strong and durable, because gold itself is a soft metal. This might reflect an American sentiment of that era that their efforts toward culture and refinement were just a veneer over a strong but coarse base. All interpretations of the meaning of “Gilded Age” carry an element of irony, however. Perhaps this sense of the ironic is more insightful than any particular interpretation of the term in describing an age of such extremes of wealth and poverty, opportunity and disaster, high standards and low practices, advancement and decay.
The population of post-Civil War America ballooned with a new tide of immigration. In spite of the terrible losses during the war, the census of 1870 reported a population of 39 million Americans, up over 25% from the decade before. The U.S. had become the third most populous nation in the Western world after Russia and France. While farmers struggled and barely maintained their numbers, business and industry boomed with America’s increasing demand for goods and services.
From afar, in countries with repressive social and political structures, stagnant economies, depressed wages, and high unemployment, America seem like a dreamland of opportunity to millions who had no hope of bettering their situation in their native country. Immigration surged, providing industry with a huge new labor force. Immigrants did well if they had a skill, money to start a business, or relatives already in the U.S. who could help them get started. Most immigrants, however, were unskilled, poor, and found themselves without support in America.
When the immigrants arrived on American shores, they gravitated toward established enclaves of people with the same language and customs. These cultural and ethnic clusters often amounted to little cities within cities that provided support, assistance, and protection for new arrivals. Cities became filled with tens of thousands of people who, because they could not afford the cost of public transportation, had to live within walking distance of their employment. As a result, huge labor-intensive factories and industries were ringed with multistory tenements that offered workers shelter from the elements and little more. Certain districts in Chicago had the highest population density in the world, exceeding even the crowding in cities such as Calcutta and Shanghai.
As immigrants were pouring into the cities, the old middle class was moving to the suburbs, taking with them most of the experience and expertise in governing an industrial metropolis. The posts of leadership were often then filled by people with less experience in city government and less of an understanding of traditional American culture.
In the nineteenth century, government at all levels saw itself a provider of essential services such as roads and as an advocate of justice, but not as responsible for the welfare of individuals. The law was supposed to protect people from being wronged, but beyond that they were responsible for their own fate. Neighborhood and fraternal associations bridged the gap between what government provided and what people needed. These organizations helped people in many ways: they gave material assistance to new arrivals, got people jobs, provided necessities for families in distress, supported small businesses, and provided legal assistance. Those who had received help and eventually made good were expected to help others in return.
Many of these associations gained considerable power using the “good old boy” system of giving preferential treatment, especially in business, to members of the group. Some began to wield their power by mobilizing large blocks of voters to influence candidates, elections, and local political parties.
Eventually the association leaders, generally called bosses, began to run for office and get elected themselves. Their first loyalty, however, was not to their government posts or to any political party but to the associations through whose ranks they had risen and to whom they owed their political and personal success.
In all the large industrial cities, such associations became embedded in city government. This new political landscape where the official government was supported and manipulated by a shadow government of bosses and associations became known as machine politics for its ability to call out the votes “like a machine” to sponsor any political agenda. It is important to remember that these associations sprang up to provide vital services to people who had no other recourse. But because shadow government operated outside the public eye, opportunities for graft and abuse of power abounded.
The most infamous example of machine politics was Tammany Hall, headquarters of the Democratic Party in New York City. Headed by William Marcy Tweed, the Tammany Hall political machine of the late 1860s and early 1870s used graft, bribery, and rigged elections to bilk the city of over $200 million. Some of this money went to create public jobs that helped people and supported the local economy. Some went into constructing public buildings at hugely inflated expense thus lining the pockets of building contractors and suppliers of materials. But contractors and suppliers, and anyone else doing business in the city, had to give kickbacks to the bosses in order to stay in business. Many machine bosses, including Boss Tweed, amassed fortunes as a result of kickbacks and bribes.
Some of the city’s money also went for such laudable, though unauthorized, uses as support for widows, orphans, the poor, the aged, the sick, and the unemployed. Tammany supporters cited these diversions of public funds as benefits to society that worked to redistribute some of the wealth that big businesses reaped from having a pool of cheap labor. Many of the people of New York were not convinced by these arguments of the benefits of the boss system, but New York City residents who complained were threatened or had their property taxes raised.
In 1871, the New York Times published sufficient evidence of misuse of public funds to indict and eventually convict Boss Tweed and some of his Tammany cronies. The brilliant political cartoonist Thomas Nast conveyed Tweed’s abuses to even the illiterate and semi-illiterate masses of recent immigrants. Nast was offered a $100,000 bribe to "study art in Paris," a euphemism for discontinuing his pictorial campaign against Tweed. Nast refused despite even higher offers.
To escape arrest, Tweed fled to Spain. Ironically, he was identified from Nast cartoons circulated in that country, and as a result was captured by Spanish authorities and extradited back to the United States. Samuel Tilden prosecuted Tweed, which paved the way for Tilden’s presidential nomination in 1876. Tweed was convicted in 1872 and died in jail.
In the wake of experience with political machines, reformers, who at first had simply been against the machines as a matter of principle, began lobbying for more government involvement in providing social services. These were the same services the machines purported to provide, but openly and under public scrutiny. Reformers pointed out that the social benefits provided by the political machines came at terrific public expense.
Americans have traditionally been resistant to any sort of socialism, but the arguments of the reformers made sense on both economic and humanitarian levels. City, state, and national governments began to consider the welfare of society in their planning and budgeting and to incorporate social services as an integral part of the function of government.
Corruption in Business and Government In the decades between the end of the Civil War and the turn of the twentieth century, new technologies, cheap immigrant labor, maturing methods of industrialization, and a mechanized, streamlined transportation system of railroads and steam-powered ships proved a formula for astoundingly rapid growth in the business sector. Government, however, could not keep pace with these changes. Governments were naïve about business and the ways that individuals and companies made money, both legally and illegally. They were not able to deal with many cutthroat business practices, so these were allowed to continue. Competition was intense and business managers often had to adopt practices they disliked or be forced out of business.
America was founded on a philosophy of “hands off” of business, an approach known as “laissez-faire,” which is French for “leave to do.” Even when it became clear that some regulation was necessary, especially of credit and corporate practices, government did not know where or how to apply controls. Americans disliked many of the abuses they saw in business, but were reluctant to advocate government interference for fear of doing anything to cool the remarkable engines of progress and production.
Earlier in the century, businesses had been allowed to incorporate by obtaining a charter from a state government. Among other advantages, the owners of an incorporated business were shielded from most of the liabilities incurred by the business. This was beneficial since before incorporation was allowed, if a business failed, the owner was wholly liable for all the debts. In some cases businesses failed through no fault of the owner. Creditors could then take everything, even the owner’s home, and turn him and his family destitute into the street.
Without incorporation, business owners naturally tended to be very cautious in their dealings. If a company was owned jointly by stockholders, company managers were also reluctant to risk not only the stockholders’ investment but also their personal assets. Sometimes this excessive caution prevented beneficial and needed investment.
After incorporation was allowed, big companies discovered they could buy other companies and hold them under the umbrella of the parent company. This in itself was not bad, but unscrupulous holding companies could buy a company, transfer all the assets from it to another company that was also owned by the holding company, and bankrupt the first company. This caused the first company to default on all of its financial obligations and the stock and bondholders to lose their investment.
Another unscrupulous practice sometimes employed was to have a company form another company with the same board of directors running both companies. This duplicated board was called an interlocking directorate. Again, in itself this was not bad unless the intent of the directors was to build both companies, transfer all the benefits to one company and bankrupt the other, again at the expense of the stock and bondholders. This practice was so blatantly harmful that the government had to step in to outlaw it.
The worst scandal involving an interlocking directorate occurred when the American government decided to underwrite a transcontinental railroad. The western half was built by the Union Pacific Railroad Company with substantial federal subsidies. The Union Pacific directors created a company called Crédit Mobilier that was to supply materials and labor. Though they were also the directors of Crédit Mobilier, they kept their involvement with that company quiet.
The Union Pacific built its half of the transcontinental railroad, but within a few years of operating the railroad, the company was bankrupt in spite of heavy infusions of government money. A New York newspaper exposed the scandalous co-ownership of the companies in 1872, and charges were confirmed by congressional investigation. Crédit Mobilier tried to divert attention by giving congressmen shares of its valuable stock that paid dividends of as much as 348%. Two congressmen and Grant’s Vice President were censured for accepting these bribes.
Investigators discovered that Union Pacific paid Crédit Mobilier hugely inflated prices for all its services and materials. In this way the directors transferred the assets of the railroad to the supply company. The losers were not only the thousands of Union Pacific shareholders who had invested millions in the railroad and lost their money, but also the American public that had supported Union Pacific through tax dollars. The Crédit Mobilier scandal broke during Grant’s presidency, tarnishing his reputation even though most of the corruption occurred during previous administrations.
In the wake of Andrew Johnson’s impeachment, the American public grew tired of politicians and political wrangling. In 1868, the Republicans nominated the popular Civil War hero Ulysses S. Grant for president. Grant won the election, but though an excellent general, he was wholly unprepared to be president. Grant presided over an era of unprecedented growth in the nation, but also one of unprecedented corruption. Honest to a fault himself, Grant was either unable or unwilling to stop the graft. Besides Crédit Mobilier, Grant’s administration was held responsible for the Whiskey Ring Scandal, Gould and Fiske’s attempt to corner the gold market, and Secretary of War William Belknap’s bribe-taking from Indian reservation suppliers.
One of the few bright lights in Grant’s cabinet was Secretary of State Hamilton Fish who negotiated the Treaty of Washington in 1871. During the Civil War, the Alabama, a British fighting ship with Confederate officers, did enormous damage to Northern merchant ships, sinking 64. In the Treaty of Washington, Britain agreed to pay the U.S. $15.5 million in reparations for damages done by the Alabama. Fish also averted war with Spain by persuading Grant to remain neutral in Cuba’s struggle for independence.
Adding to the problems in Gilded Age politics was the spoils system, whereby a newly elected official distributed favors to his friends, relatives, and political supporters. Often these favors came in the form of government jobs. Nepotism, or giving jobs to one’s relatives, combined with patronage, or giving jobs in payment for political favors, sapped the vitality of government. Besides passing out political jobs to more than the usual number of party cronies, Grant reportedly installed several dozen of his wife’s relations in jobs with the federal government.
Hamilton Fish reorganized the State Department and attempted to adhere to the merit system in civil service where an applicant for a job had to demonstrate competency, often by examination, in order to be considered for a position. Grant’s failure to embrace civil service reform throughout the rest of the federal government caused widespread protest. This dissatisfaction led to the creation of the Liberal Republican Party, which nominated Horace Greeley, the editor of the New York Tribune, for president in 1872.
In spite of the opposition of many people and organizations, including President Hayes who won the election of 1876, the spoils system continued unabated until disaster struck. By the election of 1881, the Republican Party had divided into two factions, the Stalwarts and the Half-Breeds. The Stalwarts supported Grant, radical reconstruction in the South, and the patronage system. The Half-Breeds opposed Grant and radical policies for the South and advocated civil service reform.
The 1881 Stalwart Republican candidate, James A. Garfield, won the election but was fatally shot just six months later by a lawyer named Charles J. Guiteau, who was distraught at not being given a government job. Garfield‘s successor, Chester A. Arthur, supported civil service reform in the wake of public demand for an overhaul of the spoils system of filling government posts through patronage rather than merit. The Civil Service Commission was created during Arthur’s tenure as president, but originally affected only about ten percent of all government jobs. It had a provision, however, that the president could expand the categories of jobs protected by Civil Service. Each new president then had an incentive to enlarge this percentage in order to protect his own appointments from being replaced by the next president. Much of government thus came to be under Civil Service and the merit system.