What would the Founding Fathers think of our current plutocracy? Here's a quote from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson in 1814:
"we have no paupers, the old and crippled among us, who possess nothing and have no families to take care of them, being too few to merit notice as a separate section of society, or to affect a general estimate. The great mass of our population is of laborers; our rich, who can live without labor, either manual or professional, being few, and of moderate wealth. Most of the laboring class possess property, cultivate their own lands, have families, and from the demand for their labor are enabled to exact from the rich and the competent such prices as enable them to be fed abundantly, clothed above mere decency, to labor moderately and raise their families. They are not driven to the ultimate resources of dexterity and skill, because their wares will sell although not quite so nice as those of England. The wealthy, on the other hand, and those at their ease, know nothing of what the Europeans call luxury. They have only somewhat more of the comforts and decencies of life than those who furnish them. Can any condition of society be more desirable than this?"
I think Jefferson would view our current plutocracy, with its billionaires with multiple castles, airplanes, and yachts, with shock and horror.
Thursday, April 03, 2014
I'll wait til next week to post this one to the Herald Leader, but I'll save it here since I've got the Jefferson quote in the paste buffer.