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You have to wonder about America today

There are lots of things to wonder about, aren’t there? Why did this or that happen at this period in history? How about today? Will our successors wonder about us, and some of the things we have or haven’t done?

That thought came to me as I saw a cartoon in the New Yorker magazine. It displayed four scantily clad folks sitting beside a small bonfire in barren surroundings with one saying, “Yes the planet got destroyed. But for a beautiful moment in time, we created a lot of value for shareholders.” That beautiful moment was a good number of years in the making as corporate giants scavenged the planet earth of resources and population growth never stopped.

My view of democracy is two-fold. One side is social where our government does things to help the people. The other side is capitalistic where making money is the primary concern.

I was born in the early 1920s when capitalism was booming. In fact, that period is referred to as the Gilded Age; fortunes, before our recent 2008 financial fandango were garnered, by the few.

Then came the Great Depression. The nation worked slowly out of the depression with infrastructure improvement being the primary job creator. Now we are working our way (hopefully) out of a smaller capitalistic depression where democracy is, once again, attempting to recover.

Capitalism would be great if it could be kept within bounds. Government regulations irritate financial finaglers who want government off their backs.

Sadly, too often they do, since with all that money they can buy the legislation they want. Could we call it bribery as they give members of Congress funding for election and re-election campaigns?

During recovery periods, progress is slow. Capitalism doesn’t appreciate slow since government regulations resist full speed ahead and let the devil take the high road.

Is it weak memories that cause our democratic leaders to gradually weaken and once again, remove government regulations and invite another financial disaster?

Why are we such slow learners? Is it because the majority of voters are unaware of the splendiferous holdings of the wealthiest 1 percent? The 99 percent can’t comprehend what the 1 percent have.

Some conservatives respond that the 1 percent are job creators. That is why they need more. If that were truly the case, the 1 percent would permit the minimum wage increased as well. Sara Crutchfield, in Upworthy, said that if the minimum wage had kept pace with the rise in executive salaries since 1990, America’s poorest workers would be making more than $23 per hour.

Does the 99 percent have any conception of top executive salaries? Corporate Accountability International revealed a few of those in 2010 (No doubt they have risen substantially). Here are a few executive annual salaries.

Military contractors:

Wes Bush, Northrup Grumman CEO, $22.8 million.

Robert Stevens, Lockhood Martin CEO, $21. 9 million.

James McNerney, Boeing CEO, $19.4 million.

Financial sector:

James Dimon, JPMorgan Chase CEO, $20.8 million.

John Stumpf, Wells Fargo CEO, $19 million.

Those are only a few examples. Are such examples appropriate in a moral nation?

Bernie Hughes, Ed.D, is a retired educator who resides in Superior. He can be reached at bernie3024@