Source: Mises Institute: Mises Daily: William L. Anderson: Progressive-Era Economics and The Legacy of Jim Crow
Libertarians like to point back to pre-1920s or the Nineteenth Century as the golden era for the American economy and perhaps the country as a whole. An era where the races in America were largely segregated by force. Where if you came from a wealthy Caucasian family especially an Anglo-Saxon family chances were you would do pretty well in this country especially if you were male. But if you were a women you weren’t even allowed to vote yet. But if you didn’t have this economic, racial and ethnic background and you were something other than Anglo-Saxon and Protestant, good luck to you. There were even Europeans back then who were considered Un-American because they weren’t Protestant. The Irish, Italians, Jews, Poles, Spanish and others and were discriminated against based on that.
And yet Libertarians point back to this era as the golden age for the American economy. Why, because it was before the regulatory state for the most part. Before we had anti-monopoly laws and child labor laws and other laws protecting workers from abusive employers. The New Deal, doesn’t come around to 1934, or so. During the Great Depression, not right before it. America hasn’t had that one golden economic age where the economy has worked for all the country. The 1990s and perhaps 1980s, 1960s and 1950s, where you saw people moving from poorer rural areas into the cities and found good jobs and were able to make a good life for themselves are really the closest thing we’ve had to that golden age for our American economy.
Pre-Progressive Era, might be the golden age for lets economic Libertarians. Because they didn’t have an income tax, payroll taxes, child labor laws and other worker laws to protect workers while they are at work. That is if you were Caucasian especially Anglo-Saxon, but how about the rest of the country especially if you were an African-American living in the South, or the North. How great was life for you in America in the early 1900s just 40-50 years after slavery was ended in this country. You probably weren’t very happy and doing very well. Because you were denied quality education, housing and employment simply because of your race and color. I’m not going to ask the question do Libertarians want to go back to that time, because I believe I know the answer. But how about the rest of you country especially if you’re not an Anglo-Saxon Caucasian Protestant man.
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