How We Got Here

The post-WW2 period – the last sixty-five years, or so – can be divided into two vastly different, but slightly over-lapping periods.

If one wonders how we got to where we are today, the rich getting richer and unemployment approaching 20 percent, then one needs to understand what I am about to say and research it further.

The economic inequalities within and between nations, especially in the 1920s are considered the prime forces behind the Great Depression and the rise of Hitler in Germany.

U.S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull recognized the connection between political instability and economic inequality and was instrumental in setting up the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference

commonly known as the Bretton Woods conference, was a gathering of 730 delegates from all 44 Allied nations at the Mount Washington Hotel, situated in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire to regulate the international monetary and financial order after the conclusion of World War II.[1]

The conference was held from 1-22 July 1944, when the agreements were signed to set up the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

As a result of the conference, the Bretton Woods system of exchange rate management was set up, which remained in place until the early 1970s.

Life was good in the United States during this period.  Single income families were the norm, like the Cleaver family on TV.

The Bretton Woods system of monetary management established the rules for commercial and financial relations among the world’s major industrial states in the mid 20th century. The Bretton Woods system was the first example of a fully negotiated monetary order intended to govern monetary relations among independent nation-states.

Basically the economy was controlled by the government.  Marginal tax rates were high to extremely high for the wealthy, being in excess of 90% through 1963.

The period of government interventionism in the 1950s and 1960s was characterized by exceptional economic prosperity, as economic growth was generally high, was contained,[10] and economic distribution was comparatively equalized.[11] This era is known as les Trente Glorieuses (“The Glorious Thirty [years]”) or “Golden Age”, a reference to many countries having experienced particularly high levels of prosperity between (roughly) World War II and 1973.

Then in the 1970s, along came the idea of neoliberalism which was

a market-driven[1] approach to economic and social policy based on neoclassical theories of economics that maximise the role of the private business sector in determining the political and economic priorities of the state.


Neo-liberalism first took hold in Chile under Augusto Pinochet (from 1973) and spread, first to Great Britain under Margaret Thatcher (from 1979) and the United States under Ronald Reagan (from 1981).

Neoliberalism in short says, “Government is the problem.”

We have been traveling down this “road” for thirty years.  Tax rates on the wealthy have plummeted from 91% in the 1950s to 35% today.  We have unemployment, officially, around 9.3%.  Add in those that are grossly underemployed at part time jobs and the unemployed that have fallen off the back end of the statistics and the “real” unemployment is in excess of 25%.

The Citizens United decision appears to be the final nail in the coffin.

The rich have won.

Explore posts in the same categories: Domestic Issues, Economy, Politics


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One Comment on “How We Got Here”

  1. […] Dems Now, President Clinton ran and won under the “Dem” banner.  But, as explained in How We Got Here, Clinton was of the Neo-liberalism/open borders/free trade school of economics.  Both NAFTA and the […]

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