The Truth is Powerful

Dividends of a Just Economy

Private Collection/Lefevre Fine Art, London/Bridgeman Images/© 2021 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris Fernand Léger: The Visitors, 1924–1925 Ever since the early twentieth century, advocates of taming capitalism in the public interest have assumed that energized citizens and activist government could counter the power of concentrated wealth. The Progressive Era, in which legislation was enacted to constrain the robber barons of the time, was cut short by World War I. But after World War II a combination of government regulation, direct public investment, progressive taxation, social insurance, and a vigorous labor movement led to broad prosperity. America’s citizenry reciprocated with a trust in democratic government.

In recent decades, that virtuous circle has turned vicious. Rapacious capitalism has resurged, and with it inequality and insecurity. Government has not only been unable to counter these trends; partisan blockage has undermined even basic tasks of governing such as assuring the integrity of elections. Not surprisingly, government has lost public confidence.

Roadblocks to activist government in the US were designed by the nation’s founders, who equated protection of the rights of the people with limited government. They built into their Constitution all manner of checks and balances as obstacles to legislation, and the Supreme […]

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