Americans fail to learn from mistakes of past

They say that history repeats itself and that we can learn from the mistakes of the past. But in today’s America, neither axiom seems to be followed. Didn’t Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft pass legislation to eliminate monopolies and trusts to protect the free-market law of supply and demand?

And yet we see one airline after another buying out competitors. Comcast wants to purchase Time-Warner instead of competing with it, at the expense of the consumer. The number of media moguls, those who control news, radio and TV, is reduced to an alarming handful and controlled by egomaniacs like Rupert Murdock. Facts no longer seem to be important and, with limited competition, those media outlets can perpetuate whatever fantasy they choose with little opposition, thus fulfilling George Orwell’s “1984” description of “newspeak.”

And what about America’s infrastructure? President Dwight Eisenhower built the interstate highway system so that goods could be transported coast to coast in a thriving economy with ease. That system and our roads, bridges, tunnels, rail lines and outdated air traffic control system are in desperate need of repair, so much so that we are becoming a second-rate country. But all we hear from some politicians is that we need to cut the budget. Don’t we need to – as any successful capitalist would say – “spend money to make money”? Wouldn’t a major infrastructure project create jobs and generate new tax revenue?

Now that the Supreme Court has validated Citizens United and pretty much destroyed our democracy by putting elections in the hands of billionaires, where do we go from here? Are monopolies, infrastructure decadence and billionaire plutocracy the facts of life in the America of 2014?

John W. Kowalski