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Moyers & Company

The New Robber Barons

Saturday, Dec 20, 7 p.m. on World
Sunday, Dec 21, 12 a.m. on World
Sunday, Dec 21, 6 a.m. on World
Sunday, Dec 21, 2 p.m. on World
Sunday, Dec 21, 5 p.m. on Vermont PBS
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Episode Guide »
America's first Gilded Age, more than a century ago, was a time of vast riches and conspicuous consumption, as well as degrading poverty. "It wasn't merely that poverty lived alongside great wealth," historian Steve Fraser tells Bill Moyers on this week's Moyers & Company, "It's that poverty was being created by great wealth." Senators and Representatives were owned by Wall Street and Big Business, and then, as now, those who footed the bill for political campaigns were richly rewarded with favorable laws. We've just watched the Senate and the House -- aided and abetted by President Obama -- pay off financial interests with provisions in the new spending bill that expand the amount of campaign cash wealthy donors can give and let banks off the hook for gambling with customer( and taxpayer) money. The social safety net, Fraser says, has been "shredded to a very significant degree." But what was different about the first Gilded Age is that people rose in rebellion. Today we do not see "that enormous resistance." Nonetheless, he concludes, "people are increasingly fed up... their voices are not being heard. And I think that can only go on for so long without there being more and more outbreaks of what used to be called class struggle, class warfare." Steve Fraser is a writer, editor and scholar of American history. Among his books are Every Man a Speculator, Wall Street: America's Dream Palace and Labor Will Rule. His latest, The Age of Acquiescence: The Life and Death of American Resistance to Organized Wealth and Power, will be published early next year.

More Episodes

  • The New Robber Barons
  • Democrats Bow Down to Wall Street
  • The United States of Ferguson
  • The Long, Dark Shadows of Plutocracy
  • How Public Power Can Defeat Plutocrats
  • The Bare Knuckle Fight Against Money in Politics
  • Facing Down Corporate Election Greed
  • Breaking Big Money’s Grip on Elections
  • The Fight — and the Right — to Vote
  • Keeping Faith in Democracy
  • Restoring an America That Has Lost Its Way
  • Too Big to Jail?
  • America’s New War in the Middle East
  • Climate Change: The Next Generation
  • Climate Change: Faith and Fact
  • Elizabeth Warren on Fighting Back Against Wall St. Giants
  • How Tax Reform Can Save the Middle Class
  • Joseph E. Stiglitz: Let’s Stop Subsidizing Tax Dodgers
  • Facing Evil with Maya Angelou
  • Going Home with Maya Angelou
  • John Lithgow on The Role of a Lifetime
  • The Conscience of a Compassionate Conservative
  • The Crusade Against Reproductive Rights
  • Is the Surpreme Court Out of Order?


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