Liberalism’s Darkest Decade

Perhaps you are a boomer, currently outraged that millennials seem unable to understand that it’s not OK to sign a petition to have your boss fire one of your colleagues. You wonder what’s wrong with the younger generation. Have they no sense of basic human decency?

Or perhaps you are a member of the Greatest Generation, who were appalled that the young boomers reacted to all their sacrifices (WWII) and accomplishments (1960s prosperity) by becoming a bunch of drug-addled hippies who rejected conventional morality.

But no generation was betrayed worse than the liberals of the late 19th century. In a period of 7 short years, a supposedly “liberal” president presided over the most appalling string of policy outrages in US history. Here are just some of the highlights:

1. In 1913, Wilson issued an order segregating the federal government. This was done so that whites would not have to suffer the supposed “indignity” of working next to blacks.

2. In 1913, Wilson signed the first income tax. At first, the tax was not that unreasonable. Most people didn’t have to pay any tax. The upper-middle-class and rich paid a 1% income tax, while the super-rich paid 7%. But in the long run, it became a monstrosity.

3. In 1913, Wilson signed the Federal Reserve Act, creating an institution with the power to influence monetary policy but lacking the skill to do so wisely. The Fed played a major role in causing the Great Depression, which led directly to the success of the Nazis in Germany.

4. In 1914, Wilson signed the Harrison Act, which regulated (and later banned) narcotics. This led to the horrific War on Drugs, which has destroyed so many lives, and even entire countries.

5. In 1916, NYC enacted the nation’s first citywide zoning laws. The early rules (for things like setbacks) didn’t do much harm, but as with the income tax, these laws eventually became very destructive.

6. In 1917, the US entered WWI. This tipped the balance against Germany, assuring that the most powerful country in Europe would lose the war. That made a rematch almost inevitable. Thus both the creation of the Fed and the US decision to enter WWI indirectly contributed to WWII and the Holocaust.

7. In 1917 and 1918, Wilson signed a series of laws that made it a crime to criticize the US decision to enter WWI. Free speech was effectively dead for the duration of the war.

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