“Recently I’ve been looking for examples of national comebacks — nations that were plagued by turmoil, inequality and polarization, but that managed to get their act together and emerge stronger than before.
I’ve been especially interested in the way Britain revived itself between 1820 and 1848. Its comeback has some humbling lessons for us today.
Britain was roiled by economic and demographic changes. There were financial crises, bad harvests and a severe depression. There was crushing inequality. The average life expectancy nationwide was 40, but in the industrial cities of Manchester and Liverpool it was around 28. There were widespread riots and government crackdowns. In 1819, 1,206 “radicals” were given the death sentence, though only 108 of them were executed.
The nation responded to the turmoil both from the bottom up and the top down.
There were, first, a series of social movements: There was the Clapham sect. This was a group of evangelical leaders, arising from the general religious revival, that sought to eradicate slavery, spread the faith, discourage indebtedness, build Sunday schools, reform behavior and basically spread what we now call Victorian morality.
There were the Chartists. This was a radical workers’ movement that hosted giant rallies across the country in three bursts. The Chartists cohered around The People’s Charter, which had six demands, including universal male suffrage, vote by ballot and equal electoral districts. In 1842, the Chartists presented a petition to Parliament with three million signatures.”
Thank you David Brooks for an amazing history lesson. Much to think about. To The Storm, Mr. Brooks was correct to include the great tax cut of 2017, even though many of us objected to it. Economists from right and left have called over the years for the US to lower the corporate tax reate to 28 or 20%, for a host of good reasons. The Republicans rammed a bad bill through, because they didn’t get rid of the maze of loop holes, to make the great corporate tax cut, more or less revenue neutral, which was also supported by many of the best economists of both the right and the left. There will hopefully be time in two or four years, to make the tax reform bill work for all Americans, and not just the top 5 or 1% of Americans, by eliminating loop holes, and raising graduated income taxes, in order to cover the business of the American people.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at The TaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com