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Income Inequality: A Cartoon Exhibit – Closing Reception
September 2, 2016 @ 6:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Join URI-EICHEN for our 4th show in a 5 month series about Income Inequality in America.
Closing Reception – September 2, 6-10pm
Panel Discussion with Mike Konopacki and Gary Huck at 730pm.
In 1889, Puck magazine founder Joseph Keppler’s cartoon, “The Bosses of the Senate,” depicted top-hatted capitalists ruling the U.S. Senate dressed in huge moneybags labeled with every trust from coal to sugar. Above the senate chamber is a sign “This is the Senate: Of the monopolists, by the monopolists, for the monopolists.”
That same year, another Puck cartoonist, Samuel Ehrhardt, compared feudal overlords plundering peasants and serfs to the corporate oligarchs of his day exacting duties from farmers, workers and small businessmen. The title: “History Repeats Itself – The Robber Barons of the Middle Ages and the Robber Barons of Today.”
This was the Gilded Age—a period in the late 19th century when America was a plutocracy dominated by ruthless “robber barons” whose power and wealth left much of nation disenfranchised and impoverished.
History is repeating itself again. As former Labor Secretary Robert Reich recently observed: “In many respects America is back to the same giant concentrations of wealth and economic power that endangered democracy a century ago.” With 400 individuals owning half the country’s wealth and politicians in the grip of elites who fill campaign coffers, income inequality has soared, leaving workers behind even as productivity and profits rise.
Cartoonists in the first Gilded Age—Keppler, Ehrhardt, Thomas Nast, Homer Davenport, and others—were relentless in their searing contempt of plutocrats and the economic injustices they visited upon others. But what of cartoonists in this New Gilded Age?
Just as Chicago humorist and muckraker journalist Finley Peter Dunne espoused at the turn of the last century, they too “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” They are as creative and committed as ever in holding true to a proud tradition of scorn for greed, corruption, and the sabotage of American democracy.
The evidence is this exhibit.