Friday, September 20, 2013

My Mistake in understanding "The Gilded Age"

The Gilded Age..
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It sounds fairly innocuous somehow.  When I think of the Gilded Age, I understand it was a time of vast disparities in wealth and power - the age of trusts and monopolies (which were bad, I learned that in 5th grade).  But as a term, it meant very little - no more than the Space Age  or the Atomic Age.
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However it was meant as a derisive term originally.  With the idea that these power mad, money hungry industrialists where so devoid of restraint and taste they would gild anything, without thought.  Much like the idea when we saying "gilding the lily", but more judgmentally towards a group of people.
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In New York, the industrialists who had people killed and spent lavishly aren't looked at with the same distain they are in other parts of the country.  Not because New Yorkers value money more than anyone else (every one in America believes that honestly earned money is a good thing).  But instead because those same people that did nothing for the country did, in fact, do a shit load for New York city.  
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They founded museums, libraries, public theaters, art institutions, and more.  They were quite the benefactors in this city.  Not the Robber Barons and union busters they were in the rest of the country.
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Anyway, I thought it was interesting.

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