There was a period of time in U.S history, roughly for 30 years after the Civil War, known as “the Gilded Age.” The American economy grew at an unprecedented rate as the nation transformed itself from an agrarian society into an industrial one.
But the transformation's downside included excessive displays of wealth and captains of industry who grew their fortunes on the backs of exploited and mistreated workers. The government ignored the situation, as the era gave rise to the concept of “social Darwinism.”
Based on the writings of Herbert Spencer and William Sumner, it sparked the “survival of the fittest” philosophy, which held that the wealthy were better than the poor and rationalized greed. According to the school of thought, the poor were lazy and deserved the conditions they lived in.
The Gilded Age's excesses caused three separate depressions — in 1873-78, 1883-85, and 1893-97 — and prompted a backlash that created the Progressive Era.
With the gap between rich and poor growing ever wider, many observers believe the United States is in a second Gilded Age.
Here are a series of charts that encapsulates and clarifies some complicated information or, as Mother Jones magazine calls it, “11 charts that explain everything that's wrong with America.”
Looking over the charts, it's hard to justify the Republican Party's extreme agenda of tax cuts and deregulation as a viable economic policy.