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Connections: What goes around comes around

The earning capacity of many people makes it impossible for them to afford health care. Millions do not have protection against the economic effects of sickness.

About Connections: Love it or hate it, history is a map. Those who hate history think it irrelevant; many who love history treat it as escapism. In truth, history is the clearest road map to how we got here: America 2014.

Just for fun, guess in what year the following articles were published, 250 years ago or yesterday or some time in between? Brackets indicate a word changed from archaic to modern language so the year in which it was written is not immediately apparent.

I. “In as plain a manner as I am capable, I will tell the story of the current economic crisis. We are left with a great debt because of the recent war. For want of the proper regulation of trade and with the prices of labor and produce higher here than in other countries, [the wealthy] buy outside the country. Creditors are calling for immediate payment of debts, and the few lenders there are charge usurious rates. As people lose all they own to bankruptcy [and foreclosure] their only hope lays in full and fair legislative reform, but the representatives seem to represent ‘The Few’ not the many. In these circumstances, the Few are anxious for the support of the government, and so they call those with grievances names and even threaten prosecutions. This must now put the people in a most zealous search for remedies … for representatives who can find means to redress the grievances of the people.”

II. “Electric [Cars] Here At Last: Soon to be available in every city. It is more than possible that in two to three years the electric [car] will be commonplace…Questions from our readers: Does an electric [car] need to burn any gas or oil to keep going? Answer: No, the electric car, which is run by a battery, needs no gas or oil.”

III. “The President proposes Economic Bill of Rights: ‘Certain rights ought to be available to all Americans. Millions of our citizens do not now have the full measure of opportunity to enjoy good health. The earning capacity of many people makes it impossible for them to afford health care. Millions do not have protection against the economic effects of sickness. The time has arrived for action to afford that opportunity and protection.The health of America’s children, like their education, should be recognized as a public responsibility.’

“Proposed is a national health insurance plan, an insurance fund, run by the federal government open to all Americans. Participants would pay a monthly fee and the government would pay for all costs of services rendered by any doctor. In addition, the policy would give a cash balance to participants to replace lost wages due to illness or injury. Opponents of the plan were quick to label the plan ‘socialized medicine’ and to label proponents ‘communists’ and ‘un-American’.”

IV. “Those who will discover and first apply the hidden powers of the air, water, and sunshine will open the way to the colossal fortunes of the next centuries. Among the best arguments in their favor are that they are clean and renewable.”

V. “The late economic crisis proves the most disastrous to the working class. The banks and wealthy individuals rake together all the money they can and keep it locked up. The bankers and speculators who fail are generally provided with some means, and in fact they live generally in much the same style. But the crisis causes stringency in the money markets, closes manufacturing establishments, stops industry and throws out of employment great numbers of people who have nothing to live upon but their wages week to week. Employers take advantage of such a state of things and reduce the rate of pay. It is hoped the banks and individuals who locked up the money will let it out again and thus enable the usual state of things to resume.”

Perhaps we like our problems so well that we want to keep them always with us — never to solve just to grapple with over and over again.

Keep fighting the same battles – keep writing the same stories.


  1.  Connecticut Courant 1787 (“The Causes of Shay’s Rebellion”) Explanation of Shays’ Rebellion (Merchants was changed to the wealthy and land seizure to foreclosure)
  2. Philadelphia Inquirer 1897 (“Announcement of a new mode of transportation”) Horseless carriage was changed to car.
  3. Report of Special Message to Congress from President Harry Truman 1945
  4. Chicago Tribune 1907 (Editorial about how to make a fortune in the new century)
  5. New York Herald 1873 (Editorial in aftermath of the Panic of 1873)




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