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By Michael Angier

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Business firms small and large, individually and collectively as industries, still manifest their economic interest strongly and effectively in the modern polity. But they are now part of a much larger community with political voice and influence that economic development itself has brought into being. Once, apart from the capitalists, there were only the proletariat, the peasantry and the landlords. These, the landlords apart, were subordinate and silent. Now there are scholars, not excluding students; journalists; television impresarios; professionals of the law and medicine; many others.

But there is more. The poor in the United States, while none could doubt their degradation and misery, were once largely invisiblepoor blacks were hidden away on the farms and plantations of the rural South with primitive food, clothing and shelter, little in the way of education and no civil rights. Many poor whites were unseen on the hills and in the hollows of Appalachia. Poverty was not a problem when distant, out of sight. Only as economic, political and social change brought the needy to the cities did welfare become a public concern, the poor now living next to and in deep contrast with the relatively affluent.

And from this comes the prime conservative notion that social and economic policy can be reversed, a view held not alone in the United States but in France, Canada and for long years in Britain, where there is or has been a similar belief among the Tories. History, the truly relevant source of change, will not be reversed. The new Congress that came to office in the United States in early 1995 representing the conservative will expressed its intention to dismantle much of the welfare state, much of the modern regulatory apparatus of government, and to limit drastically the role of government in general.

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101 Things Ive Learned in my 50 Trips around the Sun by Michael Angier


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