Where Are You John Sherman When We Need You???


For those of you who aren’t up on your U.S. history lessons, John Sherman was the Congressman who about one hundred years ago introduced the first major piece of legislation to rein in corporate greed. The legislation was call the Sherman Antitrust Act. Here is some of what Wikipedia says about that:

The Sherman Antitrust Act (Sherman Act,[1] July 2, 1890, ch. 647, 26 Stat. 209, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1–7) is a landmark federal statute on competition law passed by Congress in 1890. It prohibits certain business activities that reduce competition in the marketplace, and requires the United States federal government to investigate and pursue trusts, companies, and organizations suspected of being in violation. It was the first Federal statute to limit cartels and monopolies, and today still forms the basis for most antitrust litigation by the United States federal government. However, for the most part, politicians were unwilling to refer to the law until Theodore Roosevelt’s presidency (1901–1909).

As mentioned above most of the politicians of the time were very leery to use this new law against the Robber Barons of the day until ten years later when a Republican president named Theodore Roosevelt came along. It still amazes me how almost all of the anti-big-business leaders of these times were from the Republican party. Of course the Republican party is now widely known as the party of big business! When did this major shift in party allegiance happen?  I guess I will have to study up on that.

Getting back to the matter at hand, President Bush and followed up by President Obama bailed out the financial industry because they “were too big to fail”.  If somehow we could have resurrected John Sherman to break up this monopoly power before it became so big we possibly could have spared ourselves all the grief we have been going through as a country for the last four years. Too bad that there just doesn’t seem to be anyone in congress now with the fortitude to take on the big business interests.

But, in reality I should really be looking for someone to put the laws that were repealed in the last twenty years back in place. That is where we got into all the troubles. Within a decade of deregulating the Savings and Loan industry the 1988 meltdown occurred.  Within a decade of deregulating the banking sector the 2008 meltdown occurred.  Why can’t our representatives in government learn from history and just leave these types of things that John Sherman and those like him put in place alone? This is just an example where the Republican party seem to have the belief in the innate goodness of our corporate institutions.  Yes, with this deregulation they got government out of the way and soon inevitable self-consuming greed took over with the resulting meltdowns happening soon thereafter. When will they ever learn? But maybe the more important question is when will we the voters ever learn when to tell our elected officials it is time for them to leave?

It seems literally impossible for another Republican to take charge of these types of matters. Most of those folks are just too beholding to big business to ever try to rein them in. So, currently that leaves the Democratic party to take up the mantel. I don’t see that as much of a possibility either. Where all this “too big to fail” will end I just don’t know.

Where are you John when we need you??

But what do I know….

6 thoughts on “Where Are You John Sherman When We Need You???

  1. Perhaps term limits on Congress would be a step in the right direction. With these guys staying for a lifetime career they are most often bought and paid for along the way. Maybe with a term limit we would see more honorable men interested in serving the people instead of themselves. But then I am probably being a Pollyanna…the world doesn’t work that way does it?


    1. The issue of term limits is interesting. You can make the case that career politicians depend on corporate and special interests to get reelected time after time so they should go.

      On the other hand, once someone is elected it takes several years just to begin to understand the system enough to make it work. There are so many rules and regulations to master in getting a piece of legislation considered that someone who is only allowed to serve, say 2 terms, never becomes effective.

      The real answer is to elect people who don’t make silly promises they can’t keep and who have a strong enough moral code to resist the inevitable pull of power and influence. Unfortunately, those people are not attracted to politics in great enough numbers to matter.


      1. Bob, you are right of course. Our system is very complicated and messy. I don’t know what the answer is….more informed, educated, and thoughtful voters would help. So many are swayed to vote because of personality or one issue and not the overall ability of the candidate to lead. In Minnesota we even had Jesse Ventura elected as governor some years back. The best thing I can say about him is that he was never dull!


  2. Hey Guys, I just got back from my Monday soup kitchen duties and see my post has spurned some active discussions. I think you are both right to a degree. I think more along the lines of 12 years. That would be enough. It is totally silly to keep re-electing someone who has already been there way too long. I am thinking of guys like Jesse Helms, Strom Thurmond, and from my own State Richard Lugar who is up for re-election this year. He has been there for about thirty years now and hasn’t even had a legal residence in Indiana for more than twenty five years. He did a pretty good job but it is now time for him to let someone else have an opportunity.

    Maybe if they weren’t there so long they would naturally try to simplify the way things are done. 🙂 But, I stick by my post in that I don’t think we have had people of Sherman’s character and fortitude in congress in years. I want a guy (or gal) in there that has the guts to make the long term decisions even though they might not be popular at the time.


    1. One more thought…..It didn’t help that the Supreme Court saw fit to overturn the previous campaign finance rules and open the flood gates for more corporate money to flow to candidates for their election. Men of character and integrity who do not accept their money probably don’t stand a chance.


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