In this paragraph - It seems that inequality is greater now than it has been since the 1920s. There is a New Guilded Age of the rich in ever bigger mansions and the poor looking in through the gates (For Richer for Poorer, BBC Radio, May 16, 2007) - what does "New Guilded Age" mean?
"Gild" seems to be in vogue right now. Last week, we dealt with "gilding the lily". Today, we'll talk about the Gilded Age.
Yes, the Gilded Age, not the Guilded Age. Actually, I double checked the BBC website - they do have Guilded in print for Gilded and that is a typo mistake. And oh, how liberating, by the way, just to know that even the BBC commits spelling errors, lol.
Anyways, the Gilded Age is in other words a golden era. The New Gilded Age for the super rich means simply that this is the time of the billionaire, not to mention the traditional millionaires - oh, poor dears.
With globalization, the so-called free trade and what have you, international capitalism is running rampant at an unprecedented pace and scale. And as a result, people, a few of them that is, are piling up the big bucks.
As the BBC story tells, "there are nearly 1,000 billionaires in the world, while millions live on less than a dollar a day." Apparently one of the terrible things the super rich do is that they make the rest of us look even poorer.
But let's quit the rich and poor for a moment and talk about the Gilded Age itself. The phrase was coined by Mark Twain, who co-wrote a book of the same title with Charles Dudley Warner back in 1873.
"This book", says the authors in the preface, "was not written for private circulation among friends; it was not written to cheer and instruct a diseased relative of the author's; it was not thrown off during intervals of wearing labor to amuse an idle hour. It was not written for any of these reasons, and therefore it is submitted without the usual apologies.
"It will be seen that it deals with an entirely ideal state of society; and the chief embarrassment of the writers in this realm of the imagination has been the want of illustrative examples. In a State where there is no fever of speculation, no inflamed desire for sudden wealth, where the poor are all simple-minded and contented, and the rich are all honest and generous, where society is in a condition of primitive purity and politics is the occupation of only the capable and the patriotic, there are necessarily no materials for such a history as we have constructed out of an ideal commonwealth."
Twain's sarcasm was unmistakable, and the Gilded Age, originally referring to the post-Civil War period in the United States, came to represent an era of rapid industrialization "characterized by ruthless pursuit of profit, government corruption, conspicuous consumption, and vulgarity in taste and manners", according to some.
Twain might just as well be talking about today. The ruthless pursuit of profit goes on unabated, as usual. Spending on luxuries is certainly beyond historical compare. And vulgarity in taste and manners seems the rage as well, if you come to think of some of the stuff that passes off as news and commentary in cyberspace.
Nevertheless, today does seem the Gilded Age in many ways (use your imagination), and not just for the super rich. The way I see it, it's the Gilded Age for everyone - make no mistake, it's the only age we've got.
If you're poor, you should have a good time and leave the rich alone (I know most of you just can't do that). Enjoy your poverty while you have it and let your rich peers resent you for having nothing to lose. Don't let your poverty stop you from having some fun. After all, you've got your body, perhaps a soul too and, always remember, you've got a life.
If you're rich, on the other hand, have a good time too and leave your poor peers alone (I think most of you do just that, not even lending them a hand). Don't worry that it's just the poor that has everything that money can't buy. Don't let your wealth stop you from having some fun. After all, you've got your body, perhaps a soul too and, always remember, you've got a life.