(Ernest Lundeen - talked an interesting talk . . but)
I don't think there is any historic shortage of populist movements being undermined and subverted by people of skeptical motives. I say that due, in large part to the Teabagger Movement where, what appear to be sincere motives on some peoples parts, being hijacked by people of less than honorable motives to satisfy an agenda, a warped ideology or a grudge.
I was listening to a broadcast of a program, popular in the 1930's called "Peoples Lobby" which feature Congressman Ernest Lundeen as featured speaker from January 18, 1936. The subject was Social Security, Unemployment Insurance and Health Care (yes, talked about even then). Lundeen was author of the Lundeen-Fraser Bill, which was widely supported in Congress as an anti-poverty measure.
Lundeen makes an interesting set of points:
Ernest Lundeen: “ Two hundred giant corporations control over half the corporate wealth of the country. And at the present rate of concentration, by 1950 over eighty percent of the corporate wealth of the country will be controlled by two hundred giant corporations. Each year we read of the huge salaries and dividends drawn by bankers and captains of industry Recently, the top salaries of 1935 have been published. In 1929 Eugene Grace of Bethlehem Steel Corporation received one million, six hundred and thirty-five thousand dollars in salary and bonus. In 1935 the Chairman of Bethlehem Steels’ board received two hundred and fifty thousand in salary alone. Coca-Colas President received One hundred thousand three hundred and fifty dollars. Woolworth’s Company President received three-hundred thirty-seven and a half thousand. The country’s largest publisher William Randolph Hearst drew five hundred thousand dollars, and so on down a long list of executive salaries. And that is not mentioning the House of Morgan and other money lords of the American financial aristocracy . . . as long as these great American natural resources continue to fill the greedy coffers of the super-rich, the corporations continue to function, corporate surpluses are piled high for the rainy day. But let business become slack and profits be reduced, a great cry goes up from the corporations that they cannot afford to do business and employ labor. And that is why the American people do not derive full benefit from our enormous natural resources because they have no control over their operation and the distribution of the wealth they produce. We, the people have lost the ownership of the country in which we live.”
It all sounds very good - a sympathy heard a lot today.
But in Lundeen's case it had something of a hollow ring to it. Lundeen, it turns out, had a lot of connections to the Nazi Party in Germany. So much so, that he was actively tailed by the FBI all the way until his mysterious death in a plane crash in 1940. The controversy surrounding his death has never been explained, as were the extent of his connections to Berlin.
His motives on the surface looked good. Beneath the surface, another story.
It reminds me a lot of the current argument about Health Care and who is really running the argument against reform.