Age of the Robber Barons

There was a time when the rich did not pay tax
Although they lived in mansions while their workers lived in shacks
Back then the wise men said as long as enterprise is free
The future will be full of great prosperity
The sick and unemployed would usually end up on the street
Searching through the garbage for something to eat
In the age of the robber barons

There was a time when land was handed with both fists
From the state right to the industrialists
Who profited from war, who profited from peace
Who profited from unregulated monopolies
Unregulated factories, gargantuan cartels
Run by men who knew you’d buy what they had to sell

There was a time when these barons held the strings
That controlled the politicians, who’d give them anything
There were no consequences, regardless of who died
Everybody knew the law was on their side
Never far when needed to defend the property
Of the Vanderbilts and Stanfords and all those who owned the country

There was a time you could either swim or drown
A time when the whole country was one big company town
When the human rights to food and housing were empty words
Considered by the barons as patently absurd
It was the age of laissez-faire, and sometimes I repine
I wake up and I think it must be 1899