Howard Newton in my mystery, 2014’s “The Swamps of Jersey.” understood exactly what’s going on in Washington, D.C. these days.
Newton is a former mayor of Ironton, N.J. He’s an old style ward heeler, favor collector and dispenser of the political goodies. He dresses up his corruption in populism.
Newton: “So they set up an alternative way of doing business, because, hell, they had no money, but mostly they knew they could not trust the mill owners or the bosses or the bankers, the landlords or anyone who had control over their lives. So we all did favors, and some of the favors got big. It was how we fought back against a system that was killing us, one in which if we played by the rules, we had no chance to succeed.”
The old man placed the cigar on an ashtray, stood up and put his hands in his pants pockets.
“Did that make us corrupt? Don’t think so. Made us traders. Trade something, get a little extra for it when you trade it again. It was all so small time. But you know what? People didn’t lose their homes to the banks. If they got behind somehow it was made right. And when they got hurt on the job and the factory boss threw them out, their kids got fed, and the house got fixed. Then they did a little work for you. Look at that flood last week. Those people will be paying off those repairs for years because the insurance companies who sold them home insurance didn’t tell them that it didn’t cover water damage.
“What’s it mean when a lobbyist for the oil business sits in a committee room and helps a Congressman write a bill about oil regulations? Or when the bankers cook the books in a way that even other bankers can’t figure it out? The U.S. Supreme Court gave human rights to corporations and said that money is free speech; said big companies can cheat women out of equal pay. The big stores pay so little or schedule employees so they work a little less than full time so they have to get health insurance from the government.” Newton pointed a finger at Dawson.
“That’s corruption, Jimmy. Big time, in your face, stop us if you can corruption and they have the money, the lawyers and the rules to make it stand up.”
Clouds overhead shifted and Newton was suddenly standing in full sunlight; like a bat he shuffled back into the shade of the patio.
“They make rule after rule to shut that door of opportunity for the little guy. Get their hands around the throats of the middle class and squeeze. They make deals that only benefit themselves and their money men. The cut taxes for the rich and screw the poor. Remember that congressman who wanted to get rid of Medicare and let the insurance companies run it? That would put old folks out of their homes, take food from their mouths. These assholes act like the Great Depression happened to somebody else.
“They won’t be happy till they grind everyone else under their wheels, the grinning bastards. Eisenhower said fear the military-industrial complex. These guys make the military-industrial complex look like a carnival, such is their immeasurable greed.”
“The Swamps of Jersey,” and the sequel, “A Game Called Dead” are available at:
The books are also available at the at the following New Jersey libraries: Mountainside; Morris County Library; Somerset County Library System; Bernardsville Public Library; Hunterdon County Public Library; Mount Olive Public Library; Phillipsburg; Warren County, Franklin branch; Mount Arlington; Wharton; Dover; Hackettstown; Clark, Parsippany and the Ramsey library, as part of the Bergen County Cooperative Library System.