William O.Douglas, Supreme Court Justice, first head of the SEC


I was a teenager in the late 1960’s.  We had the Conspiracy 7 trial in Chicago. The music group Chicago, and Crosby Stills & Nash sang about it. The whole world  (is)watching …The Democratic Convention  in 1968, which the Yippes, working with other left groups, were  going to disrupt if the Democratic Party if they didn’t  put  planks in to end the war in Viet Nam, and address civil rights. The Black Panthers were active, and President Johnson, who only became president due to the death of Kennedy, declined to run.  Hubert H Humphrey lost to Nixon, who promised to end the Viet Nam war.

Of course, it backfired.  Nixon got elected.  About this time, William O. Douglas  published Points of Rebellion  .  He addressed what progressives expected   of their elected leaders…everything from civil rights to an end to unjust wars, to environmental conservation.  He really spoke to me.

Douglas  wrote a lot of books.  In retrospect, it is hard to believe he found the time, and I will explain.  He was the  first head if the Security & Exchange Commission.  He was appointed by FDR.  He saw straight away that  it would be virtually impossible to regulate public companies, and their official, legal filings were always inaccurate—to use a term.  He saw that  ultimately  staff would be in league with the  entities they were charged to regulate—-&  told FDR that the  SEC should be abolished in 10 years, and reformulated another way with other employees—and that  government employees should never be allowed to work for the  companies they  once regulated (it took over 50 years to get some sort of law addressing this—&  there is no retrospective on this…Newt Gingrich, the  most obvious…).

Douglas had a lot of integrity when it came to addressing what affected the citizens of the USA.  Check him out on Wikipedia….  so, then you wonder….

When did he find time to court the 4 women that he married—-& if you notice  the chronology, he was always cheating.  He was a womanizer.  &, you have to wonder about the 2nd, 3rd, & 4th wives…the last one being about 40 years younger than he was.  All you can think is that he was charming beyond words.

I recently read one of Douglas’ biographies, Go East, Young Man  .  Having been  IWW, I was very interested, as I was a Wobbly, and because he had so impressed me in my youth—-but I got to thinking….we really don’t teach out own history very well to our  high school students—the ones who will be voting.  I had no idea how the SEC came into existence, but what  with what happened at the end of the Bush administration—-running into what Obama inherited, and the bailing out of AIG and many, many other public companies—bailouts that  did NOT help  the majority of Americans deal with the fall-out they caused—and—in fact—-kept us all in horrible economic circumstances (so—if you believe Obama is a socialist—this bail out was proof he is not—-he is in league with the rich) where so many  families lost their homes…& nobody explained what could possibly have happened if AIG actually failed…..this is a travesty.

In any case, Douglas was a progressive, an environmentalist, and had a huge effect on what is now conventional wisdom in this country, womanizer or not. Do we really care about his sex life?  No.  But you would think, in writing Go East, Young Man, with all the name dropping…he would have said something about his wives!

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