“We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal,that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, thatamong these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness — That to securethese Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powersfrom the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomesdestructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolishit, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles,and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely toeffect their Safety and Happiness.
” (Thomas Jefferson, Declaration ofIndependence) When Thomas Jefferson wrote these words, he wrote them with theintent of establishing a new government that would not give anyone favoritismover others. After 224 years, this idea is still believed in by the citizens ofAmerica, but not practiced by their government. As the years passed, the valuesof America have slowly altered to materialism. The people trusted our governmentto make the best decisions for the entire country, but some decisions seem tofavor the wealthiest citizens rather than all of the citizens. Not to say thatthe government is completely corrupt, but their priorities seem to have amonetary value, and they must pay for it some how. As a country with acapitalist government, one that has the main focus of making profit through freemarkets, money has an unfortunately big influence on policies that are made bythe government.
According to the public, which was based on middle-class adultsin the US, business editors and college students, the general consensus came outto be that they believed that “capitalism must be altered before anysignificant improvements in human welfare can be realized.” This can beseen throughout history in the positions taken by the government about freemarkets, unionization, and . The United States of America’s government ishyper-capitalistic, because the markets are freer than in any other country.
Weconsume more and are more dependent on working. The markets in the US have notalways been so free. In the beginning we had small markets that people did notdepend so much on because of the fact that they were all farmers andsharecroppers. The existence of slavery was in very recent in history back then.America was not considered a capitalistic country, but instead a feudal onebecause everyone traded and didn’t expect monetary compensation for theirproducts. When the goal of production (around the end of the 19th century)changed from being used for exchange to profit, the US began to becomecapitalistic. To establish a definition of capitalism, I shall establish it aswhen goods are produced to be sold; the revenues made are then used to be whatyou need with intent to make a profit in the end. Our capitalistic ways areeffective in the US government because it small enough to allow the businessesto make their own decisions.
As the US became industrialized, the need tomass-produce came into effect, and the boom in the labor market began. Theproblem with this is that the freedom of the markets allowed the businesses tomove around as they liked; only when they were knowingly signing a contract werethey forced to make a commitment. Markets dispersed power that kept thegovernment from being able to say anything to the businesses that were makingthe most money in the market. The government decided to not involve itself whenit came to the market, even though they knew that the bigger companies wereovertaking the smaller ones. The wealthiest owners had the power in the marketsand this allowed them to have more say as to what goes on in the free market.The government could intervene in this situation, but they do not because itwould be too risky for them to put restrictions on the companies that right nowhave the power in the business world.
The free market of America is one thatclaims that everyone is free to gain power, but what happens when businessowners decide to be a monopoly? Competition is good, but there are competitorsthat are so powerful that they are willing to crush any smaller competition. Thegovernment’s role in this situation can be seen as unfavorable for the smallerbusinesses and favorable to the wealthier businesses. The government chose tominimally involve itself in this situation under the pretext that the citizensof this great country did not wish to have the government to get involved. Theyknew that monopolies were being created by the big businesses but that fact didnot get them to involve themselves. Their lack of involvement in situations suchas these where the wealthy are conquering the poor shows that they are sidingwith the wealthy business owners by not fighting against them. This is not tosay that they government never involved itself in such instances, but theynevertheless do little for the smaller businesses with their policies. TheSherman Act of 1890 prohibited “conspiracies in restraint of trade”and other monopolistic practices, but these acts were too outdated for oureconomy. Therefore, congress established the Federal Reserve System as areaction to the power that the financial monopolies had in America.
It was”headed by a board with ‘fair representation of financial, agricultural,industrial, and commercial interests, and the geographical divisions of thecountry.” All these laws and systems have not done much to keep the economyfrom monopolizing, however. “In the 20th century, the working class becamethe most important antimonopoly force. Many labor organizations and thepolitical parties based on the working class, while supporting traditionalantimonopoly demands, increasingly focused on labor’s claims againstmonopoly.
” In the 1970s, due to the lack of antitrust and antimonopolylaws, IBM won a lawsuit that was put against them by smaller business owners.Instead of getting punished for being so powerful in the market, it expanded,increased its profit, and the price of its stock more than doubled. As VictorPerlo put it: “IBM clearly emerged as the number-one supermonopoly of worldcapitalism.” Workers formed antimonopoly parties and even created unions toprotect them from the monopolies that created unfavorable conditions and wagesfor them.
The unionization of the United States seemed to be a great idea byfactory workers, but instead managed to give them less power than they had hopedfor. “Factory workers had their greatest influence and were able to extracttheir most substantial concession from the government during the early years ofthe Great Depression before they were organized into unions.” The reasonfor this loss of power is very simple. Before the workers were organized, theyhad millions of individual voices that caused much disruption in the economy.Strikes were forever taking place where politicians were forced to listen tothem. Politicians were forced to comply with what the workers demanded and thisended in a fake victory for the workers The government granted the workers theright to organize, which would seem to be a victory, but in reality this rightto organize just caused the workers to lose their political power.
Since theworkers found that the government was supporting the unions, the membershiprates have increased tremendously. Even though it seemed like a good idea tojoin the unions, the members soon found that this caused them to lose thethunder that their disorganization had over the government and politicians. Thisis so, because after they organized into unions, they did not strike as much asthey did while they were disorganized. The strikes were economically stirring tothe government because in this country of free markets, one of our main purposesis to make profit and that is accomplished through production. In “TheIndustrial Workers’ Movement” the author makes the point that “Ifworkers withhold their labor, production is halted and profits dwindle, andemployers are pressured into making concessions.” Without the strikes, theowners and employers are not forced to make concessions anymore, thereforeletting them become weak in the eyes of the government and business.
Thedegradation of work under capitalism has rendered the working class decreasinglycapable of independent action. They had constant pressure to produce as much asthey could so that the company could sell it at the lowest price possible. Tomake it possible, however, the workers’ wages had to be kept low and the hourslong.
They were exploited and even though they managed to raise their wages alittle, other concessions were not granted because management did not see theunion as threatening. They actually helped the companies by keeping the workersin good conduct. The discipline that the unions managed to achieve in thefactories was one victory for them with the management of the factories, becausethe managers could not complain about the production rate. This however kept thebusinesses from taking the workers as seriously as before because they do notpose such a threat anymore with strikes.
Also, the government put their footdown when it came to when the unions actually did strike. The Taft-Hartley Actof 1947 took away many of the rights that were granted to the unions by theWagner Act of 1935. “It gave the employers the right to enjoin labor fromstriking, established a 60-day cooling-off period during which strikes wereforbidden, outlawed mass picketing, denied unions the right to contribute topolitical campaigns, and abolished closed shops. Most importantly, however, thelaw required all union officers to take oaths that they were not members of theCommunist Party.
” This oath was mandatory for recognition by the NationalLabor Relations Board of the union. This shows how the government went toextremes to keep unions in line, and to not interfere with the businesses’production and the revenue that the businesses will bring in for the government.The governments of each state are so money hungry that they even fight over whowill have the next corporation building or factory in their state. Governmentsare dependent of the businesses for economic purposes.
One thing that isfavorable about their lust for the corporate move into their state is that itwill create jobs for their citizens. There are, however, many side effects fromthis. For example, in the situation when Frito-Lay was looking for a newlocation for their plant, they went into Evansville, Arkansas with the intent ofbuilding a new factory that would produce their popular chips. Arkansas’government wanted to have them set camp there, so they offered them a $10million dollar incentive package plus they would cover all the costs to buildthe new plant. Frito-Lay got a “140-acre plant site, a rail spur, roadimprovements, a construction grant, tax credits for new employees and a 20%discount on sewer bills for the next 15 years.” What did the people ofEvansville get, may you ask? They got a “no” to a request for a newwater system.
They received water pollution, and more traffic congestion. Firstof all, there are not that many jobs that are created for these plants.Secondly, it puts the citizens of the city in danger.
The citizens of the cityhave the deadly E. coli pollutant in their well water. Because of the plant thatthe government begged to come to its city, the citizens are not able to drinkthe water from their water systems. The government was willing to spend morethan $111 million on a company that would basically destroy its area, but it isnot willing to spend $750,000 for the citizens to be able to drink their water.The government is too profit involved.
The phrase “Money makes the world goaround” is very true in this case. The citizens would not be giving themany money in return for the clean water, but the company would be creating jobsand revenues for that state. The jobs that the companies would be creating forthe state are not the greatest jobs ever. In the case of Nebraska Beef Ltd., anOmaha beef-packing company, the jobs it created involved sweatshop conditions.The workers were not given more than one bathroom break, they had one break 7and a half hours before they ended work, and that is only if they worked tenhours. If they worked nine hours in one day they got no break.
The state ofNebraska gave the corporation approximately $31.5million and even with that muchmoney, it was not able to fully train its workers and provided them withlow-paying jobs. The state did not even think about putting work laws on theplants; it made no demands as to what it wanted in return for providing so muchto the company. One can say that it did create a program called Nebraska QualityJobs Board, but apparently it didn’t help out in this situation. What is aquality job for Nebraska? Because of their bad choice in corporation to bringinto its state, the citizens refuse to work for the corporation. Citizens fromother states are the ones that are working in the plants, which pretty muchdefeats the purpose of bringing the corporations to the state. All it did wascreate more problems for the state such as traffic and pollution for thecitizens of the state. One question that I have to ask myself is, if thesituation is this bad here, how is it over in the other capitalist countries? InCohen and Rogers On Democracy, they say that “while capitalist democracycedes workers certain rights and liberties, including suffrage, it does noteliminate the subordination of the interests of workers to the interests ofcapitalists remains a necessary though insufficient condition for thesatisfaction of the interests of workers, and the welfare of workers is thusdependent on the welfare of capitalists.
” In Western Europe this idea wouldnot be completely true. The unions in Western Europe, first of all, are strongerthan the ones here in the United States. Europe was industrialized before theybecame democratic.
Therefore, they had to get together in order to get anythingdone within the government in their favor. The workers do have an interest inthe capitalist, but not to the extent where they would do whatever thecapitalist tells them to. The Western European governments involved their poorworkers more than the US when it came to policies because of historical legaciesand because of the constructed institutions. One thing that failed in Americadid manage to work in Europe, and that is the labor parties. The workers had tocreate their own parties. In the United States, the politicians crushed thelabor parties, but in Europe they remain strong. One thing that is important toremember is that governments that are very favorable towards the poor do sobecause the poor are able to overcome the resource constraint.
In Europe this istrue but what is also true is that there is great solidarity in Europe, whichmade the workers so strong. Along with this the Industrial Revolution thathappened in the last half of the 18th Century greatly helped the labor workers.”The Industrial Revolution was the first step in modern economic growth anddevelopment. ” The workers in Europe are big in number and the Revolutionbrought on new work conditions to the workers. Labor Parties established betterwages and hours for the workers. The labor parties were huge in number andcouldn’t be put down by the government as easily as the United States put downits unions.
In the United States, we have always believed that all men arecreated equal. Americans, however, know that even though we were created equal,we are not treated equally. The rich are the V.
I.P to the government. They aretaken care of well, and pampered with money and privileges that the other hardworking Americans deserve more than them. We are in the age of profits, and ifthe government does not see any monetary value in something, they will notbother with it, even if it is its own people.BibliographyPeterson, Robert A.,Gerald Albaum, and George Kozmetsky.Modern AmericanCapitalism. New York: Quorum Books, 1990.
Perlo, Victor. Superprofits andCrises: Modern U.S. Capitalism. New York: International Publishers, 1988.
Frances Fox Piven and Richard Cloward, Chapter 3 from Poor People’s Movements:Why they Succeed, How they Fail,(Vintage, 1977), pp96-180. Lembcke, Jerry.Capitalist Development and Class Capacities: Marxist Theory and UnionOrganization.
New York:Greenwood Press, 1988. Joel Roers and Joshua Cohen, OnDemocracy, (Penguin, 1983), Chapter Six, “Democracy”, pp146-183.”Industrial Revolution” Encarta Encyclopedia