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Capitalistic Government Of US Essay, Research Paper

"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, that

among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness — That to secure

these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers

from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes

destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish

it, 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 to

effect their Safety and Happiness." (Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of

Independence) When Thomas Jefferson wrote these words, he wrote them with the

intent of establishing a new government that would not give anyone favoritism

over others. After 224 years, this idea is still believed in by the citizens of

America, but not practiced by their government. As the years passed, the values

of America have slowly altered to materialism. The people trusted our government

to make the best decisions for the entire country, but some decisions seem to

favor the wealthiest citizens rather than all of the citizens. Not to say that

the government is completely corrupt, but their priorities seem to have a

monetary value, and they must pay for it some how. As a country with a

capitalist government, one that has the main focus of making profit through free

markets, money has an unfortunately big influence on policies that are made by

the government. According to the public, which was based on middle-class adults

in the US, business editors and college students, the general consensus came out

to be that they believed that "capitalism must be altered before any

significant improvements in human welfare can be realized." This can be

seen throughout history in the positions taken by the government about free

markets, unionization, and . The United States of America’s government is

hyper-capitalistic, because the markets are freer than in any other country. We

consume more and are more dependent on working. The markets in the US have not

always been so free. In the beginning we had small markets that people did not

depend so much on because of the fact that they were all farmers and

sharecroppers. The existence of slavery was in very recent in history back then.

America was not considered a capitalistic country, but instead a feudal one

because everyone traded and didn’t expect monetary compensation for their

products. When the goal of production (around the end of the 19th century)

changed from being used for exchange to profit, the US began to become

capitalistic. To establish a definition of capitalism, I shall establish it as

when goods are produced to be sold; the revenues made are then used to be what

you need with intent to make a profit in the end. Our capitalistic ways are

effective in the US government because it small enough to allow the businesses

to make their own decisions. As the US became industrialized, the need to

mass-produce came into effect, and the boom in the labor market began. The

problem with this is that the freedom of the markets allowed the businesses to

move around as they liked; only when they were knowingly signing a contract were

they forced to make a commitment. Markets dispersed power that kept the

government from being able to say anything to the businesses that were making

the most money in the market. The government decided to not involve itself when

it came to the market, even though they knew that the bigger companies were

overtaking the smaller ones. The wealthiest owners had the power in the markets

and 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 it

would be too risky for them to put restrictions on the companies that right now

have the power in the business world. The free market of America is one that

claims that everyone is free to gain power, but what happens when business

owners decide to be a monopoly? Competition is good, but there are competitors

that are so powerful that they are willing to crush any smaller competition. The

government’s role in this situation can be seen as unfavorable for the smaller

businesses and favorable to the wealthier businesses. The government chose to

minimally involve itself in this situation under the pretext that the citizens

of this great country did not wish to have the government to get involved. They

knew that monopolies were being created by the big businesses but that fact did

not get them to involve themselves. Their lack of involvement in situations such

as these where the wealthy are conquering the poor shows that they are siding

with the wealthy business owners by not fighting against them. This is not to

say that they government never involved itself in such instances, but they

nevertheless do little for the smaller businesses with their policies. The

Sherman Act of 1890 prohibited "conspiracies in restraint of trade"

and other monopolistic practices, but these acts were too outdated for our

economy. Therefore, congress established the Federal Reserve System as a

reaction 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 the

country." All these laws and systems have not done much to keep the economy

from monopolizing, however. "In the 20th century, the working class became

the most important antimonopoly force. Many labor organizations and the

political parties based on the working class, while supporting traditional

antimonopoly demands, increasingly focused on labor’s claims against

monopoly." In the 1970s, due to the lack of antitrust and antimonopoly

laws, 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 Victor

Perlo put it: "IBM clearly emerged as the number-one supermonopoly of world

capitalism." Workers formed antimonopoly parties and even created unions to

protect them from the monopolies that created unfavorable conditions and wages

for them. The unionization of the United States seemed to be a great idea by

factory workers, but instead managed to give them less power than they had hoped

for. "Factory workers had their greatest influence and were able to extract

their most substantial concession from the government during the early years of

the Great Depression before they were organized into unions." The reason

for this loss of power is very simple. Before the workers were organized, they

had millions of individual voices that caused much disruption in the economy.

Strikes were forever taking place where politicians were forced to listen to

them. Politicians were forced to comply with what the workers demanded and this

ended in a fake victory for the workers The government granted the workers the

right to organize, which would seem to be a victory, but in reality this right

to organize just caused the workers to lose their political power. Since the

workers found that the government was supporting the unions, the membership

rates have increased tremendously. Even though it seemed like a good idea to

join the unions, the members soon found that this caused them to lose the

thunder that their disorganization had over the government and politicians. This

is so, because after they organized into unions, they did not strike as much as

they did while they were disorganized. The strikes were economically stirring to

the government because in this country of free markets, one of our main purposes

is to make profit and that is accomplished through production. In "The

Industrial Workers’ Movement" the author makes the point that "If

workers withhold their labor, production is halted and profits dwindle, and

employers are pressured into making concessions." Without the strikes, the

owners and employers are not forced to make concessions anymore, therefore

letting them become weak in the eyes of the government and business. The

degradation of work under capitalism has rendered the working class decreasingly

capable of independent action. They had constant pressure to produce as much as

they could so that the company could sell it at the lowest price possible. To

make it possible, however, the workers’ wages had to be kept low and the hours

long. They were exploited and even though they managed to raise their wages a

little, other concessions were not granted because management did not see the

union as threatening. They actually helped the companies by keeping the workers

in good conduct. The discipline that the unions managed to achieve in the

factories was one victory for them with the management of the factories, because

the managers could not complain about the production rate. This however kept the

businesses from taking the workers as seriously as before because they do not

pose such a threat anymore with strikes. Also, the government put their foot

down when it came to when the unions actually did strike. The Taft-Hartley Act

of 1947 took away many of the rights that were granted to the unions by the

Wagner Act of 1935. "It gave the employers the right to enjoin labor from

striking, established a 60-day cooling-off period during which strikes were

forbidden, outlawed mass picketing, denied unions the right to contribute to

political campaigns, and abolished closed shops. Most importantly, however, the

law required all union officers to take oaths that they were not members of the

Communist Party." This oath was mandatory for recognition by the National

Labor Relations Board of the union. This shows how the government went to

extremes 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 who

will have the next corporation building or factory in their state. Governments

are dependent of the businesses for economic purposes. One thing that is

favorable about their lust for the corporate move into their state is that it

will create jobs for their citizens. There are, however, many side effects from

this. For example, in the situation when Frito-Lay was looking for a new

location for their plant, they went into Evansville, Arkansas with the intent of

building a new factory that would produce their popular chips. Arkansas’

government wanted to have them set camp there, so they offered them a $10

million dollar incentive package plus they would cover all the costs to build

the new plant. Frito-Lay got a "140-acre plant site, a rail spur, road

improvements, a construction grant, tax credits for new employees and a 20%

discount on sewer bills for the next 15 years." What did the people of

Evansville get, may you ask? They got a "no" to a request for a new

water system. They received water pollution, and more traffic congestion. First

of 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 city

have the deadly E. coli pollutant in their well water. Because of the plant that

the government begged to come to its city, the citizens are not able to drink

the water from their water systems. The government was willing to spend more

than $111 million on a company that would basically destroy its area, but it is

not 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 go

around" is very true in this case. The citizens would not be giving them

any money in return for the clean water, but the company would be creating jobs

and revenues for that state. The jobs that the companies would be creating for

the state are not the greatest jobs ever. In the case of Nebraska Beef Ltd., an

Omaha beef-packing company, the jobs it created involved sweatshop conditions.

The workers were not given more than one bathroom break, they had one break 7

and a half hours before they ended work, and that is only if they worked ten

hours. If they worked nine hours in one day they got no break. The state of

Nebraska gave the corporation approximately $31.5million and even with that much

money, it was not able to fully train its workers and provided them with

low-paying jobs. The state did not even think about putting work laws on the

plants; it made no demands as to what it wanted in return for providing so much

to the company. One can say that it did create a program called Nebraska Quality

Jobs Board, but apparently it didn’t help out in this situation. What is a

quality job for Nebraska? Because of their bad choice in corporation to bring

into its state, the citizens refuse to work for the corporation. Citizens from

other states are the ones that are working in the plants, which pretty much

defeats the purpose of bringing the corporations to the state. All it did was

create more problems for the state such as traffic and pollution for the

citizens of the state. One question that I have to ask myself is, if the

situation is this bad here, how is it over in the other capitalist countries? In

Cohen and Rogers On Democracy, they say that "while capitalist democracy

cedes workers certain rights and liberties, including suffrage, it does not

eliminate the subordination of the interests of workers to the interests of

capitalists remains a necessary though insufficient condition for the

satisfaction of the interests of workers, and the welfare of workers is thus

dependent on the welfare of capitalists." In Western Europe this idea would

not be completely true. The unions in Western Europe, first of all, are stronger

than the ones here in the United States. Europe was industrialized before they

became democratic. Therefore, they had to get together in order to get anything

done within the government in their favor. The workers do have an interest in

the capitalist, but not to the extent where they would do whatever the

capitalist tells them to. The Western European governments involved their poor

workers more than the US when it came to policies because of historical legacies

and because of the constructed institutions. One thing that failed in America

did manage to work in Europe, and that is the labor parties. The workers had to

create their own parties. In the United States, the politicians crushed the

labor parties, but in Europe they remain strong. One thing that is important to

remember is that governments that are very favorable towards the poor do so

because the poor are able to overcome the resource constraint. In Europe this is

true but what is also true is that there is great solidarity in Europe, which

made the workers so strong. Along with this the Industrial Revolution that

happened in the last half of the 18th Century greatly helped the labor workers.

"The Industrial Revolution was the first step in modern economic growth and

development. " The workers in Europe are big in number and the Revolution

brought on new work conditions to the workers. Labor Parties established better

wages and hours for the workers. The labor parties were huge in number and

couldn’t be put down by the government as easily as the United States put down

its unions. In the United States, we have always believed that all men are

created 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 are

taken care of well, and pampered with money and privileges that the other hard

working Americans deserve more than them. We are in the age of profits, and if

the government does not see any monetary value in something, they will not

bother with it, even if it is its own people.

Peterson, Robert A.,Gerald Albaum, and George Kozmetsky.Modern American

Capitalism. New York: Quorum Books, 1990. Perlo, Victor. Superprofits and

Crises: 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 Union

Organization. New York:Greenwood Press, 1988. Joel Roers and Joshua Cohen, On

Democracy, (Penguin, 1983), Chapter Six, "Democracy", pp146-183.

"Industrial Revolution" Encarta Encyclopedia


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