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  1. #81
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    Quote Originally Posted by cheerful-pessimist View Post
    We're not necessarily talking exclusively about reliable economic data. What we're arguing about is the living conditions and happiness of the people of the time period, which cannot be expressed well with statistical data. That's why so many historians use novels of the time period to get a feel of its mood. Many things, such as family life, living conditions, morals, and opinions of the time period are expressed in its literature. It's very important to look at all documents of an era as clues to what the overall picture looks like.






    I think you're underestimating farmers and small town people, but I have nothing to back up that opinion, so it doesn't matter. I am, however, going to direct you to a book, Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser, which is a novel that tells the story of a girl from Wisconsin going to Chicago to live with her sister. The first part of the novel in particular is a good example of my point on the matter. It's a very long novel, so sparknotes or wikipedia may be better for you.
    The Dollmaker by Harriet Arnow deals with a similar topic, but it's Kentucky to Detroit.





    Neither pure socialism or pure capitalism is good, as shown by history. Only a happy medium works, and I don't think we've really found the perfect government recipe yet.
    I agree with this, too.

  2. #82
    Order Now! pure_mercury's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cheerful-pessimist View Post
    We're not necessarily talking exclusively about reliable economic data. What we're arguing about is the living conditions and happiness of the people of the time period, which cannot be expressed well with statistical data. That's why so many historians use novels of the time period to get a feel of its mood. Many things, such as family life, living conditions, morals, and opinions of the time period are expressed in its literature. It's very important to look at all documents of an era as clues to what the overall picture looks like.
    If you're talking about the mood of an era, then I would tend to agree. However, people are different and they mistakes. What may be a Golden Age to one may be a Dark Age to another. When we're talking about economics, a novel from the time is not the best piece of evidence.


    That's true. But the Great Depression was after the Progressive era, a period of reform in the US. You can read about the Progressive movement at wikipedia, Progressive Era - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, or you can read about it in books like Eyewitness History: The Progressive Era or Great Issues in American History: From Reconstruction to the Present Day, 1864-198. Progressives, which included Presidents Taft and Wilson, worked to reduce hours for workers, stop child labor, protect workers, etc. They also made the first antitrust laws.
    That is true, although Progressives also did some terrible things, as well (many of the Progressives were virulent racists like Woodrow Wilson, perhaps the worst U.S. President of all time). However, the upswing in living standards began decades before the Progressive Era even began. The fact that you felt it necessary to include a wiki link for The Progressive Era makes me smile. Also, Wikipedia is NOT a very good resource when it comes to political and economic history. Since anyone can edit the articles, they can be extraordinarily biased, and the bias has tilted left over the past few years. Almost any wiki I have ever read regarding labor history or the United States in geopolitics has been very biased. For example, if you read the Alger Hiss wiki, you'd probably believe that the academic consensus is that Hiss might not have been a spy for the Soviet Union. In reality, almost everyone believes that he was, because there is compelling evidence to that effect.


    I think you're underestimating farmers and small town people, but I have nothing to back up that opinion, so it doesn't matter. I am, however, going to direct you to a book, Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser, which is a novel that tells the story of a girl from Wisconsin going to Chicago to live with her sister. The first part of the novel in particular is a good example of my point on the matter. It's a very long novel, so sparknotes or wikipedia may be better for you.
    "Underestimating" how? I've actually read Dreiser, as well, but only An American Tragedy. I was making an attempt at reading all of The Modern Library's Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century. I think I got about 25 novels in.


    That's true. The government did begin to take notice of certain things, like food preparation, as early as the 1870s, when Upton Sinclair wrote The Jungle. That's when the Food and Drug Administration was first created. (see the wikipedia page on the progressive era) Also, the working class in particular didn't have much free time until after unions started to form and the government began to get involved in reasonable hours for workers. Social and political reforms began in the late nineteenth century, so it makes sense that by 1951, the life expectancy rose dramatically. That's also not taking into account the huge growth of science and learning, which also helped quite a bit.
    Actually, The Jungle was published in 1906, and the Food and Drug Act was passed that same year. It is impossible that such legislation could have had a positive effect before it even happened. The speed of increase in life expectancy was actually FASTER in the decade before the passage of the Food and Drug Act than it was in the decade following it. The prime mover was the massive economic growth and access to medicine that the newly-urbanized enjoyed. Also, that "huge growth of science and learning" is a direct result from more investment in those areas and greater charitable donations from the newly wealthy. It is the same today. Michael Milken has done more for cancer research by donating money to it than the federal government ever has through legislation.


    However, you cannot deny that before the turn of the century, many people didn't have good jobs and weren't happy. I would still argue that without reform in the government combined with a huge growth in knowledge and science, there would be many people in America right now that would be incredibly unhappy.
    If people REALLY had hated their jobs, they would have quit them. People stayed and toughed things out, because they wanted to improve their lot. The vast majority of them did. That's one of the many reasons why about 2% of Americans are now involved in farming, as opposed to 30+% in 1900. Governmental reform is a good thing (the introduction of civil service exams was a great byproduct of the Progressive Era), but governmental control of business tends toward economic stagnation. The best thing the government can do for competition is to remove its own barriers of entry. Alcoa today basically controls the aluminum market in the United States. How does this happen, if we have antitrust acts? It happens because it's almost impossible to get access to bauxite mines, and it costs an insane amount to mine, refine, and produce. Part of the issue is that the government has made it so. Also, it may seem shallow, but economic success and stability is one of the main factors in personal happiness, it would only make sense that more people are happy nowadays. We're far richer than we were a century ago.


    I wasn't only attacking trusts on behalf of the poor. I was using trusts as an example of how capitalism in its extreme can be damaging. The problem with trusts in the late nineteenth century was that they made it almost impossible for companies to compete. Big companies would take possession of every aspect of a certain industry so that no other company could do well, and that not only contradicted the American dream, it made problems for a lot of Americans that would want to compete. Woodrow Wilson said about trusts: "I am for big business, and I am against trusts. Any man who can survive by his brains, any man who can put the others out of the business by making the thing cheaper to the consumer at the same time that he is increasing its intrinsic value and quality, I take off my hat to, and I say: 'You are the man who can build up the United States, and I wish there were more of you.'" He worked on the first antitrust laws.
    The reason I mention trusts with the 'poor' or normal people is because once a big company formed, many people could not compete with it. Therefore, those that went to a big city with a dream to do something often couldn't because they were crushed under the huge corporations. Trusts limited the options, so people had to find work under someone else. For people without experience or education, that often meant working in sweat shops.
    But they fought to get those jobs! People wanted to work there, as opposed to what they were doing before. And I have to take issue with your assertion that nobody was able to start new companies. This period had an EXPLOSION of new small businesses, as people finally had jobs that paid them wages enough to save in banks and build capital. Also, the fact there was a new, very large urban lower-middle class meant a gigantic explosion in the availability of consumer goods. This "crushed under the huge corporations" stuff is bullshit. I am sorry, but there is no other word for it.

    P.S. Woodrow Wilson really was a scumbag. Read more up on him.


    This is true. I wasn't trying to deny that many people did do somewhat well or extremely well during this time period. The problem was that the working class, the 'poor' class, were so mistreated. The thought that if some people are wealthier, the whole culture is getting wealthy is true in the long run but incredibly unrealistic and unsympathetic to those people that did get their hands chopped off by machinery. If people are living in incredibly poor conditions, things are not going well for a society, ever. Once a society has been established and is becoming better and more productive, they have to look at the smaller people and wonder how to better their conditions. That's what happened in America, but first, we had to steer away from a purer form of capitalism and become very slightly socialistic. Neither pure socialism or pure capitalism is good, as shown by history. Only a happy medium works, and I don't think we've really found the perfect government recipe yet.
    Actually, if everyone is getting wealthier, as was happening then, things are going pretty well for society. The rise of the Progressive Era is actually a testament to that. If a country is desperately poor, then people aren't concerned about mills and factories being dangerous, because they just want to be able to eat. If people are increasing their incomes and social power, they start to demand not just money, but leisure time, safe working conditions, and better living quarters. Do you think the country would suddenly look like 1909 if the government repealed some Progressive Era legislation tomorrow? I would call your judgment into question if you really believe that.
    Who wants to try a bottle of merc's "Extroversion Olive Oil?"

  3. #83
    Senior Member miked277's Avatar
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    i don't have much to contribute that pure_mercury hasn't already said, but i agree with him pretty much 100%

    keep fighting the good fight.
    I'm feeling rough, I'm feeling raw, I'm in the prime of my life.

  4. #84
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    Capitalism is about voluntary exchange for mutual benefit.

    I know, it's repugnant and selfish, someone should stop it.
    A criticism that can be brought against everything ought not to be brought against anything.

  5. #85
    Member cheerful-pessimist's Avatar
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    I am fairly content with your argument right now. While I don't completely agree with you, I feel that the facts you have established are secure and your personal opinions have been thought out, and I can respect that.

    Quote Originally Posted by pure_mercury View Post
    Also, Wikipedia is NOT a very good resource when it comes to political and economic history. Since anyone can edit the articles, they can be extraordinarily biased, and the bias has tilted left over the past few years. Almost any wiki I have ever read regarding labor history or the United States in geopolitics has been very biased. For example, if you read the Alger Hiss wiki, you'd probably believe that the academic consensus is that Hiss might not have been a spy for the Soviet Union. In reality, almost everyone believes that he was, because there is compelling evidence to that effect.
    I did realize that using wikipedia is not necessarily the most tactful thing to do. In writing and any formal research, I would never dream of using it as a source, but I made an exception since this is an informal debate and we are communicating over the internet. It seemed like an easy thing to do. And that's why I also included external book sources, which are always my preference.

    Quote Originally Posted by pure_mercury View Post
    "Underestimating" how?
    I do come from a farming family on my mother's side, and my grandfather was the first in the area to have modern farming equipment. People weren't necessarily scrambling to get away from their farms, and they didn't hate their lives as farmers. To my knowledge (which may not be completely accurate, since I haven't researched this), the people that moved to cities were generally younger, and they didn't usually bring huge families with them. Farming became difficult when competition started to kick in because it was hard for small farms to keep up with growing ones, but farming on any level is a respectable profession and always has been. One of the disadvantages of farming, though, is that farm families often had many children, and not all of them inherited parts of the farm. A lot of the children went off on their own paths while some took over the business. That happened with my mom's family: my uncle and aunt continued farming, and several of my other uncles and aunts became other things, like dentists or computer repair men. My mother became a lawyer, though she has started a produce store of sorts, which I work for until the next school year. This actually has little to do with what we were talking about, but I just wanted to clear up any misunderstandings. People weren't necessarily running away from their farms, and it definitely wasn't bad work.
    Also, fewer people are working on farms now because farms tend to be absolutely gigantic. Farming a hundred years ago was done a lot differently than it's done now, and a lot more is done by machine in our time. It wouldn't make sense for as many people to be farming now when so much land is already owned by so few farmers.

    Quote Originally Posted by pure_mercury View Post
    Do you think the country would suddenly look like 1909 if the government repealed some Progressive Era legislation tomorrow? I would call your judgment into question if you really believe that.
    Of course not. That's like saying that women would go back to happily working in the house if we took away their right to vote (which would piss me off). We're never going back to the conditions of 1909 unless there's a huge world-wide crisis, and I do feel that we're too used to the conditions we work in now to change them too drastically. That's not to say that I don't believe that some companies out there would take advantage of some of the new freedoms. They'd face a lot of problems in the process, though, I'm sure.
    "Yet, the right act
    Is less, far less, than the right-thinking mind.
    Seek refuge in thy soul; have there thy heaven!"

  6. #86
    Alexander the Terrible yenom's Avatar
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    Capaitalists see money as a resource, just like oil, food, land water etc.
    Efficient use of this resource will create more wealth for himself and society.
    This is the basis and difference between a capitalsist and a worker.
    The fear of poverty turns people into slaves of money.

    "In this Caesar there are many Mariuses"~Sulla

    Conquer your inner demons first before you conquer the world.

  7. #87
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    Quote Originally Posted by cloud View Post
    Capaitalists see money as a resource, just like oil, food, land water etc.
    Efficient use of this resource will create more wealth for himself and society.
    This is the basis and difference between a capitalsist and a worker.
    In a mature economy such as ours, aren't most people both capitalists and workers? I mean, the amount of people who own their own businesses is pretty small, and most big companies are publicly-traded. I read something to the effect that over 50% of Americans own publicly-traded stock, either personally or through pension plans and 401(k) programs.
    Who wants to try a bottle of merc's "Extroversion Olive Oil?"

  8. #88
    Alexander the Terrible yenom's Avatar
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    No, its resource allocation. The people who can allocate money efficiently, just like allocating other resources, will gain wealth and become capitalists. The people who doesn't will remain poor for the rest of their lives because they don't uinderstand the nature of money.

    Capitalists are people who are making money while they are in their sleep, meaning they do not have to work for it.
    The fear of poverty turns people into slaves of money.

    "In this Caesar there are many Mariuses"~Sulla

    Conquer your inner demons first before you conquer the world.

  9. #89
    pathwise dependent FDG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cloud View Post
    Capitalists are people who are making money while they are in their sleep, meaning they do not have to work for it.
    Yeah, this simplified definition is basically correct. Owners of capital can reap its fruits without directly working on it. You cannot truly call "capitalist" a worker that needs to work in order to earn its salary, lest not being able to afford basic living expenses.
    ENTj 7-3-8 sx/sp

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    The title made me lol hard.

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