Riding the waves of reform from the late 1800’s, progressives sought a more permanent change to their quality of life when it came to major corporations. Campaigning alongside other major groups such as the socialist this group was after terms considered much less demanding but necessary nonetheless. This was a group dominated by the middle class as well as societal minorities such as women and African Americans who were seeing increases in their basic rights over recent years. Their agenda had been a conservative one, seeking a moral society but allowing the fundamental aspects of capitalism to remain intact.
Journalistic muckrakers did their part in the revolution, dredging up the worst stories of neglect and abuse in factories and mines across the country. They would show these stories to the world, inciting massive union establishments throughout the nation, as well as mounting pressure on congress from the upset masses. Some businesses like a certain motor company headed by Henry Ford would counteract the mounting discontent with welfare capitalism, offering employees a decent living wage and ensuring their safety. This welfare idealism would lead into its own miniature economic boom, wherein the workers would use there new funds to bolster the economy. We even still see welfare capitalism used as a competitive aspect in the market job providers today, moreover the widely accepted forty hour work week system began with the same Ford around the same time.
Eventually we did see the government cave to the glaring issues of this time and we did see some progress in a few areas. The advent of the seventeenth amendment finally allowed the citizenry to elect federal senators (Cornell 553). Some of these decisions were simply the result of supreme court cases and were not subject to their own separate litigation. Granted such a thing may be redundant but it can sometimes seem like the supreme court moves at a different pace from the rest of our checks and balances. We would see the advantage of minimum wage established by the government, as well as a culling of child labor, mandates on child education, a work schedule subject to the health of the people, and so many more things we take for granted now.
Personally, I might actually think our regulation doesn’t go far enough even in today’s economic climate. That being said, I’m not exactly brimming with ideas on where we go from here. I do however highly recommend that anyone and everyone at least Google the term “Universal Basic Income,” but once again, I’m not exactly an economist. Either way I think we can all agree that the regulation of child labor is a must, and from personal experience I think the minimum wage can be necessary, especially when accounting for inflation, it simply would be impossible to live on a wage from the 1920’s today. As far as regulating work hours, I would see that more as a grey area, I think that a worker should be able to allow themselves the opportunity to work extended hours, but I don’t think it should ever be an inherent requirement.
Cornell, Saul T., Keene, Jennifer D., and O’Donnell, Edward T. Visions of America: A History of the United States, Combined Volume, 3/e. Boston: Pearson, n.d.