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Big business - Term Paper Example

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ROOSEVELT Theodore Roosevelt was president of the United States during a time of economic consolidation. Capitalism was coming into its own, and some of the largest and most famous American companies were beginning to flex their muscles. Big oil companies and banks had power like they had never before had in American history…
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Download file to see previous pages But others were not happy with these developments and thought these companies and men had too much power and they sought to challenge them with new laws. Economic power should never be so consolidated that it eclipses the needs of the Republic. Roosevelt considered himself a progressive, and he felt that many of these new big companies, the trusts, were having a negative effect on ordinary American lives. He felt they needed new regulations and rules in order to do business more fairly. When he looked at the American economic scene, he saw workers being exploited, shoddy products being created, a lack of competition, and a sense of impunity. Not only were these things unjust in their own way, he believed they would also be economically detrimental in the longer term. He decided to challenge the Robber Barons and return power to the people. Importantly, he wasn’t going to challenge the right of someone to try to make such money or the system that produces such inequalities, but only the inequality itself. This, of course, was a delicate balancing act. There has always been a debate about how much influence the government should have over the economy. Indeed, this debate continues to this day with President Obama desiring more regulation and interference, and the Republican Party standing for freedom and less government intrusion. Then as now, it was true that too much interference would quash innovation. The longer it takes to start a business and the more oversight a business is subject to, the less innovative and profitable it will be. The higher the taxes a business must pay, the less profitable it will be. Government regulation can destroy businesses. However, Roosevelt didn't see it that way. He saw monopolies and trusts sprouting up everywhere, killing competition (Dalton, 204). He felt some minimum standards of regulation were required to prevent business from taking over government and exploiting people merely to increase the profit margin. What resulted from Roosevelt's desire to regulate American business and show them who was in charge? Three main pieces of legislation were rammed through Congress. Each has had a major influence on American life ever since. The first major change was to create the Department of Commerce which would oversee business and trade in the country. Roosevelt felt that there was not enough control wielded by the government over business and that business was free to influence any member of government. Creating a central department to deal with all of these issues would free him and other leaders to deal with other matters. Around the time Roosevelt was considering all of these issues, a writer by the name of Upton Sinclair wrote a book about meat production in the U.S. that illustrated the low quality of the food product and the manner in which it was disgustingly adulterated. The Jungle was actually intended as a claim for socialism, but it became a rallying cry for food safety and regulation. This book caused an uproar. Roosevelt was not convinced of its conclusions so he sent his own men to do an inspection of a number of factories. What they found appalled him. The quality of the meat and the conditions in the factories were unacceptable. He stood tall and passed an Act to ensure higher standards. The nineteenth century saw a significant increase in the sale of pharmaceuticals. But like food, they were often impure or mislabeled. These drugs could be ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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