Simply by having different people with different interests such as is required for a nation to exist, a variety of conditions and situations separating the people is imminent. Often some are successful while others are not causing a view that the people are not all equal. Particularly in a governmental and economic system so competitive as America, this leads to contrasting interests, which in turn develop into a cycle.
This consists of a rotation of periods for public development and those private interests. The cycles change due to a consensus of the people that the time has come for it. Each individual is a part of the larger society, which is maintained and directed by the government. “Society’s purpose was man’s betterment. ” The government helped to ensure this through its role of fairly distributing the resources that were available in the economy.
This can be accomplished by making laws and regulations, which allow each and every citizen to achieve a minimum standard of decent living, competency. Once the government has resolved all major issues and the general outlook has improved enough for the government to reduce its level of activity, a period of private interest when the people try to resolve their own issues comes about. The late nineteenth century into the early twentieth, The Gilded Age in America, was one of these periods of private interest. This era began after the election of 1876 of a president, Rutherford B. Hayes, who decided that the government should allow the country to flourish on it’s own. The widening gap between the wealth of the upper and lower classes created a dichotomy that can be explained by the pattern of the cycles in which this occurs in private interest.
The ideology of mobility was also present to help assist the people at the bottom. The age of industry though was propelling society as technology’s presence was ever increasing. The capitalist system of competition was also in full force as corporations grew and fell in the economy. As men work to improve their position the society as a whole will thrive. “And yet, although each is free to go wherever his acquisitive nose directs him, the inter-play of one man against another results in the necessary tasks of society getting done”(Borg 73). The Gilded Age, taking place in a period of government inactivity, helped the people through freedom of choice, mobility, and opportunity.
This age resulted in the split between some people who became successful in the economy, and others that failed to do so because of the consensus for a system of private interest where all were free to compete and a wide range of results usually occurred. Due to the low level of Government interaction with the economy and the people, there were high levels of abuses in the workplace. Fewer laws were made to constrain these and looser regulations were obeyed. Many of these abuses were brought on by the employers to reach optimum profits without consideration for the effect it would have on the workers. One of the worst abuses that the employers took advantage of was child labor. Companies could use child labor as a cheap and large pool of laborers because most of the parents weren’t making enough money to support the family alone.
Children could also be paid even less than the adults were. “In 1890, for example, the federal census reported 5,426 children in the factories of Illinois…These little fellows go to work in this cold dreary room at seven o’clock in the morning and work till it is too dark to see any longer. For this they get $1 to $3 a week”(Meltzer 27). Both children and women were chronically abused for labor in the factories and companies so that families could merely survive.
In comparison, the wages of the women were even worse than those of the children. “Women worked 14 to 16 hours a day for wages of $1. 56 a week. ” They were used for hard long work and paid very little for the same reason that the workers had little to no other options. The employers also neglected to maintain anywhere near safe conditions for women in particular.