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Consumerism

Essay by   •  March 4, 2011  •  967 Words (4 Pages)  •  1,296 Views

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America's public opinion: How much will morality cost?

Is there a discount with that value?

Today, we open our mailbox only to be bombarded by the next Visa ad "0% APR until 2010" and many American consider it, after all, the second refinanced mortgage payment is due soon. We are swiping away our values and mortgaging our morality all in pursuit of what American history has been found upon: consumerism. Through the history of this nation the ethnically and culturally different people who have helped build our material oriented society all have one thing in common: the American dream. This pursuit of wealth gained momenteum on the eve of the industrial revolution's assembly line and today's dot.com speed whirls American to pursue faster than can consume it. This has left us an greedy indebted nation. In this essay I will illustrate how our taste for newest and best production has shaped modern American history. I will focus upon how public opinion towards this consumerism, beginning in the 1890s and leading into the great depression of the 1930s, is seen through the eyes of gender, class and ethnicity.

With the end of lassiez faire politics that guided what Mark Twain coined the Gilded Age, public opinion was becoming aware of the brash work ethics of a newly industrializing society, however, the pursuit of wealth outweighed all. Foreign policy was guided by Anglo-Saxon views, but below these views were desires of industry. The only reason we began to explore the surrounding Caribbean and 'free Cuba' was because we could not consume at the speed of our production as seen in 1893's slight depression. American consumerism was forced to export making moral claims to Cuban Libre mere heresay. The northern cities impressed by the Cornelis Engine at the 1893 World's Fair sparked pride to continue to work hard for industrial goals. In Upton Sinclair's The Jungle he clearly describes the harsh conditions and corrupt that guided Chicago's meat packing district. This big business corruption, particularly

the RR monopoly, called for populism in politics in the southern states. The Sherman antitrust and Hepburn RR acts were drafted with such suspion, but only because they wanted to gain a piece of the monopoly pie. Southern republican public opinion played the ethnic sympathy card in the 1893 elections, but they only did so to win votes. The industrializing southern textile mills challenged traditional Protestant farm values, but the quest for wealth prompted families to be hired together; this is how they justified there farm values were upheld. Public opinion within the middle class showed the first signs of progressive ideas that would flourish in the early 1900s. Jane Addam's promotion of settlement houses was the first icon of this emerging welfare state, but the only reason a welfare public opinion would spread was because of consumerism's promotion of 'high cultured society'.

The early twentieth century's progressive idea's are described by Theodore Roosevelt as 'internal righteouness', but in all reality it was Theodore Dreiser's novel Sister Carrie that showed the real colors: internal consumer greed. Cities were clearly on the rise for the population of sweaty workers jumped from 6 million to 14 million between 1880 and 1900. The upper class wanted to see 'a beautiful city' that was cultured. They were not driven by morality, but steered by fine carriages that would ride their contributions of nice public parks. The money that the Vanderbilts, Carneiges and J.P Morgan had to 'give back' was only previously taken from

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