The Gilded Age

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A successful economy is perhaps the most key ingredient leading to a successful nation. An economy is a delicate balance of many different conflicting and coexisting elements. Naturally, an economy's success can often be measured by the amount of wealth is contains, not to mention the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of its distribution of the wealth. Effective distribution of wealth is no easy feat. Wealthy and poor people will always need to coexist- this is an inescapable truth. The government's job in many cases becomes that of a referee. Naturally, perfect peace and harmony between to totally different classes would be a utopia, and probably will never be completely achieved. A government must, therefore, regulate economy so that one class does not overrun the other. "The real struggle is over a vastly more important issue: who owes what to whom. This most hoary and basic of all social debates usually afforded reverence and inattention of great art: People know its there and mostly they ignore it"(Wines238). Society will constantly debate this issue. By very definition, however, there will also always be a wide spectrum of opinions because of social status. Naturally, the poor will always feel cheated because they feel as if opportunity never has and never will pass them by. The rich, conversely, will always feel as if they are doing society a great favor simply by having their wealth. Poor versus rich debates will never go away no matter how much change is done to government and society. The "just deserts" theory of poverty is one that best describes American society. "For many, the logic of the mobility ideology led to a ‘just deserts' rationalization. The matter was simple, according to a local editor: ‘We declare it a vice and a sin for a man to be poor, if he can help it.' And the typical poor man in America could help it"(Thernstrom33). More often than not poverty can be helped. Perhaps poverty is what is deserved for laziness in American society. America can not alleviate the defective state of society. Other nations inevitably encounter many of the very same problems and deal with them differently, establishing a wide range of economic systems. Some take on a traditional economy in which one assumes the same job as his or her parents. This system allows very little mobility and is not seen very much worldwide. Other nations chose a command economy. This entails the federal government appointing individuals with occupations and allows them to become skilled at their respective craft. The market model of economy, developed by Adam Smith entails a freely flowing economy that places little or not restriction on occupation allowing individuals utmost rights. America took on an ethos of a mixed economy of market and command that struck a successful economic equilibrium. American economy also changes with different periods of history. The Civil War had lit the spark of industrialization needed to enhance the American economy. Technology advanced by leaps and bounds and free labor was done away with to make room for Industrialization and Adam Smith's market model of capitalism. Capitalism was a promoter of the entrepreneur and individual success. It was only natural that during this time of private interest the gap between rich and poor would be greatly widened and a state of disorder might arise. Capitalism was a new ideology and drastic labor problems and social disorder arose because Americans were simply adjusting to (and taking advantage of) the new system.

Although the gap between rich and poor during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century was unquestionably large, the nation was also prospering through large economic gains. Although it may have seemed like a nation in which the rich were detached from the poor, the US was actually harvesting a new breed of self-accomplishing individuals. With the end of free labor, the US had sought a new ideology, and found it in Adam Smith's market model. The...
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