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“Get rich or die tryin” (Millionairemob) was an album by rapper 50 Cent that tells a story of the American dream. The lyrics of many of the songs provoke mental imagery of the rags to riches story of someone, who with a little luck and a lot of sacrifices can make it to the top. The captains of industry in the gilded age created the contagious national ethos that is the American dream. As we all know, America became a “melting pot” of diverse places with many vibrant communities, including Asian and European immigrants promptly urbanizing cities. These immigrants were in search of one thing that they had to sacrifice for continuously. The American dream was the idea that every generation will be able to provide a little bit better than the previous one. It was easy for the people of that time to turn a blind eye to the struggle of the other half of society and not see the other side of this new economic, social system. The big American three of J.P. Morgan, Andrew Carnegie, and John Rockefeller created the survival of the fittest culture that encompasses the good and bad things about industrialization that created the American dream we live in today.
“It takes a long time for the dead to die”. There is no shortage of criticism for the manner in which corporate America has conducted itself during this period of time with historically low wages and historically high profits. Famous literature such as “Into the Jungle” displayed the vulgar metropolitan conditions that a lot of first and second wave immigrants endured making ends meet. It did not take a lot of understanding to explain why industrial barons had so many critics. Many of these hard-working immigrants lived paycheck to paycheck and required each family member to scrape together everything they could to contribute to the family to survive. Corporate figureheads that were once looked up to by many for making it to the top of the chain begun to turn on the people that provided for them the labor. Before they knew it, big business made every possible push to destroy the individualism of their laborers. Soon they began to replace people like parts in a machine for factories to pump out as much product as possible. This rampant desire for consumerism in part with less and less meaningful work in factories created a dark side of capitalism in which how far people would go, no matter the cost, to become rich. These three men were relentless in their goal to grow their wealth. By ignoring business regulations through bought and paid for political connections, they owned every step of the process. It would be easy for people like them to bend the laws to their own will. Owners of Steel mills had the authority to hire strike busters, saboteur unions, and even order down physical strikes on workers. Unsuccessful strikes such as the Pullman Strike in 1894 displayed their ruthlessness in dealing with union workers. They artfully were able to adapt to unpredictable and quick union retaliation with organization and communication on level yet to be seen.
Despite the lack of the individual worker, proponents for the big three business bosses would argue that they created the groundwork for what would make America the biggest superpower in the world. The industrial edge that glorified cities like New York and Los Angeles. CEO’s and corporations became household names across the United States. Production of Steel and Kerosene urbanized an entire country and changed the history of the entire world. Scales of the economy began to change in ways that were yet to ever been seen. Railroads allowed for mass transportation of raw material, ideas, and commerce. The railroads organized the model that corporations have been following for the past century. Industrialists at the time would have also pointed out how charitable and generous these business leaders were. Carenage was among the most charitable giving away grand sums of money for public improvement such as libraries. The library was a strong theme in Bell’s novel, the cruel paradox of the workers not having enough time or adequate reading skills to utilize the library shows a harsh difference between Carnegie and Steelworkers. This is the most textbook example of the American dream. Every generation in the book puts more time and importance on the knowledge in the library. The family over the course of generations was able to make the marvelous change from Kracha, the first-generation immigrant not getting his American Citizenship to Mikie Dobrejcak getting his Citizenship to Dobie Dobrejcak making a huge deal in the steel industry. At the time, it was a very appealing argument to involve the federal government and conclude it should not interfere. The argument had a more “common ref let the kids play,” or laissez-faire ideology. The industrialists had a strong sense of small, well-knit community that would rely more on charities than the government for social needs.
In conclusion, the Captains of Industry incorporated ideas like vertical integration, that meant they controlled every aspect of their industry, into American society. This would forever change our culture into a “get rich or die tryin” mentality. This capitalistic society was an unforgiving system, but it was used as the template to make America one of the world’s greatest superpower.
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