Government 1B Week 16 Living Standards After the Industrial Revolution and the Cause of The Great Depression

Question 1: How was the standard of living affected by the Industrial Revolution?

The industrial revolution sparked an enormous amount of protests against poverty, and on first glance that may make you think the industrial revolution lowered living standards. But in reality the living standards rose exponentially. Pre industrial revolution people were suffering enormously, as they had been for hundreds of years. People starving to death was the norm, and anyone hoping to protest these tragedies was simply fantasizing. Once the industrial revolution hit the factories began financially rescuing people. The factories weren’t dragging housewives away from their kitchens and children away from their play, as has been suggested throughout the years. The housewives kitchens had no food, and the children were starving in the street. The factories gave people a chance at making money, where as before there was none.

Peoples newfound ability to protest poverty was revolutionary! It wasn’t because their living standards had dropped and they had become fed up, it was because they had a newfound sense of hope and could actually imagine their living standards bettering. Before the industrial revolution there was no hope at bettering ones living standards. After the industrial revolution people could actually imagine their lives improving, and the protests against poverty which resulted are the proof.

Question 2: Evaluate this claim: “The New Deal was a wise series of government actions that healed the problems afflicting the economy.”

I would argue The New Deal did just the opposite. The governments hope was that creating stability instead of competition within industries would lift everyone. So they passed laws requiring business’s to pay their workers more. Unsurprisingly this lead to mass amounts of unemployment throughout the 1930’s. They also required business’s to have a minimum price for their products, meaning they could not lower prices the way the market demanded. This lead to overproduction on things that no one could afford, and it also lead to many small business’s having to shut down. Small business’s could not compete with big business’s on things like location and service, but they could compete with price. The government assigning a minimum price obliterated any chance these smaller business’s had to compete.

The government also had some ideas of how to raise crop prices, since the farmers weren’t making enough money. This brilliant plan was simply to destroy a significant chunk of the farmers agriculture. This way there would be less plants, so they would be in higher demand and consequently cost more. They also murdered a large amount of farm animals with the same goal in mind. You can probably imagine what came of this lunacy: the US stopped producing enough food to feed everyone. So because of this overzealous government intervention unemployment went through the roof, people couldn’t afford to buy new products, small business’s across the country were forced to shut down, and now people were starving because the crops were needlessly being burned. This was an attempt to prove that government intervention can be more efficient than capitalistic competition, and it created the worst economical depression that our country has ever seen.

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