1878-1899: Business and the Economy: Publications
1878-1899: Business and the Economy: Publications
Charles Francis Adams, Railroads: Their Origin and Problems (New York: Putnam, 1878)—the author draws on his experience as chairman of the Massachusetts Board of Railroad Commissioners to make broad policy recommendations about regulating the industry;
Edward Bellamy, Looking Backward, 2000-1887 (Boston: Ticknor, 1888)—a best-selling novel in which the protagonist falls asleep for more than one hundred years, awakening in the year 2000 to a utopian society in which class and poverty have been wiped out and state control has replaced private ownership of land and industry;
Andrew Carnegie, The Gospel of Wealth (London: F. C. Hagen, 1889)—this book originally appeared as an essay titled “Wealth” in the North American Review (1889). Carnegie’s social philosophy held that in a free society, an unregulated market would direct wealth to the people of the best ability. Carnegie also espoused the idea that the wealthy should consider their property as a trust to be managed for the public good;
Henry George, Progress and Poverty (San Francisco: W. M. Hinton, 1879)—a hugely popular tract in which George argued that private ownership of land had generated high levels of inequality and corruption. In order to correct the situation he advocated a “single tax” system to do away with land ownership;
George, Social Problems (Chicago & New York: Belford, Clarke, 1883)—a series of essays that warned of the social dangers attending the growing disparity between the wealthy and poor in the United States;
Henry Demarest Lloyd, A Strike of Millionaires against Miners (Chicago: Belford, Clarke, 1890)—Lloyd had already established himself as a prominent social critic in 1881 in “Story of a Great Monopoly,” which had exposed the rise of the Standard Oil Company. This follow-up carried on the theme, calling out for social justice;
Lloyd, Wealth against Commonwealth (New York: Harper, 1894)—one of the most important works of the period, this book was a ringing indietment of the “monopoly” as socially dangerous and fundamentally un-American, singling out Standard Oil as a chief offender.
George McNeill, ed., The Labor Movement: The Problem of To-day (Boston: A. M. Bridgman, 1887)—the author argues that extremes of wealth and poverty were destabilizing American ideals and institutions of government and that the “wage-system of labor” would ultimately subvert “the republican system of government”;
John Swinton, Striking for Life (Philadelphia: A. R. Keller, 1894)—a tract of labor activism, deploring the “aristocratic” concentration of wealth, the plight of indigent immigrants, and the disappearance of open western lands;
Thorstein Veblen, The Theory of the Leisure Class (New York, Macmillan, 1899)—an analysis of the spending habits of the middle and upper classes in American society in which Veblen pioneered the idea of “conspicuous consumption.” Veblen argued that the economy’s price system was structurally flawed and advocated instead what he called a “technocracy,” in which engineers would rationalize production and distribution.
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