Propaganda & Mass Persuasion: The Burden of Prosperity

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Burden of Prosperity

The 1920’s represented a new era of American culture. After years of work by people such as Vail, the image of big business was finally changed. No longer were corporations viewed with skepticism, a new image of a “gentle giant” had began to shape the business world. It was a time of prosperity and growth for the economy but certainly not a time of fairness for the people. “Despite a statistical rise in wages, the upgrade was not experienced evenly throughout the population; the distribution of income was extremely unbalanced” (Ewen, PR! Ch11, p. 227).

William J. Barber picked up on how economic progress was imposing suffering on hundreds of thousands of people. He stated: “High wages were costing jobs by pushing employers to substitute capital for labor. In manufacturing, mining, and the railroads, for example, it could be established that employment had shrunk while wages had risen" (Ewen 227).

It seems that at the time, companies were starting to take advantage of the laissez-fare approach to business, focusing more on economic standing rather than the well being of the public majority and the future of the nation. On paper this era was highly prosperous but the distribution of wealth was highly skewed. The rich were getting richer while the poor were getting poorer. Similar to today, the way business was being done was not being monitored well enough. As long as the economy was showing profit, nobody cared enough to look into practices. This would lead to the stock market crashing in 1929 which is strikingly similar to today economic crisis. My question is: when will we learn from the past and plan better for the future?


Blogger A. Mattson said...

A very good post and a good question.

Despite the unequal experience of prosperity during the decade, the general perception of American business and the economy was positive and optimistic. It is possible for some sectors of the economy (agriculture for example)to experience problems even in a period general prosperity. From the perspective of public opinion we must remember that 'public opinion' usually refers to middle class and elite attitudes. At that time from the middle class point of view America and American business were prospering. (All was right with the world, even if you couldn't buy a drink legally.)

With the power of hindsight we can see the roots of the coming economic crisis hidden beneath the boisterous good times of the'20s. But that was not apparent to the average citizen until after the Crash of '29.

3/18/2009 1:00 PM  

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