.. f the Standard Oil Company, and Rockefeller. As the months passed, Ida Tarbell published her installments, which portrayed Rockefeller as a ruthless tycoon, obsessed with taking over control the oil industry. Miss Tarbell urged her readers not to support monopolists such as Rockefeller. She argued that a thing won by breaking the rules of the game, is not worth winning (The Gentlewomen and the Robber Barron 190). In 1909, the Standard Oil Company was accused with violation of the Sherman Act. On May 15, 1911, the U.S.
Supreme Court had finally come to a decision. It found the Standard Oil Company, guilty (The Gentlewomen and the Robber Barron 191). Essentially, the supreme court agreed with Ida Tarbell. Ida Tarbells study of the Standard Oil Company had raised a controversial question. Is it better to have free competition, with fierce survival of the fittest, or is it better to have industry fall under the control of a single dominance which could maintain order and profits (The Gentlewomen and the Robber Barron 192)? Ida Tarbell wrote and published many other works of literature after that of the Standard Oil Company, but none had such an impact on society.
Ida was and is a role model for women of all ages, races, and social classes. She proved that a woman can gain the same amount of admiration and respect as a man. The issues of Laissez-faire versus General Welfare and competition versus Monopoly were becoming more and more hotly debated. It was time for the U.S. Government to start taking sides and making decisions. This was done through the U.S.
Supreme Court. By the mid 1880s people were starting to take notice to the fact that the practices of John D. Rockefeller in the oil industry was not an isolated phenomenon. The same practices of monopolizing were happening in the meat packing, copper, steel, coal, sugar, and countless other industries. It was obvious that Adam Smiths philosophy of laissez-faire was leading the economic world into one populated and governed by monopolies.
The question was, whether or not to do anything about that. The question started to get answered in 1887 by the Interstate Commerce Act. The Interstate Commerce Act was the first of several laws that were a turning point on the governments position of Laissez-faire and monopolies. The Interstate Commerce Act was designed to prevent particular unfair actions, taking place within the railroads (The Supreme Court Decides 37). Examples of such unfair actions are rebates, discrimination, unreasonable rates, and several others. In 1890 the Sherman Anti! -Trust Act was passed.
This act was designed to forbid unfair competition among large firms, and essentially, make monopolies illegal. The Sherman Anti-Trust Act was written with very broad language, which left it to the courts decide how to interpret it (The Supreme Court Decides 37). We would now have to wait to see how the courts would use these new weapons against monopolies. It was soon found out how the courts would use the Sherman Act in the court case, U.S. v.
E.C. Knight, 1894. The court case revolved around the purchase of four sugar refineries in the Philadelphia area, by the American Sugar Company. This purchase gave the company control of 98% of the nations sugar refining capacity (The Supreme Court Decides 38). The American Sugar Company was found not guilty of attempting to monopolize. This loss seemed to make the Sherman Act look like a failure, and for the time being it was. Several other businesses were taken to court, and only a small percent were won by the government.
After Theodore Roosevelt took office as president, the prosecution of big business with the Sherman Act was altered, to the disadvantage of big business. Theodore Roosevelt took forty-four different businesses to the supreme court. The most famous one was U.S. v. Standard Oil, 1907. The Government claimed that John D.
Rockefeller led his Standard Oil Company! to a monopoly through illegitimate means. The Government won. This lawsuit was one of the most dramatic because the government was taking on the largest corporation in the nation at the time (The Supreme Court Decides 39). It now appeared that the government and the courts had made their decision. There was to be no Laissez-faire economy, and monopolies would not be tolerated in the United States of America.
What role the government plays in the regulation and intervention of American life is not just a eminently debated issue from the past. It is an issue that has proved to be a major concern and interest of almost all Americans. It is the feeling of many people that business should be unregulated by the federal government. But there are also those many Americans that believe that the government should regulate the growth and behavior of economics, to protect the American Citizen. These two opposite opinions are one of the main divisions of political parties.
The Republican party is one that is very attractive to big business. It stands for smaller government intervention in the business world. The Democratic Party stands for larger government interaction in the economy and lives of Americas citizens. It stands to protect the citizens from the dangers small government intervention. Many people fear a large unregulated economy.
It is possible that an economy can run out of control and exploit the consumers and workers. This was illustrated by a study of the Standard Oil Company, headed by the ruthless Rockefeller. When a business is able to monopolize within a single industry the outcomes can be potentially devastating. The abuse of consumers is no longer a difficult task. When a consumer has no choice but to purchase from a certain company, that monopoly is able to regulate prices to whatever they deem fair.
It is not always the consumer that is defiled. One may overlook the common worker. When there are no unions to watch over the treatment of workers, employers may exploit them. Long work hours with little pay, and poor working conditions were just two of the many cruelties that early muckrakers uncovered. It is also possible that too much government control over the economy can be present.
This is why our present day society exists in a mixed economy. In a mixed economy, private ownership is combined with some government control. This system attempts to eliminate inefficiencies inherent in capitalism or socialism alone. It is in this mixed economy state that a potential median between both philosophies is found. But our philosophies are always changing, as is our government.