The the United states. Twain meant that this era

The Gilded Age was a term given by Mark Twain to describe the late 19th century in the United states. Twain meant that this era was bright and shiny on the surface but corrupt and poor beneath. The Gilded Age was an age of quick economic growth, especially in the North. At the time wages were higher in America than in Europe, which led to a massive immigration movement from Europe. Even though this period of time was a major step towards new industrial technology, there was a huge income gap between the upper and lower class and the lower class was frequently exploited.In certain aspects, like the growth of businesses, urbanization, and communication, life in the United States in the 21st century is similar to the Gilded Age. Yet, differences lie in labor reforms.Businesses existing today and during the Gilded Age use the same techniques of horizontal and vertical integration to overcome competition. In the late 1800s companies that sought to eliminate their competition took over other businesses in the same industry to increase their market share. John D. Rockefeller was an oil tycoon and became one of the world’s wealthiest men with his savvy business skills. He decided to establish a monopoly in oil refining; this process is known as horizontal integration. In 1890, the Sherman Antitrust was passed and banned trusts and monopolies, limiting the reaches of horizontal integration. Today’s most distinct example of this process/technique is Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram for one billion U.S. dollars. But not all big companies used the process of horizontal integration to increase their market shares and build up their profit. Some used vertical integration, which is is a strategy where a company expands its business operations into many different steps on the same production path, such as when a manufacturer owns its supplier and/or distributor. Andrew Carnegie, master of vertical integration, controlled all phases of his industry from the mines to the marketing offices. This process made supplies more reliable and improved efficiency. It also controlled the quality of the product at all stages of production. Carnegie integrated every phase of his steel-making operation, he did not only owned steel mills, but also owned coal mines, coke refineries, iron ore barges, and railways. Up to this day important companies, such as Target, still use the same process Carnegie used during the Gilded Age. Target owns the manufacturing, controls the distribution, and is the retailer. The company set itself into a position where it is able to control all of its prices and wages.The growth of businesses in the United States in the 21st century is very similar to the Gilded Age due to its horizontal and vertical integration process used to limit competition and increase their production.Urbanization is another way the 21st century is like the Gilded Age. In 1860, only 16% of Americans lived in towns and cities with a population of 9,000 or more. By 1900, that percentage had nearly doubled, and approximately 15 million Americans lived in cities with a population greater than fifty-thousand people. During this time period, many immigrants came to America seeking greater economic opportunity and better lifestyle, while some arrived in search of religious freedom. Due to this massive immigration movement, urban areas had a population where more than forty percent has immigrated. Factories in the cities were in need of cheap labor, counting anyone who is willing to work for the lowest wage. Rural Americans and immigrants were attracted by the jobs those factories were offering. Even though the city jobs were hard and dangerous work for little money, they were seen as a profitable opportunity to many immigrants and rural Americans. Due to the rapid growth of population, cities had to keep up with housing demands, provisions for water, safety, sewers, and schools for everyone. To do so, American innovators began to develop new technologies to improve living conditions. The innovators and engineers designed skyscrapers and elevators leading to a modern urbanization.Today, roughly fifty-four percent of the world’s population and eighty percent of America’s population lives in urban areas. Innovators and engineers find ways of improving urban life with technology the same way innovators did back in the Gilded Age. Urbanization in the 21st century may be significantly faster and more advanced in terms of technology than during the Gilded Age, however, the immigration and migration movement toward American urban areas is still present and is a crucial element to America’s economy. Another similarity between life in the Gilded Age and the 21st century is how communication plays such a vital role in society, allowing for the development of national and international businesses to progress. In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone which he named “talking machine”. This device was revolutionary due to its ability to instantly connect people from across the country. Bell then improved the design of the telephone and by 1886 more than a hundred-fifty thousand people own one in America. Later on, Theodore Vail created the American Telephone & Telegraph Company (AT&T Corporation)The Bell Patent Association, established in 1874 to secure Alexander Graham Bell’s patent rights of the telephone system, was created by AT. It started as a verbal agreement but became formalized in writing a year later as Bell Telephone Company.American Bell then created AT Long lines in 1880. This project was to create a long distance network that would span across the nation in a commercially viable cost structure. Due to this technological advancement businesses were able to instantly communicate across long distances. The faster spread of information causes further innovation because knowledge could now be more easily circulated. Instead of having to meet face to face, businessmen could communicate through the telephone. It also meant that if a buyer is unhappy about a product or a malfunction of a product, the business could contact their supplier right away. According to the article The Impact of Telephone by Society, by Daljinder Kang, “the invention of the telephone lead to development of city centers, office buildings and the concept of an urban worker society.  It has lead to the creation and destruction of jobs.”Most businesses in today’s society rely on fast national and/or international communication to expand, advertise, and promote themselves similarly to businesses during the Gilded Age. Even though technology is now more advanced, communication still offers a wide variety of jobs and careers in the United States. The labor regulations and women’s right  in the 21st century are different from the ones during the Gilded Age because there are now laws that prohibit child labor, promote equality for women in the society, and require safer conditions for workers. The unemployment rate during this time period was particularly high leading to a drop in workers’ wages. Due to the decrease in workers’ pay, their children had to work in coal mines in effort to help providing their family. The working conditions were atrocious but workers could not complain by fear of being fired. Numerous children worked 10+ shifts, for six days a week, to earn about one dollar. A lot of these children developed diseases from inhaling coal dust all day. During this time one out of six children attended school, and for those who did not attend school, their life was destined to be in the work factories. According to the article History of Child Labor in the US, by Michael Schuman, “In 1900, 25,000 of the nearly 100,000 textile workers in the South were children under 16. By 1904, overall employment of children had increased to 50,000, with 20,000 children under 12 employed.”In many states today, children under the age of fourteen are not allowed to work. States prohibit them from doing industrial work and they also are not allowed to work in a dangerous, unhygienic, and harsh environment. According to the Massachusetts Laws Regulating Minors Work Hour, by the Massachusetts government, “the maximum hours a child is allowed to work during a school week is eighteen hours a week, three hours a day on school days, eight hours a day on weekends and holidays, six days a week and the maximum working hours during a non-school week is exactly forty hours a week, eight hours a day and six days a week.” Most states also require mandatory education from age six to sixteen.Meanwhile women living in the Gilded Age were not allowed to vote, they had no meaningful rights or political participation. They also had little to no rights in the workplaces. Although women and men both worked in bad conditions, women’s condition tended to be worse. And their minimum wages were lower than men. In comparison to today, women now have the right to vote, they work in better conditions, they have the same rights as men, they also have the same minimum wages as men. They also have a voice in politics and the same access to education as men. Working conditions during this era were horrific. People worked ten to eighteen hours a day, six days a week. Factory works were difficult and dangerous. Most of these workers were paid about ten cent per hour. If a worker was sick or injured they would get fired and replaced by someone else.  Per contra, in the 21st century, there are strong regulations in work places to ensure every workers’ safety. Also people nowadays work for eight to ten hours a day. The minimum wage in Massachusetts is $11.00 in comparison to ten cents during the Gilded Age. The growth in businesses, urbanization, and communication illustrates today’s society similarity to the Gilded Age, due to the horizontal and vertical integration techniques/processes, the immigration and migration movement toward the cities, and the fast and reliable communication technology. When it comes to child labor, women’ rights, and working conditions however, today’s society is far more advanced because of the equality for women and children, the working regulations, and mandatory education.   


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