DQ 1: Based upon the circumstances at the time, were Rockefeller\’s business practices justified?
Based upon the circumstances at the time, were Rockefeller\’s business practices justified? How did other captains of industry (Carnegie, Morgan, Vanderbilt, etc.) conduct business in the late 19th century? What were the negative consequences of their actions? How did government and labor respond?
Based upon the circumstances at the time, Rockefeller’s businesses were justified. During that time, the government has no control over different ventures. Rockefeller took opportunities provided by the market at the time. The increased use of machines and motor vehicles led to the demand for more oil. Also, there was a market with no restrictions. Succinctly, Rockefeller’s businesses were therefore justified. With the market availability and lack of serious competitors, Rockefeller managed to control 90% of the global oil trade under the Standard Oil Trust, which consisted of close to forty-one companies. Unlike modern times where venturing in oil business requires a lot of regulations and controls from the government and different organizations, the 19th-century market was free for everyone.
Other captains of industry, including Carnegie, Vanderbilt, Morgan, etc. conducted their businesses in different ways. They capitalized on the free markets and invested their money in some of the influential industries, including rail transport, water transport, and the oil industry. In other words, they targeted some of the major industries at the time. They were able to master the system of radical transformation in the United States. With their work experiences in different organizations, they were able to master economic systems and the demands in different markets. They used cheap labor to make huge profits as there was a high number of people looking for jobs in their industries. Also, they monopolized their respective industries, making it hard for small businesses to thrive.
The use of cheap labor led to an increased gap between the rich and the poor, leading to high levels of inequality. Thus, there was the formation of labor movements that demanded good pay and better working conditions. The government responded by establishing measures to control industries and employment systems. For instance, there was the implementation of taxations.