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America's Rapid Enrichment - “Gilded Age”

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The term “Gilded Age” can be described as the rapid growth of industry and wealth. Although this may sound positive, there were many instances in which political corruption and disingenuous economic occurrences took place. The “Gilded Age” took place between the time period of The Civil War and World War I. Throughout this duration of time, was the absence of governmental control, allowing the upper classes to acquire considerable amounts of wealth, granting luxurious lifestyles for affluent individuals. Despite the success of wealthy industrialists and financiers, industrial workers throughout the lower middle class did not share this newfound sense of good fortune. In addition, these Gilded Age politicians were dishonest and crooked, which Mark Twain soon picked up on, and labeled this time the “Gilded Age.

“Mark Twain initially observed the prominent greed and the extortion permeating through nationwide politics. The term “Gilded Age” was developed to describe a society that concealed their problems by masking it with gold. This use of gold, which is seen gleaming on the outside, hides the corruption and deceitfulness underneath. To understand what Twain truly meant by this label, we must further examine the events of the time period, and the characterization of the time. During this time of accelerated growth, railroads and telephone lines spread over the entire country, which generated many opportunities for entrepreneurs and lower-cost goods for consumers nationwide. However, through this growth, the country encountered an immense change.

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In this newfound society, the poor struggled dreadfully, while the rich lived sophisticated lifestyles and were essentially blinded by wealth. Virtually all of urban politics were controlled by authoritative organizations. These organizations traded jobs for political dependability and allegiance, demonstrating their power over and influence over all people. On the opposite side of the spectrum, industrial workers suffered long working hours, the absence of safety regulations, and being overlooked. These workers were hidden underneath the facade of glistening gold, beneath their own sweat and grime. In addition to industrial workers being cast aside, farmers too faced competition, and this eventually lead to the decline of prices and therefore, profit. Taking this situation into account, it is no wonder that Mark Twain saw the pain and unethical ways the country was trying to hide, proving his evaluation to be accurate. It can be said that we are now experiencing a second “Gilded Age” due to monumental income inequality. This, again, is due to the quick development of countries, and the people within specific cities in which this advancement is taking place, earn more than those who don’t. We share similarities with those of the “Gilded Age”, such as: urbanization, tariff policies, industrial technology and corruption.

In order to avoid being branded as the era in which this “Second Gilded Age” occurred, it is most imperative that our government institute a cut in taxes, and address the wage gap. We must draw back to Theodore Roosevelt, a Republican member of the upper class who intended to restrict monopolies, but was incapable in wrapping up sizable capitalism. We the people have the need to worry about history repeating itself in the Trump era. It has been said that Trump, like Roosevelt, will struggle given his individual accretion interfering with his public position, making an effort to use corporate power to “build” the nation, but ultimately, causing the “Second Gilded Age”, and the attempt of using “corporatism” in order to gain political standing and power.


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