This cartoon shows what looks like Teddy Roosevelt squeezing the money out of a fat man with the title “The Trusts.” This may be a reference to the name that Roosevelt made for himself as a trustbuster and shows him as both the tough who is squeezing the cash out of the trusts and as the calm and collected leader watching the proceedings. This seems to point out that he could be both a leader and someone who worked in more direct ways to remove the influence of the unfairly wealthy trusts. It makes the trusts out to be the fat rich man who has more than he could ever need and makes Teddy the tireless and selfless crusader for the common good.
The book Progress and Poverty was written in the year 1877. It was written as a critique of the nation’s economics and the way that people viewed them. At the time most people believed that work could only get done if there was money, or resources, to support it. The belief held that no work could be done unless there was enough money and supplies to motivate and enable the work force. In Progress and Poverty Henry George challenged that belief. He claimed that work was done for the simple reason that it must be done. “To say a people eat breakfast before going to work is not to say that they cannot go to work unless an employer provides breakfast… They eat because they are hungry.” Many of the Progressive Era’s biggest movers believed that the health of the work force was paramount. Progress and Poverty not only supported that, but showed how even the rich were supported by the workers.
In the chapter “Workers Not Supported by Capital” George also states, “Imagine a wealthy idler who lives on an inheritance and does no productive work at all. Does he live on wealth accumulated in the past?… What this man has inherited — and what he lives on – is not actually wealth at all. It is only the power to command wealth as others produce it.” George goes on to talk about how money is not money, but simply the ability to control the resources that others make available. He also asserts that no one product is worth more than another. “If I have made knives and bought wheat, I have simply exchanged one for the other… It cannot even be said that I have lessened the stock of wheat. For by adding knives and taking wheat, I have directed labor… to produce more wheat.”
Henry George was a writer for progressive newspapers during the mid and late 1800’s. He also wrote books, but Progress and Poverty was his most famous work. He was a firm believer that people made the country and not big companies or lots of money. Not only that, but he was of the opinion that money was first and foremost a way of trading goods for other goods. He was an early socialist and believed that for people to ultimately be happy, every job should be looked at as an equal contribution to the social pool of resources and that productive work is more important than wealth. In his words, “London contains more wealth than the same size space almost anywhere else. Yet if productive labor in London were to stop completely, whithin a few months hardly anyone would be left alive.”
The only weakness in this book is that it is more or less his opinion. While he uses good examples for support, most are built as theoretical situations. The only way that one could verify their being fualty or correct is to believe him. Almost entirely, his argument is built on suppositions. “Suppose a hundred people landed in a new country. Would they have to accumulate a season;s worth of provisions before they could begin to cultivate the soil? Obviosly not.” What he does extremely well, though, is to back his examples with a simple yet strong logic. Everything he says is fitted together so that it all supports the other by following and chain f logic that is self-sustaining. “Did Robinson Crueso, ship recked on an island, have to accumulate a stock of food before he built his canoe? Not at all. He needed only spend part of his time getting food, and part of his time building the canoe.”
The Progressive Era was all about making workers lives better and showing the nation their importance in society. Progress and Poverty was big step toward giving the wealthy upper class and better view of their tenuous position. It showed them that if the workers decided to stop working, everyone’s lives would be greatly impacted. It gave the rich corporations and big business leaders a very strong incentive to make their workers happy. It lso showed everyone how much they owed to the common work force. When you combine this with Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, which showed the many poor conditions for workers, you got a powerful statement about the life and importance of the workers of this nation.