Homework Nine Answers - Student Four

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AddisonDM 11:59, 14 April 2011 (EDT)

1. What is you view of antitrust laws - necessary, or something that makes a problem worse? My view on antitrust laws is based on my view of monopolies. I think monopolies are an imposition on the free market, they are like a ‘dictator’ interrupting the ‘democracy’ of the free market. Consumers should have a choice of who they want to ‘vote’ for with their business, but a monopoly prevents this. The free market may be able to handle monopolies, but antitrust laws do too, and they send a message that anti-competitive business practices are not okay.

2. Imperialism by a charitable Christian people: a good or bad thing? It depends on what the purpose of the imperialism is. If it is merely to exert more political control, or to make more money, it is not really that good. In that case, it hardly matters if the imperialist force is Christian or not. If the purpose to spread (though not force) Christian values to the new land, (and perhaps to also gain some political benefits) that seems okay. It is like missionaries on a grand scale. There should not, however, be any coercion involved.

3. Your thoughts on the progressive movement, please. Though many big-government liberals today like to call themselves progressives, they are not progressives in the same sense as the Progressive Movement. That movement mobilized the common people to advocate for a better, fairer society, without imposing too much government regulation. Most of the progressive reforms, such as direct democracy and information and safety laws like the food and drug laws, did in fact contribute to a better society. Others, like the graduated income tax, may not have been so good, and certainly were abused in the future (such as attempts to have near-100% top bracket income taxes.) But separating later abuses from initial policies, I think the Progressive Movement was mostly good for America.

4. Please explain the cartoon in the Minnesota Tribune, having the caption at top, "WHAT WILL HE DO!" and the caption at the bottom, "The eyes of the world are upon him." Include your description of the point of view of the cartoonist.The cartoon depicts the world (literally) watching a mean looking McKinley about to throw a native (either a Filipino or a Cuban, probably a Filipino) off a cliff to “Spain.” The cartoon is probably from a Republican and definitely an imperialist, who is supporting the American takeover of the native’s country in order to protect the natives from Spanish rule (and of course to make money or gain political benefits).

5. The "Cross of Gold" speech: lots of meaning, or meaningless? Explain, including who gave the speech and under what circumstances. The Cross of Gold speech is hardly ‘meaningless.’ It simply puts forth a political position, albeit in rather dramatic terms. Given by William Jennings Bryan in his speech at the 1896 Democratic Convention, it argued for bimetallism rather than a pure gold standard, because a gold standard tended to cause deflation, which hurt the “masses” (particularly the farmers, but all borrowers). Of course, inflation could hurt the banks and the creditors, so there’s no free lunch. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Cross of Gold speech is that it described, in much the same way as today, the so-called “trickle-down” approach to the economy, as opposed to legislation for the masses.

6. What would be an example today of "yellow journalism"? An excellent example of yellow journalism today is a good deal of popular science articles. For example, in May of 2009 a new fossil was released and hailed in the popular press as a new “missing link” in evolution. In October of that same year, several reliable scientists concluded that the fossil was in fact no such missing link at all. Most articles about “alien life” or “new life form” are usually over-hyped, and are meant to generate discussion and controversy, not to inform. Often, the scientists themselves do not make such bold claims as the popular press does.


H1. Do you agree with how the United States finally ended the fighting in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War? Considering how much trouble the Filipino insurgents were giving us, I don’t really think killing them was overly harsh. However, what were we doing there in the first place? The post-Spanish battles in the Philippines seem to be an unfortunate precedent that would later get us stuck in wars like Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Perhaps the only “justification” for fighting was that we could gain by imperializing the islands. But if that was our goal all along, why did it take three years of guerilla warfare to finally kill the insurgents? Overall, I don’t blame us for killing them but I don’t agree with it.

H2. Debate: do you support "caveat emptor," or do you prefer government regulation of monopolies and robber barons? I don’t think you can support either “caveat emptor” or “regulation of monopolies and robber barons.” Caveat emptor means “buyer beware,” that only makes sense within a free market, where the consumer has many choices and must be able to wisely choose the right product (and avoid bad ones). Under the monopolies and robber barons, there was no free market to navigate, and “buyer beware” becomes meaningless. If it applies to the monopolies, where else does the consumer go? You are telling him to beware of the only choice on the market! Of course, educated consumers could perhaps prevent a monopoly from forming in the first place, but once it has formed, how is “buyer beware” going to help? So, I support both ‘caveat emptor” and regulation of monopolies and robber barons.

H5. What is your view of John D. Rockefeller? John D. Rockefeller, first of all, was not the worst of the robber barons. Unlike Carnegie, who specifically disavowed Christianity in favor of Social Darwinism, Rockefeller thanked God for his success and made his motto “Gain all you can, save all you can, and give all you can,” a phrase from the Methodist Wesley. Rockefeller thus viewed his enterprise through a Christian lens, reminiscent of the parable of the talents. However, Rockefeller’s business practices had an unmistakable influence of “survival of the fittest,” or Social Darwinism. He also supported eugenics and population control, which are, from a Christian perspective, dubious at best. Overall, however, Rockefeller seems to have been a sincere and good man, and, for what it’s worth, an excellent monopolist!