In the U.S. these days some people are complaining about policies they call socialist. They want little or no government involvement in the economy and no government participation in any kind of wealth redistribution such as progressive taxation.
The socialism they oppose has origins in historical experience. In the 1800s, private enterprise was working people 12, 14 and 16-hour days, with work on Saturday and sometimes Sunday, and the working environment was dreadful and often deadly, with employers trying to keep production costs down so they could compete. A natural response from those who endured such conditions was to fight for better conditions. They organized and influenced government. Child labor declined and the public education of children was advanced. The eight-hour day came into being and regulatory laws were attempted to improve worker safety. Factory owners complained about losing power over their own enterprise, but capitalism survived.
Prussia emerged from the turmoil of 1848-49 with government programs to mollify peasants and others who labored. Prime Minister Brandenburg was one of those aristocrats who disliked the way that industrialists were treating their workers. He believed in governmental action that provided common people with protections – while preserving conservative monarchism.
Government social security programs also came into existence. The old aristocrat, Otto von Bismarck, chancellor of the Kingdom of Prussia (Germany) spent money on primary and secondary education. In 1889 Germany became the first nation in the world to adopt an old-age social insurance program. This was done in order to promote the morale and well-being of Germany's bread-winning working people and to keep the German economy operating at maximum efficiency.
Copyright © 2010-2011 by Frank E. Smith a. All rights reserved.