chapter  5
19 Pages

Economic Concentration and the Age of Reform

Theperiodfromthelate1890stothebeginningoftheSecondWorld WarhascometobeknownastheAgeofReform.1Itissodesignated becauseoftheenormouschangesthatwerewroughtduringthisperiod inthesize,reach,organization,andresponsibilitiesofgovernment. The"reform"labelisattachedbecausethetransformationofgovernment,fromanintermittentlyactiveanduncoordinatedinstitutiontoa continuouslyactiveandmorecoherentone,wasseeminglyspurredbya seriesofidealistic,reform-mindedmassmovements:populism,Progressivism,andNewDealliberalism.ItwasduringtheAgeofReform thatthefederalgovernmentassumedresponsibilityforregulatingthe corporationandtheeconomyandalleviatingsomeofthehardships ofthevictimsofthenewindustrialorder.Toreformliberals,this periodgenerallyrepresentsthestartofanevolutionaryprocessin whichtheAmericanpeoplefashionedtheirgovernmentintoaninstrumentforthehumanizationofcapitalism.Tofree-marketconservatives, ontheotherhand,thisperiodcanonlybeconstruedasthebeginningof thetragicretreatfromthemarketeconomyandtheattendantdeclineof individualfreedom.