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Q&A - American Business Enterprise History

1) What are the problems of marshalling the economic energies of a nation at war? Are these problems eased or aggravated if the nation is a democracy? Why? Why is there a need for rationing and price regulation?

2) In the context of Babbitt and Major Barbara, consider the plight of Undershaft, the industrial magnate and that of Babbitt, the small businessman as they moved through the vicissitudes from war to prosperity to depression to war.

3) Discuss the growth industries of the 1920's. Why did they prosper? Why did they fail to perpetuate the prosperity?

4) What were the causes of the Great Depression? Consider, among other factors, the following: the plight of the farmers, the status of labor unions, factory worker wage levels, speculation, lack of regulation.
What were the goals of the New Deal? To what extent were they realized?

5) Franklin Roosevelt has been called "the greatest conservative since Alexander Hamilton." Explain. To what extent does the adage, "The more things change the more they remain the same," apply to this period.

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Q&A: American Business History

A Nation at War

The biggest resource of an economy aside from its natural resources is its human resources. American experience from all the wars it fought through its birth as a nation, through WW2, the Vietnam War and the present American-led Global War on Terrorism shows that while war can drive growth and industry it is also costly and heavily draining on human resources. The best example perhaps is the efforts and situation on the home front in WW2 when young men were drafted to fight wars in the European and Pacific fronts. Because of the heavy requirement of soldier-manpower, factory labor dried up leading some to close while others improvised. Soon women found themselves taking up jobs traditionally performed by men disrupting economic and social hierarchy. While it was temporary at the end of the war when men returned questions and conflict in relation to gender and employment arose. Additionally, risk management extended to resources management and all available goods and even services had to be rationed out. Surplus was heavily contained and prices were regulated to stop skyrocketing of prices of goods and services which would devastate a wartime economy. Also, the government had to ensure that all goods and services were divided accordingly to supply the home front and the needs of soldiers in the European and Pacific front. Heavily regulated capitalism is a combination of tenets of socialism and free market whereby the interest of society is regulated above the rules of goods-pricing dependent on supply and demand. Of course this is not the case in today's economic ...

Solution Summary

The Solution is a 5-part Q&A narrative that answers the questions posed int he original problem - questions on the topic of American business history from economic problems of a nation at war, issues faced by fictional characters Babbitt & Undershaft as they face issues of economic change, the growth industries of the 20s - their rise and failure, the causes of the Great Depression and the values and actions of FD Roosevelt and Alexander Hamilton in relation to structuring and 'fixing' the American economy.