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In the late nineteenth century and beginning of the twentieth century, the United States of America experienced rapid urbanization and industrialization. These significant changes acted as a catalyst for the Industrial Revolution: known for all of its competition from monopolies, high rate of immigration, and capitalization. The government was involved in promoting industrial growth by enacting tariffs to protect the American industry from foreign competition. Monopoly adoption was high during the Industrial Revolution which meant that there were a lot more laborers needed, and the companies were guilty of exploiting workers and misusing their power.
Currently, many monopoly companies have created a barrier to enter or compete in the US market. Microsoft once acted as a monopoly by getting other companies to oppose their competition in the market.
Google is another monopolistic company that has made it difficult for companies like Yahoo to even have the chance to compete. Most laws enacted in the US, and especially those dealing with labor are controlled by influential and wealthy people hence increasing inequality and exploitations in the workplace.
American Water Works Company, Inc., a water supply company has monopolized the American market for supplying water to the public. That is just one of the many monopolies that exist today, which have similarities but also growth from Standard Oil Company-a large oil company that existed and thrived during the Industrial Revolution. With these monopolies, the American economy is controlled by large corporations that benefit and enrich just a few specific individuals.
The issue of monopolies has contributed to the inequality gap in American society.
The Industrial Revolution caused America to have drastic changes in its social and economic culture because of the innovations in science and technology, all of which increased economic productivity and the thought of freedom. The revolution led to a junp in capitalism with advancement to the monopolies of large industries. Also, many tycoons like John Rockefeller, the founder of Standard Oil Company, emerged at that time as they became powerful and wealthy individuals. During the 19th century, oil was the primary source of fuel in the US which of course meant vast growth in the industry.
Standard Oil Company was developed in 1900 and eventually became the greatest oil company in the West Coast. With time, the company became a monopoly by adopting other oil companies like Pacific Coast Oil Company and used them for all of their western operations. Then Standard Oil Company obtained a vertical monopoly which took full control of all their oil drilling, storage, and distribution needs making it easier control the stock markets and dictate the movement of the oil industry in America. In 1907, the company fought off competition by securing railroad rates and rebates on shipment. It engaged in unethical practices by influencing the legislature and Congress.
Rockefeller then took over another monopoly which led to damage of the economy and the environment. Due to limited competition, Standard Oil Company took advantage of their power and began dumping waste into the rivers and onto the ground to save on the cost of disposal. A Supreme Court ordered the Standard oil to get rid of the trust in order reduce the size and influence of their monopoly and allow room for competition: although still it remained the giant oil industry. It is similar to modern monopolistic companies which control most aspects of the American economy hence giving little or no room for current smaller competitors.
Standard Oil in the late 19th century and early 20th century oppressed their workers with payments and poor working conditions. Most workers were immigrants who traveled to the US during the Industrial Revolution to secure better jobs. The people working in the oil industry worked under miserable and dangerous conditions since there were no laws enacted to guard the rights of the employees. Although the economy was rising and the oil company was making a high profit, the life of the workers deteriorated due to the availability of cheap labor from millions of immigrants who had arrived in the US. Workers tried to organize strikes and demonstrations asking for better pay and working conditions. The strikes were unsuccessful since there were thousands of other immigrants readily available to displace them at even cheaper cost .
Thus, workers were forced to cope with poor conditions for pure survival. There was no health insurance to cover the health and other risks encountered at the course of working. Employees who injured themselves while at work were left jobless and replaced with new energetic employees. They would work long hours from five in the morning to seven in the evening with a half-an-hour lunch break. Their houses were poor and congested which gave room for only a few beds. Families were allowed to work too and involve both women and children to earn extra income. The advancement in technology rendered many workers jobless too as the machines took over most processes like manufacturing and transportation of the oil.
American Water Works Company, Inc is one of the modern monopolistic companies in America. The American Water Works Company provides water and wastewater services and other public utilities across sixteen US states. For several decades, the company has become a monopoly operating under hidden utilities with the support of people high up in the government. Its power makes it easy for the company to gain approval from the government and outdo its competitors. For instance, the company has come up with a project to upgrade US water system a program that has seen them acquire over $1 trillion from US government. The company owns more than 85% water system and wastewater systems giving them the advantage on the opportunity to add more modern system and take full control in the coming years.
The acquisition is a big advantage to American Water Works Company, Inc to expand its business since investors still are willing to do business with them despite the raised revenues. Currently, the company has monopolized the industry making it challenging for significant competitors like Suez Environmental and the United Utilities Group to compete favorably (Brewer 1). Monopolizing an essential commodity like water is very risky. American Water Works Company remains strong and thrives in the states where it has a monopoly leading to an unfair increase in rates due to low regulations. Now the company is working on its relationship with homeowners in wells, septic tanks and other water sources: an act that will lead them to monopolize the entire industry.
The working conditions at American Water Works Company Inc are better compared to the situation at Standard Oil Company during the Industrial Revolution. Workers at American Water Works Company enjoy benefits like health insurance, risks insurance and retirement benefits. Although the payment is proper, it is not worth the time and effort put into the assignments since workers are subjected to modern manipulation based on workload. Employees are given too much work to cover within a few hours with an hour lunch break. Thus, employees are forced to sacrifice their own time in the evenings and early mornings to accomplish the tasks, many with time limits. The company has poor employee-employer relationships too, especially with managers. Good managers leave, and the bad ones are kept to exert pressure on the employees.
The company has no person who monitors safety to handle potentially dangerous tasks and the employees problems. The loss and hiring of inexperienced employees is one of the major problems workers face at American Water Works Company. Managers at American Water Works get rid of experienced and qualified employees to create space for their family members and friends who are inexperienced which continues to increase workloads on experienced employees. The modern monopoly is similar to that of the Industrial Revolution based on power and control. Today, the economy and political life of America is controlled by a few individuals who abolish their competitors and leave small businesses powerless.
The “Sherman Anti-Trust Act in 1890 passed to ensure competition in the market is no longer useful as the economic power has been concentrated on a few individuals especially those with political power” (Stiglitz 1). Few industries that control their entire niche set the pricing for resources: the price of water is set by American Water Works Company Inc. This is complete manipulation of the consumer and the people. The attribution of high profits to the success of the US economy based on quality products and services is long gone since most companies’ get high profits through consumer and employee exploitations.
The salary and benefits given to most workers in monopolistic companies are much lower compared to the task assigned. The high rate of inequality in America is caused by a monopoly which has created a low, medium and upper class in the society. Improvement in technology in the 21st century has created better opportunities for the industries to exercise their monopoly, especially on price discrimination (Stiglitz 4). With so many monopolies in America, it is difficult for the labor union to check on abuse and neglect in the workplace everywhere.
The current monopoly in the USA has its roots from past monopolies, the difference being that misuse is done indirectly through the help of digital technology. From the era of the Industrial Revolution up to date, monopolies are the leading cause of inequality in American society. Consumer and employee manipulation is still high in America because of the powerful politicians that control the labor laws. An industry like American Water Works Company Inc is no different from Standard Oil Company of the Industrial Revolution which was in control of the entire oil manufacturing, storage and distribution services at the time thus hindering competition from other companies.
American Water Works Company Inc has full control of water supply and pricing in most US states. Although employees are paid better salary and have juicy benefits, the payment is low compared to the daily expected workload. The oppression however is less though compared to the nineteenth century thanks to the presence of labor acts which protect employees rights. Modern monopolies take advantage of digitalization and globalization to again complete power over the market by evading taxes and exploiting consumers. Apple, Microsoft, Google, Cisco, and Oracle are some of the monopolistic companies in America that use the advantage of globalization to control the market and reduce competition. Monopolies are a serious problem in today’s society that needs to be managed to avoid distortion of the economy and most importantly to protect the people
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