Economic Boom Of 1920s And Birth Of Consumer Ameri

3579 words - 14 pages

?The Roaring Twenties,? ?The Golden Twenties,? ?The Jazz Era,? ?After the Great Crusade,? ?Normalcy,? ?Prosperity Decade,? ?The Boom,? and ?The Crash?. All these epithets give insight into the brief and somewhat chaotic decade of the 1920?s (Peterson 2). Within a span of ten years, gadgets that affect every aspect of life were developed, mass produced, advertised and sold, giving birth to the colossal corporation and the capricious consumer. Evoked by the rapidly changing times, there existed a strong undercurrent of frivolous haste and disillusionment. It is possible to see the Twenties as a pathway, ?growing out of a rich immediate past and growing into and becoming part of a complex and disturbed future?(Peterson 2). In the wake of World War I, capitalist ideal was strengthened by the development of mass production and the innovation of the automobile, and changed the national market to a consumer-driven economy.The onset of World War I (1914-1918) brought new technology and initiated the great economic boom of the 1920?s. Propelled by the demand for wartime supplies, the United States developed more efficient methods of production, which stimulated the economy. Existing industries such as petroleum and steel were revived, and newer industries such as plastic and rayon blossomed. Overall, the total annual expenditure on new industrial machinery increased four fold from $600 million in 1915 to $2.5 billion by 1918 (Shultz). The launch of mass production made the post-War United States the richest society the world had ever seen.After the war, an upward, self-perpetuating cycle of production was created. The increase in standardized mass production led to better machinery and labor efficiency in factories. Lower prices broadened the consumer base and left more money to be incorporated into the cycle. Driven by growing consumer demand, production thrived. Aside from the material boost of the war, economic growth was made possible by the development and advancement of the science of industry. A pioneer in every facet of business, Henry Ford (1863-1947), was the genius behind the science of industry. This editorial from the New York World, reprinted in Pietrusza?s The Roaring Twenties recognizes Ford?s ingenuity: ?What would be guesswork on the part of other men is exact calculation to Mr. Ford; he has succeeded in making the automobile business as scientific as the engineer has succeeded in making the business of driving a tunnel. ...Indeed, [Mr. Ford] appears as the genius of modern America??(Pietrusza 19) The first step of this cycle was mass production, which first emerged in America in the middle of the 1800?s. Borrowed from England, the process of manufacturing was altered and refined in America. British engineers observed that American manufacturers made simpler and rougher goods, used less skilled labor, and focused more on the machinery and organization of labor. This alteration left much less responsibility in the hands of skilled...

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