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Ironies from a Progressive Era

During the 19th century, Industrialization, immigration, and urban expansion were the notable elements that characterized the growth of the United States (Saros, Daniel 2009:83. Many Americans were concerned for their lives and it's during this time that a reform movement known as progressivism was born. Its main aim was to build the existing society, make moderate political changes and social improvement through government actions. With reforms of the muckrakers and Woodrow Wilson, the Progressive Era successfully brought reform to American society.

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Muckrakers were journalists who imparted information to readers on underhanded schemes in politics. They wrote magazines, periodicals, others wrote books and even novels which portrayed the minds and ruthlessness of the industrialist. Woodrow Wilson was another notable contributor of the Progressive Era. He helped in lowering the tariffs and helped in regulating the banking system and the supply of money. In 1913, Wilson went directly to Congress and proposed a workable plan for building a flexible and stable economy (Jaycox, Faith 2005:391).

In 1914, Wilson helped pass two significant pieces of legislation that regulated businesses. The first one was the Clayton Antitrust Act. This was later known as Sherman Antitrust Act which prohibited trusts or monopolies (Shmoop: 27). The second one was the Federal Trade Commission which was created to investigate unjust trade practices in industries through out the country. Its good to note that such reformers like Woodrow Wilson and the muckrakers (also known as Reformers of the Progressive Era) assisted in great way in bringing about notable change in the American society.

The progressive era improved the quality of life for the American life greatly and helped people become more democratic. This was made possible by the 1913 - 17th Constitution Amendment which gave the people power to elect senators who had been previously appointed by the legislatures of their states (Burt, 2004:328). Eventually the progressive era introduced a precedent for an active role for the federal government. It is during this era that the first laws protecting workers were constructed. In addition to that, the African-Americans began their civil rights movement.

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It was also during this era that Federal income tax was introduced. After the Progressive Era successfully brought reform to American society, the United States could no longer rely solely on industrialization, immigration, and urban expansion. The 16th constitution Amendment permitted Congress to introduce an income tax. In 1919, 18th constitution amendment was introduced the amendment prohibited the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages.

The Ironies from the Progressive Era is that come this April, millions of Americans will grudgingly file their income tax forms and millions more are running out of places to socially drink alcohol and smoke. A good example is the City of Chula Vista that banned smoking in public parks and San Diego banned drinking on the beach and SWC permits smoking in only designated areas.  Both the 16th and 18th amendments were considered progressive and reform-minded legislation as they both introduced income tax levy and banned alcohol. In today's economy, both amendments would be considered progressive and reform minded. Tax levy is used by the government to run the economy.  The money provided by taxation s often used by the state in carrying out many functions. Some of these expenses include expenditures on war, law enforcement and protection of property. In addition, it is used in economic infrastructure and in operation of government.

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Unregulated alcohol consumption and smoking lead to poor health for the population. In today's world, banning alcohol and smoking in public places is a progressive legislation. A heavy Alcohol consumption nation encourages laziness and this cannot bring about developments.  Smoking affects both the smoker and the second hand smokers. So in conclusion banning smoking and drinking alcohol in certain areas and allowing it in designate areas will encourage people to stop the behavior. Both 16th and 18th amendments would be considered progressive and reform minded today.

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