America and History - We are not Alone

I enjoy history. Everyone knows the adage, "Those who forget their history are doomed to repeat it." When I look in the newspaper (another anachronism), I read about people complaining that this is the worst time in history, the most impersonal, or corrupt, or whatever. But I must beg to differ. If you look in your old Encyclopedia Brittannica (how many volume A's do you still have? I guess I am "carbon-dating" myself.), you will find the patterns that emerge within history. The world economy is cyclical - honestly, most of history is relatively cyclical. Here is an example. Anyone who watches the news or is even awake will know that the government is concerned about America being the fattest country in the world. There are, of course, many underlying factors that have contributed to this current trend, but many people would finger the corporate life-style of enforced inactivity as a major player. Although this is likely true, I question this conclusion. The corporate culture of business as king is not new. It is also not even American. Check European history as far back as the pre-industrial revolution 1600's. In Europe, businesses and banks were growing, and by 1650 most of their governments had adopted the mercantile system. Factories were becoming the norm, and credit was used as it is now. By the mid-1800's, "the technical processes and managerial innovations of the English industrial revolution" (World Almanac, 2009) were spreading to the rest of the eastern world and were actually the impetus for the U.S. industrial revolution. At this point, the life-style was so company-centric that trade and labor unions were forming - and this was first occurring as far back as 1824! Of course, the more inventions and technologies there were, the faster things began to move. But look at the general health of the populations of the "civilized" countries. They were battling essentially the same epidemic diseases as the less civilized ones, with the notable addition of many work-related illnesses. Children were developing chronic ailments that persisted into adulthood because of the poor working conditions for all in the factories. The adults themselves were more sickly and less healthy, in general. At this point, mass education was instituted in most countries and was considered the way to "get a better job." Corporations were building and growing, finance was becoming big business, and society now frowned upon woking a blue-collar job. Remember, this phenomena was occurring across the world, not just here. The foundations for the mega-sized corporations that we have today were being laid, as inventors were starting the companies that would later merge and become the ones that you would recognize. As you can see, and this is only a small slice of what was going on, where we are today has as much with where we were as what we do with what we have.

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