Regulations during the Progressive Era played a key role in helping the general economic performance. The Progressive Movement is associated with the way assessments concerning challenges facing the people were resolved. Government involvement was necessary for the reforms. During the Progressive era (about 1880 to 1930s), the ideology of justice begun taking hold. Members of the Progressive Movement supported the government’s regulations, policies and programs intended to address the problems of the time. An increasing government interference and interventions regulating business between the late 1800s to the late 1930s was seen to help the overall situation of the economy and that of the common workers.
There were legal systems that existed to protect the rights of property and business over labor. In 1893, there was a change of legislation that gave mandate that women and teenagers were only supposed to work for eight hours a day. Also abolished was child labor in factories and the businesses were against such regulation terming it as going against their businesses. The court did not, however, grant men the freedom of the eight-hour workday. The state tried to protect the women because it felt that their productive capabilities were of concern to it. The result was that male and female workers were not equal in the eyes of the law and women had limited opportunities in the economy. Women were socially inferior when compared to men in law and apart from that, however, the government had helped their wellbeing by reducing their extreme working hours and ensuring that they were not physically injured at work. Women started to get organized and worked together to identify and seek solutions to problems which were caused by urbanization (Whitaker, 2, p. 504-506). The General Federation of Women’s Clubs of 1890 controlled what the women did in the entire country. Progressives pressurized for the enactment of new regulations by the municipal governments. They lobbied that such legislations be addressing the deplorable conditions in the urban areas of poverty, inequality and disease pandemics. It was in 1899 that the first juvenile court was established through the efforts of women in Chicago. From such women efforts and activism, public health was improved, clean water supply ensures and even clean food supplies such as pure milk.
In the year 1899, the National Consumers League advocated for democracy in the national level. It worked to ensure that companies offered better working by conducting investigations and it encouraged its members to force companies to using new production standards. This would be done by the use of their purchasing power and those companies which did not comply with the practice of better standards in employment did not get their products purchased. The efforts of the National Consumers’ League later bore the New Deal legislation. The legislation was against child labor, set the minimum wage level and the maximum working hours (Schultz, 1, p. 378). There were regulations such as the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887 and the 1890’s Sherman Antitrust Act which started considering the challenges of the unregulated capitalism associated with laissez-faire and monopoly which restricted trade. This war on monopoly continued until 1909 when President Theodore Roosevelt decided to use the powers of the congress to fight against monopolies in corporates that restrained trade. The Congress was given the power to ensure regulation and control of the predatory practices in business by The Elkins Act. There were also other government Acts that regulated the quality of food sold from industries such as the Meat Inspection and the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906. The Great Depression (1929) was harsh and Franklin Roosevelt initiated the New Deal regulation in 1932 to use the federal government’s power to bring to halt the economy’s downfall. Under Roosevelt, the Agricultural Adjustment Act together with other 15 important laws were passed and helped reshape America’s Economy (Leonard, 3, p. 215).
Although, the regulations of the progressive era were aimed at the better good of the economy and workers, it had its downfalls. There was increased cases of discrimination and segregation against African Americans. Less efforts put on improving lives of the African Americans and even cases of laws that supported segregation being upheld in the Supreme Court.
In the recent times of financial calamities, regulations regarding the revival of education, investment in the public sector and protection of the environment among other social and public services are crucial. Laws which discourage impunity and give the people the power shows great progressiveness in democracy.