Corporate Corruption

Corporate Corruption

It has always been a them versus us situation.
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The Gilded Age thrived on the power of industry and the excess of the wealthy; robber barons like Carnegie, Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, and J.P. Morgan were able to build empires out of arising inventions and factory labor. The same time, America was also expanding its borders and filling it with these presumed reaps of the American Industrial Revolution. Unfortunately, this came at a cost. Even with the additions of continental railroads, America’s attempt at maintaining a prominent sense of unification and interconnection under broadened borders was unsuccessful. The country still fell apart to divisions; there was the North, South, and West.

James Madison and John Locke foresaw the temptation that would arise out of such circumstances. Great divisions meant many tribulations for the government to overcome; politicians would have to build immunity against the desire for a centralized seat of power as a counter to control the vast lands that America populated; centralization warranted a weak republic, easily left to the mercy of powerful interest groups. Unfortunately, the government that arose out of Reconstruction and that was born out of the Gilded Age was exactly that - centralized.

Anyone who dared oppose such corruption, or obvious display of labor of representative exploitation, were often silenced by the affluent powerhouses of the Gilded Age. Most famously, these said powerhouses harbored an expressive fear of labor unions who were the primary opposers of labor inequality - a social issue that was often ignored by government officials due to their associations with victimizing corporations.

Labor unions, the only safeguards against corporate corruption, were ineffective during the Gilded Age. They were silenced by powerhouses like robber baron, Andrew Carnegie. In general, politicians like Beveridge, Cleveland, and Hill too, were impervious to the struggles of those in the factories, railroads, and farms. They were resistant to their plights, even when events like the Homestead Strike occurred, and when journalists like Upton Sinclair, came about with stories broadcasting the harsh conditions in which they labored under. The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair, was published in 1906 during the height of the Industrial Revolution. His book focused on the new immigrants of America, a demography primarily composing the working class of America, and how they were exploited without regard. In his novel, he perfectly surmised the population which Beveridge and other politicians neglected:

"Here was a population, low-class and mostly foreign, hanging always on the verge of starvation, and dependent for its opportunities of life upon the whim of men every bit as brutal and unscrupulous as the old-time slave drivers under such circumstances immorality was exactly as inevitable, and as prevalent, as it was under the system of chattel slavery...only they did not show...difference in color between master and slave" (Sinclair 151).

Sinclair saw with clear eyes the frightening truth of what was happening to America, saw that “the great corporations which employed you lied to you, and lied to the whole country,” - he saw and wrote what was happening, yet nothing was done to save the corrupted democracy which America had fallen into (88).

Unfortunately, the end of the Gilded Age did not mean the extinction of corruption. To this day, there is still a disparity between social classes as a preference for the wealthy is still prevalent. American policymaking is still biased towards the elite and disregards the middle and lower class. Higher wage occupations and rewards are still being given out to those with elite, professional jobs and are inaccessible from those starting from the bottom of the ladder. Those at the lower end of the professional world are subjected to lower salaries, weaker unions, and expendable positions.

The Founding Fathers of America based off the government from John Locke’s idea of a Social Contract. They believed that human beings did need a government which they would give some of their individual rights to, in return for them agreeing to essentially protect the people from their worst vices. The economy of the Gilded Age was unstable and unequal; it saw a preference for the wealthy and a brutal disregard for those beneath them. It created a hierarchy that gave power to to the affluent elite, which in turn gave them the ability to influence political decisions that were advantageous for them and their businesses. Journals, such as those analyzed by William Reuter, and novels, like The Jungle, were ignored by the majority of those they were preaching to. Both Robber Barons and conniving businessmen, like Carnegie and Tweed, were able to evade persecution and correction for unfair labor conditions and illegal monetary decisions respectively, because politicians willingly overlooked them to preserve their precious relationship with the companies. Politicians, like Albert Beveridge, pushed for repeals and policies unfavorable and inconsiderate of the effects it would have on the working class who were already suffering. Locke’s government was superseded by an industrial government and failed to protect the American public because political parties looked towards “large capitalists who, in turn, expected subservience from the politicians, especially on issues affecting their businesses," said Leon Fink, the author of Major Problems in the Gilded Age and the Progressive Era: Documents and Essays.

Today's society is built on capitalist ideals, and while there is no fault on that, there is a fault on how it is thriving. As the majority, it is up to today's citizens to proactively be aware of any labor affronts and to be able to both address and rectify them. Only then might there be a truly stable and justified capitalist society.

Cover Image Credit: Christopher Dombres

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To The Nursing Major

Is it all worth it?
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"You're going to feel like quitting. You're going to struggle. You'll have days where you'll wonder, 'what's it all for?'

You'll have days when people attempt to break you down, or challenge your intelligence, skills, and right to be where you are. You'll have moments when you question your own abilities, and perhaps your sanity - but you'll rise.

You'll rise because your strength as a nurse is not determined by one grade, one shift or one job - it's an ongoing journey of learning, honor, humility and a chance to make even the smallest difference in the lives of your patients."

Don't ever give up on achieving your dreams to be a nurse. Keep pushing forward, no matter how hard it is. Nursing is not an easy major. You will have very little, if any, time to do anything other than study. But just think about how great it will feel to connect with a patient, pray with them, and even save his or her life.

This will make all of the late night studying, weekly breakdowns, countless cups of coffee, and tests so hard all you want to do is cry, worth it. To see a patient's face light up when you walk in his or her room will make your heart melt and you'll know you chose the right major.

The kind of nurse you will be isn't based on a test grade, it's based on your heart for the people you are caring for. You may have failed a class, but don't let that ruin you. Try again and keep pushing toward your goal. Don't allow others around you to drag you down and tell you that you aren't good enough to be a nurse.

Show them how strong you are and that you will never give up.

There will be days when all you want to do is quit, I know I question my major more than once a week; however, there is a patient out there that needs you and your caring heart. You can do this, have faith in yourself that you can move mountains.

I will say that you definitely must have a heart for nursing.

Personally, I want to be a Pediatric Oncologist and work at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Just the thought of those precious children going through the hardest part of their lives, keeps me going so that I can be there for them. I want to be a light to my patients and their families during a dark time. When I feel like giving up, I just think about how many lives I have the chance to touch and I keep on going.

So when you feel like giving up, just think about your future patients and how you can make a difference, even if its only for one person. I love the quote from Katie Davis that states, "I will not change the world, Jesus will do that. But I can change the world for one person. So I will keep loving, one person at a time."

Even though this quote is about foreign missions, I believe it fits the mold for nursing as well.

Nurses have the opportunity to change the world for people every day. Just remember that, smile, don't give up, and keep pushing toward your goal.

Cover Image Credit: chla.org

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5 Things That ALL Millennials Get Wrong About Investing

Millennials tend to save more conservatively and our aversion to taking risks may prevent us from reaching our full wealth potential.

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Millennials get a bad rap when it comes to making personal finance decisions. But while we may enjoy our avocado toast, surprisingly enough, we're also saving more money than previous generations. We also tend to save more conservatively and our aversion to taking risks may prevent us from reaching our full wealth potential.

Here's what millennials get right about their money and where room for improvement exists.

1. We wait too long to start

Even though experts have long recommended starting an investment portfolio as young as possible, many millennials hesitate when it comes to opening their own trading accounts. This results in missing out on the opportunity to sit back and watch our money grow through compound interest.

Many of us utilize savings accounts but relying solely upon these avenues prevents us from letting our money do the heavy lifting for us. Most savings accounts pay relatively little in terms of interest, often less than 1%. Throwing all our money into savings accounts earns us mere pennies for each $100 we invest.

Instead, millennials need to harness the power of the stock market which provides far more in terms of long-term financial gains.

2. We overvalue cash

Because we came of age during an era of financial crisis, millennials shy away from the stock market. But this hesitancy costs us big time in terms of future economic freedom.

No reward comes without risk, and by far the easiest way to reap huge financial gains remains investing in high-yield growth stocks. The best time to take any financial risk occurs before age 35, before the expenses related to home ownership and child-rearing require more financial conservancy.

Stashing away a small amount of cash under our mattresses for emergencies can't hurt, but wasting valuable time simply saving for a rainy day impacts our long-term wealth. If you're hesitant about investing on your own, hire a qualified financial advisor to manage your investment portfolio.

3. We miss out on tax deductions

Failing to diversify investments means missing out on valuable deductions come tax time. While interest from savings accounts gets taxed at the same rate as ordinary income, the capital gains tax rate remains substantially lower.

In addition, certain types of investments, such as investments in oil and gas partnerships, allow taxpayers to take advantage of government subsidies to offset any potential risks to capital.

Millennials do themselves a disservice by failing to seize these opportunities, as experts predict no decrease in demand for these resources over the next few years.

Even making an additional contribution to a 401k or other qualified retirement account can offset tax liability but far too few of us take advantage of this potential tax-buster!

4. We don't do enough diversifying 

Even though one out of every six millennials possesses over $100,000 in assets, few take the time to adequately diversify their investment portfolio. A strong portfolio consists of a mix of high-risk, high-yield stocks, steady, reliable blue-chip stocks, bonds and other forms of property.

Failing to diversify costs us big time in the long term. No matter how much cash we stash away today, inflation remains a powerful force that decreases the value of each dollar saved over the life of our savings.

The only way to account for price increases due to inflation remains investing in the stock market, where gains have a reasonable expectation of keeping pace.

5. We ignore history

Many millennials, myself included, tend to panic when we hear news stories of the stock market rising and falling at breakneck speeds. Indeed, current fluctuations in the Dow tempt many of us to pull out of riskier investments in exchange for less risky vehicles such as bonds.

Savvy millennials, though, resist the temptation to abandon ship.

Historically, investments in the stock market pay off over the long term. Market ups and downs tend to balance out over time.

Despite saving more than ever, we millennials need to educate ourselves about the importance of building a diversified investment portfolio.

Being willing to take greater risks while we're young will lead to a wealthier, more financially free retirement down the line. We millennials must learn to make our money work for us!

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