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Free Market Capitalism In The Gilded Age

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The market mechanism of the Gilded Age was laissez-faire capitalism, an economic system based solely on the law of supply and demand, driven single-handedly by the motivation of entrepreneurs to generate profit, regulated purely by the ruthless competition between companies and owners. Such an economic environment inevitably resulted in monopoly and encouraged illegal business practices to get ahead due to the lack of government intervention. In this free-market capitalism, large companies were able to lobby the government and hurt, or even prevent other businesses from kickstarting and competing, by controlling the nation’s political outcomes through financing its politicians. These robber barons running these billion-dollar companies extracted the maximum profits from labor by bitterly preventing their employees from organizing unions. Ultimately left with a monopoly, these companies were able to deceive their consumers about their products and were to set skyrocket prices without any competition for customers to turn to for cheaper alternatives. Cutthroat competition was the sole control factor of laissez-faire capitalism. However once a company established a monopoly in the industry, it was able to either prevent small businesses from competing or it simply absorbed the competition by buying out competing businesses (Foner 599). Once monopoly was reached by a company, there was no longer a control factor, and it was able to catapult prices, while economic growth slowed
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