Before the Industrial Revolution, people lived a lifetime in one location. They rarely traveled more than a few miles from where they were born. Everything one needed was self-supplied or supplied by someone in the immediate area.
Therefore everybody knew everybody. The morals and ethics of the community, such as they were, were developed and enforced by local people. A businessman or craftsman had to try his best to be honest or the community would come down on him. The local clergyman, usually the only person in the community with an education, held power to advance and coordinate ethics and morals. And dependent on the nature and/or fundamentalism of the local religious agreement, moral law could be enforced with a very strong hand. That included the more serious crimes.
Naturally a sort of heirarchy existed, but generally things were kept to a fairly tight range of morals and ethics. And mythological means were often used to frighten people and keep them in line.
With the Industrial Revolution came mechanized transportation and production. This meant that things could be produced long distances away and shipped to an area. No longer was there the close bond between producer or merchant and consumer. One could buy a commodity and never have met the producer. This was revolutionary. Cities developed. People became less and less in tune with their neighbors, let alone a company many miles away that was headed by an unknown person.
Coupled with the large disparity in wealth, the opportunity for cheating and lying and double-dealing came into play often. There was less and less of community enforcement.
The general public was willing to sacrifice much of this prior closeness and relative honesty for the sake of conveniences brought by the Industrial Revolution. And people began to desire more material things. Thus wages were important. People were no longer required to make things for themselves. They worked long and hard hours for the new possessions. And the industrialists never missed a chance to make an extra dollar from cheap labor, even if it meant exploiting children. Some children died in the sweat shops. Industrialists were morally immune to this. Industrialists accumulated huge estates and assets. They became the rulers and the workers became the serfs again.
Using Middle Ages caste systems, the new serfs and slaves built a mechanized life and nation. The United States, taking the leading role, developed a certain pride in its materialism. Oceans separated we Americans from our forebearers and our home-grown pride began to show.
Labor unions developed to try and protect workers from the most horrible abuses, and led the fight for child labor laws. By the 1930s and 1940s a social compact was beginning to devlelop and more and more legislation was passed during the New Deal Era and shortly afterwards to make life better for the average American, the elderly, students, etc.
This all began to change and revert back to an industrial oligarchy during the Nixon years, but especially during the Reagan years. The seeds were sown for what has become a neo-conservatism. The conservatism of Robert Taft and William F. Buckley was fading. And out of the ashes of European fascism and Nazism [supported often by American industrialists like Henry Ford and du Pont] came a right-wing, greed powerhouse. This neo-conservatism is fueled by right-wing greed merchants of untold wealth who buy what they want....even nations.
The actions of these greed-capitalists are unknown to most Americans. They operate pretty much in their own self-made world. The horrible example of the greed on Wall Street that brought down the U.S. economy during the George W. Bush years goes unpunished. The United States of American more and more operates as a commodity of big business. And the big businesses want to keep costs down, and fight anything that might make them pay taxes.....not their fair share of taxes, but ANY taxes.
The malaise in Washington, D.C. is stagnated by this fight by big business for total control of our government, local to national. Even our foreign policy becomes a reflection of certain ethnic, religious, or greed groups. You are being told it is the fault of progressives, liberals, labor unions, etc. People like that are becoming less and less influential in America. We are owned by people like the Koch brothers, not by the voting public.
Wake up America! .....................................or is it already too late?