Talk:Business regulation on the ballot

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Business regulation measures can relate to a number of different specific issues, such as:

  • limitations on conduct of professionals (proximity to the public, for example).
  • regulation of employee selection.
  • mandatory financial reports concerning expenditures and practices, along with punishments for those who hide relationships of conflicts-of-interests or fail to report finances.
  • monetary allotment regulations.
  • employee benefit guarantees.

History of business and regulation

The modern form of the "corporation" or "business" in this country first began to develop near the beginning of the nineteenth century. In the last decade of the eighteenth and the first of the nineteenth, the failure of European business endeavors and the continent's country's vying for the United States' business (both mainly as a result of numerous wars on the European continent at the time) helped to augment the development and influence of industry in this country. The basic structure of the modern business came about when the government would establish and enforce contract laws with entrepreneurs, which allowed both parties to develop easily understood agreements and provisions; to this day, all corporations retain a government charter which spells out privileges, restrictions and duties. At one point during this time, the U.S. chartered over three hundred corporations, while England and France each had about two dozen. In an effort to prevent U.S. hegemony over trade, European countries passed embargoes against U.S. ships and frequently seized those going to other countries. Professional pirates off the coast of Northern Africa and Southern Europe contributed to economic strain, the U.S. was able to recover.

As the United States more efficiently and extensively exploited the abundant natural resources on the continent (iron ore, copper, oil, coal, etc.), the creation for large corporate entities to help establish overarching organizational practices became a necessity. Enterprises had to have the capacity to consolidate the raw material necessary for production, and for that larger hubs of organization had to come together. Companies did this early on mainly by using the newly developed and developing railroad system, with transportation capabilities holding a central place in the future success of a company. The model of for conducting railroad construction, and the advantages this construction gave for transportation, helped shape characteristics of modern large-scale businesses: raising capital through the sale of stocks and bonds; creation of middle management, who handled day-today operational issues, under company executives, who were responsible for the long-term well-being of the enterprise; constant flow of information between the two levels to help match long-term goals with present, material realities; along with others.

The concept of bulk production was also a breakthrough in the development of modern business practices. It is a production technique that relies on heavy investment into plant construction and modern equipment to generate the largest shear number of commodities, a level of investment that was difficult to realize and left many companies in debt. To counter this, the "economy of scale" technique was engineered, in which numerous kinds of goods are produced, rather than just one, to lower the average cost per good.

With all these factor coalescing into a social whole, expansive industrialization and the competitive spirit flourished. Until the early twentieth century, there did yet not exist in the United States a hierarchical hereditary structure that participated in almost constant leisure, and not a particularly large or invasive government. Between the mid and late nineteenth century, however, the rise of immense monopolies began to force Congress to have more of an influence. The two most famous are Standard Oil, begun by John D. Rockefeller in 1870, and U.S. Steel (the world's first billion dollar corporation), formed in 1901 with the help of Andrew Carnegie. Since then, these two companies and figures have been the face of the enormous and restrictive monopolies that were vilified during the Progressive Era.

Congress began to actively develop what are today known as "antitrust" laws, which at base are competitions laws which monitor the practice and enactment of free and open competition. One of the first, and by far the most influential to date, was the Sherman Antitrust Act (1890). While it was meant to specifically target Rockefeller's Standard Oil Company in Ohio, to the present day it still represents the fundamental function and qualities of antitrust laws. It basically outlaws cartels, monopolies, and other business combinations that could limit competition. In the coming years, further legislation would refine the laws. In 1914, two important acts were passed: the Clayton Antitrust Act and the Federal Trade Commission Act. The former specified a lot of the prohibited practices that the Sherman Antitrust Act referred to, along with setting a system of enforcement, exemptions and other measures. The latter established the Federal Trade Commission to promote consumer protection and eliminate harmful, "anti-competitive" acts, such as coercive monopolizing. Standard Oil and U.S. Steel were both carved up into smaller, competitive entities by 1920; the same occurred in other industries such as harvesting, tobacco and meatpacking.

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