Multimedia Collection

(Capitalism, Socialism, Communism series)

25 minutes
HB501 .C24231 1986

Capitalism explores the origins of this economic system, its relationship to the Industrial Revolution in Britain, and its further development in the United States. While examining the early stages of industrialization in England we meet Adam Smith, the Scottish philosopher who documented the social and economic changes taking place in 18th-century Europe. Smith believed that competition among merchants would inevitably improve everyone's standard of living and that government regulation in a capitalist economy was unnecessary and undesirable.

The film accounts for the eventual involvement of government in capitalist economies by discussing the development of the transcontinental railroads in the United States. In the 19th century first the railroads and then other large industries formed monopolies and trusts that enabled them to eliminate competition and to take advantage of workers and consumers. The government was forced to intervene. During the Great Depression of the 1920s and '30s, President Franklin D. Roosevelt created thousands of jobs in the United States through government investment in the economy. The government took a more active role, investing as well as regulation.

The nature of capitalist enterprise today is discussed by a representative of American Airlines and by a delicatessen owner, who explain how the capitalist system works in both a big corporation and a small business. The film also examines the standard of living and the process of innovation in a capitalist economy.

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