American Imperialism

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How does US imperialism and Manifest Destiny impact American workplaces today?

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In many ways, one can consider imperialism the forerunner of globalization. The original British settlement of North America was an example of imperialism in which Britain, an advanced industrial nation, used imperialism to obtain raw materials for manufacturing. When the United States became independent and developed its own industries and technologies, it began to exert its own imperialistic power to source raw materials and cheap labor from less developed countries.

This ability to project power and exploit cheaper labor and natural resources across the globe has led to a hollowing out of the employment sector, with low-skilled jobs being outsourced to low-wage countries and many extractive industries moving to countries with lower wages and fewer environmental regulations. This leads to an increasing economic disparity between the educated workforce needed by the skilled jobs remaining in the United States and the employment problems experienced by people without advanced education whose jobs are now outsourced to less-developed countries.

A major effect of Manifest Destiny was territorial expansion of the United States. The railroads were built and encouraged by the government in part to facilitate that expansion and created the beginnings of an extensive transportation network that has enhanced GDP. The Homestead Act of May 20, 1862, was designed to encourage westward expansion and led to much of the development of agriculture in the midwest and western United States.

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To answer this question, we have to consider the way Manifest Destiny and imperialism have evolved over time. Initially, Manifest Destiny was the expansion of the United States across the North American continent. While that's shifted to an expansion of US businesses based around the world, it's also influenced the way individual US-based companies work.

On a smaller scale, Manifest Destiny has become the theoretically justified expansion of individual companies within the US. Take, for example, oil companies. They find a rich plot of land that would be good for their business and justify taking it to further their company expansion—similar to how the US originally expanded from east to west. They're constantly looking for plots of land in unclaimed areas, so to speak—somewhere they can expand their business and thrive without the interference from a competitor.

Imperialism is a bit in the same vein when we look at it as confined within the US. Company CEOs and business leaders use their power to expand their businesses to certain regions, sometimes competing with each other to get the land. We also have to look a bit at politics and how people running for office seats (ranging anywhere from town mayor to seats in Congress to the president) use their influence to garner votes and support from the people. The government offices are in and of themselves workplaces, ones where diplomatic influence holds great weight.

So, Manifest Destiny has shifted to a larger expansion of American workplaces growing across the world. But both Manifest Destiny and imperialism also affect how our government works and even how US-based businesses establish their growth within the continent.

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The concept behind Manifest Destiny is still alive and well in the United States today. The United States continues to see the spread of its brand of capitalism as an extension of promoting democracy and prosperity all over the world. Many consumer goods come from overseas, as they can be produced cheaply there due to less stringent labor laws. The United States uses its industrial might to create these economic "colonies" in order to make goods cheaper for US citizens at home. While it may not be called imperialism, the United States often uses its military might to ensure that its trade networks are not disrupted. While this is not the same as owning colonies, the United States does intervene heavily in nations that have American interests, such as Iraq.

Historically, American imperialism still plays a major role in the workplace. The concept of Manifest Destiny opened up the Pacific coast to American expansion, and this has been a jumping-off point for the lucrative trade that the United States currently enjoys with Asian countries. While the United States no longer owns the Panama Canal, it benefits greatly from its use, as this has made overseas shipping faster. In the grocery industry, the United States enjoys lower-cost sugar and pineapple from Hawai'i since it does not have to pay a duty on it. This was made possible with the American annexation of the Hawai'ian Islands in 1898.

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One way in which American imperialist policies and the idea of Manifest Destiny affect American workplaces today is that many of our goods and raw materials come from abroad. American consumers rely on inexpensive finished goods, such as cotton t-shirts, that are often made in sweatshops in the developing world. While the countries in which these goods are made, such as India or China, may not technically be controlled by the United States, this economic situation is a result of American imperialist policies that focused on industrial development in the US and the procurement of resources and goods at cheap rates from other countries.

As a result, the jobs that are available in the US are generally not in the production of goods. Instead, the United States has moved toward a service sector economy. Even some of our services, such as telephone customer service centers, have moved to India and other nations. As a result, while we have eliminated some lower-paying jobs, we do not have a wealth of good jobs for people without skills or without college education.

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