The Jungle by Upton Sinclair was published almost century ago and it showed the Americans the problems that existed in the early nineteenth century, the industrialization timeline. Sinclair’s target was the workers who were mistreated in various workplaces, such as the meat packing companies in Chicago, so that they may be treated fairly. Sinclair wanted a future society where common people (those mostly that worked at the workplaces) to form a group and rule with their own rules which would be just in their eyes, much like a union.
However, after the book was published, the readers were more traumatized by the fact of what the people were consuming in their food than the social problems. Sinclair says, “I aimed at the public’s heart…and by accident I hit in the stomach. ” (pg3). After several years, Sinclair fighting the injustice system, finally society began to change and started to form unions in various meatpacking industries. However those unions didn’t last too long as fast food industries started impact the society in the 1960’s.
Now almost century has past and another book was written, Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. Fast Food Nation faces somewhat similar issues like The Jungle, for example, the poor treatment of employees, the importance of mass production, and the immigrant issues. Once again, after Fast Food Nation was published, I believe people were more shocked of fast food than the concerns of the social problem that was mentioned in the book. The main problem of both books is the major industries like meatpacking and fast food companies.
In Fast Food Nation it was the fast food industries and mass producing of food products and in The Jungle it was the meat packing plant that controlled the major part of the society. In both cases I believe it is the greed of money and power giant industries that causes social problems in workplace. Generations has passed since The Jungle was published but yet in today’s world it isn’t the children that are working but it is the youth of teens. I see minor differences between the children and the young teens that are employed by the giant industries.
One thing that I see changed since The Jungle was written is the children back in early nineteenth century worked to contribute to the families that were going through some of the harsh times. Sinclair writes, “and there was no reason why their family should starve when tens of thousands of children no older were earning their own livings. ”(pg155) Now days the young adults work for the extra income so that they may spend it on materialistic things of the world. Where the problem isn’t how hungry the family is but how they’re accepted in the eyes of their peer groups.
Schlosser mentions about a group of high school teens saying, “A lot of kids at Harrison don’t save any of the money earned at their fast food jobs. They buy beepers, cellular phones, stereos, and designer clothes. ”(pg81) They work so that they may buy that car, jewelry, shoes, clothing, accessories, and etc. It is the blame on current society where media shows to our young teens that fame and acceptance is far more important than the hard working parents who provides for them.
After several generations, the work for income may have changed with slight difference but one thing that hasn’t changed is the big industries looking to make profit. One of those ways is making sure wages are just bare minimum to the workers. Just like The Jungle over century ago those people were paid bare minimum so that industries like meat packing may increase profit for themselves. Thus the effect on this went on to the workers. Sinclair explains Jurgis effect of this type of payment saying “found them still living thus from hand to mouth, hanging on day by day, with literally not a month’s wages between hem and starvation. (pg135) Many workers in Sinclair’s time couldn’t complain because without this bare minimum wages they wouldn’t even survive the captialist’s greedy world. Even now major retailers, such as fast food industry, also want to pay the minimum that the state requires. “Consequently, a low minimum wage has long been a crucial part of the fast food industry’s business plan. ” (pg73) In Fast Food Nation they even go have a system in put. They make sure most workers work forty hours a week and no more for after forty hours they have to pay overtime.
They even go further making sure the employees work during busy hours and during slow hours they’re either let go to go home. “Managers try to make sure that each wrker is employed less than forty hours a week, thereby avoiding any overtime payments…the chains keep their labor costs to a bare minimum. ”(pg74) Both the past and the modern industries found the value in production of speed, which comes with quantity, and time that is not wasted as they saw time as money. The quicker the product in produced the quantity and profit they see in making.
The Jungle shows where the meat packing industries speeded up their meat cutters so that they may get the most out of it. “In piece-work they would reduce the time, requiring the same work in a shorter time, and paying the same wages; and then, after the workers had accustomed themselves to this new speed, they would reduce the rate of payment to correspond with the reduction in time! ”(pg144) Only problem was the faster the work was done the earlier the employees were let go to go home without pay. Therefore, the workers tried to work longer while delaying sometimes.
Another problem with speed up process was the chance of getting hurt such as losing a body part due to speeding up. Fast Food Nation where it may not be same as speeding things up but it was speeding production they set their eyes on. They found out more quickly and speeder the food was produced more profit and customers. “At the dawn of the fast food era, IBP became a meatpacking company with a fast food mentality, obsessed with throughput, efficiency, centralization, and control. ”(pg 154) Immigrants at work. Both books tell the reader about immigrants and their conflicts.
How in The Jungle immigrants were hired to work at Meatpacking plants and in the Fast Food Nation immigrants were hired to work at fast food industries and other low pay jobs. The problem with immigrants was that they were coming to America for a better life, the so called American Dream. What they found out was the opposite of what they were hoping for. Another issue that they faced was the language barrier where they weren’t able to communicate. The Jungle shows us when Jurgis did in trial and his unfairly tried due to him not know English to defend himself.
Fast Food Nation, shows immigrant workers at meat packing plants where a one would get hurt yet they may not be compensated due to they were illegals or that they couldn’t justify their lawsuits. (current lawsuits). The reason for hiring these immigrants is clear. It the fact that they can’t form a union to protect their rights of working and also they need the money however they can. If people were told the truths about the greed and unjustice system that these so called fast food industries things may change.
It is the face people are uncomfortable about the reality of where their food comes from. If every American was lead to these slaughter houses and the stockades of where the meats are would people still continue to eat fast food? People already know partial truth to this and it is why I believe they just want to ignore it. The government most part can’t help with these situation because one way or the other most are connected to these major companies either getting paid for their political campaign.
Therefore who do we really need to look to change things that is practically ruining the nation and perhaps the world. It should be us, the people, that should strive for a change. Bust as long as people are greedy for money and power I doubt that we’ll see a change soon unless it is too late to see the whole truth.
Sinclair, Upton. The Jungle. Boston/New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2005. Print. Schlosser, Eric. Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2001. Print.