Technology and Society: The Influence of Machines in the United States

By S. Mckee Rosen ; Laura Rosen | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVIII
THE CHANGING FEDERAL SYSTEM: THE STATES

Government and Technology

Government at all levels—national, state, and local—reflects the impact of technological change. The impetus which science and invention have given to organization and integration is manifest in all phases of economic life. As a result there emerge needed adjustments which concern all citizens. Unemployment, industrial instability, agricultural distress, exploitation of labor and of the consumer, danger to American industries arising from the importation of low-priced foreign goods, interference with free competition because of monopoly, the hazards of crime and disease—these are problems of vital concern to government, problems which the machine age has brought to the fore.

Sometimes the inventional origin leading to a political change is readily identified. The autobus and better roads bring in the consolidated school and district; the automobile results in national road financing and in the need for wider police regulation. The super-power line and the national holding company bring federal regulation of electric power; the means of shipping freight across wide distances introduces the necessity for national regulation of interstate commerce. More often than from single inventions, however, and indeed always in part, social change comes directly and indirectly because of a whole mass of inventions and innovations.

Closer National Ties.Of particular note in the light of technological developments is the trend toward consolidation and centralization in government. Almost all of the many inventions in transport and communication tend to enlarge the areas of government administration. They do

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