How Much Profit is Too Much Profit?
A team of students led by history professor Sarah Deutsch will do data mining in newspaper and Congressional databases to investigate the dynamics behind the excess profits tax laws Congress passed between 1918 and 1948 and the concept of price gouging which continues to shape legislation today. As of 2018 numerous states have price gouging laws. Why? How did they define what was excessive? How did this critique of profit-making become mainstream without endangering capitalism? By searching extant newspaper and Congressional databases for the frequency and context of particular words and phrases, the project will begin to uncover the logic and language and the partisanship or lack of it used to critique profits at three moments in U.S. History that resulted in government action to limit profit-making.
(cartoon from The Masses July 1916)
Faculty Lead: Sarah Deutsch
Project Manager: Evan Donahue