The Depression Essay Research Paper Depression of — страница 3

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have to fear is fear itself.” But though his New Deal grappled with economic problems throughout his first two terms, it had no consistent policy. At first Roosevelt tried to stimulate the economy through the National Recovery Administration, charged with establishing minimum wages and codes of fair competition in every industry. It was based on the idea of spreading work and reducing unfair competitive practices by means of cooperation in industry, so as to stabilize production and prevent the price slashing that had begun after 1929. This approach was abandoned after the Supreme Court declared the NRA unconstitutional in Schecter Poultry Corporation V. United States (1935). Roosevelt’s second administration gave more emphasis to public works and other government

expenditures as a means of stimulating the economy, but it did not pursue this approach vigorously enough to achieve full economic recovery. At the end of the 1930s, unemployment was estimated at 17.2%. Other innovations of the Roosevelt administrations had long-lasting effects, both economically and politically. To aid people who could find no work, the New Deal extended federal relief on a vast scale. The Civilian Conservation Corps took young men off the streets and sent them out to plant forests and drain swamps. The government refinanced about one-fifth of farm mortgages through the Farm Credit Administration and about one-sixth of home mortgages through the Home Owners Loan Corporation. The Works Progress Administration employed an average of over 2 million people in

occupations ranging from laborers to musicians and writers. The Public Works Administration spent about $4 billion on the construction of highways and public buildings in the years 1933-39. The depression years saw a burst of union organizing, aided by the National Labor Relations Act of 1935. New industrial unions came into existence through the efforts of organizers led by John L. Lewis, Walter Reuther, Philip Murray, and others; in 1937 they won contracts in the steel and auto industries. Total union membership rose from about 3 million in 1932 to over 10 million in 1941. The expanded role of the federal government came to be accepted by most Americans by the end of the 1930s. Even Republicans who had bitterly opposed the New Deal shifted their stance. Wendell Wilkkie, the

Republican presidential nominee in 1940, declared that he could not oppose reforms such as the regulation of the securities markets and the utility holding companies, the legal recognition of unions, or Social Security and unemployment allowances. What bothered him and other opponents of the New Deal, however, was the extension of the federal bureaucracy. The depression caused much questioning of inherited economic and political ideas. Sen. Huey P. Long of Louisiana found a national following for his “Share the Wealth” program. The socialist writer Upton Sinclair was nearly elected governor of California in 1934 with a similar program for redistributing the state’s wealth. Many writers and other intellectuals swung even further left, concluding that capitalism was on its

way out; they were drawn to the Communist party by what they supposed to be the accomplishments of the USSR. In other countries the depression had even more profound effects. As world trade fell off, countries turned to nationalist economic policies that only exacerbated their difficulties. In politics the depression strengthened the extremes of right and left, helping Adolf Hitler to power in Germany and swelling left-wing movements in other European countries. The depression was thus a time of massive insecurity among peoples and governments, contributing to the tensions that produced World War II. Ironically, however, the massive military expenditures for that war provided the economic stimulus that finally ended the depression in the United States and elsewhere. Bernstein,

Irving, A Caring Society: The New Deal, the Worker and the Great Depression (1985). Boardman, Fon W., Jr., The Thirties: America and the Great Depression (1967). Davis, Joseph S., The World Between the Wars, 1919-39: An Economist’s View (1974). Kindleberger, Charles P., The World in Depression, 1929-1939 (1975; repr. 1983). Markowitz, Gerald, and Rosner, David, eds., Slaves of the Depression (1987). Wecter, Dixon, Age of the Great Depression, 1929-1941 (1971).