The Effects Of The Great Depression Essay — страница 2

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100,000 of them by October of 1931. Baltimore & Ohio Railroad’s earnings were down 33% from 1929, and 20,000 workers had been laid off (Romasco 139). Those employed in cities did no better. 18% of Cincinatti, and 26% of Buffalo, was unemployed, alongside a million people in New York City (Meltzer 29). In Chicago, two out of every five people, a full 624,000 people, had no job (Romasco 155). One of the first things to be lost in poverty is the luxury of eating well, or at all. As an Illinois commoner wrote to Hoover, “The emty stomack does not recogniz no laws” (qtd. in McElvaine 81). “There is not,” Edmund Wilson reported, “a garbage dump in Chicago which isn’t diligently hunted by the hungry.” Thomas Wolfe, one of the social voices of the Depression, seemed

to die a little each time he saw such sights. As he wrote, “…the unending repercussions of these scenes of suffering, violence, oppression, hunger, cold, and the filth and poverty going on unherded in a world in which the rich were still rotten with their wealth, left a scar upon my life” (qtd. in Boardman 32). The point that Hoover did little to relieve such problems was seized upon by progressives in the Republican party, and almost led to the formation of a third party. Henrik Shipstead, a congressman in the early 30s, commented that “Before the Roman revolution, when the people became discontented and hungry, they were given a loaf of bread and a circus. Now we can only give them a circus” (qtd. in Feinman 19). The first to feel the effects of malnutrition were

children. “I said to the teachers last fall,” a Chicago school principal testified, “‘Whenever you have a discipline case, ask this question first, ‘What has he had for breakfast?”, which usually brings out the fact that he has had nothing at all” (qtd. in Meltzer 93). In New York City, one-fifth of public school students were malnurished (Boardman 64). Besides malnutrition, children also had to deal with the massive school financial problems of the era. In a time when going to school meant the possibility of getting a better job to get more money for the family, more and more were closing. By 1933, some 2,600 schools had closed, disrupting the education of over ten million children (Meltzer 46). Another one of the effects of the Depression was migration due to the

loss of housing. 1931 was the first year in which more people left the United States than entered it (Boardman 30). The next year, over 273,000 families lost their homes through foreclosure. Early in 1933, a thousand houses a day were being taken away by mortgage holders (Meltzer 65). In that same year, an estimated million people spent their lives riding the rails (Boardman 30). Roughly a quarter of these transients were under 21. Many had been to high school, and some had even gone to college (Meltzer 49). 1932, the third full year of the Depression, saw even more hardships for the citizens of the United States. The number of unemployed strafed the 13 million mark (Boardman 46). Among those with jobs were some very low-paid workers. In Chicago, a department store saleslady

would earn between five and 25 cents an hour. Sawmill workers in Pennsylvania earned a nickel an hour, and non-union coal miners were paid $1.50 for a day’s work. Sweatshops in Connecticut paid girls 60 cents to a dollar for a 55-hour week, and farmworkers averaged a wage of a dollar and change for a day of work (Meltzer 108). Mirroring the descent of the peoples’ wages was the fall in the national economy. The gross national production of the entire country, which in 1929 was $104 billion, was down to $58.5 billion (Boardman 46). Some 4,000 banks failed between the stock market crash and the beginning of 1933 (Boardman 64). In the same time period, consumption expenditures went down 18%, construction decreased by 78%, investments declined by 98%, and the unemployment rate

fell from 3.2% to an astonishing 24.9% (McElvaine 75). Before 1933 was out, 85,000 businesses had failed, with losses of $4.5 billion (Meltzer 65). Despite all of this economic chaos, there were so many goods being produced that some of them had to be destroyed, while people in dire need of it froze and starved. To quote John M. Keynes, “In all our thoughts and feelings and projects for the betterment of things, we should have it at the back of our heads that this is not a crisis of poverty, but a crisis of abundance” (qtd. in Romasco 3). As the Depression deepened in 1932-33, a vocal minority felt that the only solution to the problems of the time was revolution. A good deal of the members of the Communist and Socialist parties believed that this was the end of the American