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The second new deal: lasting change - Essay Example

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While Roosevelt's administration implemented a variety of programs that were designed to stop the economic turmoil in 1933, many of his later programs were more ideologically based and had a greater impact on society's future…
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The second new deal: lasting change
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Download file to see previous pages While Roosevelt's administration implemented a variety of programs that were designed to stop the economic turmoil in 1933, many of his later programs were more ideologically based and had a greater impact on society's future.The New Deal has often been viewed as one of the most dramatic set of programs ever to restructure the American political landscape. The initial programs that were created to alleviate the suffering of poverty were largely temporary and were disbanded after their purpose had been served. The Civil Works Administration, which found jobs for over 4 million people, was shut down in the spring of 1934 but was replaced by more important programs such as the Works Progress Administration and Public Works Administration (Garraty 909). The Second New Deal beginning in 1935 created more ideologically based programs that were long lasting and continue to impact American life.Many of Roosevelt's New Deal programs were slow to develop. Roosevelt's first term was marked by a rejection of the more radical ideas and programs that were later put forth in his second term (Kirkendall 848). The concept of the minimum wage law was a direct result of legislation passed in the New Deal era under Roosevelt. The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1935 contained a minimum wage provision that was opposed by industry and the labor unions, yet Roosevelt was able to move it through Congress (Manza 311). As late as 1937, Roosevelt's administration was still drafting bills that would increase the minimum wage by as much as 30% over the existing market rate (Jensen 572). The ideology of a minimum wage was contrary to traditional American capitalism and was passed by the Roosevelt administration, not for political expediency, but for a sociological belief that everyone was entitled to a minimum level of subsistence.
The National Labor Relations Act of 1935 was a broad shift in power away from the industrialists and into the hands of the unions and more importantly the workers, which were viewed as socialist instruments. Though many seen this Act as merely a way to stem the rising tide of strikes, it was only one of several alternatives that the administration considered (Skocpol, Finegold, and Goldfield 1299). The fact that Roosevelt took this unpopular and difficult stance is evidence that it was ideologically based. Goldfield writes that, "Pluralists made a significant advance over the old conservative elite theories by stressing the importance of societal influence on the political process" (Skocpol, Finegold, and Goldield 1312). These were not the short-term remedies for the economy; these were lasting effects on the philosophy of government.
The Social Security and welfare policies of Roosevelt's second term strengthen the argument that his programs were heavily influenced by ideology. Roosevelt has been criticized as "The most openly socialist leader ever to occupy the White House, and his policies reflected a firm belief that government should control business and redistribute wealth" (Snyder). The Social Security Act was the most important piece of legislation that defined this ideological purpose of government. The Act established unemployment insurance, old age insurance, and the Aid to Dependent Children program. It would form the backbone of a limited welfare state that has continued to grow. The political ramifications are still a center of debate. Manza contends that, "...the Social Security Act and the Wagner Act resulted directly from the pressures brought to bear on state managers by New Deal era social movements" (300). These were programs that were implemented not for their political and economic popularity, but rather due to the groundswell of support by ideologically driven social reformists. The shift in power away from the laissez faire industrialists of the early 20th century and toward the concept of the greater good was a redefinition of government's role in society ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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