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However, this economic crisis had a profound impact on the American state of California. The Great Depression had hit the western part of the country severely,…
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Assignment Impact of Great Depression on California and EPIC What was the impact of the Great Depression on California?
The Great Depression is not only relevant in the history of America but also critical in the context of world economy. However, this economic crisis had a profound impact on the American state of California. The Great Depression had hit the western part of the country severely, and the impact on California had two major characteristics. First, its economy was severely hit and the detriments were more felt since California was a very promising state with lots of prospective. Second, despite its own plight, the state continued to receive waves of refugees from the other states from Depression. People from Mid West and South West entered California in search of food, shelter, and work. But soon they became a burden on the state economy and in the cities like Oklahoma, San Francisco, etc. crowded refugee colonies could now be discerned.
The Depression had worldwide presence and effects, but it hit California very severely due to its suddenness. “The ‘20s had been an optimistic time. The population had boomed. The Bay Area had grown and prospered, and the population of Southern California had tripled. California was the future. Suddenly, almost overnight, the mood darkened. Businesses that had been expanding suddenly cut back. People were laid off, couldn’t pay their bills, couldn’t find a new job. In those days, there was no such thing as unemployment insurance. No welfare, no social security, nothing.” (Nolte, Paragraphs 3-4)
In his writings, Starr has depicted the situation as very pathetic indeed. There was a dramatic drop in the wages of the agricultural workers just in 4 years during the beginning of the 1930s. By 1934, the number of workers had become almost one and a half times the number of available jobs. The dream of economic boom had been turned into a nightmare. (Starr, 235-251)
2. What was the political platform of EPIC? How did it appeal to voters? Was it successful? Why or why not?
In the United States, there were two major political parties during the beginning of the 20th century. The Democratic Party had a center-left political position, while the Republican Party emerged had emerged as a right wing establishment. This situation continues even today. However, during the Great Depression, tensions increased considerably. There was the emergence of “red scare” (Nolte, Paragraphs 1) and public had become antagonized toward the capitalist order of American democracy. In such a crisis situation, the Democrats moved ahead with a sort of reform agenda and assured the people of a better future and a more responsible scheme of governance. This social democratic approach became the political scaffolding of the End Poverty In California (EPIC) program, and Sinclair (Paragraph 4) emerged as its strong advocate and a socio-political designer of the fiscal scheme. Sinclair was then a member of the Democratic Party, and he wished to avoid the specter of a widespread socio-economic unrest in the country.
Sinclair was an expert in economic depressions and he declared that the Americans should have taken lessons from the economic depression of Germany. He suggested more precision guided financial disbursement programs for the needy, unemployed people and advocated the usage of “warehouse receipts or labor certificates” (Sinclair, Paragraph 5) instead of paper money. Sinclair was running for the senate elections of the state, and people voted in his favor in large numbers. EPIC soon took the form of a popular movement.
Although Sinclair was able to receive large support, he could not defeat his Republican rival in the elections. Hence, EPIC was never materialized. EPIC was aimed at reestablishing the defunct private firms as production units for public utility through cooperative management. This socialistic approach, however, inspired many young and energetic idealists who would turn into future leaders of the Democratic Party in the state. Sinclair’s efforts were unsuccessful due to the strong reactionary resistance from the Republicans, but it became an ideological success in the context of Californian liberal thought.
Works Cited
Nolte, Carle. “TOUGH TIMES, TOUGH PEOPLE / The Great Depression hit the West hard, just like it did every place else, but many who were young in those roiling years remember the 30s as the best years of their lives.” San Francisco Chronicle. 1999. Web. 21 May 2012. Sinclair, Upton. “Upton Sinclair, the California EPIC Movement – 1934.” The Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco. (authored: 1934, electronically updated: 2012). Web. 21 May 2012. Starr, Kevin. California: A History/Volume 23 of Modern Library Chronicles. New York: Random House Publishing Group, 2007. Print. Read More
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