History US - Essay Example

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The coming in of Franklin Delano Roosevelt as president of the United States of America was received with great applause because of the many social and economic reforms he brought to the country in what he termed “The New Deal”. According to Folsom (2010), reforms such as…
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THE SUCCESS OF THE WORLD WAR II IN ECONOMIC RECOVERY, THE FAILURE OF THE NEW DEAL AND WAR INFLUENCE ON AMERICAN SOCIETY The coming in of Franklin Delano Roosevelt as president of the United States of America was received with great applause because of the many social and economic reforms he brought to the country in what he termed “The New Deal”. According to Folsom (2010), reforms such as the WPA, AAA, NRA and TVA managed to substantially pull people from the dungeon of economic depression that ravaged the entire USA and the world outside. America slowly started changing for the better. Unfortunately, all these programmes were short lived and failed to create sustainable jobs, provide enough food and homes to millions of Americans. By 1939, the US unemployment still exceeded 20%. The New Deal also raised taxes such that entrepreneurs became discouraged from investing more. As such, the New Deal failed to end the Great Economic Depression.
When World War II started, America hesitated to join until 1942, when about 12 million soldiers were sent overseas to fight alongside the allies to defeat Adolf Hitler. Back home in the US, about 15 million people were employed in the manufacturing of military weapons, machines and equipment. Folsom (2010) and Bohanon (2012) agree that this is the most significant moment of the New Deal because it created more jobs than ever. Many Americans got employed either in the army or the military industry. This again provided an opportunity for production to increase in the US, hence boost the economy. Unfortunately, the produced weapons were not being used by civilians at home. They were sent overseas to be used in the war field. Even the soldiers themselves could not eat weapons. They needed bread, homes and sustainable jobs. On the other hand, taxes were still high such that what people earned could not suffice. As such, life still remained miserable and the quest to end the Economic Depression was far from reality.
According to Folsom (2010), towards the end of the war, in 1944, President Roosevelt started preparing for the post war economic recovery. He drew his vision but died six months before the war ended and before he could implement his post-war America agenda. His successor, Harry Truman, wanted Roosevelt’s agenda implemented but the opposition (Congress) refused vehemently and opted for the opposite. Finally they agreed to totally deviate from the New Deal and adopt a totally new Recovery plan which included the following: no federal program for health care, no full-employment act; only limited federal housing; and no increase in minimum wage or social security benefits. Instead, the Congress reduced taxes across the board. Folsom (2010) further highlights, for example, that the FDR’s top marginal rate, 94% on all income over $200,000 was cut to 86.45%. The lowest cut was from 23% to 19%. They also changed the amount of tax free regimes, which saw about 12 million Americans eliminated from the tax rolls. Congress also trimmed corporate tax rates and completely; and brought top marginal corporate tax rates from 90% to 38% after 1945. The results of the reforms dropped unemployment to 3.9% in 1946 from the double digits in the 1930s. The economy of the US picked again and the Great Economic Depression ended.
Whilst the economic reforms were taking place as explained above, the experiences of war tremendously changed the American society mainly positively. The Digital History (2013) says some notable changes were seen beginning from the 1930s where many marginalized people (e.g. the homeless, hungry, poor) were given their needs through construction of houses and establishment of the social security institutions which exist to date.
Another change was seen in the dressing fashions. In order to save wool and cotton, dresses became shorter and vests, double breasted suits, pleats ruffles and cuffs disappeared. Furthermore, mobility increased from farms and small towns to large urban areas, thereby increasing urban populations from 46% to 53% - a situation which had stagnated during the Great Depression years.
According to the Digital History (2013), the war industries also brought in urban growth. For example, Detroit grew because its automotive industry changed from cars to war vehicles manufacturing. California alone received over 2 million of the 15 million workers in the war industry. Again, women started being increasingly employed in the armed forces. Apart from these, 1 million of the 10 – 13 million African-Americans living in the rural south migrated to the north and more than 2 million worked in defence industries. Discrimination was minimised as more blacks were becoming leaders in the navy. Unfortunately, such positive changes became affected by shortage of resources such as housing; hence more quarrels erupted between whites and blacks. In addition, another positive development was the expansion of farming to serve the urbanites.
From the discussion above, it is clear that the Great Economic Depression collapsed because of the new policies which were introduced after the second world war and not because of the New Deal. The New Deal simply set the roots to economic recovery. The major forces were from the reduced taxes and boost in employment reforms. On the other hand, the war experience brought new changes in the American society that saw high rural urban mobility, change of dressing, women empowerment, urbanization, reduced discrimination and changes in dressing.
Bohanon, C. (2012). Economic Recovery: Lessons from the Post War Period. Retrieved April, 29th, 2014 from
Digital History (2013). Social Changes During the War. Retrieved April, 29th, 2014, from
Folsom JR Burton & Anita Folsom. (2010). Did FDR End the Depression? Wall Street Journal.
Retrieved April, 29th, 2014 from Read More
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