In 1929, 9. 5 million people in the USA were unemployed. This unemployment problem was only improved, exclusively because of the start of the Second World War. The war meant that many people had to be drafted into the US army and that meant that more people got jobs. Roosevelt’s New Deal did not improve the employment structure. Roosevelt did, however, help make sure that the depression didn’t get any worse than it already was when he came into power. Within the first four years of his government (1933-1937), unemployment dropped by an immense 5. 1 million.
Roosevelt also used the Federal Government to set up something called ‘deficit funding’. He wanted to help rectify the situation in America, even if it meant that he had to spend the money he never had. He used ‘deficit funding’, which were a number of loans, in order to keep pumping money into the economy. Roosevelt’s aim was to bring everybody in the country back into employment, but this never happened. The Federal Emergency Relief Act (FERA) was set up as an emergency measure in order to stop starvation. This worked by giving grants to local governments, who gave money to the most needy, in order to keep them from starving.
This was a success to an extent because it provided very much needed help for the poorest people in society and stopped them from starving. However, this was only a short-term measure and did not really help the general economic crisis that America was facing. The PWA (The Public Works Administration) and WPA (The Works Progress Administration) were specially set up for unemployed and unskilled workers. The PWA had good projects such as building roads, schools, and hospitals. The WPA helped find temporary jobs for unskilled workers.
These two alphabet agencies were not successful, as many people complained that the government was ‘boondoggling’ – wasting taxpayer’s money. This was because some jobs were very unskilled and did not provide money back to the economy. An example of such a job was where people were employed to burst balloons to scare pigeons away.
This did, however, give the unskilled workers doing this job a certain self-esteem, as they thought they were doing something for the community as a whole. The CCC (The Civilian’s Conservation Corps) was set up especially for young males (under 25 years old).It got approximately 3 million people back into work and it incorporated some very good projects. It got many men improving the countryside, such as strengthening riverbanks, fish farming, planting trees and many other things. The problem of this Alphabet Agency was that it was only aimed at young men and the older men weren’t given jobs. The HOLC (The Homeowner’s Loan Corporation) gave loans to homeowners in order for them to allow keeping their homes. This was commendable as it allowed people to have somewhere to live. Nevertheless, this did not help the people who rented properties.
However, the WPA, CCC and PWA produced jobs that made men feel socially useful and it did revive the American economy. The HOLC helped people to keep hold of their properties. The New Deal aimed to improve industry and to make America’s business sector booming again. There was also an issue of long term unemployment. To halt America’s economic problems, Roosevelt introduced the Emergency Banking Act. This aimed to help banks to be successful. Furthermore, Roosevelt went onto American radio to get people to send their money back into the banks.The aim of this was to restore the confidence of investments into people and to do this they made all the weak banks remain closed for at least four days and that allowed the stronger banks to regroup and begin to prosper again.
This Act meant that more and more people were confident again into the banking system. Roosevelt also brought about the Securities Act, which aimed at restoring people’s confidence in investing in shares by making the businesses issue full information about themselves to the public when buying their shares. These acts restored people’s confidence back into the banking system and the stock exchange.However, big businesses could have undermined the aims of the New Deal as they didn’t like to be told how to be run and the businessmen were not very happy with the fact that the New Deal ordained to them about how the business should be run. The AAA (Adjustment Administration Act) scheme helped farmers as it bought overproduced crops. It kept a future limitation on production to keep prices high. This helped farmers immensely.
However, this meant that many workers on the farm were made jobless or they had much less work to do, therefore earning less money and not being able to afford many things.Also, when the quantity was reduced the price of the crops increased and that meant that people of America had to pay more money for food, which they could not afford. People also criticised Roosevelt of being unfair and only concentrating on certain farming regions and not others. The New Deal never managed to solve the problem of long-term unemployment. Some critics said that agencies and schemes were made to make people employees of the government. Roosevelt attacked these critics by cutting government support.
The consequence of this was that in 1938, there was another depression and the unemployment levels shot up from 7. million (1937) to 10. 4million (1938). Roosevelt tried to reverse this mistake but was unable to. Thankfully for him, the war lowered the unemployment rate as America needed people to fight the war for them and production had to be high during the war as well and therefore, solving America’s economic problems. Roosevelt could not find, even though he tried very hard, the level of prosperity America was at during the ’20s through the New Deal. However, it managed to hold the depression and stopped it from getting worse.
As part of his aims on reform, Roosevelt wanted to create a fairer society.The New Deal set up alphabet agencies to combat this problem as well. The NRA helped to improve working environment and conditions of people and the Collective Bargaining Act tried to ensure fair pay for workers by giving more strength to unions. The Supreme Court tried to hinder these two acts as they thought that it was unconstitutional. The Wagner Act was set up to stop mistreatment of workers, but companies found ways around strikes.
They hired strike breakers, who used to beat up people that were causing the strike.However, despite numerous strikes in 1937, the New Deal laws did result in 80% of strikes being settled in the favour of the workers. This meant that the rights of workers increased but this hindered economic growth when workers went on strike. This was a contradiction to Roosevelt’s aims. The New Deal did very little to help the extremely poor and the blacks. The poorest in society were mainly the blacks.
Nevertheless, the New Deal did provide much needed emergency aid to stop people from starving. There was very little to stop the racial attacks that were taking place on the blacks.Laws that were going to be passed that would stop lynching were rejected, as Roosevelt did not support these bills. Roosevelt needed to sacrifice the well being of certain groups in society to ensure his New Deal got through to people. The reason why Roosevelt did not help the blacks was because he wanted the support of the people in the south of the country (those who were predominantly racist). Roosevelt did not even support the anti-lynching campaign. However, two schemes that did help the blacks, was the WPA and the Federal Music Project as this brought the blacks and integrated them into society, while also giving them something to do.Some women believed that they were not being aimed at in the New Deal, and all the support was going towards the men, and that this was biased.
This argument was based upon the fact that women did not earn as much as the men, in fact, they were only paid 1/2 the wage that men were paid and black women were paid even less. Also, men had more rights than women. Plus, to get into a job, the potential employees had to get Welfare, or had to be tested, to see if they passed a test. This was humiliating and degrading, as those that could not pass the test were seen as daft.This meant that social justice was limited, as it was prejudiced in some areas. Roosevelt did, however, appoint the first ever female politician into his government, which could hint that he was trying to improve society for the better. This demonstrated that the advance to create a more fair society was too slow. There were many opposition groups to Roosevelt and the New Deal and that would hint that the New Deal was not a complete success as each opposition group hindered the progress of the New Deal.
The opposition also meant that Roosevelt would never have all of the public support.Firstly the Republican Party (the opposition party) said that some of the relief was a waste of taxpayers money. They also said that the government should not interfere with people’s lives as this made people too dependent on the government for their income. They also mentioned that the government should definitely not interfere in business and industries. The businessmen also argued about this point as well. Businessmen said that the New Deal was interfering in their freedom to run their business. The businesses wanted Laissez Faire, free trade, because the government interference would be bad for business.However they did agree with fairness to workers.
The States Rights campaigners protested that the New Deal contested with the rights of states to make their own legislations. Out of the New Deal legislation’s that contended with the rights of the state authorities, one in particular was TVA (The Tennessee Valley Authority). This forced the state to follow.
The radicals said that the government wasn’t doing enough. Their leader Huey Long (until his death in 1935) was the senator for Louisiana. His moral ideals were that the rich should share their money with the poor.Due to this, he began the ‘share the wealth’ campaign, in which, he desired to expropriate over $3million of private fortunes in order to fund the poor. A man called Dr Frances Townsend wanted pensioners to receive $200 per month. Nevertheless, the main rivalry for Roosevelt was the Supreme Court, which included of nine judges.
These were mainly rebuplicans. The Supreme Court decreed that many of the legislations in the New Deal were unlawful and unconstitutional. His election victory allowed Roosevelt to retire some of the judges and appoint new ones in their place.
Facing this threat, many judges passed judgement in Roosevelt’s favour. However, this threat made Roosevelt unpopular, as the Supreme Court was seen to uphold justice and was seen as the guardian of the constitution. He was seen as wanting to be a dictator to many people. Roosevelt’s ideals were changing the face of America. Local authorities did not have many rights as they were told what to do by the government and he introduced a new policy, which saw the government interfering in industry and business. The Supreme Court said that many of the New Deal’s legislations were unconstitutional. Some of these were the AAA and NIRA.Roosevelt was under the impression that if he challenged the Supreme Court, the people of America would take his side.
However, the opposite happened because most people supported the Supreme Court. This hindered the economic development in America as well. It also humiliated Roosevelt and he was more careful with his new suggestions. He cut back on spending and there was a big dip in America’s economy (1938). The unemployment rate went up by 2. 7 million in just one year.
The Supreme Court tried to put obstacles in his path. This made it very hard for Roosevelt to bring reform through the New Deal.Also, the congress elections that were held made it harder for Roosevelt to achieve his aims. Personally, I feel that if Roosevelt had been allowed to do what he wanted, the New Deal would have been more successful. In conclusion, I think that it must be acknowledged that Roosevelt was willing to experiment in order to bring America out of its economic slump. However, he had to make sure that he struck a fine balance. He had to make sure that he gave enough money into society so that he could stimulate the economy, but he also had to make sure that he didn’t spend too much money otherwise it would have been seen as a waste.His polices were also seen as inconsistent because they concentrated on some areas and not on others.
He also undermined the constitution when he threatened the Supreme Court. However, personally I think that Roosevelt tried his best to bring America out of its economic slump and he was successful at this to a certain extent. After he came into power the economic crisis did improve.
However, he didn’t bring the country back to full employment and potential like he promised. The New Deal showed that the federal government should have a part to play in the governments running.The government also regulated other areas of society in order to improve people’s lives.
The New Deal provided immediate help for the underprivileged as the unemployment rates dropped by 1. 5 million in one year. The nation’s resources developed for the future. However, World War Two solved America’s problems and not the New Deal. Personally, I think that the New Deal was not a complete success, as it didn’t bring the country back to full employment like Roosevelt had promised, and it was World War 2 that managed to put many people back at work.