Saturday, June 25, 2011

History Repeated

I decided to spend the day searching for little snippets of life during The Great Depression. See if anything sounds familiar.

The New Georgia Encyclopedia

The New Deal and Recovery

The New Deal's implementation in Georgia, however, was stalled by Governor Eugene Talmadge, who was elected in 1932 on a platform of cutting taxes and state services. He characterized Roosevelt and the New Deal as an outside intrusion into the state's local affairs and a "communistic experiment." He did everything he could (with some success) to slow the New Deal's arrival in the state. However, Talmadge did little to address the state's economic crisis,...”

The Great Depression in South Carolina

”The education system during the Great Depression was also affected.  Rural, southern, and black schools were already the most poorly funded and felt the effects the most.  By 1934 rural poverty had closed more than 20,000 schools. ”

”By the year 1932 charities in Columbia were serving more than seven hundred thousand free meals a year.  In rural South Carolina people were dying from hunger, and in Columbia (the State capitol) many were close to starvation.”

”As a result of the New Deal many South Carolinians were saved from starvation.  The school lunch program made a big difference for children whose families could not feed them everyday.  The Civilian Conservation Corps provided jobs for young men. ”

American History 102 (University of Wisconsin)

5. Lack of stock market regulation.
At this time, there were no effective legal guidelines on buying and selling stock. Free from such limitations, corporations began printing up more and more common stock. Many investors in the stock market practiced "buying on margin," that is, buying stock on credit. Confident that a given stock's value would rise, an investor put a down payment on the stock, expecting in a few months to pay off the balance of their initial investment while reaping a hefty profit. This investment strategy turned the stock market into a speculative pyramid game, in which most of the money invested in the market didn't actually exist.”

6. Psychology of consumption..
The Psychology of Consumption fed the optimism of investors and gave them unquestioning faith in prosperity. When the Crash did come, it was even more devastating because of this unquestioned faith.”

”Still, optimism persisted and many leaders declared that the worst was over....Such optimism, however, did not last long. Popular songs of the day mirrored the transition from optimism to despair. In 1930, people sang "Happy Days Are Here Again" and the national income dropped from $87 billion to $75 billion. In 1931, somewhat more dejectedly, people sang "I've Got Five Dollars" and the nation's income dropped to $59 billion. The song of 1932 was "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime," when the domestic economy fell to $42 billion. Eventually, the American economy bottomed out at $40 billion in 1933.”

”These stereotypes, many of which have become romanticized in popular culture, only depict the experience of a small number of the American people. The reality of long-term unemployment, the day-to-day despair, was much less dramatic, and thus more dismal. Two basic economic facts soured the lives of average Americans:

•1.Unemployment. In his inaugural address, Franklin D. Roosevelt recognized:

"Now let's be frank. You and I know that immediate relief of the unemployed is the immediate need of the hour."

2. Inability to sell goods and services. With so much of the work force unemployed, nobody had money to buy things.”

”Laying the Blame
The American public found the "Three B's" responsible for the Crash and the Depression:
1. Bankers
2. Brokers
3. Businessmen”

Starting to sound familiar yet? If all this interests you, take the time to follow the links. The next ones at the University of Wisconsin might be really interesting.

1. Unequal distribution of wealth and income.
2. Unequal distribution of corporate power.
3. Bad banking structure.
4. Foreign balance of payments.

History never ends. But this blog does. Enjoy.

”"It is my contention that no one should be allowed to write about FDR who did not experience that era. It really is one of those cases of you had to be there. Roosevelt may be a, but 60 years ago that myth looked more like hope. In his fireside chats, he turned our Philco radios into shrines, and when he said that America could not afford to live with one-third of a nation ill-housed and ill-fed, we thought he would do something about it. And he did"

(Daniel Schorr, "The FDR 'Myth': You Had To Be There," Christian Science Monitor, 25 October 1996, 19).”

Don Brown
June 25, 2011

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