Significance Of The New Deal
The New Deal was launched by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who took office in 1933, as a reaction to the Great Depression. FDR and the New Dealers launched scores of new programs to respond to a wide range of problems facing the country: giving ordinary Americans a new sense of security and hope. The New Deal lasted until the American entry into the Second World War in 1942. The new deal was a significant factor in American history in 1933-1942 as it affected different types of people in America in different ways like American people who were rich, poor, unemployed, farmers, and disabled.
The new deal helped farmers very much. The establishment of the alphabet agency Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) was set up for farmers in 1933. The farmers had an overproduction of food for the high tariffs on American products in other countries, so it made it harder for American farmers to sell more abroad- “They were simply too successful in that they produced far too much for the American market. With western Europe, as a market effectively closed to them as a result of a tariff war, the farmers could only sell in America. Too much product for too few people caused prices to plummet.”
AAA was the only good plan made for the farmers and marked an improvement in the lives of farmers by making their income rise, however, in 1936 supreme court declared that AAA was unconstitutional that it had allowed the federal government to interfere in the running of state issues. This led to the end of the AAA which was the only hope for the farmers[footnoteRef:2]. For the farmers, the New deal was really significant as it provided them assistance and hope with the help of the agency AAA, but the end of AAA caused the New deal to lose its significance for the farmers. The AAA did not end the Depression and drought, but the legislation remained the basis for all farm programs in the following 70 years of the 20th Century. This idea of supporting farmers by limiting supply has also produced controversy. Some critics point out that only seven of the hundreds or thousands of different crops grown by farmers are eligible for payments. No livestock producers are included. Farmers also continue to produce more and more despite the limitations the government imposes. New technologies make it possible to grow much more on the same amount of land.
The AAA did not help the sharecroppers though. The AAA was a nice short-term improvement for farmers, but it failed to improve the lives of sharecroppers. These people and there were three million sharecroppers, did not own their land. Many sharecroppers were African American, and they lived lives of poverty. In the immediate aftermath of the AAA, they got employment from farmers to destroy the farmers’ crops. Once this had been done, they had nothing to do and many left the land and moved to the ghettos in the cities where they faced similar poverty. In 1934, the farmers who had benefited from the AAA hit another major problem – dust storms. These storms destroyed farms especially in Oklahoma and Arkansas and throughout the 1930s over 350,000 farmers left for the west especially California where the weather created a friendlier farming environment. The AAA could not cope with this[footnoteRef:4]. The New deal only helped the sharecroppers for the short term and failed to improve the lives of sharecroppers resulting in many sharecroppers facing poverty which shows that the New deal was not very significant for the sharecroppers as it did not change much of their lifestyle to get better.
The New deal tried to lower the unemployment rate and help the unemployed. The new deal introduced many alphabet agencies in the new deal to reduce unemployment. The agencies that helped the most were the CCC and the PWA. The PWA reduced unemployment by hiring them to build roads, buildings, bridges, and subways not only was the employment rate higher but the money spent on the construction was for educational buildings like schools and public health care[footnoteRef:5]. This was not only significant to the unemployed but also significant for what facilities it provided for the future of America like educational buildings and healthcare for the public. The CCC also employed thousands of young men for reforestation and flood work. Men in the CCC lived in quasi-military camps administered by Army and civilian personnel. Camps contained approximately 24 buildings, including barracks, a mess hall, infirmary, educational and recreational facilities, and administrative quarters. Men received food, shelter, and medical care.[footnoteRef:6]. This was significant to the unemployed because not only they had work they were also given good working conditions with food, they were also provided a free place to live and free healthcare and medical care which was not easily accessible for unemployed poor people.
The CCC employed people to do mostly construction work and they built 4,500 miles of new roads, strung 3,338 miles of telephone lines, and constructed 149 fire lookout towers. Numerous dams and bridges were also built, while more than 123.6 million new trees were planted[footnoteRef:7]. The achievements of CCC and PWA in the new deal did not only benefit the unemployed and their families but also the owns that hosted the camps because most of the supplies were bought locally, so the local market goods demand rose and made more profit. The new deal only set up the alphabet agencies of PWA and CCC to help the unemployed but the positive externalities it brought like the construction of better roads, bridges, and better living standard for the families of the unemployed shows that the new deal was a significant factor in the American history.
Though CCC and PWA were amazing programs for job opportunities for the unemployed and were very significant in a good way, they were also significant because of the negative effects such as young men flocked to enroll. Many politicians believed that the CCC was largely responsible for a 55 percent reduction in crimes committed by the young men of that day. Men were paid $30 a month, with mandatory $25 allotment checks sent to families of the men, which made life a little easier for people at home.[footnoteRef:8] Although policy prohibited discrimination, blacks, and other minorities encountered numerous difficulties in the CCC. In the early years of the program, some camps were integrated. By 1935, however, there was, in the words of CCC director Fechner, a ‘complete segregation of colored and white enrollees,’ but ‘segregation is not discrimination.’ At its peak, more than 250,000 African Americans were enrolled in nearly 150 all-black CCC companies.[footnoteRef:9] This shows that the New deal led to racism and segregation happen in one of the New Deal agencies ’ camps and was very significant as it led to more racism.
The New deal also affected the rich people as Franklin Roosevelt wanted to have progressive taxation and believed that the rich should pay a lot more tax than the poor. The Revenue Act of 1934 raised taxes on people making more than $9,000. In addition, there wasn’t any provision for carrying forward net losses to future years-while FDR increased the estate tax to 60 percent.[footnoteRef:10] As a group, the New Deal revenue acts of the mid-1930s substantially boosted the tax burden on rich Americans. According to Brownlee, the income tax changes alone raised the effective rate on the top 1 percent from 6.8 percent in 1932 to 15.7 percent in 1937[footnoteRef:11]. This was significant for the rich people because their income tax had increased quite a lot and because of the progressive taxation and they had significantly less disposable income to spend on luxury goods but they still had enough to spend on their basic needs and requirements but it still put a lot of pressure on them and probably led to many rich people thinking it was unfair and get angry on the poor people who had regressive taxation.
The Social Security Act, signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935, created Social Security, a federal safety net for elderly, unemployed, and disadvantaged Americans. The main stipulation of the original Social Security Act was to pay financial benefits to retirees over age 65 based on lifetime payroll tax contributions.[footnoteRef:12]Millions of people received financial assistance through this act. This act made the relationship between the government and the citizens a lot better as the government was involved with the lives of citizens for the betterment of the citizen’s lives. Roosevelt used government involvement in citizen’s lives to fight unemployment and poverty. This changed the relationship between citizens and government because never before in US history had the government been this involved in the lives of its citizens.
Disabled Americans also benefited greatly from the New Deal, which featured the first major federal efforts to aid ordinary citizens with physical and mental challenges – over fifty years before the Americans with Disabilities Act. Assistance to the disabled included specialized health facilities; therapeutic services; education, training, and work opportunities; art and music instruction; and the legal, ethical and administrative building blocks for federal disability insurance and the Supplemental Security Income program. The New Deal was an especially transformative period for blind Americans. WPA workers transcribed books into Braille and also created “talking books” to play on records. Blind Americans found employment in the WPA, where they received instruction in various crafts, trades, and occupations.[footnoteRef:14]This shows that the New deal really significant to disabled people as it provided opportunities for the unfortunate and hope for a better future.
Overall the New Deal was a very significant factor in history to a fairly great extent as it had a great impact on the various American citizens which were positive and negative. The new deal is mostly considered successful as it had a long-lasting effect on America which can still be experienced today. The New deal offered various alphabet agencies and programs to deal with the Great Depression and most of them were very helpful and successful in their objective causing the New Deal as a whole to be a very significant factor in the history of America.
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