If you think President Barack Obama had it tough when he became President of the United States back in 2009, imagine being President Franklin Roosevelt when he became President in 1933. A country where the economy is literally in free fall. The economy shrinking at ten-percent or thereabouts, twenty or thirty-percent unemployment and about that or more people living in poverty. Without a functioning public safety net to help people who are going through these harsh realities. But that is what President Roosevelt inherited from Herbert Hoover and I’m sure people close to FDR were asking or at least thinking, “President Roosevelt, are you sure you still want to be President?”
Within the first two-years a lot of the New Deal was already passed and I’m sure that had some positive effect towards the Depression. Putting money directly in people’s pockets who perhaps otherwise wouldn’t of had it. But the new infrastructure investment and the public works projects was where the real improvement in the economy started happening in the 1930s. Because those projects literally put people back to work with good jobs repairing and building the country.
But to be completely accurate it isn’t until the 1940s with World War II when the economy starts to completely climb out of the Depression and we start to see income and unemployment levels start to look like they were pre-Great Depression.
What the New Deal was and still is was the creation of the public safety net in America. We are still not like Europe and I imagine never will be as far as what the central government provides to the people as far as taxpayer-funded social insurance programs. But we’ll always have a public social insurance system, at least as long as we need it for people who truly need it. And have been knocked off their feet economically and need help getting back up. Which is where we should be as a modern liberal society. That helps people in need, but also helps them help themselves so they can live in freedom. And not have to be taken care of indefinitely because they can take care of themselves.
Mr Allsop History: FDR and The New Deal