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Elected in 1933 during the great depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt was at the head of America during the country’s greatest crises. His mandate, which spanned twelve years, focused on protecting the country from totalitarian states and stabilizing the country’s economy. Following the 1929 krach, FDR came into power with the country mired in a horrible and debilitating recession that not only sapped its material wealth and spiritual strength, but cast a pall over its future. FDR’s solution was the New Deal- an experimental series of programs, financial regulations and socio-economic policies enacted during Roosevelt’s first 6 years in office that sought to relieve, reform and recover the United States. In response to the Great Depression, FDR executed various policies and programs as part of his New Deal that would forever change the role of the federal government in the United States. The New Deal, by reforming government involvement, restored the people’s confidence in the economy and provided relief for the destitute.
Following the stock market crash, Franklin D. Roosevelt took unprecedented measures in the involvement of the government in the economy. His policies sought not only to stabilize the economy in the short term but also to avoid future recessions by implementing stronger regulations. During his first and second terms as president, FDR created a plentiful amount of Programs, work projects and administrations geared towards the reduction of unemployment and stabilization of the economy. Roosevelt believed economic recovery depended upon cooperation at the expense of competition, and consequently, he created the NIRA which was specifically designed to limit competition whilst allowing both prices and wages to rise. Unfortunately for the president, this controversial administration was deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1935 and represents one of many failed initiatives by FDR.
Whilst Roosevelt’s policies weren’t all successful, his experimental approach to politics paid off with the introduction of paramount regulatory administrations and laws. Indeed, not only did FDR wish to recover the present economy but also to instill a permanent preventive solution to avoid future recessions. A notable action was the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, which created both the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to monitor the stock market and police illegal practices. During the 1920s, approximately 20 million shareholders took advantage of post-war prosperity and set out to make their fortunes in the stock market. Research concluded that of the $50 billion in securities offered during this period, half became worthless. Based on this discovery, Congress passed the Securities Act of 1933. This act, along with the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 was designed to restore investor confidence in the stock market by providing capitalists with more reliable information and clear guidelines of honesty. For instance, companies offering a share of their company in exchange for money now had to tell the public the truth about their business and the potential risk involved in investment. People who sold and traded stocks using investors’ money also had to treat their clients fairly and justly, effectively putting investors’ interests before their own. FDR’s policies have shaped the United states and have proven useful even to this day- in recent history, JP Morgan Chase had to pay a fine of $13 billion to the SEC. The bank is responsible for paying fines and penalties due to illegally selling mortgages and misleading financial institutions when the 2008 financial crisis occurred. The Glass-Steagall Act along with the creation of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation served as insurance to the common people, its purpose was to eliminate uncertainties regarding banks by insuring $2500 per person if a bank was to fail. The consumers were therefore protected by the U.S. financial system. This act led to people reinvesting their money in banks as they now were insured if the bank was to fail. Since the Krach, people would withdraw large portions of money from banks, this act thus saved many of them from bankruptcy. Today, the FDIC insures deposits amounting up to 250 000$ and was instrumental in helping out the consumers during the 2008 financial crash. The 1933 banking Act also set a cap on banks’ interest rates preventing debt and separated commercial banks from investment banks. At the time, commercial bank involvement in stock market investment was deemed the main culprit of the financial crash as they took too much risk with depositors’ money.
An effective way of simultaneously augmenting morale and improving a country’s economy is to provide jobs. Knowing this, FDR introduced more than four different schemes just for that purpose including the CWA, the CCC and the WPA. Making unprecedented leaps in federal involvement, some of FDR’s proposals were bound to be shut down. The CWA was an employment effort that lasted only a year before being dissolved. During this period of time, 12 million feet of sewer pipe, 255 000 miles of roads, 40,000 schools, 3,700 playgrounds, and nearly 1,000 airports were built or improved; an astonishingly productive yet expensive feat that renders itself useful still today. Whilst some of FDR’s policies would fail, be declared unconstitutional or simply be too expensive, Roosevelt persevered and kept propping up new initiatives in order to solve the crisis. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was a work relief program that gave millions of young men employment on environmental projects during the Great Depression. Considered by many to be one of the most successful of Roosevelt’s New Deal programs, the CCC was also environmentally friendly, planting more than three billion trees and laying out trails and shelters in more than 800 parks nationwide. The CCC not only improved morale and the economy but also shaped the national parks through the construction of natural refuges, fish farming facilities, water storage cylinders and animal shelters. Similarly to the CCC, the WPA was instrumental in creating jobs and in erecting infrastructure; it provided jobs in federal construction across the nation affecting millions of previously unemployed people. It created bridges, post offices, schools and highways and even gave work to artists and musicians.
Roosevelt’s New Deal, whilst aiming towards economic prosperity also focused on providing relief for the destitute. Citizens during FDR’s mandate saw the government being more present in people’s lives than ever before. Preceding his electoral terms, intellectuals debated on whether the government should directly get involved in people’s lives, following them they asked themselves how much the government should get involved. For instance, the Tennessee Valley Authority and Agricultural Electrification Act were both initiatives destined to modernize and improve living conditions by simultaneously providing electricity to inhabitants and producing jobs to the dire regions of America. Indeed, the United States was suffering during the great depression- morale was low, citizens were unemployed and starving and farmers went bankrupt. Franklin Delano Roosevelt sought to aid the needy and ameliorate their living conditions; his solution was social security, secure housing and jobs.
FDR’s main financial solutions for the destitute were the SEC and the CES. The Committee on Economic Security of 1934 along with the Social Security Act of 1935 were designed to combat widespread poverty among senior citizens and to aid the disadvantaged. It included an old-age pension program, unemployment insurance, health insurance and assistance for people with disabilities. The government program, one of the few parts of the New Deal still in existence, provided income to retired wage earners and the disabled who had paid into the program throughout their working lives through a deduction of their salary. These Acts greatly relieved unemployed families and old people no longer able to work. Today, the program has become one of the most popular yet controversial government programs ever and is funded by current wage earners and their employers.
Franklin D. Roosevelt came to the aid of exploited employees by regulating working conditions and working hours. In 1935, President Roosevelt signed into law the National Labor Relations Act, which specifies requirements between the business sector and the labourers in a company. For employees working in private companies, it guarantees the right to unionize, to engage in collective bargaining for a better work environment, and to go out on strike. The president stated that “by assuring the employees the right of collective bargaining, [the new law] fosters the development of the employment contract on a sound and equitable basis … it seeks, for every worker within its scope, that freedom of choice and action which is justly his.”
The Great Depression provoked an epidemic of hunger, poverty and homelessness. The recession was devastating: moving from one shantytown to the next, 2 million homeless citizens would constantly migrate around the US during the decade. Addressing this issue, Roosevelt administered multiple organizations fashioned to help refinance homes and to avoid recreating a similar situation in the future. These initiatives were the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation and the Federal Housing Administration (FDA). The HOLC’s aim was short term relief. As the housing crisis had created many foreclosures, FDR hoped this new agency would help put an end to them. Whilst it didn’t save the entirety of the population’s homes, it significantly reduced the amount of homeless and allowed a majority of people to keep their property. Effectively, from 1933 to 1935, approximately one million people received long-term, low-yield loans via the agency, which saved their homes from being taken away by banks. Roosevelt’s influence on the housing industry doesn’t end there, one of his main objectives was to regulate private industries so as to eschew similar experiences in the event of a future crisis. A testimony of his foresight, the FHA was established in 1934 in order to further combat the housing crisis of the Great Depression. The combined unemployment ratio and banking crisis resulted in a tumultuous situation in which banks needed to recall loans and people lost their houses. The FHA’s purpose was to regulate mortgages and housing conditions in order to preserve the consumer’s interests; today, it still plays a major role in the financing of houses for Americans.
To conclude, the New Deal was a revolutionary installment in US politics through its unprecedented amount of government involvement in the people’s lives. It restored the people’s confidence in the economy by providing jobs and regulating it and provided financial and residential relief for the old, the disabled and the unemployed. Today, the influence of the New Deal both on politics and on infrastructure is noticeable through increased regulation, social security and the bridges, parks, roads and federal buildings constructed during that time.
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