The federal government can make are break a country, and there are many different ways to govern people. In the United States prior to the Great Depression the federal government took the laissez faire approach to running the economy. The government was not too excited to get involve with the financial aspects of the country. When the stock market crashed and the economy was in shambles the federal government had to take a different approach to how the country’s money should be run.
President Franklin Roosevelt was the driving force in this shift of government. When Roosevelt came into office in 1932 he had a new vision for the country. The president before him, J Edger Hoover, took the trickle down approach by not stimulating the poor but by giving money to business and hoping the money would eventually make its way down. Hoover took to long to help the country and Roosevelt was ready to take action and start out strong, In his “First Inaugural Address” he states “I favor as a practical policy the putting of first things first.
I shall spare no effort to restore world trade by international economic readjustment, but the emergency at home cannot wait on that accomplishment. ” Many presidents would want to restore economic ties to other nations, but Roosevelt feels as if the people at home should come first. He believes that a good country is nothing without it’s people. With the people in shambles and early scraping by, it is the governments job to help them get back on their feet as much as they can. This approach would no even be considered by earlier Presidents like Coolidge, or Theodore Roosevelt.
These Presidents would have just tried to help the businesses or tried to help labor conditions of the workers not help them get payed more. Franklin Roosevelt felt that his people deserved more and that some people were not at fault for their loss, but that they had some bad luck and their money was in the wrong place at the wrong time. By focusing on the domestic money problems before the international, Roosevelt showed that he was a peoples President and that they could trust him to help them.
Later in his “First Inaugural Address” he brings up the point “In the field of world policy I would dedicate this Nation to the policy of the good neighbor—the neighbor who resolutely respects himself and, because he does so, respects the rights of others—the neighbor who respects his obligations and respects the sanctity of his agreements in and with a world of neighbors. ” Roosevelt is trying to get into the hearts and communities of his people. He wants the people to respect their neighbors because everyone is having a hard time.
Many presidents before him believed that the neighbors and community are the ones that are supposed to do the work to get back on their feet. Roosevelt however, thought that even with everyone repeating and trying to help each other the economy is in too big of ruins to fix itself on it’s own. Neighbors and community member were shocked to see a president so involved with their personal lives. Hoover did not seem to care to most people, that is why the hobo villages outside of cities were often called Hoovervilles.
With all of the help from this new moral boosting Roosevelt gained a lot of respect and he also followed through on his promises. One of Roosevelt’s most successful accomplishments in the Great Depression era was the many programs that he installed to help simulate the economy. These programs are often called alphabet soup, due to all the acronyms that the programs are called. The most successful of these was the CCC or the Civilian Conservation Corps. This was a program that helped young men who were veterans of World War I and me within their twenties and thirties to work in public works projects.
They were payed a dollar a day and most of it was sent home to their families to help them get by, however the workers were given some money to help them while where were working in these programs. The program lasted about six months and men could realist for another program. the men worked on reforesting from the devastation of the Dust Bowl and they also worked on roads and general works to help the country stay beautiful and clean after all of the pollution that was happening due to the industrial age.
The camps were run in the army style and and the members were fed well. (American Experience, Civilian Conservation Corps). These men were helping the nation become a better place and it also gave them something to do. Since many men had come back form World War I the job market was very competitive and the influx of eligible workers was not helping. This program got a lot of men working on projects that not everyone was willing to do.
No one wanted to reforest the plains because it would not stimulate and income, so the CCC was the perfect program to do that. Due to the fact that it was government funded the government does not need direct profit from the reforestation so they gathered willing unemployed men to do the job. The other really successful thing that the CCC did to help ti’s workers was offered classes. Man could learn how to do a trade, such as electricity work, plumbing, and even welding (American Experience, Civilian Conservation Corps).
This gave even more people jobs because the government would have to hire skilled workers to come a teach these classes and the teachers would also get payed, so that also helped stimulate the economy. The most important class of this program was the literacy class ( American Experience, Civilian Conservation Corps). Roosevelt felt that all of his men had to come out of the CCC productive members of society, and to do that one must know how to read and write. All the men would have to know how read and write by the end of their program.
This also boosted the literacy rates in the country. The CCC was not just for white males, it was also for black males as well. there was still segregation at this point, it would not be fully addressed until the 1960’s, but with the addition of African Americans into the program some barriers were being challenged. The camps were segregated, but giving the opportunity to the African Americans was a step in the right direction. Roosevelt tackled a lot of different issues in his time as president but he was the pioneer of changing the role of the federal government.
The federal government now was getting more involved into peoples lives and helping them when they are in need. Roosevelt tackled the economic standing of people as well as the educational. This was one of the first times when an education standard was introduced into the country, by requiring all of the CCC members to read and write. Roosevelt was the leader of this movement which has continued until the present. The government is their to serve the people and in times of hardship the government needs to step up and help those who need it.