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In Alan Brinkley’s book, “The End of Reform,”  he discusses Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, a liberal economic maneuver established to fight the Great Depression, which appeared by many to be the death of the American capitalist system. Brinkley argues that the New Deal liberalism was carried out by World War II, digging the United States out of the Depression. The greatest impact of this new deal, in an effort to keep the economy thriving after the war, was increased government spending – an initiative that would last through the 1960s. < Click Essay Writer to order your essay >

World War II changed the way in which the New Deal was established, and as Brinkley argues, it helped the ideal progress to fruition. It was at the end of the war that Roosevelt saw the only way to have a prosperous country was to create a high amount of consumption. It meant the government would also need to increase spending – and they did, on social welfare, the military and on public works. These public works projects weren’t necessarily meant to build communities, they were to create jobs. This is a practice that is even in place today, and it has helped pull the U.S. out of the Great Recession, much as it kept the U.S. from sinking back into the Great Depression after the war. During this time, the government needed taxes to fund the initiatives, or inflation would increase substantially. The public works initiatives were part of the government’s plan for full employment: “We shall plan to balance our national production-consumption budget at a high level with full employment, not at a low level with mass unemployment,” (250). But as it was made clear in the “The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter,” there was a massive demographic that wasn’t part of this full employment. In fact, as men returned from war, they were given their jobs back and women were expected to “return to the kitchen,” and to create a home for their husbands.

The government was encouraged by the National Resources Planning board to increase social welfare. This would allow even impoverished people to contribute to the economy because they would have money to spend. “The two efforts would complement one another: Economic growth would make a generous welfare state possible; a generous welfare state would help stimulate economic growth,” (257).

The liberalism that evolved by the end of World War II had its challenges. The war created a lot of work and a low number of people able to do that work. Many of the jobs related to manufacturing the products that would help in the war effort and because the men were at war, women were hired to take on the task. The New Deal was weak in that it did little to help women after the war. Women who had attained much training, even more than the men that they replaced, weren’t given a fair chance. They could, however, find low-paying jobs in kitchens as cooks. But these women had for the past several years been a part of something much bigger than cooking. They built ships, ammo and various other necessities for war. Many women lined up to apply for jobs after the war, but the positions were filled by men.  The Full Employment Bill did not “specify what kind of spending the government should use to create the necessary jobs,” (261). This means that women weren’t included in these plans for employment. [“Write my essay for me?” Get help here.]

But the bill is weak because full employment isn’t possible without increasing the cost of labor substantially. The basic market principals apply here: supply and demand. If there are many jobs, the demand for workers will increase and because there would be a low supply of workers in a full-employment economy, the price for those workers would increase substantially. “Employers (mobilized through the Chambers of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers) and commercial farmers (mobilize through the American Farm Bureau Federation) feared that a high-employment economy would raise their labor costs and make it difficult to find workers for menial jobs such as seasonal farm work,” (262).

It should also be noted that steady development is not sustainable, and it is extremely damaging to the environment. Unlike today, the environment wasn’t considered as a reason not to build something. If this policy had continued the way it was proposed – with full employment and the relentless drive to keep building for the sake of creating jobs – there would be nothing left to build in the coming centuries. The effort would also create massive inflation despite increased taxation; the government were to continue to print money for the sake of funding the projects and paying for the workers. Money would bear no value. Furthermore, as prices for labor continues to increase, the Consumer Price Index would increase substantially too, because people would be willing to pay more for products and services due to the increase in money. “Fiscal conservatives recoiled at the idea of using deficit spending as a normal tool of economic planning and sought to remove from the bill and suggestion that government spending would be the preferred route to economic growth,” (262). While some form of government stimulus was adopted and lives on today, it isn’t at the levels that would support full employment. Governments know that this would cause too much inflation and it would be exceedingly difficult to find workers for tasks such as dishwashing. Eventually, the bill was amended to get rid of the reference to “full employment” (263). This represents the continually changing ideas of the American liberals. (265). [Need an essay writing service? Find help here.]

But the government continued to seek employment for as many of its citizens as possible and this included the initiative to use some government spending to do so. In this mission, and for a short time, the government promoted the free market and frowned upon monopolies. However, this effort to keep the free market as free as possible, and to stop any dominant company from taking over, was short lived, (265). The effort didn’t work because corporations were too powerful, much more than in the days leading up to the war.

This government stimulus appeared to be necessary, as the production orders from the military decreased substantially after the war. This was leading unemployment to be on the rise and something needed to be done. The biggest problem the government faced was turning a war economy into a civilian economy. After all, the government couldn’t revert back to the pre-war state and it needed to ride the wave of spending that increased during wartime, due to the jobs per capita at the time. The government also likely learned from the war that spending on military initiatives is what drove the U.S. out of recession. But without the need to produce war materials, the government needed to find a new way to spend its money. The pump had to be primed via another way and that is where government stimulus for public works projects came in. It was an aggressive move that had varying degrees of government spending and claims for what it could do for the economy. However, it would eventually find a middle ground and persist, which it would do through the 1960s. The importance of this government spending is proven in the stimulus that is offered by the government to create jobs during the Great Recession. It is what’s helping this country pull itself out of the major financial crises. The recession was a result of the abuse of the credit market, which is the other option for increasing consumer spending (the other is government stimulus). But without the credit market pumping money into the pockets of consumers during that time, the government needed to step in and

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By Hanna Robinson

Hanna has won numerous writing awards. She specializes in academic writing, copywriting, business plans and resumes. After graduating from the Comosun College's journalism program, she went on to work at community newspapers throughout Atlantic Canada, before embarking on her freelancing journey.

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