How the Americas of the Great Depression and the Reagan recession compare to America now

    The Pew Resarch Center published two reports on those comparative studies topics on December 14. They really are a must read for those who are interested in "FDR values." Whether you agree with the conclusions or not, they clarify some of the arguments about where that infamous group, "the American people," were compared to where they are now:

    How a Different America Responded to the Great Depression
    by Jodie T. Allen, Senior Editor, Pew Research Center

    Reagan's Recession
    by Richard Auxier, Researcher/Editorial Assistant, Pew Research Center


    Neat!  I would not like to see what today's voters would have said about child labor if they were transported back in time.

    One thing especially interesting in the Depression report is the evidence of the public not being as pro-union back then as is generally argued.  

    My bet is that when people think about the pro-union heyday they're really thinking about the big urban centers and not the country at large and that they're forgetting that the unions were considered rabblerousers by many, were more than a bit mobbed up even during the Depression, and were constantly clashing with police.  Oh and then there's the whole "might be socialist" thing though the Pew study shows people more than a bit more open to those ideas than they are today.

    Socialism was not a bad word until AFTER WWII. Thanks to McCarthy and his communist under every rock spewings.

    Of course, the New Deal had many vocal critics. A favorite target was the WPA, the employer of some eight million workers over its eight-year lifetime.

    Incredible really when you compare the number of Americans back then to the 308 million residents we have now.

    As someone who has studied the work and lives of a lot of WPA artists, I got a kick out the last question on this chart:

    I see it as only 31 percent thought those bum artists getting paid to do hoity toity stuff deserved a pay raise. Smile  (Of course, I do know the program provided for other kinds of work.)  More seriously, most of the artists in the program were well aware of how lucky they were and made it a point to lay low about it, especially if their work didn't promote socialist themes. It's not exactly the populist thing to do, to promote what is traditionally considered elite work in a depression, people get resentful.

    On the other hand, it is interesting that the dream of getting rich is there--only 42% agreed that the government should limit private forturnes.

    Interesting AA. And I'll be my bottom dollar that these 69 % who though that WPA workers should not get a pay raise would scream bloody murder if they themselves were denied a raise.


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