The Three Rs of the New Deal in the United States History Essay
Franklin D. Roosevelt came into power at a time when America was going through difficult times the great depression. During his first one hundred days of rule, he came up with a series of proposals to create the legal and institutional framework that governed America during the New Deal period (1933-1938).
As a response to the great depression, Roosevelt came up with three R’s, namely: relief, which was about aid for the poor; recovery, which was about uplifting the economy and; reform, which was about changes in the financial sector meant to prevent such a depression from happening in the future (Colasanti and Ference par. 1). This essay, therefore, presents a discussion on the first 100 days of the New Deal, focusing on the three Rs.
The great depression affected America in such a way that one-third of the urban population was left poor. To address this problem, Roosevelt came up with the Federal Emergency Administration (FERA), an institution created under the Federal Emergency Relief Act of March 1933, to offer relief support through providing grants to projects targeted towards job creation as well as provision of relief items (Harrell and Gaustad 890).
The grants were given to state-owned projects, which could then use the funds to provide food and employment to the poor in their respective states. For example, FERA established the Civil Works of Administration (CWA) to create employment through the construction of roads, dams, bridges, schools, airports, and hospitals, among others (Colasanti and Ference par. 3). FERA also supported projects focusing on the production of consumer goods, thereby creating jobs and ensuring that Americans had access to necessities.
This approach solved two problems, i.e., unemployment and development of the country. The dams constructed did not only take care of flooding but also provided water for irrigation and electricity. South Americans were the worst hit by famine, hence considered were the first to be resettled and supplied with electricity and good roads.
Apart from the Civil Works of Administration, Roosevelt also established the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) to provide jobs through massive land reclamation and conservation of natural resources (Berkin 630). Workers under the Civilian Conservation Corps planted trees, controlled floods, and reclaimed areas in areas where there was massive soil erosion.
Roosevelt’s focus under the Civilian Conservation Corps was in the agricultural sector in Federal lands because he believed that the economy would only regain its lost glory if the agricultural sector was revamped. This approach did not only provide employment to the rural poor but also conserved natural resources and ensured food availability. The results of the relief efforts became clear by the end of 1933 due to the use of the right techniques and tools in agriculture and development of the infrastructure.
Further, Roosevelt came up with the Social Security Administration (SSA) to take care of the disabled and the elderly by giving them money to cater for their needs. The plan was so effective and alleviated panic caused by uncertainty about their future needs.
Apart from providing relief, Roosevelt also focused on getting the economy back on its feet. In the early 1930s, agricultural prices worsened due to an overflow of agricultural products, which led to a sharp decline in the prices of agricultural products (Harrell and Gaustad 906).
To address the situation, Roosevelt enacted the Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) in May 1933. The act aimed at creating artificial scarcity of agricultural commodities to increase prices (Berkin 630). The Agricultural Adjustment Administration was then created to negotiate restrictions on the production of agricultural products outside the food processing funds tax (Colasanti and Ference par. 6).
Another recovery attempt was the creation of the National Recovery Administration, through the enactment of the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA), to regulate and stimulate industrial production (par. 7). Roosevelt also came up with Public Works Administration (PWA) under the same act to take charge of public infrastructural development, such as the construction of public roads, bridges, and buildings (par. 7).
Roosevelt’s recovery efforts did not only provide the much needed great boost to the economy but also created jobs and improved the lives of many Americans. For example, the industrial production rate increased tremendously between 1933 and 1935. In addition, most of the businesses accepted the new employment policies, including; minimum wages, eight working hours work per day, and no child labor (Berkin 630).
There was also an improvement in the housing sector since economic conditions became favorable for people to build and own homes. This was possible since mortgage loans were easily accessible since they had low-interest rates. Housing agencies such as the Homeowners Loan Corporation (HOLC) and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) emerged to provide advice and loans to potential homeowners (631).
Reform efforts were aimed at preventing America from facing a similar crisis in the future. The focus was mainly on financial institutions. The banking sector was a mess by the time Roosevelt took office. Hence he saw an urgent need to reform the sector to restore confidence in the banks.
His immediate effort was the closure of all banks for four days to help identify the good banks and those that were to be shut down. Roosevelt created the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) to guarantee the safety of Americans’ savings, hence restoring the public trust in private banks (Colasanti and Ference par. 9). This approach was meant to cultivate a culture of saving among Americans by assuring them that their money will be safe even in the event that the bank fails.
Similar reform in the financial sector was the creation of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to regulate the stock market. The stock market was characterized by serious fraud and abuse. Hence there was a need to regulate it and safeguard people’s investments. The Securities and Exchange Commission regulated both Wall Street and the stock market exchanges by enforcing regulations to eliminate illegal financial dealings (Colasanti and Ference par. 9).
The First New Deal came at a time when America was going through a difficult time, economically, financially, and socially. Despite this, the new deal spelled new dawn for American as it involved the enactment of significant pieces of legislation and the establishment of important institutions that governed America for several years.
The gains realized by the three Rs were felt in America for several years, and some are still evident even to date. Therefore, the First New Deal provides lessons, which can be applied to restore countries recovering from serious crises such as war.
Berkin, Carol. Making America: A History of the United States Since 1865. Vol. 2 2011. New York: Cengage Learning. Print.
Colasanti, Kas and Ference, Emily. The Great Depression: The New Deal and the 3 R’s. Web.
Harrell, David. Edwin and Gaustad, Edwin. Unto a Good Land: A History of the American People. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans publishing, 2005. Print.
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