We have been hearing lots of gloom and doom predictions lately, the gist of which is that the United States is on the verge of a complete economic collapse. People are emptying the shelves of gun stores and are stocking up on canned foods. Some Russian Nostradamus even predicted that the U.S. would break-up into regional powers. While we do have some serious problems, things could be a lot worse. Things aren’t nearly as bad they were back in 1930-32.
First of all, the Great Depression was a world-wide economic crash. Secondly, it coincided with with a major environmental disaster known as The Dust Bowl. But most importantly, back then there were no safety nets. People lived in shantytowns dubbed “Hoovervilles” while the GOP-led federal government basically did nothing except promote “volunteerism.”
When banks failed during the Hoover administration (and 5000 of them did) depositors lost their savings. For many people that was their life savings and retirement. Bank robbers like Bonnie & Clyde and John Dillinger became folk heros because people despised banks. Now we have something called the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) that guarantees deposits up to $250,000 per person. The FDIC was created in 1933 during the first months of Franklin Roosevelt’s administration.
13 million people became unemployed because of the Great Depression. In 1930 there was no such thing as unemployment insurance, or Social Security, or Welfare (AFDC) so when people became unemployed (and with their savings gone) there was only private charity or friends and family to turn to for support.
Notwithstanding Ronnie Raygun’s “welfare queens driving Cadillacs,” no one ever got rich off public assistance, but some money coming in is better than none. SSI, UI, and AFDC (now TANF) are all products of FDR’s New Deal. Lyndon Johnson, another flaming liberal, added Medi-Care, Medicaid and Food Stamps to the social safety net.
I’m not saying we have nothing to worry about. We have serious problems to deal with and some rough times ahead. But thanks to those bleed-heart liberals like FDR and LBJ, things aren’t as bad as they could be.