The Populist Agenda: New Deal

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The Populist Agenda: New Deal 

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The New Deal  entails socio-economic and political policies fronted by Roosevelt to help  the US come out of the  depression of 1930s. Passed by the Congress, the program was aimed at building institutions and socio-economic climate that would help the country get shock absorber and mechanisms to deal with any reoccurrence of the Great Depression.  The program was aimed at ensuring a more coordinated and  integrated resources management,  to help “lift the nation out of the depths of the Great Depression” (TVA, 1). The New Deal was first publicized as a populist proclamation that would help handle the  challenges  of the credit crunch. However, with its passage and implementation, several principles and concepts emerged.

The concept of economic democracy clearly emerged from the New Deal . According to Wallis (12) ‘rules, laws, institutions, and organizations’ serve as  the pillars and prerequisite of a democratic society, what  the New Deal took into account during the crisis. As such, it  can be argued   that the “New Deal played a prominent role in saving democracy and capitalism” (Wallis ,13).

Before the  legislation, the American corporate was highly motivated by profit motives and had little regard for other stakeholders. However, with the New Deal , some banks were merged and the depositors given some shareholdings, based  on  their equity contribution. Similarly,   the President consulted widely before he could come  up with a  policy  that   would  help address  the  challenges  posed  by the Great depression. The ideas  that  culminated into the New Deal  were collected  from different institutions, experts and technocrats.  This clearly demonstrates the aspect of economic democracy, where many people are brought together  to design an economic policy in a free and open environment.  The team that  helped  craft the  program became known as  the Brains Trust.  Suggestively, many Americans democratically contributed  to  the designing of the  policy.  The aspect of Economic democracy also emerged  with the suspension  of the gold as a standard of measure in the US. This action was taken to ensure that  the challenges  that had been faced as well as  rigidity and abuse of  the gold standard could be addressed  through a  dollar standard. However, economic  democracy  requires   that the  interest of all economic agents is guaranteed  in the  process  of carrying out reforms. This way, the government set a  fixed fee  with which the  gold  would be exchanged  with the  dollars.

The need  to ensure social justice in the country was a major hallmark  of the New Deal . The policy was crafted to ensure  that  the  government had more control and authority  to regulate many aspects  of  the  social welfare. Social justice was shown  in the  New Deal  through the Economic Act, under which the employees had their salaries  cut.  As a result, the economy got an annual saving of $500 Million.  With the  savings, the government applied  the multiplier effect and wealth re-distribution  principles  to ensure  that  the savings were equitable shared and  the jobless  had  their  cash transfers. Social justice also demands  that  the minorities and the marginalized are assisted to empower  themselves in social and economic life. This is  the  basis  for affirmative action   that has been concurrently used  to enhance social justice and a means  to end marginalization. Based  on the  spirit  of the New Deal , the  drafters had an intention  of ensuring that social  justice  prevailed. As a result, the Works Progress Administration was reengineered in 1935  to help alleviate  poverty among the  poor  women. Consequently,  the single and disabled/ physically  challenged  women got  jobs under  the institutions. The  jobs  done  by the women under  the auspice  of Works Progress Administration  included sewing and school development  programs.  Similarly, the Works Progress Administration  was used  as a tool  to enhance  social justice among men. By hiring them  to do casual jobs and work in  the farms, they were able  to fend  for  themselves and improve  their  living. At the same  time, the social security system was strengthened as a vehicle  through which the social injustices meted against  the  poor and  the weak could be addressed. For example, the concept  for public housed  for employees cropped up. At  the same  time,  the  pensions became compulsory so  that  the workers could be compensated  upon retirement. Summarily, the government did a lot  to end  both economic and social injustices  that  had characterized the US. According to Fishback, Haines, and  Kantor (3), these injustices were dealt with  through  huge amount  of resources that were directed at  ‘direct relief, and emergency work relief [ leading  to] immediate doubling and eventual a tripling of per capita relief spending by the late 1930s’ .

Since the  government sought to ensure equity and social justice, aspects  of social  control particularly in relation  to banks emerged.  In a free market economy, it is assumed  that  the market is self regulating such  that  hiccups and economic downswings are viewed as temporary. However, the New Deal empowered  the  treasury to control  the commercial banks and even have them merged and temporarily  closed specifically to enhance social equity and security.  Social control was also evident  with  the adoption  of Tennessee.............


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