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The Populist Agenda: New Deal
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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