17 Depression and a New Deal Trattner 13

Depression and a New
1929 to 1932
Stock market crash fall 1929
 Local private relief agencies
overwhelmed, many disappeared
 Became clear public agencies had to
 Clear poverty was result of social
and economic (not psychological)
Hoover’s Response
Hoover against “dole” and federal aid
Thought public assistance would
demoralize and enslave recipients
Approved bill for starving cattle but
opposed one to help starving farmers
Saw public works employment programs
as dangerous ideas
Roosevelt as N.Y. Governor
Wicks Act – first state unemployment
relief act
Created Temporary Emergency Relief
Admin under direction of social worker,
Harry Hopkins
Roosevelt also passed an Old Age Pension
in NY
“Government is not the master but the
creature of the people.”
Roosevelt Elected President
Initiated many programs to deal with
immediate crisis -- alphabet soup
Civilian Conservation Corps
(reforestation, flood and fire)
Public Works Administration (building
National Youth Admin (part time jobs for
high school & college students)
U.S. Housing Authority (loans to
build public housing)
 Basic idea – get people working,
restore confidence
 Use the principle of work relief –
earning not charity
 People could retain their dignity
Federal Emergency Relief Act
FERA -- similar to NY measure
established by Wicks Act
 Headed by Harry Hopkins
 Federal money to states to be
administered by states and localities
 Each local office had to have at least
one social worker on staff
Roosevelt Didn’t Like Relief
Saw relief as temporary
Saw need for more permanent measure
to deal with dependency on long range
Saw current crisis as result of social and
economic forces of industrialization
Summer 1934 appointed Committee for
Economic Security
Committee on Economic
Chaired by Frances Perkins and
Harry Hopkins
 Edwin Witte (economist) and Wilbur
Cohen major influences
 Committee report submitted in
January 1935 and Social Security
Act passed in August 1935
Frances Perkins
Secretary of Labor under FDR
First woman to hold a cabinet post
Appointed by Truman to head Civil
Service Commission in 1945
Commitment to improving the lives
of workers; Deeply influenced by
labor movement & Triangle fire
Educated in economics and
sociology; worked in settlement
houses, among other things
Active for women’s suffrage
Contributory Old Age
Workers and employers taxed to
finance retirement benefits (Old Age
 Benefits based on how much they
had earned and how long they had
 Encourage older workers out of jobs
to make way for young
Unemployment Insurance
Employers taxed for this purpose by
federal government
 Federal government returned funds
to states if they set up
unemployment insurance programs
Public Assistance
Old Age Assistance: federal government
would help states provide aid to old who
could not participate in Social Security
Feds gave money to states for help for
single parent families with dependent
children (expansion of mother’s aid)
Beginnings of AFDC – not controversial
Social Security Act
Built on previous precedents
 Welfare only to aged and young
“deserving poor”
 Tied benefits to stable long term
labor force participation
 Left out a lot of people from social
insurance initially
 No health insurance
New Ideas
Helped prevent destitution and
 Not a matter of individual weakness
 Federal aid to states for social
 Federal government assumed
responsibility for welfare of citizens
Effects on Social Work
Created many new jobs for social workers
Created demand for new schools of social
Social workers learned about rural
Return of interest in social reform
Social workers gained prestige
Social work became accepted part of
government in a modern state
What Ended the
Deficit spending
 Mobilization for World War II