The great depression brought about hardship and high unemployment. The United States was suffering both economically and politically. With this came discontent from the people.The New Deal promised to help ease the struggles of the nation but falls short in ways many could not foresee. The New Deal changed the role of the government, giving it far more reaching powers into the economic aspect of American lives. In some ways even expanding the powers of the executive branch.With the role of government now regulating much of the American life, it is evident that the policies enacted have given greater power to the government than was intended by the Constitution. The shift of the U.S. towards a welfare state, political power in relation to economic power, and excessive governmental oversight all show that the New Deal represented a significant change in American government.
By 1933 the Depression was in full swing and the levels of unemployment were in double digits.The New Deal Era and Social Security Act sought to solve the economic problems through greater regulation. Unemployment, loss of retirements, and the impoverished became the norm; whereas even those who were employed were often forced to accept far lower wages.
Approved August 14, 1935 the Social Security Act was signed by Roosevelt, it was touted as an answer to the troubles of the depression.As soon as Roosevelt assumed office he began to take steps to correct the financial crisis, beginning with a banking bill, which gave the government control of the banks. Continuing over a period where the trend of government intervention, marked by multiple acts and laws took place over the course of 100 days. Landon contended that the New Deal was a milestone in moving the country to a welfare state. (Landon, 1936) The New Deal, called a tax on employment, provided for the unemployed and elderly; yet brought hardship to the employees.Causing employers to pass on the tax to the consumer or employee in the form of higher prices or lower wages. Initially, the Social Security Act contained employment assistance, a program providing employment for the unemployed. (Rose, 1989, p. 64) It was removed from the final draft, creating the ideology of the dole, a view of welfare recipients as lazy.
social security a fraud on the working man. (1936) “The notion that a certain minimum standard of living was a “right” to which all Americans were entitled increasingly gained currency throughout the 1960s.” (Trowbridge, 2016, p. 11.11) I disagree with this thought, according to the constitution we have the right to pursue these things, not a right to have them.
Raising questions about political power in relation to economic power. Questions surrounding the position of the state in reference to the economy, Capitalists began manipulating policy, lobbying for policies that would favor their interests. Interesting note that author Ayn Rand can be quoted as saying that capitalism was based on individual rights, (Rand, 2005) Governmental involvement in the laissez-faire system of the society might be seen as an infringement of these rights. It is stated within the social security act of 1935 that each state will be given grants for old age assistance as well as unemployment. (Social Security Act, 1935) The question is raised with regards to the removed part of the act for work relief program, as it was perceived as interfering with labor markets and the capitalist production for profit mantra. (Rose, 1989, p. 63) The question remained yet, with how the states were influenced by the capitalist sector, even though it can clearly be seen in present day with the lobbying on Capitol Hill.
The federal oversight of the retirements and unemployment along with welfare programs expanded the federal reach, also speak of excessive governmental oversight, it is evident that we have no real control over the use of the money collected. Stated as an act to provide for the general welfare by establishing a system of Federal old-age benefits, it added other things besides retirement, like aid to poor and with this, included the term other purposes.It is evident that the term, other purposes leaves an opening for just what has transpired with regards to the oversight of this one act.Subsequently, we see this in many areas of the governmental oversight of even other constitutional rights.The courts state that, “When money is spent to promote the general welfare, the concept of welfare or the opposite is shaped by Congress, not the States.” (Helvering v. Davis, 1937) Thus, an example of federal oversight in an area that would normally fall to the states.Landon uses the example of the father in his article, equating the federal government to the father who spends the saved money on current needs and choices. (1936) The excessive oversight, which now seems somewhat of an oxymoron; the term oversight would lead one to believe it was being judiciously monitored, adversely is used to add new programs or other things to promote the general welfare. Which now creates the problem of a deficit, just as we see today.Some of which a direct result of this legislation doomed to fail from inception.
Hindsight is always 20/20, and here it is no different.The New Deal was doomed to failure before it even was enacted. In this country, we now have an astounding number of entitlements being paid every month, because of the welfare state mentality. Unfortunately, the one recipient actually entitled to the benefits, the elderly; who actually paid into what they thought was retirement, are often cast aside when cuts are needed to continue this fiscally irresponsible trend. The extension of the federal reach has encompassed much of American life and most business dealings. Regulating many of our constitutional freedoms into the history books. While it was commonplace for local communities and families to care for the needy it has now become the task of the government.The well-known term for the government as Big Brother, as coined by George Orwell, in his book 1984 (Orwell, 1961) can be seen in the far-reaching arm of the government expanded by policies like the New Deal. It is even still interesting to note that authors such as Rand and Orwell could see the direction of the policies long before the effects became evident.This policy was doomed from inception as an unsustainable and fiscally irresponsible act of excessive governmental oversight of the American way of life.
Helvering v. Davis. 301 U.S. 619 (1937).
Landon, A. (1936). “I will not promise the moon.” Vital Speeches of the Day. 3(1), 26–27.
Rose, N. E. (1989). Work relief in the 1930s and the origins of the Social Security Act. Social Service Review, 63(1), 63–91.
Social Security Act, 42 § 301, (1935).
Trowbridge, D. J. (2016). A history of the United States: 1865 to present. Asheville, NC:
Rand, A., Branden, N., Greenspan, A., & Hessen, R. (2005). Capitalism: The unknown ideal. New York.: Signet.
Orwell, G., & Fromm, E. (1961). 1984. New York: Signet Classic