The Great Depression versus the current welfare state

Working hard vs. taking a government check

New South Wales Library/FLICKR

MISSOURI, January 9, 2015 —  The actions of those during the Great Depression contrasts starkly with the “gimme” generation of today. Even during the worst days of the depression, people were self reliant, stepping up and chipping in instead of asking what others can give them.

The Great Depression was a period of economic devastation that wrecked individuals and families. Yet at the same time, the difficult economic situation also brought communities together. People shared what little they had, and Churches actively helped those in need.

Able-bodied men who could not find work often jumped trains to get to new towns to find work. Often called “hobos,” these men were not criminals, they were just men in search of work. They didn’t have money to ride the trains legally, so they jumped on and off when they could, sometimes losing their lives in the process. They came to towns and often went door-to-door looking for work, chopping wood for kindling or doing minor repairs in exchange for a meal.

Everyone chipped in to help the family survive. Women made quilts which they sold through the Church to support the ministry. Anyone who was good with their hands carved animals, toys, dolls, cribs or other items to sell during craft fairs and to help support the family.

To help reduce the cost of buying food, people grew their own food. Adults pushed the garden plow while a child with a rope around his waist pulled the plow. Extra food was canned in Mason jars to eat  throughout the wintertime and stored in the cold cellar. They fished and hunted and stored the meat in a hot house. Apples, cherries, raspberries, and strawberries were picked by the youngsters, eaten in season, and then were canned for use in the wintertime.

Those in the cities had less opportunity to grow food, so instead they found work wherever they could. Even the children worked in shops as delivery boys, working in grocery stores, selling papers, shining shoes, working in barber shops, and being ushers in movie houses. Adults who did not have a job sold apples and other fruits on the street corners, and went to the employment office to get a day’s work. Some even sold encyclopedias.

When President Roosevelt was elected, he formed the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), which brought more opportunities for work. His objective was to bring man and the land of the country together—land being the source for employment and man having to work the land, resulting in earning money in addition to earning back pride.

Today, society has changed dramatically. Instead of looking for work wherever they can find it, people often sit back and survive on welfare. They find labor demeaning and difficult, preferring to accept a government check rather than to take on work.

According to the Commerce Department, as of July 2014, 12,800,000 people are on welfare. 46,700,000 people are on food stamps, and 5,600,000 people are on unemployment insurance.

Able-bodied men and women are collecting from the government dole rather than going out and getting a job.

Maybe we should implement the policies used in the Great Depression and make the able-bodied people on welfare work to earn their money. Maybe this could stop the trend of some families who generation after generation goes on welfare. As a by-product, it could impact the level of crime and have many more side benefits.

However, that’s a place and time I am from-


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