The Great Depression versus the welfare state

Children working during the depression

MISSOURI, August 112014 — Although the Great Depression was a very difficult time for our country, it also succeeded in bringing people together. People shared what they had with friends and family, and the churches were instrumental in helping those in need.

Families gave work to men who traveled around the country — hobos — looking for jobs. Sometimes they traded odd jobs like cutting kindling for a meal.

People did not have the type of wealth we have today. Quilts were hand-made, often by ladies of the church as ways to support the ministry. Many children’s toys were handmade. When Christmas came, you saw carved animals, rifles, dolls, cribs, and many more delightful items.

People were self-reliant as evidenced by growing their own food. The garden plow was pushed by an adult and there was usually a child with a rope tied around his waist and tied to the plow. He cut a furrow in the ground in order to plant the seeds. The food was abundant; there was enough to be canned in Mason jars for use 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.

People in the cities had a rougher time because they were not farmers, and they relied mostly on goods they could buy in the store. This meant everyone had to work to have enough money to put food on the table. Even the children would go find work 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.

One incredible initiative was President Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). 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.

Young men rushed to enroll. They could enroll for six months and had the option to renew when their terms ran out. They were paid thirty dollars a month, with twenty-five-dollar allotment checks sent to their families.

ICCC boys built thousands of miles of hiking trails and improved wildlife habitats. They also laid pipe and performed excavation work on canals and ditches. The CCC Legacy Web site credits the program with advancing certain fire-fighting techniques. In addition to firefighting, the CCC performed other emergency response works after floods, hurricanes and blizzards. As many as 47 CCC members died while fighting forest fires, and hundreds of veterans died when a hurricane struck their camps in the Florida Keys.

The nation at the time of the Depression was filled with people who wanted to work, who wanted to contribute and they looked to government to give them a hand up, but not a hand out.

Today, more and more people want a government handout.

The current welfare system provides such a high level of benefits that it acts as a disincentive for work. Welfare currently pays more than a minimum-wage job in 35 states, even after accounting for the Earned Income Tax Credit, and in 13 states, it pays more than $15 per hour. If Congress and state legislatures are serious about reducing welfare dependence and rewarding work, they should consider strengthening welfare work requirements, removing exemptions, and narrowing the definition of work. Moreover, states should consider ways to shrink the gap between the value of welfare and work by reducing current benefit levels and tightening eligibility.”

Based on the above and what Franklin Roosevelt employed maybe we should digress back to making people work for their checks such as working on jobs relative to the infrastructure of the United States –roads-bridges which would bring back feeling good about themselves.

However, the question now is does our government have the guts to make this happen or are they more interested in votes instead of the welfare of the United States as a whole?

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

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  • Carl Kimball

    I retired in 2005 at 55, took a buy out when the mill needed to cut back. Now at 64, am tired of trying to keep myself busy. Yesterday I applied for work at the mill I retired from, because they need help and I need something to do to feel useful again. I don’t know how these people can just sit around all day doing nothing. It seems welfare chains are more important then freedom and feeling good of one’s self.