New Deal with a Stacked Deck

, Malcolm A. Kline, 1 Comment

A high school teacher who has worked in Oregon and Manhattan is determined to pass on his history of the Great Depression.

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“By the end of Roosevelt’s first two terms in office, nonagricultural private-sector workers had the right to organize unions and the National Labor Relations Board was created to enforce that right,” Adam Sanchez writes in the Fall 2015 issue of Rethinking Schools. “The unemployed had access to a new, permanent system of unemployment insurance, and the elderly could rely on social security.”

“Millions of people were put back to work through federal jobs programs.” Sanchez, who teaches at Harvest Collegiate High School in New York City, previously taught at Madison High School in Portland, Oregon.

His summation is accurate, as far as it goes, but:

~FDR also signed the Hobbs Act in his third term, which left a loophole open that eventually exempted labor unions from federal penalties for violent acts, as determined by Richard Nixon’s Supreme Court;

~Until recently, unemployment compensation, according to a half century’s worth of studies by the federal agency that administers it—the U. S. Department of Labor—showed that the jobless who received it only found work when it ended after 26 weeks while the out-of-work who weren’t compensated landed new jobs in about a month.

~Social Security has been in a state of crisis for most of its existence, requiring countless tax increases to maintain it, at least 20 in my 56 years on the planet; and

~The unemployment rate at the end of FDR’s second term was about 15 percent.