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Posted on April 23rd, 2014, by

The decade preceding the World War II became probably the greatest economic collapse in humans’ history. The tragedy was born on October 29, 1929 with the crash of a stock market. The next ten years after Black Tuesday were accompanied with approximate 25% unemployment rate, the 50% fall of foreign trading, and decrease of industrial producing to 41% in several countries all over the world. In fact, economists still argue about the causes of “Black Tuesday”ť and struggles of following decade of hard collapse. However, there is no common opinion still. In this paper, we’ll leave aside the issue of Great depression causes and will concentrate our attention to political responses to it. The federal social policies of the U.S.A. and Canada are under the target. There is a try to examine similarities and notable differences between the social policy approaches taken in these two countries.

Speaking about social policies in Canada and U.S.A. during Great Depression era, it should be noted that it is quite difficult to give comprehensive analysis of appropriate issues. First of all, it seems absolutely clear that the process of recovery in both countries were mostly determined by local peculiar properties of legal regulations, state’s organization, business traditions, the depth of crisis, cultural interconnections, and etc. Moreover, the policies intended to give the recovery to broken economies included themselves complicated complex of political decisions that sometimes are difficult to be classified just like socially or economically directed. However, some parallels can and should be drawn.

First of all, there is a talk about the concept of a “New Deal”ť. As you remember, it was found by Franklin Roosevelt, who coined this term during 1932 Democratic presidential nomination acceptance speech: “I pledge you, I pledge myself, to a new deal for the American people.” he summarized the New Deal as a “use of the authority of government as an organized form of self-help for all classes and groups and sections of our country.” During his inauguration in March 1933, The President declared in his encouraging and sensitive style, “Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is, fear itself ”” needless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” (Mintz) In large part, the same recovery strategy was picked by R. B. Bennett, the Prime Minister of Canada and representative of conservative party. Being multi-faceted economically directed political programs, both of two New Deals addressed probably the greatest social threat of that times in pretty similar manner. There is a talk about unemployment, which is useful to get similarities in social policies’ approaches of two countries.  In this order, we may remind probably the most radical decisions of U.S. and Canadian governors ”“ designing of unemployment relief camps and establishment of civilian conservation corps. An early step of unemployment struggle,  Roosevelt’s administration initiated Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) design, a program enacted by Congress to bring relief to young men between 18 and 25 years of age. A semi-military style nation-wide campaign, the CCC involved jobless young men in work camps across the country for about $30 per month. About 2 million young men took part in this campaign during 10 years. The projects to participate in included: eliminating stream pollution; planting trees to combat soil erosion and maintain national forests; conserving coal, petroleum, shale, gas, sodium and helium deposits; and creating fish, game and bird sanctuaries. Created in November 1933, the program was abandoned in 1934 (Munitz). In his turn, P.M. Bennett promoted the creation of a nationwide system of camps to provide work for single, homeless, unemployed, Canadian men. This decision was not hidden to be derivative from Roosevelt’s initiative. The camps were under rule of National Defence Department in consultation with the Department of Labor, and staffed with civilians. Occupants voluntarily entered the camps through the Employment Service of Canada and were free to leave them at any time. In return for bunkhouse residence, 3 meals a day, work clothes, medical care and 20 cents a day, the “Royal Twenty Centers” worked 44-hr weeks clearing bush, building roads, planting trees and constructing public buildings (Lawson). In fact, these two cases are helpful to get the drastically approached nature of social policies of two countries. It was the time of modest decisions and both of state’s leaders were able to present them. Though, Roosevelt’s precedence in this issue is hard to be doubted. Notwithstanding this fact, both of work relief systems had the nature of revolutionaries to societies of capitalistic values. Being in large part connected to socialism ideology, both of them witnessed a lot of argues at that time. Being not so convincing from economic point of view, appropriate measures became helpful to give the start of social collapse overcome.

The second similarity in countries approaches to social policy during Great Depression era is much more complicated to be analyzed. There is a talk about the system of Welfare relations. Actually, this issue allows us to get both similarities and differences. Let’s try to explain. The similarity we are talking about is the rethinking of Welfare institution that took place at that time. Being capitalistic countries, both Canada and U.S.A. did not approached Welfare institution as a kind of inherent part of federal costs. Till the days of greatest economy recession, unemployment and some other social sufferings were mostly treated as a kind of individual failures. Thus, appropriate subsidies mostly had a kind of charity nature on local and municipal level. However, the tragic events of 1930th pushed governments to see the other side of a problem. That time gave the birth of Welfare’s federal system concept as we know it today. Both federal governments passed plenty of arrangements directed to the federal welfare systems establishment. However, the results were different in two cases, and these are the differences we are going to talk about.

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