Part 1: Post a Response
By the late 1930s, the US was still dealing with the Great Depression, and conflict was intensifying between powers in Europe and between Japan and its neighbors in Asia. At first, isolationist sentiments prevailed, but eventually the US entered the conflict. Besides developments of the overseas conflict, the next few years of a “war economy” had an enormous impact on the nature of work and the workforce that left a lasting legacy.
Choose and discuss one of the following two topics related to the American experiences in World War II:
Part 2: Respond to a Peer: Felicia Mitchell
The topic I have chosen was (2). In the period 1940-1945, the U.S. would go into a ” war economy” that dramatically impacted the American economy and society. Give two examples of the changes during the ” war economy” period.
The expansion of the economy increased the size of the labor force. On one hand, 12 million Americans joined the armed forces, subtracting them from the domestic labor pool. On the other hand, formerly depressed industries were now replete with contracts, hiring men and women at unprecedented levels. Roosevelt established the National War Labor Board (NWLB) in 1942 to minimize labor disputes and set wages, working conditions, and hours. This need for workers was a boon to unions. Union membership grew from 9 million in 1940 to nearly 15 million in 1945 . Although some strikes did break out during the war, most laborers felt it unpatriotic to leave work while their compatriots were fighting. They were aided in this pledge by the South-Connally Act of 1943, which formally prohibited strikes. In return for working longer hours, workers received heftier paychecks.
(2). Paying For War
It was expensive to pay for all those war supplies . In total, the government spent $321 billion on the war effort. To pay for the war, Roosevelt did three things. First, he pushed for increased taxation, particularly on the wealthy and big business. Inheritance and corporate taxes were also assessed. As a result, taxes paid for 45 percent of the war’s cost. Second, the government issued U.S, Saving Bonds, which people bought in expectation of repayment, with interest, later. These bonds increased the national debt from $40 billion in 1940 to $260 billion in 1945, but they provided a lot of money up front to the government. Saving bonds were particularly attractive to Americans because government rationing had already limited consumer spending. Early in 1942, Congress opened the the Office of Price Administration (OPA), which had the authority to impose rationing and control wages, prices, and rents. Among their many sacrifices, Americans sporadically lived without sugar, butter, coffee, meat, or gasoline. Doing without certain luxuries brought the war closer to home, creating an environment where civilians far from the battlefields felt they were contributing to the war effort.
(2). Describe the impact on U.S. society and work during the war years.
Hispanics also found new opportunities during the war. Many went to work in agriculture and the booming defense industry of southern California. The government’s bracero program brought several hundred thousand . Mexican migrants to work on farms in the American Southwest, which were experiencing an acute labor shortage due to war demands. Similarly, in 1942, as a result in labor shortages and anti discrimination guidelines, 17,000 Mexican Americans were hired for shipyard jobs that had previously been barred to them. The Zoot Suit Riots, 1943. In LA in 1943 , a number of young Latino men were beaten for wearing a Zoot Suit, a fashion of the time, but one that went against the government’s allocation of material.
(3). Taking long term view, explain ways our society is different due to wartime experiences.
Just as World War II transformed the world , it also transformed the United States role in world affairs. Between 1939 and 1945, the United States moved from being a neutral party to being a world super power. Diplomatic successes played as important a role as military triumphs in this development: Roosevelt’s ability to take the lead in the Grand Alliance ensured that American power would endure. But these same forces propelled the Soviet Union to superpower status as well, and as the last shots of World War II were fired, the Cold War between the world’s two superpowers was just beginning, with each power soon to have nuclear weapons to fight it it is to that battle that we now turn.
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