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Posts Tagged ‘Herbert Hoover’

Comparto otro trabajo de la historiadora Heather Cox Richardson, esta vez dedicado a la creación del programa de seguro social en Estados Unidos. Uno de los principales legados del Nuevo Trato, el seguro social cambió de forma drástica la relación entre el gobierno de Estados Unidos y sus ciudadanos. Por primera vez en su historia, el gobierno federal aceptó la responsabilidad sobre el bienestar colectivo e individual de millones de sus ciudadanos más vulnerables: los ancianos y los niños. Desde su creación en 1935, 69 millones de estadounidenses se han beneficiado de este programa.


La revolución con la que Roosevelt sacó a EE.UU. de la depresión y lo  preparó para la guerra

14 de agosto de 2021

Heather Cox Richardson

Letters from an American    15 de agosto de 2021

En este día de 1935, el presidente Franklin Delano Roosevelt  (FDR) firmó la Ley de Seguridad Social (Social Security Act). Si bien el New Deal había puesto en marcha nuevas medidas para regular los negocios y la banca y había proporcionado alivio laboral temporal para combatir la Depresión, esta ley cambió permanentemente la naturaleza del gobierno estadounidense.

La Ley de Seguridad Social es conocida por sus pagos a los estadounidenses mayores, pero hizo mucho más que eso. Estableció el seguro de desempleo; ayuda a los niños sin hogar, dependientes y desatendidos; fondos para promover el bienestar maternoinfantil; y servicios de salud pública. Fue una reelaboración radical de la relación del gobierno con sus ciudadanos, utilizando el poder de los impuestos para aunar fondos para proporcionar una red de seguridad social básica.

Frances Perkins: 100 Women of the Year | TimeLa fuerza impulsora detrás de la ley fue la Secretaria de Trabajo, Frances Perkins, la primera mujer en ocupar un puesto en un  gabinete presidencial y todavía tiene el récord de tener el mandato más largo en ese puesto: de 1933 a 1945.

Perkins trajo a la administración Roosevelt una visión del gobierno muy diferente de la de los republicanos que lo habían gobernado en país en la década de 1920. Mientras que hombres como el presidente Herbert Hoover habían insistido en la idea de un “individualismo intenso” en el que los hombres se abrían camino, manteniendo a sus familias por su cuenta, Perkins reconoció que las personas en las comunidades siempre se habían apoyado mutuamente. La visión de un hombre trabajador que apoyaba a su esposa e hijos era más mito que realidad: su propio marido sufría de trastorno bipolar, lo que la convirtió en el principal apoyo de su familia.

Cuando era niña, Perkins pasaba los veranos con su abuela, con quien era muy cercana, en la pequeña ciudad de Newcastle, Maine, donde fue testigo de una comunidad de apoyo. En la universidad, en Mount Holyoke, se especializó en química y física, pero después de que un profesor requirió que los estudiantes recorrieran una fábrica para observar las condiciones de trabajo, Perkins se comprometió a mejorar las vidas de aquellos atrapados en trabajos industriales. Después de la universidad, Perkins se convirtió en trabajadora social y, en 1910, obtuvo una maestría en economía y sociología de la Universidad de Columbia. Se convirtió en la jefa de la oficina de Nueva York de la Liga Nacional de Consumidores, instando a los consumidores a usar su poder adquisitivo para exigir mejores condiciones y salarios para los trabajadores que fabricaban los productos que estaban comprando.

Al año siguiente, en 1911, fue testigo del incendio de Triangle Shirtwaist en el que murieron 146 trabajadores, en su mayoría mujeres y niñas. Estaban atrapados en el edificio cuando se desató el incendio porque el dueño de la fábrica había ordenado cerrar las puertas de las escaleras y las salidas con llave para asegurarse de que nadie se deslizara afuera para un descanso. Incapaces de escapar del humo y el fuego en la fábrica, los trabajadores, algunos de ellos en llamas, saltaron de los pisos 8, 9 y 10 del edificio, muriendo en el pavimento.

Uncovering the History of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire | History |  Smithsonian Magazine

El Triangle Shirtwaist Fire alejó a Perkins de las organizaciones voluntarias para mejorar la vida de los trabajadores, convenciéndola de la necesidad de la intervención para mejorar las duras condiciones de ltrabajo de la industrialización. Comenzó a trabajar con los políticos demócratas en Tammany Hall, que presidían las comunidades de la ciudad que reflejaban las ciudades rurales y que ejercían una forma de bienestar social para sus votantes, asegurándose de que tuvieran empleos, comida y refugio y que las esposas y los hijos tuvieran una red de apoyo si un esposo y un padre morían. En ese sistema, las voces de mujeres como Perkins eran valiosas, ya que su trabajo en los barrios de inmigrantes de la ciudad significaba que ellas eran las que sabían lo que las familias trabajadoras necesitaban para sobrevivir.

El abrumador desempleo, el hambre y el sufrimiento causados por la Gran Depresión hicieron que Perkins se diera cuenta de que los gobiernos estatales por sí solos no podían ajustar las condiciones del mundo moderno para crear una comunidad segura y solidaria para la gente común. Ella llegó a creer, como ella dijo: “El pueblo es lo que importa para el gobierno, y un gobierno debe tratar de dar a todas las personas bajo su jurisdicción la mejor vida posible”.

A través de sus conexiones con Tammany, Perkins conoció a  FDR, y cuando él le pidió que fuera su Secretaria de Trabajo, ella le dijo que quería que el gobierno federal proporcionara seguro de desempleo, seguro de salud y seguro de vejez. Más tarde recordó: “Recuerdo que parecía tan sobresaltado, y dijo: ‘Bueno, ¿crees que se puede hacer?'”.

La creación de un seguro federal de desempleo se convirtió en su principal preocupación. Los congresistas tenían poco interés en aprobar dicha legislación, pues les preocupaba que el seguro de desempleo y la ayuda federal a las familias dependientes socavaran la disposición de un hombre a trabajar. Pero Perkins reconoció que los desplazados por la Depresión habían añadido una nueva presión a la idea del seguro de vejez.

En Long Beach, California, el Dr. Francis Townsend había mirado por su ventana un día para ver a ancianas buscando comida en botes de basura. Horrorizado, ideó un plan para ayudar a los ancianos y estimular la economía al mismo tiempo. Townsend propuso que el gobierno proporcione a cada jubilado mayor de 60 años 200 dólares al mes, con la condición de que lo gasten en un plazo de 30 días, una condición diseñada para estimular la economía.

Social Security History

El plan de Townsend era muy popular. Más que eso, provocó que la gente de todo el país comenzara a idear sus propios planes para proteger a los ancianos y el tejido social de la nación, y juntos, comenzaron a cambiar la conversación pública sobre las políticas de bienestar social.

Estimularon al Congreso a la acción. PerkinsPrecordó que Townsend “sorprendió al Congreso de los Estados Unidos porque los ancianos tienen votos. Los chicos errantes no tenían votos; las mujeres desalojadas y sus hijos tenían muy pocos votos. Si los desempleados no se quedaban el tiempo suficiente en un solo lugar, no tenían voto. Pero las personas mayores vivían en un solo lugar y tenían votos, por lo que todos los congresistas habían escuchado a la gente del Plan Townsend”.

FDR armó un comité para idear un plan para crear una red de seguridad social básica, pero los miembros del comité no pudieron decidir cómo avanzar. Perkins continuó insistiendo en la idea de que debían llegar a un plan final, y finalmente encerró a los miembros del comité en una habitación. Como recordó: “Bueno, cerramos la puerta con llave y hablamos mucho. Puse un par de botellas de algo u otro para animar a sus espíritus rezagados. De todos modos, nos quedamos en sesión hasta aproximadamente las 2 de la mañana. Luego votamos finalmente, después de haber hecho nuestro juramento solemne de que este era el final; nunca lo íbamos a volver a revisar”.

En el momento en que el proyecto de ley llegó a una votación en el Congreso, era muy popular. La votación fue de 371 a 33 en la Cámara y 77 a 6 en el Senado.

Cuando se le pidió que describiera los orígenes de la Ley de Seguridad Social, Perkins reflexionó que sus raíces provenían de los inicios de la nación. Cuando Alexis de Tocqueville escribió Democracia en Estados Unidos en 1835, señaló, pensó que los estadounidenses eran excepcionalmente “tan generosos, tan amables, tan caritativamente dispuestos”. “Bueno, no sé nada sobre los tiempos en que De Tocqueville visitó Estados Unidos”, dijo, pero “sí sé que en el momento en que entré en el campo del trabajo social, estos sentimientos eran reales”.

Nice Topsy Hartsel piece - Net54baseball.com Forums

Con la Ley de Seguridad Social, Perkins ayudó a escribir en nuestras leyes un impulso político de larga data en Estados Unidos que contrastó dramáticamente con la filosofía de la década de 1920 de intenso individualismo. Reconoció que las ideas de los valores de la comunidad y la puesta en común de recursos para mantener el nivel del campo de juego económico y cuidar de todos están al menos tan profundamente arraigadas en nuestra filosofía política como la idea de cada hombre para sí mismo.

Cuando recordó los orígenes de la Ley de Seguridad Social, Perkins recordó: “Por supuesto, la Ley tuvo que ser enmendada, y ha sido enmendada, y enmendada, y enmendada, y enmendada, hasta que ahora se ha convertido en un proyecto grande e importante, por el cual, por cierto, creo que el pueblo de los Estados Unidos está profundamente agradecido. Una cosa que sé: la Seguridad Social está tan firmemente arraigada en la psicología estadounidense de hoy en día que ningún político, ningún partido político, ningún grupo político podría destruir esta Ley y aún así mantener nuestro sistema democrático. Es seguro. Es seguro para siempre, y para el beneficio eterno del pueblo de los Estados Unidos”.

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Notas:

https://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php

https://www.ssa.gov/history/perkins5.html

https://francesperkinscenter.org/life-new/

Traducido por Norberto Barreto Velázquez

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What Happened the Last Time Republicans Had a Majority This Huge? They lost it.

Josh Zeitz

Politico.com    November 15, 2014

Since last week, many Republicans have been feeling singularly nostalgic for November 1928, and with good reason. It’s the last time that the party won such commanding majorities in the House of Representatives while also dominating the Senate. And, let’s face it, 1928 was a good time.

America was rich—or so it seemed. Charles Lindbergh was on the cover of Time. Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic. Jean Lussier went over Niagara Falls in a rubber ball (thus trumping the previous year’s vogue for flagpole sitting). Mickey Mouse made his first appearance in a talkie (“Steamboat Willie”). Irving Aaronson and His Commanders raised eyebrows with the popular—and, for its time, scandalous—song, “Let’s Misbehave,” and presidential nominee Herbert Hoover gave his Democratic opponent, Al Smith, a shellacking worthy of the history books.

The key takeaway: It’s been a really, really long time since Republicans have owned Capitol Hill as they do now.

But victory can be a fleeting thing. In 1928, Republicans won 270 seats in the House. They were on top of the world. Two years later, they narrowly lost their majority. Two years after that, in 1932, their caucus shrunk to 117 members and the number of Republican-held seats in the Senate fell to just 36. To borrow the title of a popular 1929 novel (which had nothing whatsoever to do with American politics): Goodbye to all that.

A surface explanation for the quick rise and fall of the GOP House majority of 1928 is the Great Depression. As the party in power, Republicans owned the economy, and voters punished them for it. In this sense, today’s Republicans have no historical parallel to fear. Voters—at least a working majority of the minority who turned out last week—clearly blame Barack Obama for the lingering aftershocks of the recent economic crash.

But what if the Republicans of 1928 owed their demise to a more fundamental force? What if it was demography, not economics, that truly killed the elephant?

In fact, the Great Depression was just one factor in the GOP’s stunning reversal of fortune, and in the 1930 cycle that saw Republicans lose their commanding House majority it was probably a minor factor. To be sure, the Republicans of yesteryear were victims of historical contingency (the Great Depression), but they also failed to appreciate and prepare for a long-building trend—the rise of a new urban majority comprised of over 14 million immigrants, and many millions more of their children. Democrats did see the trend, and they built a majority that lasted half a century.

The lesson for President Obama and the Democrats is to go big—very, very big—on immigration reform. Like the New Dealers, today’s Democrats have a unique opportunity to build a majority coalition that dominates American politics well into the century.

***

For the 1928 GOP House majority, victory was unusually short-lived. About one in five GOP House members elected in the Hoover landslide served little more than a year and a half before losing their seats in November 1930.

On a surface level, the Great Depression was to blame.

The stock market crash of October 1929 destroyed untold wealth. Shares in Eastman Kodak plunged from a high of $264.75 to $150. General Electric, $403 to $168.13. General Motors, $91.75 to $33.50. In the following months, millions of men and women were thrown out of work. Tens of thousands of businesses shut their doors and never reopened.

But in the 1920s—before the rise of pensions and 401Ks, college savings accounts and retail investment vehicles—very few Americans were directly implicated in the market. Moreover, in the context of their recent experience, the sudden downtick of 1929-1930 was jarring but not altogether unusual. Hoover later recalled that “for some time after the crash,” most businessmen simply did not perceive “that the danger was any more than that of run-of-the-mill, temporary slumps such as had occurred at three-to-seven year intervals in the past.”

By April 1930, stocks had recouped 20 percent of lost value and seemed on a steady course to recovery. Bank failures, though vexing, were occurring at no greater a clip than the decade’s norm. Yes, gross national product fell 12.6 percent in just one year, and roughly 8.9 percent of able-bodied Americans were out of work. But events were not nearly as dire as in 1921, when a recession sent GNP plunging 24 percent and 11.9 percent of workers were unemployed.

In fact, Americans in the Jazz Age were accustomed to a great deal of economic volatility and risk exposure. It was the age of Scott and Zelda, Babe Ruth, the Charleston, Clara Bow and Colleen Moore—the Ford Model T and the radio set. But it was also an era of massive wealth and income inequality. In these days before the emergence of the safety net—before unemployment and disability insurance—most industrial workers expected to be without work for several months of each year. For farm workers, the entire decade was particularly unforgiving, as a combination of domestic over-production and foreign competition drove down crop prices precipitously.

In hindsight, we know that voters in November 1930 were standing on the edge of a deep canyon. But in the moment, hard times struck many Americans as a normal, cyclical part of their existence.

Unsurprisingly, then, many House and local races in 1930 hinged more on cultural issues—especially on Prohibition, which in many districts set “wet” Democrats against “dry” Republicans—than economic ones.

If the Depression was not a singular determinant in the 1930 elections, neither had Herbert Hoover yet acquired an undeserved reputation for callous indifference to human suffering. Today, we think of Hoover as the laissez-faire foil to Franklin Roosevelt’s brand of muscular liberalism. But in 1930, Hoover was still widely regarded as a progressive Republican who, in his capacity as U.S. relief coordinator, saved Europe from starvation during World War I. When he was elected president, recalled a prominent journalist, we “were in a mood for magic … We had summoned a great engineer to solve our problems for us; now we sat back comfortably and confidently to watch problems being solved.”

In 1929 and 1930, Hoover acted swiftly to address what was still a seemingly routine economic emergency. He jawboned business leaders into maintaining job rolls and wages. He cajoled the Federal Reserve System into easing credit. He requested increased appropriations for public works and grew the federal budget to its largest-ever peacetime levels. In most contemporary press accounts, he had not yet acquired the stigma of a loser.

Still, in 1930 Hoover’s party took a beating. Republicans lost eight seats in the Senate and 52 seats in the House. By the time the new House was seated in December 1931, several deaths and vacancies resulted in a razor-thin Democratic majority.

If the election was not exclusively or even necessarily about economics, the same cannot be said of the FDR’s historic landslide two years later. As Europe plunged headlong into the Depression in 1931 and 1932, the American banking and financial system all but collapsed. With well over 1,000 banks failing each year, millions of depositors lost their life savings. By the eve of the election, more than 50 percent of American workers were unemployed or under-employed.

In response to the crisis, Hoover broke with decades of Republican economic orthodoxy. He stepped up work on the Boulder Dam and Grand Coulee Dam (popular lore notwithstanding, these were not first conceived as New Deal projects). He signed legislation outlawing anti-union (“yellow dog”) clauses in work agreements. And he chartered the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, a government-sponsored entity that loaned money directly to financial institutions, railroads and agricultural stabilization agencies, thereby helping them maintain liquidity. The RFC was in many ways the first New Deal agency, though Herbert Hoover pioneered it. Even the editors of the New Republic, among the president’s sharpest liberal critics, admitted at the time, “There has been nothing quite like it.”

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Herbert Hoover´s Crusade Against Collectivism

HNN ❘ December 23, 2013

Note by the book’s editor: This introduction is adapted from The Crusade Years, 1933-1955: Herbert Hoover’s Lost Memoir of the New Deal Era and Its Aftermath, edited and with an introduction by George H. Nash, excerpt below (Hoover Institution Press, 2013).

On a cool October morning in 1964, Herbert Hoover died in New York City at the age of ninety. He had lived a phenomenally productive life, including more than half a century in one form or another of public service. It was a record that in sheer scope and duration may be without parallel in American history.

His life had begun in humble circumstances in 1874 in a little Iowa farming community as the son of the village blacksmith. Orphaned before he was ten, he managed to enter Stanford University when it opened its doors in 1891. Four years later he graduated with a degree in geology and a determination to become a mining engineer.

154275-Herbert_Hoover

Image via Wiki Commons.

From then on, Hoover’s rise in the world was meteoric. By 1914, at the age of forty, he was an internationally acclaimed and extraordinarily successful mining engineer who had traveled around the world five times and had business interests on every continent except Antarctica.

During World War I, Hoover, residing in London, rose to prominence as the founder and director of the Commission for Relief in Belgium, an institution that provided desperately needed food supplies to more than nine million Belgian and French citizens trapped between the German army of occupation and the British naval blockade. His emergency relief mission in 1914 quickly evolved into a gigantic humanitarian enterprise without precedent in world history. By 1917 he was an international hero, the embodiment of a new force in global politics: American benevolence.

When America declared war on Germany in 1917, Hoover returned home and became head of the United States Food Administration, a specially created wartime agency of the federal government. At the conflict’s victorious close in 1918, President Woodrow Wilson dispatched him to Europe to organize food distribution to a continent careening toward disaster. There, for ten grueling months, he directed American- led efforts to combat famine and disease, establish stable postwar economies, and in the process check the advance of Bolshevik revolution from the East.

A little later, between 1921 and 1923, Hoover’s American Relief Administration administered a massive emergency relief operation in the interior of Soviet Russia, where a catastrophic famine — Europe’s worst since the Middle Ages — had broken out. At its peak of operations, his organization fed upward of ten million Russian citizens a day.

All in all, between 1914 and 1923 the American-born engineer-turned-humanitarian directed, financed, or assisted a multitude of international relief endeavors without parallel in the history of mankind. It was later said of him that he was responsible for saving more lives than any other person in history.

During the Roaring Twenties Hoover ascended still higher on the ladder of public esteem. As secretary of commerce under Presidents Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge, he became one of the three or four most influential men in the U.S. government. In 1928, the “master of emergencies” (as admirers called him) was elected president of the United States in a landslide — without ever having held an elective public office.

Then came the crash of 1929 and the most severe economic trauma this nation has ever experienced. During his tormented presidency, Hoover strained without stint to return his country to prosperity while safeguarding its political moorings. His labors — even now misunderstood — seemed unavailing, and in the election of 1932 his fellow citizens’ verdict was harsh.

Before his single term as chief executive, Hoover’s career trajectory had curved unbrokenly upward. Now it headed pitifully down. “Democracy is not a polite employer,” he later wrote of his defeat at the polls. On March 4, 1933, he left office a virtual pariah, maligned and hated like no other American in his lifetime.

And then, astonishingly, like a phoenix, he slowly rose from the ashes of his political immolation. Now came the final phase of Hoover’s career: his remarkable ex-presidency. For the next thirty-one and one-half years, in fair political weather and foul, the former chief executive became, in his self-image, a crusader — a tireless and very visible castigator of the dominant political trends of his day. He behaved as a committed ideological warrior more persistently and more fervently than any other former president in our history.

Why? Most of all, it was because Hoover perceived in the New Deal of Franklin Roosevelt not a moderate and pragmatic response to economic distress but something more sinister: a revolutionary transformation in America’s political economy and constitutional order. Having espied the unpalatable future, Hoover could not bring himself to acquiesce.

It is this eventful period in Hoover’s career — and, more specifically, his life as a political pugilist from 1933 to 1955 — that is the main subject of the volume before you. The Crusade Years is a previously unknown memoir that Hoover composed and revised during the 1940s and 1950s — and then, surprisingly, set aside. Placed in storage by his heirs aft er his death, the manuscript (in its various versions) lay sequestered — its existence unsuspected by scholars — until 2009, when it was discovered among the files of another hitherto inaccessible Hoover manuscript being readied for posthumous publication.

This other tome, known informally as the Magnum Opus, addressed American foreign policy in the 1930s and 1940s. Part memoir, part diplomatic history, part polemic, it was a scathing indictment of what Hoover termed Franklin Roosevelt’s “lost statesmanship” during World War II. Hoover ultimately titled the book Freedom Betrayed. It was published in 2011 by the Hoover Institution Press.

The Crusade Years — a companion volume of sorts to the Magnum Opus — covers much the same time period on the American home front. More fully a memoir than Freedom Betrayed, it recounts Hoover’s family life aft er March 4, 1933, his myriad philanthropic interests, and, most of all, his unrelenting “crusade against collectivism” in American life. Rescued from obscurity, this nearly forgotten manuscript is published here — and its contents made available to scholars — for the first time.
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