It is imperative, when understanding the causes and effects of The Great Depression, one must be able to incorporate Maslow?s hierarchy of needs into the daily routine of life. Happiness with one?s life or disappointments in one?s life grows from a foundation. The Depression symbolized Maslow?s pyramid of growth Even though the 1920s were known by many as the roaring twenties with people enjoying life?s niceties, in reality life wasn?t really as prosperous as it seemed. The consequences of mass speculation of the stock market were reaped by many during the thirties and the early forties after the crash on October 21st 1929. The Great Depression marked a time where the general population of America felt drastic setbacks in life.
Using Maslow?s Hierarchy of needs, one can understand how the basic needs of the individual America was stripped from beneath them because ?Wall Street Lays An Egg.? The foundation of Maslow?s Hierarchy was one?s basic needs, and America?s basic needs during the 20?s was to have food, shelter, clothing, and the stock market to provide for one self or one?s family. Moving up on the Maslow?s pyramid is Safety, and safety included job security. With the stock market doing as well as it did in the 20?s with people speculating on its progress, people invested money they didn?t have. So even though there were elements of risk investing with the safety they had, for the most part in the 20?s people capitalized with their safety. Affiliation within one?s own class, either upper, middle, or lower, are needs of people, and self-esteem revolved about affiliation with one?s class. Finally, self-actualization was when one?s goal or goals are being met. This pyramid of needs is how life in America was depended on during the 20?s. One October 21st 1929 the crash of the stock market crushed America?s foundation that started The Great Depression.
Many people and factors are to blame to crash of the stock market, but no one conclusive factor has taken the blame. Many people believe that poor leadership and politics on behalf of Calvin Coolidge and Hoover with their ?laissez-faire? government led America into the depression. They believed in the self-made man and individualism; government should not intervene in public affairs and that people working together was the only solution to getting America out of the depression.
Probably the biggest upset during the Depression was widespread unemployment. Typically the average unemployed man was thirty-six years old physically fit and has an excellent work history. In Pennsylvania studies showed that the typical unemployed man was either black or an alien. Blacks and aliens were the last hired and the first hired. Many people graduated from high school and college with credible degrees, but landed into a world without jobs. Senator Bilbo of Mississippi vowed that eliminating 12,000,000 blacks from America?s populations and sending them back to Africa could solve the problem with unemployment. The United Spanish War Veterans urged the deportation of 10,000,000 aliens back to where they came from. Many non-citizens, unable to find work, voluntarily returned to their homelands. In 1932 more than 3 times as many persons left this country as entered it. No longer was America seen as the Promise Land.
People lost their houses and their apartments. FDR stated: ?One of the major disasters of the depression was the loss of hundreds of thousands of homes each year from foreclosure.? During the average year 78,000 homes per year are foreclosed, but during the depression, 1932, this number increased to 273,000. In Harlem New York blacks invented a new way to raise money to pay the rent, house-rent parties, rather than getting evicted or having their houses foreclose. A family would announce to anyone and everyone on the block or in their city that they?re having a party on Saturday night for an evening of fun. There would be a cover charge at the door and food and beverages would be extra. Many black people found that house-rent parties not only put food on their tables, but it gave them better opportunities to pay the rent or the mortgage. For those citizens who could not make ends meet, they found that they became part of the statistics. In moving from place to place, families would leave their furniture and financed belongings behind for the company?s to reposes their furniture. The evicted found themselves flocking to their friends or families. Eventually leading to more than 10 to 15 persons living under the same house.
The Depression strained the family structure and sometimes even shattered it. In the early part of the depression women would not understand that there weren?t any jobs for their husbands. They simply believed that their husbands were too lazy and just didn?t want to work. Men started having the social workers call home to confirm on their behalf that indeed there were no jobs and that their husbands were not lying. Since men could not find any work, they found themselves displaced in the household. Normally the husband was looked down upon by the rest of the family if he was seen washing dishes or helping out around the house. Ashamed, confused, and resentful, they became sexually impotent. Women found that since their husbands didn?t work and no food was being brought to the table, they would venture to work as temporary whores to keep their family going.
The Depression started to erode freedom. Some Americans a little more secure than others asked harsh questions like, how about fingerprinting everyone on relief? Was it proper for a man on relief to own a car? Wasn?t it wrong to sell liquor to the head of the household? Should reliefers be allowed to vote? In New Orleans a federal judge denied citizenship to four qualified persons because they were on relief and therefore were ?unable financially to contribute to the support of the government.? Governor Talmadge of George was asked what he would do about the millions of unemployed Americans. His responded, ?Let?em starve!? Frank Hague, mayor of Jersey City, called for the erection in Alaska of a concentration camp for the native ?Reds.?
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected in 1932 defeating Hoover. In his inaugural address he stated, ?the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.? He related this to the crash of the stock market and people?s fears of reinvesting and banking. To increase the confidence in society FDR passed what was called the New Deal. These programs designed by FDR would create jobs for the needy, set standards for employment, and would create agencies and acts to protect citizens? investments in the future. With the Wagner Act, FDR gave workers the right to organize and bargain through unions. The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 mandated maximum hours and minimum wages. The CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) provided training and jobs for unemployed young men. The WPA (Workers Progress Administration) employed 9 million people in various public works projects between 1935 and 1943. The FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) was created to promote stability in the banking industry. This agency would insure depositors up to $100,000 per account.
The Great Depression took its toll on many American families. Widespread unemployment, foreclosures, and the strain on the family structure are only some of the effects of the Great Depression. These major setbacks in life tested many families during what was probably the most difficult time in American history.