CHRONICLES OF OUR GENERATION

CHRONICLES OF OUR GENERATION

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

As long as lobbyists exist, America will continue to be run by corporations

 

As long as lobbyists exist, America will continue to be run by corporations.  

When so-called experts in the media discuss America’s problems and offer solutions, you are not likely to hear mention of the power held by lobbyist groups. On rare occasion when the influence of lobbyists is mentioned, it is only in passing. Never will you hear anyone in the media recommend an end to all lobbyist activities as one component of restoring America’s past greatness.

Today, the power wielded over Washington through lobbyist organizations is thought of as a birth right of sorts. Thus, because corporations exert complete control over Washington by the use of lobbyists, a prerequisite for those who propose economic solutions must include a recommendation to ban all lobbyist activities. Otherwise, such individuals either have no interest in the American public and the future of this nation, or else they are unqualified to offer real solutions.

Lobbying firms receive huge sums of money from corporations and other entities. Under the direction of corporate liaisons, lobbyists use their bank accounts to get the bills passed that favor their corporate clients. Many lobbyists themselves are former politicians and corporate insiders. They use their connections and network to bribe politicians in exchange for favors. Most often, these favors include blanket impunity. As a result, corporate CEOs are untouchable, regardless of their crimes. Other times, lobbyists use blackmail, extortion and threats in order to get monopolistic mergers and acquisitions and industry deregulation approved.

Often, lobbyists actually write the bills they want passed and shuttle them to congressional puppets. They also devise deceptive strategies to mask their real intent, such as when they lobby for lax or excessive regulation so that corporations will have valid excuses for sending jobs overseas. All one need do is to examine the business activities of any mega-corporation over the years, and you’ll see what’s going on; Wal-Mart, Intel, AT&T, Microsoft, Google, Pfizer, etc. Just from this short list of corporations you will see a long history of bribes, violations of anti-trust laws, industry collusion, and taxpayer fraud. 

In defense of their actions, Washington officials and corporate lobbyists work closely with America’s tightly-controlled media monopoly to disseminate inaccurate information after receiving huge corporate bounties. For instance, despite substantial evidence pointing to the contrary, deregulation most often leads to higher prices for consumers because it facilitates the elimination of competition and promotes collusion. This is especially the case for industries supplying basic necessities.

As we have seen throughout history, the laissez-faire business environment endorsed by Milton Friedman and Alan Greenspan actually widens the avenues for corporate fraud, industry collusion, and many other manipulative market behaviors due to the influence of lobbyists. Moreover, the prevalence of the revolving door connecting Washington with corporate America has also served to transform America’s former free market economy into crony capitalism.

We have seen far too many examples illustrating the behavior of corporate giants when not held accountable for their actions. The same can be said of elected officials. Even when regulatory agencies have been assigned the responsibility of ensuring a fair and competitive market place, regulatory capture is most often the end result. In this case, regulatory agencies are bought off by industry lobbyists to serve as an ally to the industry and an enemy of consumers.

The corporate media aids lobbyists in spreading propaganda to the public, using its own version of experts who insist that regulation stifles the free market system. In reality, the United States has not enjoyed a real free market system for decades. The unified mechanism of fraud and deception has been highly effective in the preservation and further strengthening of America’s fascist regime.

Today, most Americans are convinced of the lies they have been fed from the media. The list is endless, ranging from 9-11 and the war on terror, the economy and healthcare, to politics and education. In fact, the lies have become so pervasive and routine that well-informed Americans assume the media and Washington are lying until proven otherwise. Unfortunately, this group of Americans accounts for only a very small percentage.     

The end result of lobbyist activities is the theft of wealth and income from consumers by corporate giants through price hikes facilitated by collusive activities, corporate bribes and extortion, taxpayer fraud, securities fraud, and government subsidies.

As you can imagine, financial lobbyists played a major role in the financial crisis just as much as the Wall Street and Washington criminals. The accompanying charts demonstrate clear evidence of this. 

When George Bush ran for his second term, Wall Street ponied up the largest bribes for his presidential campaign.

Shortly after his (controversial) reelection, Bush rewarded the banks for their “generosity” by signing the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, making it much more difficult for consumers to file bankruptcy.

The timing of this law was perfect. Within two years after the new law was passed, the credit bubble had begun to implode. 

Pre-crisis bills to restrict lending practices largely failed to pass, while laws to loosen lending standards were passed.

Morgan Stanley
$603,480

Merrill Lynch
$586,254

PricewaterhouseCoopers
$514,250

UBS AG
$474,325

Goldman Sachs
$394,600

Lehman Brothers
$361,525

MBNA Corp
$350,350

Credit Suisse Group
$326,040

Citigroup Inc
$320,820

Bear Stearns
$313,150

Ernst & Young
$305,140

Deloitte LLP
$292,250

Wachovia Corp
$279,310

Ameriquest Capital
$253,130

Blank Rome LLP
$225,150

Bank of America
$218,261

Of course it was the banks that served as the “credit junkie” to consumers who became hooked on a quick fix of credit, offering guaranteed credit approvals irrespective of one’s credit score.  

Washington passed numerous laws to aid in these activities since it was the only means by which to boost an economy that had been wrecked by years of unfair trade.

The influence of financial industry lobbyists.

As the credit wave continued, more toxic loans were bundled up into securities that would serve as the core ammunition for the global economic collapse.

Wall Street banks and hedge funds leveraged their debt by 50 to 100 times the amount of cash on hand in order to keep the money machine running. In the process they created trillions of dollars in derivative securities.

Once the sub-prime loans began to blow up, a domino effect ensued, multiplying the losses and freezing up liquidity throughout the global financial system.  

Early on during the meltdown, when Senator Obama sought campaign contributions, Goldman Sachs stepped up to the plate to become his leading (private sector) contributor.

In return for this bribe, President Obama allowed Goldman to escape billions of dollars in fines and hundreds of criminal indictments as a result of taxpayer and securities fraud stemming from the AIG bailout, which landed Goldman a $20 billion parachute from the hands of taxpayers.

Goldman Sachs
$994,795

Citigroup Inc
$701,290

JPMorgan Chase & Co
$695,132

Sidley Austin LLP
$588,598

UBS AG
$543,219

Wilmerhale Llp
$542,618

Skadden, Arps et al
$530,839

Morgan Stanley
$514,881

General Electric
$499,130

Latham & Watkins
$493,835

The organizations themselves did not donate, rather the money came from the organization’s PAC, its individual members or employees or owners, and those individuals’ immediate families.Organization totals include subsidiaries and affiliates.

Similar to the case with President Bush, Goldman Sachs wasn’t Wall Street’s only donor to Obama’s presidential campaign. Several additional financial and related firms

Loans were offered to everyone, regardless of their credit status.

shuttled millions to the man who promised “hope” and “change.” At this point, the only “change” we can “hope” for is an end to America’s fascist government, although this is not likely to happen anytime soon.

In return, Obama ensured that the crime bosses most responsible for the destruction of the global economy would never see one day in prison; not Alan Greenspan, not Robert Rubin, not Larry Summers, not Dick Fuld, not Hank Greenberg, not Jamie Dimon, not Angelo Mozilo, not Ken Lewis, not Lloyd Blankfein; not Franklin Raines; not Richard Syron; not even the tens of thousands of small criminals under their watch; no one. It has easily been the most colossal theft of wealth in world history. Yet, no one is in prison.   

Once the house of cards toppled, it was former Goldman Sachs CEO, Henry Paulson, who serving as U.S. Treasury Secretary, devised a scheme along with Federal Reserve officials (including then New York Federal Reserve President Timothy Geithner, who would later become Obama’s Treasury Secretary) to provide congressmen a with scapegoat so they would have an excuse to pass TARP (the banking system bailout). “We had to bail out the banks or we would have a depression,” they insisted.

Well, the fact is that the U.S. would have suffered a depression either way. In combination with additional bailouts (which have been hidden from the public) and irresponsible monetary policies of the Fed, TARP has ensured a more severe period of depression. Remarkably, at no time either during Bush or Obama’s tenure were Wall Street firms ever required to suspend cash dividends to shareholders even after receiving a taxpayer bailout. Thus, the tax dollars from working-class actually went towards cash dividend payouts to the wealthy bank shareholders.  

Furthermore, with the passage of the ridiculously inadequate Wall Street reform bill which was sliced down to consumer finance reform, Obama has ensured the continuation of Wall Street fraud. As you will recall, this was the same mechanism utilized by Obama to address healthcare, when he transformed healthcare reform into health insurance reform, inspired by industry bribes. See here.

Adding insult to injury, by removing the government insurance option, he failed even to reform the health insurance industry. Similar to Bush’s Medicare Part D gravy train for big pharma, Obamacare ensures more taxpayer subsidies for the industry.

Although the power held over Washington by healthcare, financial, and oil industry lobbyists is frightening, the single most powerful lobbyist group in Washington is AIPAC. That’s saying a lot. Using the money from wealthy Zionists, AIPAC is able to almost effortlessly tap into the Zionist Jewish network from within the Washington to control U.S. foreign and even certain aspects of domestic policy.

Despite common public perception, numerous surveys have shown that the official position of AIPAC as it relates to Palestine is not shared by the majority of Jewish Americans. But you aren’t going to hear America’s tightly-controlled Zionist media speak of this. In fact, you won’t even hear an open debate regarding the pros and cons of Washington’s unilateral support for Israel’s terroristic activities towards Palestinians. What you will see is every politician in Washington pledging their unconditional support for Israel because they understand the key to reelection.   

Washington crooks celebrating their war profits.

There is no doubt that without the influence and power of AIPAC, the U.S. would never have gone to war in Iraq. Along with the equally unnecessary war in Afghanistan, America’s prolonged occupation in the Middle East has cost taxpayers trillions of dollars, resulted in the loss of thousands of American lives, while wounding hundreds of thousands of U.S. military personnel, both physically and psychologically.

Once their active duty has ended veterans return home, only have their benefits denied or delayed for several years by the VA.

And we certainly cannot forget that several hundred thousand innocent Iraqi civilians have been murdered, some by U.S. mercenaries like Blackwater (which changed its name to Xe to avoid more criticism).

Moreover, we cannot forget about the innocent women and children who have been murdered by these useless wars that have been based on deception and lies. The war in Iraq has been a complete embarrassment to the U.S. Likewise, the war in Afghanistan has been nothing more than a farce. Although Washington promised to bring democracy to Iraq, it has brought nothing other than pain, suffering and misery to Iraqis.

Finally, if it were not for the decision by Washington to fabricate these wars, there would be more federal funds available to use towards the current depression. Ironically, as the U.S. economy continues to suffer the effects of banking fraud carried out by Wall Street crime bosses, Israel’s economy is humming along quite nicely.

By now, it should be obvious who will ultimately pay the price for the criminal arrangements engineered between lobbyists and politicians. In coming years, the working class will be hit with dozens of tax hikes and/or new taxes in order to pay for the money stolen by the banks.

As first discussed in America’s Financial Apocalypse, basic government services will be auctioned off to the private sector. Many will cheer this move, as they have been brainwashed to think that private industry is less exploitative than government. Remember, we are talking about a fascist government. Regardless whether the highway system or school system is run by the public or private sector, you are guaranteed to get screwed to the same degree.

In coming years, toll booths will sprout on every major road along with surveillance cameras, all HOV lanes will charge a fee for access, and every parking place will be metered. Candy and sodas will have a special sugar tax, coffee and other food and beverage items deemed “unhealthy” will be taxed as an excuse to “encourage less consumption for the health and safety of society.”  

Americans will pay higher prices for energy, while oil companies continue to receive generous tax breaks. I’d say it’s a decent bet the gasoline tax will be raised by the next administration. To gain support for higher taxes, Washington will remind Americans that they pay amongst the lowest gasoline taxes in the world. Tell that to tens of millions of working-class Americans earning a minimum wage that remains 60% below inflation growth over the past four decades.

America will continue to fight wars for Israel, based on more lies and scare tactics, all while the military-industrial complex defrauds taxpayers of trillions of dollars. See here.

Pension plan deficits will continue to widen due to record-low interest rates set forth by the criminal Federal Reserve in order for banks to steal even more wealth and savings from Main Street.  Medicare and Social Security benefits will be sliced down through a variety of means (soaring premiums/Medicare, reduced COLAs/both, reduced benefits/both). 

As millions of additional Americans face losing their home due to chronic unemployment, tens of millions remain underemployed, barely scraping by. Meanwhile, already 50 million Americans live in poverty according to slanted criteria from Washington. When adjusted for regional cost of living variations and other factors, the real number is easily over 70 million.

The continued economic demise spearheaded by Wall Street and the Federal Reserve has created yet another opportunity for banking vultures to exploit their prey. Banks have jacked up credit card rates, knowing that many consumers have only their credit cards as their remaining safety net.

The bought-off media establishment insists that corporate America has no jobs to offer. The truth is that they just aren’t hiring in the U.S. Likewise, the media tells us that U.S. banks are lending money, when in fact they are; they just aren’t lending it to Americans.

Where is the money that the Federal Reserve has handed to the banking cartel at essentially 0% interest rates?  Check with Brazil and China.

Exploitative loan sharks, approved by the U.S. government.

After having squeezed all they can from their victims, the traditional financial industry has cast millions of destitute consumers aside for yet other vultures to move in for

the final kill. Today, the fastest growing industry in the U.S. is the payday loan and auto title business.

In exchange for an advance on your pay check or the title to your vehicle, these sweat shops charge annual interest rates ranging from 300% to 650%, stamped with the seal of approval from the state and federal government, compliments of finance industry lobbyists.

These are America’s depression-era banks, serving the most unfortunate victims of America’s financial apocalypse.

Captured Blog: Detroit

Captured Blog: Detroit

Captured Blog: Detroit

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Pens rest on a table in empty lobby at a former bank November 18, 2008 in the economically struggling Detroit, Michigan. The big three U.S. automakers, General Motors, Ford and Chrysler, all based in Detroit, are appearing this week in Washington to ask for federal funds to curb the decline of the American auto industry. The city of Detroit would be hardest hit if the government let the auto makers fall into bankruptcy. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) #

Captured Blog: Detroit

 

(L-R) Chairman and CEO of General Motors Richard Wagoner, UAW President Ron Gettelfinger, Chairman and CEO of Chrysler LLC Robert Nardelli, and President and CEO of the Ford Motor Company Alan Mulally move to their seats ahead of testifying before the House Financial Services Committee on Capitol Hill November 19, 2008 in Washington, DC. The leaders of the "Big Three" Detroit automakers and the head of the union that represents their workers were on Capitol Hill to ask lawmakers for $25 billion to help them wheather the recent financial crisis and "retool" for the future. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) #

Captured Blog: NYC from Above

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Citigroup Center, center, stands in between Citigroup corporate headquarters, center front, and a Citi building in the Queens borough of New York, top, in this aerial photograph taken over New York, U.S., on Wednesday, July 7, 2010. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg #

Captured Blog: NYC from Above

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Office buildings, including the headquarters of JPMorgan Chase & Co., black buliding at center, stand in midtown Manhattan in this aerial photograph taken over New York, U.S., on Wednesday, July 7, 2010. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Blood money stains the hands of more than 25% of members of the U.S. House and Senate
Who profits from the two wars? More than a quarter of senators and congressmen have invested at least $196 million of their own money in companies doing business with the Department of Defense (DoD) that profit from the death and destruction in Iraq.

According to the latest reports, 151 members of Congress invested close to a quarter-billion in companies that received defense contracts of at least $5 million in 2006. These companies got more than $275.6 billion from the government in 2006, or $755 million per day, according to

FedSpending.org, a website of the watchdog group OMBWatch

Congressmen gave themselves a loophole so they only have to report their assets in broad ranges. Thus, they can be off as much as 160 percent. (Try giving the IRS an estimate like that.) In 2004, the first full year after the present Iraq war began, Republican and Democratic lawmakers—both hawks and doves—invested between $74.9 million and $161.3 million in companies under contract with the DoD. In 2006 Democrats had at least $3.7 million invested in the defense sector alone, compared to the Republicans’ “only” $577,500. As the war raged on, so did the billions of profits—and personal investments by Congress members in war contractors, which increased 5 percent from 2004 to 2006.
Investments in these contractors yielded Congress members between $15.8 million and $62 million in personal income from 2004 through 2006, through dividends, capital gains, royalties and interest. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), who are two of Congress’s wealthiest members, were among the lawmakers who garnered the most income from war contractors between 2004 and 2006: Sensenbrenner got at least $3.2 million and Kerry reaped at least $2.6 million.
Members of the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services committees which oversee the Iraq war had between $32 million and $44 million invested in companies with DoD contracts.

War hawk Sen. Joe Lieberman (IConn.), chairman of the defense-related
Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, had at least $51,000 invested in these companies in 2006.
Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), who voted for Bush’s war, had stock in defense companies, such as Honeywell, Boeing and Raytheon, but sold the stock in May 2007.
Of the 151 members whose investments are tied to the “defense” (war)
industry, as far as we know, not one of them offered to donate their bloodstained profits to the national treasury to offset the terrible debt they have imposed. Has one of them even offered to donate one cent of their war profits to lessen the debt that increases more than $1 million a minute?

When our boys and girls are wounded the government bills them to return their reenlistment bonus. They have to return any pay they received while they were hospitalized. They have to pay for their helmets and uniforms that are destroyed in the hell of war. But they keep on fighting for these politicians’ right to keep their war profits.........SHAME....SHAME.....SHAME!!

This Administration Robs Social Security and Gives it to the Military Industrial Complex...

.

The fortunes of the American Empire and the Military/Industrial Complex have until recently risen and fallen together. Most recently, however, the US Military/Industrial Complex has become a vast web entangling the US government, foreign "allies, and a vast infrastructure of contractors and suppliers. This un-elected, unaccountable web threatens to kill the goose that laid the golden egg.

The American Military/Industrial complex was not immediately "institutionalized". Yet it's rise to power seems not to have been slowed by our disastrous wars in Korea, Viet Nam and now Iraq. In a real world, failure is its own reward; but in the Lewis Carroll world of the American Military/Industrial complex, power is accrued exponentially despite failure, despite incompetence, despite criminality at the very highest levels.

At some point, however, a house of cards must fall of its own weight. America's untenable position in Iraq subverts US security by revealing to the world a paper tiger, a deteriorating economy, and Bush's inability to define a victory that cannot be achieved. At the very heart of the problem is a tail that wags the dog, a cancer that thinks it is the body. Needed now is a critical re-evaluation of America's most notable fascist institution --the Military/Industrial complex.

By Military/Industrial complex we mean the Pentagon Bureaucracy, the Military Command, the vast network of defense contractors, and the branches of government that must interface with this

leviathan --primarily the President as "Commander-in-Chief" and those committees in congress charged with appropriations and oversight.

Author Gore Vidal is very specific with regard to the Military/Industrial Complex. He credits Harry Truman with its creation, specifically the decision to "militarize the economy". Historically, we were approaching a "red scare", the Rosenberg case, a McCarthy era. All seemed justification enough to maintain a vast military infrastructure that spanned the globe. But as we maintained troops, bases and equipment throughout the world, we denied monies for education, health care, and basic infrastructure. Stories of little red school houses are legion and typically American. I have a true one --my vivid memories of a first grade spent inside a grim, gray cinder block building that looked more like Hitler's bunker than a school building. We were fortunate to have had desks and a blackboard.

One day the calculation of how many schools, how many books, how many computers might be acquired for the price of a single carrier, a single nuke, a single global hawk, a single campaign of "shock and awe", a "desert storm", an Iraqi Freedom in which one "brutal dictator" is simply replaced by another.

“On September 16, 1985, when the Commerce Department announced that the United States had become a debtor nation, the American Empire died. The Empire was seventy-one years old and had been in ill health since 1968. Like most modern empires, ours rested not such much on military prowess as on economic primacy.

The military industrial complex seems designed to keep the rich and powerful rich and powerful, at the expense of decency, common sense and the American taxpayer. It is one of two primary means by which wealth is transferred from the working and lower classes to the upper "ruling classes" who themselves maintain the offices of the "complex".

Unfair "tax cuts" favored by Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush are another means by which this is achieved. The one method reinforces the other. The primary beneficiaries of such tax cuts are the CEO's of big military contractors. It's hard not to think of the tax cuts as payoffs for support and, likewise, a promise of more pork to come.

It is not surprising that this establishment would covet the monies that are paid into what is euphemistically called the Social Security trust fund. In fact, government does not hesitate to raid those funds regularly to cover current expenses. Right now, the big expense is Iraq.

Contrary to what Social Security opponents will tell you, Social Security actually turns a profit, or, as

Paul Krugman puts it: "Right now the revenues from the payroll tax exceed the amount paid out in benefits." That "profit" is literally "stolen" from you by your government to pay current expenses. That, clearly, is not a failure of the program as the GOP would have you believe. It is, rather, irrefutable proof that Social Security may be the government's only success story. If Social Security had not been a such a rousing success, there would be no monies to be looted. To be sure, those monies are routinely looted to pay for or otherwise cover up the extravagances of Pentagon bloodsuckers. All of this is pure pork --a GOP gravy train.

Social Security is the victim of its own success, a target of every politician who happens to be owned, body and soul, by the

MIC. If the "social security trust fund" had not been available for periodic "raids" by unprincipled politicians of both parties, the US government might have gone belly up a long time ago. Do FOX and other MSM apologists tell you that?

Republicans are, by far, the most egregious offenders but, sadly, the US government itself is the Ponzi scheme --not Social Security, unfairly expected pay its own way but also that of every other government program. How much of that money, I wonder, has wound up in Dick Cheney's pocket? How much in Bush's pocket by way of his corporate sponsors?

Halliburton and Blackwater, I am sure, get paid when others stand in line. When the other sources run dry --as they often do --our "government" just gets on board the GOP gravy train, a Ponzi scheme meets Murder, Inc. Our government will simply take another unprincipled dip into the cookie jar.

If the GOP should succeed in turning Social Security into a "privatized scheme" run by slick talkers from Wall Street, it will have killed the goose that laid the Golden Egg. Whatever will the GOP do for quick cash when it doesn't have Social Security to kick around anymore?

As its counterpart was in ancient Rome, the Military/Industrial complex is a leech, a blood sucking parasite, a black hole, a pit! The US has not made a lousy blood soaked dime by murdering folk in Iraq but we have, to be sure, paid out

"billions and billions". Bills come due and we, the people, foot the bill for treason and incompetence. And, each evening, numbed by a scintillating corporate experience, we turn on FOX to get lied to and brainwashed.

The Military/Industrial complex is legalized fraud and grand larceny on a scale that would have made Roman emperors blush. People go along because it is believed that the contracts awarded will trickle down. Wealth has never trickled down. If it had, income disparities in this country would have disappeared years ago.

That didn't happen. While the

rich have gotten much, much richer, the poor have very nearly fallen off the scale, robbed of work, future, and self-esteem by unworkable GOP visions of a fascist America.

Under the Radar

Tens of thousands of defense contractors -- from well-known "civilian" corporations (like Coca-Cola, Kraft, and Dell) to tiny companies -- have fattened up on the Pentagon and its wars. Most of the time, large or small, they fly under the radar and are seldom identified as defense contractors at all. So it's hardly surprising that firms like Harris and Evergreen, without name recognition outside their own worlds, can take in billions in taxpayer dollars without notice or comment in our increasingly militarized civilian economy.

When the history of the Iraq War is finally written, chances are that these five billion-dollar babies, and most of the other defense contractors involved in making the U.S. occupation possible, will be left out. Until we begin coming to grips with the role of such corporations in creating the material basis for an imperial foreign policy, we'll never be able to grasp fully how the Pentagon works and why we so regularly make war in, and carry out occupations of, distant lands.



Timeline of the Great Depression

October 1929

The stock market crashes, marking the end of six years of unparalleled prosperity for most sectors of the American economy. The "crash" begins on October 24 (Black Thursday). By October 29, stock prices will plummet and banks will be calling in loans. An estimated $30 billion in stock values will "disappear" by mid-November.

November 1929

President Herbert Hoover says, "Any lack of confidence in the economic future or the basic strength of business in the United States is foolish."

Man lying on the ground

National Archives

Man lying on the ground

March 1930

More than 3.2 million people are unemployed, up from 1.5 million before the October, 1929 crash. President Hoover remains optimistic, however, stating that "all the evidences indicate that the worst effects of the crash upon unemployment will have passed during the next 60 days."

November 1930

The street corners of New York City are crowded with apple-sellers. Nearly 6,000 unemployed individuals work at selling apples for five cents apiece.

January 1931

Texas congressman Wright Patman introduces legislation authorizing immediate payment of "bonus" funds to veterans of World War I. The "bonus bill" had been passed in 1924. It allots bonuses, in the form of "adjusted service certificates," equaling $1 a day for each day of service in the U.S., and $1.25 for each day overseas. President Hoover is against payment of these funds, saying it would cost the Treasury $4 billion.

February 1931

"Food riots" begin to break out in parts of the U.S. In Minneapolis, several hundred men and women smash the windows of a grocery market and make off with fruit, canned goods, bacon, and ham. One of the store's owners pulls out a gun to stop the looters, but is leapt upon and has his arm broken. The "riot" is brought under control by 100 policemen. Seven people are arrested.

Resentment of "foreign" workers increases along with unemployment rolls. In Los Angeles, California, Mexican Americans are accused of stealing jobs from "real" Americans. During the month, 6,024 Mexican Americans are deported.

The Ford strike

National Archives

The Ford strike

March 1931

Three thousand unemployed workers march on the Ford Motor Company's plant in River Rouge, Michigan. Dearborn police and Ford's company guards attack the workers, killing four and injuring many more.

December 1931

New York's Bank of the United States collapses. At the time of the collapse, the bank had over $200 million in deposits, making it the largest single bank failure in the nation's history.

January 1932

Congress establishes the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. The R.F.C. is allowed to lend $2 billion to banks, insurance companies, building and loan associations, agricultural credit organizations and railroads. Critics of the R.F.C. call it "the millionaires' dole."

Unemployed men line up for work

National Archives

Unemployed men line up for work

April 1932

More than 750,000 New Yorkers are reported to be dependent upon city relief, with an additional 160,000 on a waiting list. Expenditures average about $8.20 per month for each person on relief.

May 1932

More than 300 World War I veterans leave Portland, Oregon en route to Washington, D.C. to urge Congress to pass the Bonus Bill. It will take them 18 days to reach Washington, D.C.

June 1932

Determined to collect their "bonus" pay for service, 15,000 - 25,000 World War I veterans gather and begin setting up encampments near the White House and the Capitol in Washington, D.C. On June 15, the House passes Congressman Wright Patman's "bonus bill" by a vote of 209 to 176. The bill falls to defeat in the Senate, however, 62 to 18. The vets maintain their determination to stay camped out until they get their pay.

July 1932

The Reconstruction Finance Corporation is authorized to lend needy states sums from the National Treasury. The money is to target relief and public works projects.

President Hoover signs a $100,000 transportation bill to assist "bonus Army" demonstrators in getting home. He sets a July 24 deadline for the men to abandon their encampments.

On July 28, when some "bonus Army" members resist being moved from their camps, violence erupts, leading to the deaths of two veterans. Hoover orders Federal troops, under the command of General Douglas MacArthur, to assist D.C. police in clearing the veterans.

FDR

National Archives

FDR

November 1932

Franklin Delano Roosevelt is elected president in a landslide over Herbert Hoover. Roosevelt receives 22.8 million popular votes to Hoover's 15.75 million.

March 1933

Before a crowd of 100,000 at the Capitol Plaza in Washington, D.C., Franklin Delano Roosevelt is inaugurated. FDR tells the crowd, "The people of the United States have not failed. In their need they have registered a mandate that they want direct, vigorous action. They have asked for discipline and direction under leadership. They have made me the present instrument of their wishes. In the spirit of the gift I take it."

FDR announces a four-day bank holiday to begin on Monday, March 6. During that time, FDR promises, Congress will work on coming up with a plan to save the failing banking industry.

By March 9, Congress passes the Emergency Banking Act of 1933. By month's end, three-quarters of the nation's closed banks will be back in business.

On March 12, FDR delivers the first of what came to be known as his "fireside chats." In his initial "chat" he appeals to the nation to join him in "banishing fear."

Men working in a field.

National Archives

Men working in a field

April 1933

President Roosevelt, under the Emergency Banking Act, orders the nation off of the gold standard.

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) is established. Designed as a relief and employment program for young men between the ages of 17 and 27, the CCC is made up of groups of young men who work in national forests, parks, and federal land for nine-month stints. FDR envisions the program as a kind of volunteer "army." The first 250,000 young men are housed in 1,468 camps around the country. At its peak in 1935, the CCC will include 500,000 young men.

African American man working

National Archives

African American man working

May 1933

The Federal Emergency Relief Administration is created by Congress. President Franklin Roosevelt appoints Harry L. Hopkins as its chief administrator. By the end of his first day on the job, Hopkins has issued grants totaling more than $5 million.

The National Industrial Recovery Act is introduced into Congress. Under Title I of the act, the National Recovery Administration is designated to maintain some form of price and wage controls. Section 7(a) of the act guarantees labor the right to organize and bargain collectively. As part of the act, The National Labor Board is set up to negotiate disputes between labor and management.

The Tennessee Valley Authority is created. A federally run hydroelectric power program, the TVA Act is considered a huge experiment in social planning. The TVA also builds dams, produces and sells fertilizer, reforests the Tennessee Valley area, and develops recreational lands. Opponents of the TVA call it "communistic to its core."

June 1933

Congress passes the Glass-Steagall Act that separates commercial from investment banking and sets up the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to guarantee bank deposits.

Parched fields in the Dust Bowl

National Archives

Parched fields in the Dust Bowl

August 1933

With an eye toward organizing farmers into soil conservation districts, the federal government establishes the Soil Erosion Service. The creation of this service was made necessary by the years of drought and dust that plagued the Southwestern Panhandle states.

September 1933

In an effort to stabilize prices, the Federal Agricultural Program orders the slaughter of more than 6 million pigs. Many citizens protest this action since most of the meat went to waste.

October 1933

The Civil Works Administration is established. Devised as a wide scale program that could employ up to 4 million people, the C.W.A. is involved in the building of bridges, schools, hospitals, airports, parks and playgrounds. Additionally, C.W.A. funds go toward the repair and construction of highways and roads. Early in 1934, Congress will authorize $950 million for the continued operation of the C.W.A.

A dust storm approaches

National Archives

A dust storm approaches

May 1934

A three-day dust storm blows an estimated 350 million tons of soil off of the terrain of the West and Southwest and deposits it as far east as New York and Boston. Some east coast cities are forced to ignite street lamps during the day to see through the blowing dust.

November 1934

Father Charles E. Coughlin establishes the Union for Social Justice. Using the radio airwaves as his pulpit, Father Coughlin railes against "predatory capitalism." His criticism of the banking industry and disdain of communism soon dovetails into a troubling gospel of anti-Semitism.

April 1935

FDR signs legislation creating the Works Progress Administration. (Its name would be changed in 1939 to the Work Projects Administration.) The program employs more than 8.5 million individuals in 3,000 counties across the nation. These individuals, drawing a salary of only $41.57 a month, will improve or create highways, roads, bridges, and airports. In addition, the WPA will put thousands of artists -- writers, painters, theater directors, and sculptors -- to work on various projects. The WPA will remain in existence until 1943.
Business Week magazine announces that "Depression is a forgotten word in the automobile industry, which is forging ahead in production, retail sales, and expansion of productive capacity in a manner reminiscent of the 'twenties.'"

June 1935

The National Youth Administration is set up to address the needs of young men and women (who are not allowed in the CCC). The NYA works on two levels: a student-work program and an out-of-school program. The student-work program provides students with odd jobs that pay them enough to stay in school. The out-of-school program sets young people up with various jobs ranging from house painting to cleaning local parks, and eventually comes to include vocational training.

July 1935

FDR signs the Wagner National Labor Relations Act. The goal of the act is to validate union authority and supervise union elections.

August 1935

The Social Security Act of 1935 is signed into law by FDR. Among the most controversial stipulations of the act is that Social Security will be financed through a payroll tax. Historian Kenneth S. Davis calls the signing of the act "one of the major turning points of American history. No longer could `rugged individualism' convincingly insist that government, though obliged to provide a climate favorable for the growth of business profits, had no responsibility whatever for the welfare of the human beings who did the work from which the profit was reaped."

A depression-era woman and children

National Archives

An iconic image from the Depression

March 1936

Photographer Dorothea Lange visits a pea-pickers' camp in California's San Joaquin Valley and takes photographs of harvest workers. The images, especially those in the "Migrant Mother Series," vividly illustrate the plight of the workers. The San Francisco News runs the photo essay under the headline, "Ragged, Hungry, Broke, Harvest Workers Live in Squallor (sic)."

October 1936

The San Francisco News publishes a series of articles written by John Steinbeck called "The Harvest Gypsies." The series explores the hardships faced by those living and working in migrant labor camps. Steinbeck writes, "...One has only to go into the squatters' camps where the families live on the ground and have no homes... to look at the strong purposeful faces, often filled with pain... to know that this new race is here to stay and that heed must be taken of it."

November 1936

Defeating Kansas Governor Alfred M. Landon, FDR is elected to his second term as president, winning every state in the Union except Maine and Vermont.

January 1937

United Automobile Workers strike at the General Motors Plant in Flint, Michigan. The strike turns violent when strikers clash with company-hired police.

A man stands idly outside

National Archives

A man stands outside, idle

March 1937

The slow economic recovery made possible by New Deal programs suffers a setback as unemployment rises. FDR's detractors call it the start of the "Roosevelt recession."

May 1937

At Republic Steel's South Chicago plant, workers and their families try to combine a picnic with a rally and demonstration. Ten people are killed and a dozen more are wounded in the "Memorial Day Massacre."

April 1938

FDR asks Congress to authorize $3.75 billion in federal spending to stimulate the sagging economy. Economic indicators respond favorably over the next few months. Still, unemployment will remain high and is predicted to stay that way for some time.

November 1940

Franklin Roosevelt is elected to an unprecedented third term as president, defeating Wendell Willkie. FDR's victory is seen as proof of the nation's support of his war policies. Roosevelt lobbies Congress to pass the Lend-Lease Act, which will aid Britain in its struggle to fend off Germany.

In little over a year, following Japan's December 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor, the U.S. will enter the war in the Pacific and in Europe. The war effort will jump-start U.S. industry and effectively end the Great Depression.

Captured Blog: Detroit

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