By Jordan P.

Imagine it’s the 1930s during the Great Depression, in a society where you have nowhere to be but on the street begging for money. In the 1930s, during The New Deal and The Great Depression, a lot of people were poor. FDR or Franklin D. Roosevelt created various agencies like TVA that provided electricity to people, built dams to help flooding, and also assisted in getting rid of poverty. How much control do you think the government should have over its people? Do you think the government should have a lot or less control over minority citizens? I think that government should have some control over its people. For example, although the TVA help a lot of people by providing for the poor, Japanese Americans should not have been moved into internment camps during WWII and Social Security left out too many African Americans.

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The TVA helped by providing electricity to people, addressing poverty, and building dams to control flooding. This was introduced in Lorena Hickok’s letter to Harry Hopkins, Director of the Federal Emergency Relief Agency, about the TVA; we can infer that Hickok meant to promote the TVA because FDR was promoting many different programs to help the economy: “Nearly 10,000 men – 9,500 – are at work in the Valley now, at Norris and Wheeler dams, on various cleaning and building projects all over the area” (Lorena Hickok’s letters to Harry L. Hopkins). During the Great Depression, the stock market crashed and businesses didn’t have money to pay workers, so they had to fire them. Unemployed workers still needed money to pay their bills, so FDR created the TVA to help create jobs and to relieve poverty by re-starting the economy. He did not only build dams for people but these dams also helped generate power for the houses that were being built: “Houses are going up for them to live in – better houses than they have ever had in their lives before” (Lorena Hickok’s letters to Harry L. Hopkins). The TVA was superior in helping people with poverty and destitution. Given that Hickok was trying to promote the TVA, she might’ve left out the people who were not in favor of the TVA, such as people who had to be kicked out of the area for these dams and houses to be built. Even though Hickok might not have been telling the whole story, she provided enough evidence to support the claim that the TVA was helping people.

The internment of Japanese Americans during WWII was not justified, because most of these Japanese immigrants didn’t even commit any crime, but when it came to their ancestry, Americans couldn’t trust them. This was told through Harry Paxton Howard’s, “Americans in Concentration Camps”: “Color seems to be the only possible reason why thousands of American citizens of Japanese ancestry are in concentration camps.” (Harry Paxton Howard, “ Americans in Concentration Camps,” The Crisis, September 1942). While WWII was raging on, many countries were at war with various other countries, especially America and Germany. At the time, Americans were extremely racist against Japanese people: “A grave injustice was done to American citizens and resident aliens of Japanese ancestry who, without individual review or any … evidence against them, were excluded, removed and detained by the United States during WWII.” (Personal Justice Denied: The Report of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians, February 24, 1983.) This means that their ancestry has made America scared and has made us force them into internment camps to keep watch of the things they might do such as the Pearl Harbor attack, when the Japanese military issued a surprise military strike against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii Territory, on the morning of December 7, 1941, which led to WWII. Under all circumstances should the government have control to sustain our society, just not under the influence of Japanese Americans.

I feel Social Security was negative, because many African Americans were left out of Social Security measures. Social Security was a good thing until an excerpt from Charles H. Houston in testimony came up, representing the NAACP: “Therefore this population is left out from the old – age annuity, and that represents approximately 490,000 Negroes.” ( Excerpt from the testimony of Charles H. Houston, representing the NAACP, to the House Ways and Means Committee on the Economic Security bill, February 1, 1935. Washington, D.C.) Social Security was a big  deal back then. With everyone buying everything on debit and depositing money from banks, this shortly led to the Great Depression. “We all know that the Negro sharecropper and the Negro cash farm tenant are at the bottom of the economic scale. He is not employed.” These African Americans desperately needed Social Security, especially since most of them were unemployed and have no money to advance in their future lives.

Overall, I think the government should have lots of control over its citizens. It’s understandable that some individuals could argue against my thesis. Some people didn’t like FDR and his agencies. Some people also didn’t like Social Security. It’s very important for the government to have control over its people,  because it would be chaos if it weren’t for these laws that the government made to sustain us.

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4 thoughts on “How much control should the government have over its citizens?

  1. Jordan,
    I think it’s interesting how you found historical evidence on both sides of the question. Like you said, the government did a lot during the Great Depression to help relieve people in poverty (through the TVA and other jobs programs like the PWA). At the same time, FDR really seems to have overstepped his power when he signed the executive order to put Japanese-Americans in internment camps. Also, the government certainly could have done a much better job of ensuring that all Americans got access to Social Security, including people who had to work under-the-table jobs, as many African-Americans did.

    While I agree that limiting the government’s power would have eliminated its ability to put citizens in jail for no reason (or bad reasons, like racism), I wasn’t convinced that limiting the government’s power would solve the last problem you discussed. It seems like you issue with Social Security was that it left out African Americans, not that it gave the government too much control over people. In fact, if the problem was that Social Security was leaving out under-the-table workers like domestic servants and sharecroppers, it seems like the government would need even more control in order to solve that problem. To include these people, the government would have to get even more involved in people’s private and financial lives!

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  2. I think the government should control have citizens because the government wanted people to work hard to control the problem was the social security.

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  3. Jordan, I think that is a well thought-out blog for your project. I have always knew that you had the potential to achieve this goal. Please continue to excel. You did an awesome job & I’m very proud of you!

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  4. Jordan, this is your Nana excellent writing I knew you had it in you keep up the good work. Poppy and I are very PROUD of you!!!!!!! (:

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