By Latise P.

How much control does the government have in your life? In the 1930s an economic depression hit the world. During this depression there was a  25% unemployment rate. President FDR (Franklin D. Roosevelt) created the “New Deal” and programs like the TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority), which provided affordable electricity for people in rural areas and built dams, and Social Security, which took taxes from people’s paychecks and gave the money to people who were retired. The question that I will be answering is how much control should the government have in the lives of its citizens? The government should have some control in the lives of its citizens because although FDR overstepped his authority by creating the TVA, he was right to strike middle ground between Huey Long and the American Liberty League. Additionally, although the government created Social Security to help the elderly, it left out certain citizens, making it less effective.

Screen Shot 2017-03-04 at 11.20.41 AM.pngPhoto: Tennessee Valley Authority workers in 1933.

The government should have some some control in the lives of citizens FDR overstepped a line by creating the TVA. The TVA or the Tennessee Valley Authority was a government program that built dams to control flooding and gave people affordable electricity. In a statement made by John D. Battle, the president of a private coal company, he said “The program, as put forward by the government is calculated, in our opinion, to destroy the jobs of a number of these men” (Doc A). Battle is saying that the TVA was putting coal mines out of business and costing people their jobs. Also in John D. Battles statement he said, “There is no disposition on the part of this industry to the electrification of America. We rather feel that there is a need for an extension of electrical current to the rural regions. But we do not feel that it is the function of the Federal government to use taxpayers’ money for the promotion of these projects. We feel that the American Business man is far more capable of visualizing the needs for electrical power and far more capable for designing ways and means by which it may be furnished to prospective customers than is the government itself”. Battle is saying that he is not against giving people affordable electricity. However, the government should not be using taxpayers’ hard earned money to pay for these government projects, and it should be private businesses instead of the government that create electricity in the region. If the money doesn’t go to the government then that money will go to more private businesses. This supports my claim because if people are spending their money on government projects than private businesses will lose money.

The government should have some control in the lives of citizens because FDR was right to strike middle ground between Huey Long and the American Liberty League. After FDR was inaugurated he created the New Deal. the New Deal was very important because it provided a security for life after employment by making retirement funds through Social Security. It also created new jobs and helped the country avoid another great depression.  FDR was often accused of doing too little to help the poor, especially by far-left politicians like Huey Long: “Long created a “Share the Wealth” program. This program set limits to how much money people could earn, it allowed a 100% tax on incomes over $1 million and allowed the government to take and redistribute the the $5 million” (Criticism from Right and Left worksheet). Huey Long wanted to primarily tax the rich and not the poor. Huey Long wanted only the rich to be taxed. On the other side, the right-wing American Liberty League thought that FDR was a traitor for giving too much support for the poor. Instead of picking sides, FDR decided to strike middle ground between Huey Long and the American Liberty League; his New Deal policies reflected that middle ground.

The government should have some control in the lives of citizens because the government created Social Security to help the elderly, it left out certain citizens, making it less effective. Social security was one of the programs created during the New Deal, and it was implemented to give people a secure retirement plan. In a speech FDR gave when he signed the Social Security act he said, “This social security measure gives some protection to 30 million of our citizens who will receive direct benefits through unemployment compensation, through old age pension, and through increased services for the protection of children and the prevention of ill health” (Doc A). FDR is saying that Social Security is a program to help retired people. Of course, because FDR had just signed the Social Security Act when he delivered this speech, he is going to say that it this great program that will help everyone. However, not everyone agreed with FDR. Charles H. Houston, a representative of the NAACP, said: “The point that I am making is that in order for a person to qualify for Social Security, taxes must be paid on behalf of this person before he turns 60. Now, for the benefit of Negroes, I want to ask, who would be left out by the rule?” (Doc B). Social security was created to help everyone but there are certain groups of people that are being left out. Houston said that people with jobs like domestic servants, sharecroppers, and cash tenants would not have that protection that Social security provides.

In conclusion, the government should have some control in the lives of citizens because of the FDR overstepped a line by creating the TVA, FDR was right to strike middle ground between Huey Long and the American Liberty League , and Social Security to help the elderly, it left out certain citizens. If the government has too much control over their citizens then they won’t have any independence to do what they want, but if they have no control at all then it would be total chaos. But there should be a middle ground between citizens and the government. It is important that we talk about topics like this because, this is our government in the country that you live in and you deserve to know what the government is doing. 

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