Explain two opposing plans to improve the economy and social conditions during the Great Depression.

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The Great Depression began with the stock market crash of October 1929. By the presidential election of 1932, incumbent president Herbert Hoover and challenger Franklin Delano Roosevelt offered differing plans about how to deal with this tragedy, which by early 1933 had put American unemployment figures at about 15 million and had caused the closure of almost half of the banks in the nation.

At first, President Hoover assured the American people that the crisis would resolve itself on its own, but the situation became increasingly worse. The squalid shanty towns that sprang up around the nation became known derisively as Hoovervilles. Hoover finally attempted several solutions to the problems, but they were too little too late, and in some cases, they made the situation worse. For instance, Hoover's administration reduced taxes, convinced employers not to lay off workers, enacted a program of public works spending, and lent federal money to bail out banks. Hoover also pushed for a moratorium on international debt and signed the controversial Smoot-Hawley Tariff, which raised prices on goods imported from foreign countries. Most economists agree that this tariff act greatly contributed to the economic devastation caused by the Great Depression.

When FDR assumed the presidency, in early 1933, he immediately began to implement his own plan, known as the New Deal, to fix the Great Depression. He closed down the banks for a four-day holiday during which Congress passed reform legislation, and only banks that were stable were allowed to reopen. He fought for legislation to create economic reform programs, such as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which protected bank deposits, and the Securities and Exchange Commission, which regulated the stock market. The Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps provided jobs for millions of people, and the Tennessee Valley Authority aided the impoverished Tennessee Valley by providing electricity to the area and many more jobs. The Social Security Act gave a measure of protection to Americans in their old age. These are examples of some of the many steps that FDR took to combat the Great Depression. Through the implementation of all these measures, the economy began to show signs of steady improvement.

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There were two different methods used to deal with Great Depression. Herbert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt had few different views regarding how the Great Depression should be handled and about what should be done to improve social conditions.

Herbert Hoover believed in a concept known as laissez-faire. Based on this policy, President Hoover believed the federal government should have a very limited role in dealing with the economy and in working to improve social conditions. President Hoover believed in voluntary actions. He asked businesses not to cut wages and to keep the factories operating. President Hoover was against raising taxes to provide for programs to help people who were in need and to help get the economy going again. Unfortunately for President Hoover, his policies weren’t successful, as the effects of the Great Depression got worse while he was President.

Franklin D. Roosevelt believed the government should be actively involved in trying to end the Great Depression and in trying to improve social conditions. President Roosevelt launched a series of government programs that created jobs and provided relief to the American people. People received help refinancing their mortgages. People found work as a result of programs such as the Civil Conservation Corps and the Civil Works Administration. The Social Security Act was passed which gave a pension to those people who were at least 65 years old. While the Great Depression didn’t end because of President Roosevelt’s New Deal programs, the impact of it was lessened. The arrival of World War II led to the end of the Great Depression.

There were different viewpoints regarding how to deal with the effects of the Great Depression. One approach was more successful than the other approach.

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