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US Domestic Policy since 1945 The Economic Miracle And Post-war Anxiety.

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Presentation on theme: "US Domestic Policy since 1945 The Economic Miracle And Post-war Anxiety."— Presentation transcript:

1 US Domestic Policy since 1945 The Economic Miracle And Post-war Anxiety

2 1945 - 1953 The Presidency of Harry Truman

3 Background on Truman FDR’s VP during his 4 th term Becomes president upon FDR’s death on April 12, 1945 Truman was mostly left out of FDR’s inner circle Viewed the Yalta Conference as a pact by Stalin “The Buck Stops Here”

4 The “Fair Deal” Wanted to expand the New Deal – Called for higher minimum wage, increase civil rights for African Americans, national health insurance, and education aid Many of Truman’s goals were not met – Biggest success was increasing the minimum wage – Essentially, New Deal programs were continued, nothing else was added

5 Introduction Inherent Contradictions of the Age Coexistence of Anxiety & Affluence

6 Victory… Now What? Post-War Anxieties Would the Great Depression return? GNP fell Prices rose 33% 4.6 million workers went on strike Taft-Hawley Act made unions weaker (against Truman’s wishes) Veterans returning from war Readjustment Act of 1944 or GI Bill Sought to reintegrate 15 million veterans back into society 1 year of unemployment benefits Financial Aid to go to college Veterans Administration provides $15 billion in cheap Loans to build houses

7 Economic Boom: 1950-1970 America’s Golden Age Income shot up 6% of world’s population and 40% of world’s wealth 40 million new jobs in the 1950’s Women entered the work force Cheap oil fed the boom Europeans controlled the oil of the Middle East 90% of American children are in school Farm productivity skyrockets Only 2% of the nation are farmers

8 I. 1950’s Demographics A.National Affluence GDP almost doubled 1945-1960 Inflation remained under 2% most of 1950’s Defense spending most important stimulant

9 B. Consumption Patterns 1. Home Ownership up by 50% 2. Consumer Credit up by 800% 3. Savings down by 5% 4. Shopping Centers 5. Teen consumption drove the economy

10 Materialism in US culture I drive my car to supermarket, The way I take is superhigh, A superlot is where I park it, And Super Suds are what I buy. Supersalesmen sell me tonic – Super-Tone-O, for relief. The planes I ride are supersonic. In trains I like the Super Chief. Supercilious men and women Call me superficial – me. Who so superbly learned to swim in Supercolossality. Superphosphate-fed foods feed me; Superservice keeps me new. Who would dare to supersede me, Super-super-superwho? John Updike echoes complaints about American materialism, 1954

11 1950’s: Pop grew to 28 M (97% urban/suburban) Life expectancy 66 in 1955 71 in 1970 Dr. Benjamin Spock’s The Commonsense Book of Baby and Child Care Suburbia generated most growth

12 Baby Boom: 1946-1964 Millions of men had been gone for almost 4 years!!! Make up for lost time 78,000,000 Americans today are Baby Boomers 26% of the population!!!! Huge boost to the economy “ Just imagine how much these extra people… will absorb- in food, in clothing, in gadgets, in housing, in services…. ” Drag on Social Security… C. Population Growth

13 D. Suburbs Grew 6x faster than cities William Levitt Mass-produced housing development ( built 10,600 houses on Long Island, 1947 Levittown ) Auto production 2 M 1946 8 M 1955 White flight as black population in cities

14 Impact of the Automobile By 1960 there are 60 million cars in America Families are starting to have two cars per family

15 Car Culture # of Cars in 1945 26,000,000 # of Cars in 1960 60,000,000

16 Rise of Suburbia Cars mean you can enjoy the city just not have to live there… Don ’ t have to deal with crime, congestion, noise, and other not nice things

17 E. The Middle Class o 1947 5.7 million families classified as Middle Class o 1960 ‘s 12 million American families classified as Middle Class

18 F. Jobs  Farm Workers 9 million 1940 5.2 million 1960 increase in farm productivity  1960 more Americans white collar than blue collar

19 II. Post-war Anxiety A.Conformity and security 1.Homogeneity  Expansion of middle class

20 I am beginning to think, whether it be for money, for notoriety, reputation, increase of pride, whether it leads us to thievery, slaughter, sacrifice, the quest is one and the same. All the striving is for one end. I do not entirely understand this impulse. But it seems to me that its final end is the desire for pure freedom. We are all drawn toward the same craters of the spirit – to know what we are and what we are for, to know our purpose, to seek grace. And, if the quest is the same, the differences in our personal histories, which hitherto meant so much to us, become of minor importance. Saul Bellow’s character Joseph in Dangling Man (1946) expresses a feeling later echoed by many of the most memorable characters in post war American fiction.

21 Security in Sameness  Americans becoming “outer-directed” people rather than “inner-directed” Society molded by peer-group pressures and Corporate culture indoctrination

22 Credits from TV Series, Weeds Little Boxes, they all look the same

23 2. Leisure  Standard work week shrank (40 hours)  TV  Books (mass market)

24 TV In 1946 there were 7,000 TV ’ s built… by 1953 Americans bought 7,000,000 TV ’ s!!!! By the end of the 50 ’ s 90% of American families owned a TV

25 B. Roles of Women Women Cult of feminine domesticity after WWII

26 The Nuclear Family A husband and a wife and lovely little children Gender Roles Man went out and worked and earned the money Women were the housewives and kept the home and raised the children Children were obedient and well behaved

27 C. Rebellion  Intellectualism  Critical of American life  suburban life & mass production  American education questioned  Traditional education began to be reexamined.  Content: values of patriotism, obeying authority Viewed as perpetuating ignorance, even contempt for people of other nations, races, Native Americans, women.  Style:-the formality, the bureaucracy, the insistence on subordination to authority  Small movement of new generation of teachers influenced by literary critiques

28 Betty Frieden The Feminine Mystique “Each suburban wife struggles with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries, matched slipcover material, ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children, chauffeured Cub Scouts and Brownies, lay beside her husband at night- she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question-- 'Is this all?” ― Betty Friedan, The Feminine MystiqueBetty FriedanThe Feminine Mystique

29 “What Friedan gave to the world was, "the problem that has no name." She not only named it but dissected it. The advances of science, the development of labor-saving appliances, the development of the suburbs: all had come together to offer women in the 1950s a life their mothers had scarcely dreamed of, free from rampant disease, onerous drudgery, noxious city streets. But the green lawns and big corner lots were isolating, the housework seemed to expand to fill the time available, and polio and smallpox were replaced by depression and alcoholism. All that was covered up in a kitchen conspiracy of denial... Instead the problem was with the mystique of waxed floors and perfectly applied lipstick.” ― Betty Friedan, The Feminine MystiqueBetty FriedanThe Feminine Mystique

30 III. Rebellion in the Minds A.Literature B.Theater and Fiction  Death of a Salesman 1949 and The Crucible 1953 by Arthur Miller  Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger 1951 Conflict of individual and society

31 Scene from Arthur Miller’s play, Death of a Salesman, starring Dustin Hoffman

32 C. Rebellious Art Edward Hopper – isolated individuals Night Hawks

33 Abstract Expressionism (spontaneous expression) Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning Jackson Pollock


35 Mark Rothko

36 Willem de Kooning

37 D. Counterculture and the Beat Generation Began in Greenwich Village, NY Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, Neal Cassady, Saul Bellows Free-form poetry and mémoire-style writing

38 On the Road, film released in 2012 based on novel by Jack Kerouac

39 III. Rebellion in the Minds William Burroughs “I am forced to the appalling conclusion that I would never have become a writer but for Joan's death, and to a realization of the extent to which this event has motivated and formulated my writing. I live with the constant threat of possession, and a constant need to escape from possession, from control. So the death of Joan brought me in contact with the invader, the Ugly Spirit, and maneuvered me into a life long struggle, in which I have had no choice except to write my way out.”

40 III. Rebellion in the Minds Film Trailer, Beat 2000 based on William Burroughs’ life

41 Homework The Unfinished Nation, Chapter 30 The Affluent Society Introduction – Economic Miracle & Timeline, p. 779 Science and Technology, p. 783 Bombs, Rockets & Missiles, p. 787 Space Program, p. 788 Consumer Culture, p. 789 Suburban nation, suburban family, p. 789 Birth of Television, p. 791 Travel, Outdoor Recreation, Environmentalism, p. 792 Organized society and its detractors, p. 793 Beats and Culture of Youth, p. 794 Rock n roll, p. 795 U.S. History in Context – 1950’s 17 pages (see blog)

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