Attractiveness of Long, Townsend, and Sinclair plans

The Great Depression that began in 1929 and ended in 1939 was a dark period in American History. The depression left millions of people unemployed, as stocks crashed, banks closed, and companies went bankrupt. President Herbert Hoover’s efforts to revive the economy using various policies such as Reconstruction Finance Corporation were unsuccessful. However, the Election of Franklin Roosevelt in 1932 provided the country with a new approach in handling the Great Depression, also known as a New Deal program. The program attracted prominent individuals such as Huey Long, Dr. Francis Townsend, and Upton Sinclair, who introduced and popularized various plans. Although their policies faced significant opposition from policymakers, the plans appealed to ordinary American citizens since it swiftly and directly addressed their unemployment, income disparity, and pension problems.

Huey Long’s “Share Our Wealth”

The first phase of the New deal attracted critique as being insufficient in addressing pressing issues. As such, Movements such as Share Our Wealth began. The Movement started in 1934, led by Huey Long, Louisiana governor, and later United States Senator. The proposal sought to improve Americans’ living standards by distributing country’s Wealth equally among the citizens[1]. Indeed, the provisions of the proposals sought to assist millions of jobless and economically challenged citizens.

Although the depression affected all Americans regardless of their social status, the most vulnerable population were the children, elderly, and African America. The Wealth Americans referred to the population as “deserving poor”[2]. Therefore, the proposal by Long to limit personal fortune was attractive to more than sixty million Americans living in poverty. Besides, the majority viewed the proposal as a direct solution to the depression since it addressed the real cause of depression; the income disparities between the low and superrich individuals.

More than half of the American population lived below the poverty level; therefore, Long’s proposal to guarantee every family $ 5000 and every worker $2500 annual income resonated well with citizens[3]. The policy would increase the purchasing power of every citizen, a factor necessary in reviving the economy. Through the proposal Long, gathered more than seven million followers. According to the proposal, it was unethical for the government to allow Americas to suffer in a country with abundant resources. As a reaction to Long’s proposal, President Roosevelt initiated a series of policies to reduce the influence of powerful American families in the banking sectors by introducing board members to oversee bank operations and keeping interest rates low.

Dr. Francis Townsend’s “Old Age Revolving Pensions”

The Old Age Revolving Pension Proposal sought to alleviate the elderly citizens from economic hardships during the Great Depression. The proposal was simple and required the government to pay 200 dollars monthly to American citizens aged 60 years and above. The only provision of the plan was that the beneficiary had to retire and have no criminality record. The proposal further required the beneficiaries not to save the monthly stipend but spend it within 30 day[4]. Dr.Townsend proposed the National sales Tax to fund the plan.

Townsend plan popularized his plan by writing letters to the local newspaper outlining his policy. He also sought more platform to communicate his policy by becoming an activist. His plan was popular among the old and the young since he secured the aged population’s life. Besides, by allowing the aged population to retire, the plan opened up job opportunities for the young population, which was the primary concern. Besides, giving the aged population a $ 200 monthly stipend increased their purchasing power, necessary to revive the economy[5]. Although economist opposed his plan, Townsend popularity spread across the country, attracting more than 2.5 million supporters. His popularity captured the attention of President Roosevelt, who initiated the social security program. The president used the pressure of Townsend plan to leverage the congress to pass the Social Security Act.

Upton Sinclair’s “End Poverty in California”

Upton Sinclair is a prominent socialist that led the End Poverty in California (EPIC) campaign. The movement started upon his interest in winning the California governor’s seat in 1934. The plan sought to adopt a progressive tax system, and restructure the public works programs[6]. The proposal also guaranteed pensions to the aged and sick population.

The plan gained popularity due to its proposal to seize idle farms and factories that failed to pay the property taxes. More importantly, the unemployed population resonated with the EPIC Plan since the government would give them the seized farms and factories to run. The plan provided for a long –term solution for the unemployment problem. The seized factories and farms would provide a sustainable living to the people that the system could not employ[7]. Furthermore, the government would provide the unemployed with enough capital to cover the farms and factories’ operations, including purchases of machinery. The plan promised sustainable jobs to the unemployed and the independence of controlling the means of production.

Like Huey Long’s plan, the EPIC plan also recognized the influence of income disparities and sought to introduce a progressive tax regime. The regime would see the wealthy American earning more than $50,000, paying a 30% tax. The plan was also popular since it introduced a mandatory $50 monthly payment to the needy California citizens aged 65 years and above. Furthermore, the $50 pay included all blind persons and windows with children[8]. Although the policy died with Sinclair’s defeat in the election, it was instrumental in shaping President Roosevelt Second New Deal Program.

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