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Workers in Hard TimesA Long View of Economic Crises$
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Leon Fink, Joan Sangster, and Joseph A. McCartin

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780252038174

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252038174.001.0001

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How Workers and the Government Have Dealt with Economic Crisis and Industrial Decline

How Workers and the Government Have Dealt with Economic Crisis and Industrial Decline

1929 and 2007

(p.263) 12 How Workers and the Government Have Dealt with Economic Crisis and Industrial Decline
Workers in Hard Times

Edward Montgomery

University of Illinois Press

This chapter begins with a brief review of the evidence on the causes of the Great Depression and its impact on workers and their families. It examines some of the similarities and differences in the causes of the Great Recession and its impact on workers. It briefly summarizes some of the different policies that presidents Roosevelt and Obama enacted to shorten the crisis and ease the burden on workers. It argues that while presidents Roosevelt and Obama were both called “socialist” by critics, their similarities are limited, and both the short- and long-term impacts of the policies they enacted during these crises are quite different for workers. While the near-term impact of the Great Recession was dwarfed by the Great Depression, the Great Recession exacerbated long-term structural trends that may well leave workers facing far more uncertain futures. Workers' own relative passivity in the face of these dynamics contrasts sharply with their grandparents' generation during the Great Depression. Absent a revival of their activism, we may well see the continued erosion, or even the end, of the New Deal social contract.

Keywords:   Great Recession, Great Depression, economic policy, United States, President Obama, President Roosevelt, New Deal social contract

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