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Post-war Domestic Issues Ms. Weston APUSH 4/3/06 Fears of Another Depression After war, people terrified economy will sink to a new depression Economic slow down confirmed these fears – Drastically reduced GNP – Skyrocketing prices – Epidemic of strikes Conservative Attacks on Organized Labor Republican controlled Congress passed Taft-Hartley Act—over Truman’s veto – Outlawed closed shop, made all union leaders take non-communist oath Union membership decreased as unions had trouble organizing in South and West due to racial problems, and in new service industries (White collar work) Union membership began declining after 1950s. Efforts to Stimulate Economy 1946 Employment Act— made it government policy to promote maximum employment, production and purchasing power. 1944 Servicemen’s Readjustment Act (GI Bill) – Generous provisions for former soldiers to go to school – Enabled Veteran’s Administration to give loans to veterans to buy homes, farms and small businesses – All to make sure wouldn’t be dramatic rise in unemployment with soldiers returning. The Long Economic Boom (1950-1970) America’s economy became strongest in world – Incomes rose – US had 40% of world’s wealth Effects: Social mobility, Civil Rights Movement, funded vast welfare programs New consumerism: 2-cars per family, washing machines, television Roots of Postwar Prosperity World War II a major stimulus Development of ―permanent war economy‖ with Cold War – High tech industries, science and research Cheap energy: Control of oil in Middle-East Increased productivity and education of work force – Change to agribusiness The Sunbelt Lots of migration after WWII Astronomical growth of The Sunbelt, 15 states in South and West – Increased population – Job opportunities in electronics and aerospace – Also, better climate, lower taxes – Government put much of its budget to the Sunbelt Suburbanization Middle class whites fled to suburbs Aided by government incentive programs— taxes, highways Boom in construction industry – Levittown—pre-fab, tract homes Contributed to poverty and segregation in inner cities – Redlining The Baby Boom Huge leap in birthrate beginning in 1945 Soldiers returned home, married, had kids Birthrate went up until 1957, then began constant decline Baby Boomers put pressure on population—with education when young, now with social security Also, part of development of ―youth culture‖ in 1950s Postwar Domestic Life Home became more important after WWII People built whole lives around their house— TV, home- improvement, fenced in backyard Home seen as safe place from anxieties of outside world Postwar Gender Roles Within this home, very specific expectations for women Some women did get jobs in clerical and service work, but still 1950s ideal of housewife and mother (Cult of domesticity) Betty Friedan’s Feminine Mystique challenged limited role fo womne in 50s society Consumer Culture in 1950s Credit cards Fast food Television Sports Popular Music Movie stars John Kenneth Galbraith’s critique: More social spending to match consumer spending.
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