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Debate: The New Deal

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Was the American New Deal under Franklin Roosevelt a good idea?

Background and context

Arguments

Pro

  • New Deal created historic public works and infrastructure. Michael Hiltzik. "What the new deal accomplished." Slate. Oct 13th, 2011: "The New Deal physically reshaped the country. To this day, Americans still rely on its works for transportation, electricity, flood control, housing, and community amenities. The output of one agency alone, the Works Progress Administration, represents a magnificent bequest to later generations. The WPA produced, among many other projects, 1,000 miles of new and rebuilt airport runways, 651,000 miles of highway, 124,000 bridges, 8,000 parks, and 18,000 playgrounds and athletic fields; some 84,000 miles of drainage pipes, 69,000 highway light standards, and 125,000 public buildings built, rebuilt, or expanded. Among the latter were 41,300 schools. The transformative power of this effort is inestimable [...] PWA built or helped build monumental projects from sea to sea. In Washington State, Grand Coulee Dam put 8,000 men to work starting in 1933 and used materials and equipment from 46 of the 48 states. In Southern California, PWA helped repair or replace 536 school buildings damaged or destroyed by the great Long Beach earthquake of March 10, 1933. Most of them, rebuilt to the most exacting seismic standards of the time, are still in use at this writing. In Florida, the exemplary project was the Overseas Highway, 127 miles of causeways and bridges connecting the mainland and Key West, built on the remains of a railroad line destroyed by hurricane in 1935, and transforming the latter island from a dismal outback of dispossessed relief recipients to one of America’s premier tourist destinations."
  • The New Deal restored the Tennessee Valley. Michael Hiltzik. "What the new deal accomplished." Slate. Oct 13th, 2011: "The Tennessee Valley in 1933 was a quintessential backwoods region of 'grim drudgery, and grind' in the words of its savior George Norris: beleaguered by floods, drained of its manpower by the siren call of the cities, the latent wealth of its river and lumber left fallow. The TVA of Norris and Franklin Roosevelt turned it into a land of plenty that called its workers home, put its natural endowments to productive use, and delivered to its residents the promise of a secure American middle-class lifestyle."



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Arguments

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Pro/con sources

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