Blast from the Past

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Updated: Apr 15, 2022
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Blast from the Past essay

Unlike the bombings of Osaka and Nagasaki, World War II provided the explosive push Americans needed to get back onto their feet after the Great Depression. Although World War II was devastating for many and had its cons, but all in all it helped progress America into the pathway out of smog and darkness. I will be focusing on several aspects that World War II had an impact on in this time period from the economic boom, taxation of the rich, how the war affected importation and exportation between nations, and lastly the quality of life for the American family.

Pre-WWII America was filled with even more hardships, the annual income for families was at an all-time low, the quality of life was sub-par if that, and many were losing their loved ones. The Great Depression was truly depressing, with the “Great Crash” of the American stock market’s in 1929, American economy crumbled down. As supported by Kennedy (Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History)

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By 1932, some thirteen million Americans were out of work, one out of every four able and willing workers in the country. Even those horrendous numbers could not begin to take the full measure of the human misery that unemployment entailed…. prevailing cultural norms that kept most women- and virtually all married women out of the wage-paying economy, a 25 percent unemployment rate meant that, for all practical purposes, every fourth household in America had no breadwinner. Many Americans came to believe that they were witnessing not just another downswing of the business cycle, but the collapse of a historic economic, political, and social order, perhaps even the end of the American way of life.

Perhaps even the end of the American way of life, as much as that hits home with myself I know that many feared for the future of their families. But with much amazement many held their heads up high in a time where millions of people were languished in joblessness, homelessness, and starvation for nearly a decade. Come 1932, Americans were given the hope they desperately needed; with the election of Franklin Roosevelt under the belief that the American life could be made more secure, aspirations of Americans were on the rise. Although the people were promised a “New Deal” society dealt with the same deal of hardship for approximately 12 years. As put by Kennedy (Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History)

Roosevelt, like Hoover before him, never did find a remedy for the Great Depression. It hung heavily over the land for nearly a dozen years of suffering and anxiety… Before World War II wiped out the Depression at a stroke, none of FDR’s exertions managed to wrestle the unemployment rate below 14 percent. For the decade of the 1930s as a whole, it averaged 17 percent. Some critics mistakenly blame the economy’s stubborn inability to recover on Roosevelt’s own alleged anti-business policies.

7:53 AM, 7 December 1941, Oahu, Hawaii; What began as a normal day quickly was turned into a panic, with the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Imperial military launched a surprise attack on the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, coordinated by Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto & Captain Minoru; within a mere hour and 15 minutes the United States Naval base was pummeled, killing 2,403 U.S. personnel, including civilians, and destroyed 19 U.S. Navy ships. These acts of undeclared aggression are what sent the U.S. into World War II and in consequence igniting the much-needed Economic Boom. With this sudden jerk into World War II an under-armed United States had to get their stuff together to stand a fighting chance in not being invaded, as supported by (Dummies)

Despite all the warnings of war, the United States wasn’t completely prepared when World War II broke out. The Depression had rubbed out many of the country’s machine and tool industries, the military was woefully under-supplied, and many soldiers found themselves drilling with toy guns and wooden tanks

The hardships of the Great Depression proved useful in this time of war, adapting and over coming, and rationing where it was needed. The United States made many technological advancements in production and in composite materials. As stated by (Goodwin) “During the war 17 million new civilian jobs were created, industrial productivity increased by 96%, and corporate profits after taxes doubled.” This was beyond needed for a desperate America, the war brought full employment to many, even minorities. Blacks and women entered the workforce for a change due to many of the prior “work force” being drafted and now serving in the military during World War II. Another improvement due to the Economic Boom was housing conditions improved tremendously and the amount of families now in homes increased with it. Although women were now able to work, they still weren’t allowed to do the same as men, like stated by (Texas Gateway)

Women were not allowed to participate in armed conflict, and most women in the military served in roles that were considered traditional female jobs. These jobs included clerks, secretaries, and mail sorters. These positions were important to military functions because they kept the flow of communication moving. Women who served in the medical corps faced more danger because their work was usually performed closer to the front lines.

With an exponential increase in public spending to compensate for the under-arming of America during World War II, the money it took to fund these operations had to come from somewhere and it wasn’t coming from the recuperating government funds during the Great Depression. With these increases in public spending those who were living lavishly during this time of financial upset were taxed in order to pay for all this weaponry and to distribute the wealth. With the increase of tax rates on the “rich” it reduced the inequality between the rich and the poor, which could be beneficial as stated by Ingraham (The Washington Post)

Inequality hurts economic growth, especially high inequality (like ours) in rich nations. The main mechanism through which inequality affects growth is by undermining education opportunities for children from poor socio-economic backgrounds, lowering social mobility and hampering skills development. Children from the bottom 40 percent of households are missing out on pricey educational opportunities. That makes them less productive employees, which means lower wages, which means lower overall participation in the economy.

Although the previous article was written in 2016 it relates back to the World War II era effortlessly. Many were under-privileged and even though most of University age were shoved into the effort, and a majority of females of the same age group were pushed into the factories to aid in the war effort when it was all over those who did not receive a GI bill were less likely to pursue a higher education and would continue the never-ending cycle of struggle. As stated by Clifton (Futurity) “The late 19th to mid-20th century was the era of mass army and, in many ways, the era of high taxation on incomes and wealth.” This is significant in the fact due to the mass mobilized military tactics of America during World War II the taxation rates rose 90% for those of wealth.

Nearing the end of the war and the death of the Great Depression the quality of life seemed to have increased for most of the population due to the influx of jobs and inequality gap shrinking thus creating a consumer class. With labor shortages increasing and more women entering the workforce the life of the American family would seem to be on the rise but was it really; women were now working full time and still trying to maintain home life. But this shyness from being home did its toll to the children of this era, without a parent figure in their life most of the time due to the father and brothers being in war and the mothers now working full time dropout rates increased significantly thus which would theoretically decrease the quality of life due to being under educated and least likely to score a well-paying job. Another down side of this was that many felt robbed of their childhood, with family roles shifting; along with being separated from their fathers and brothers. As supported Online Highways (U-S-History)

The first major impact was felt with labor shortages when the men went off to war. More and more women now entered the work force. Once reserved for men, women now took up jobs in industry, and Rosie the Riveter became a popular icon in America. Widening their horizons, many women were now working full time and yet were still trying to maintain their home life. Attracted by waiting jobs, the number of high school dropouts increased significantly, resulting in the teenage work force swelling from one million to three million youngsters. In the meantime, federal inspectors ignored laws

Many families were torn apart losing their brothers and fathers to the war efforts of World War II at the reward of retaining their given rights and freedoms as Americans.

WWII was a time of growth for the world, but most importantly it helped start an economic boom towards the end of the Great Depression. This was the shove America needed to get back on their feet. The war created countless jobs, from manufacturing, to farming. This also aided in rights of minorities allowing females to work in jobs they usually couldn’t, along with other minority groups. But it also negatively impacted the rich and trade between nations due to post war tensions. All in all, WWII may have created jobs, a consumer class, and helped social equality but with all good things comes a downside of loss, mourning, social unrest and a sacrifice that came with a hefty price tag.

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Blast From the Past. (2022, Apr 15). Retrieved from