How Different Is Today’s World from That of the Great Depression?

by CJFosdick on April 13, 2010

Political issues such as health care reform have a history and we can start by looking at the vast changes that have taken place over the last 80 years or so. This is going to be a series over some of these top political and social issues that have developed. The America of today is vastly different from the time of the Great Depression. Much has happened in America to bring about this change, including political change, health care issues coming to the forefront, economic ups and downs.

Below is a partial list of specific changes I want to cover today:

World War II and the Cold War, Korea, Viet Nam, the First Gulf War, and recently, the Iraq War, and the War in Afghanistan have all torn at America’s roots. The Sexual Revolution, Civil Rights, the Drug Scene, several previously unknown diseases such as HIV/AIDS and West Nile Virus have all changed the face of America, while other diseases are no longer a danger, such as Infantile Paralysis (Polio) and Small Pox. Health care reform is on the forefront of political debates as health care costs have soared. These changes have impacted our nation tremendously. Eleven presidents, nine decades, a new millennium, and the addition of two states to the union, not to mention Frank Sinatra, Woodstock, The Beatles, The Gloved One, Elvis, and Woman’s Lib all separate the Depression years from the present. Overwhelming changes in societal behavior came from the pill, the credit card, fast food, and advancements in mental health knowledge, just to mention a few. The national census showed there was a population of 123 million in America in 1930. Recently America’s population went above 300 million, and with the census of 2010, America’s population will be far higher.

There have been profound electronic innovations that now connect everyone worldwide with an instantaneous click of a button. We seem able to learn everything about everyone if we are able to manipulate the buttons on our personal computers, (First marketed in 1975) our cell phones, (1981) and on the ongoing maze of new products developed. Face Book, Texting, Tweeting, the Ipod, and the latest craze, the Apple Ibook, are used today to set behavioral patterns of teenagers and young adults, some with disastrous results, as young folks try to emulate the behavior of others. Change today is happening so fast, many cannot keep up, especially older folks. Older Americans worry about the seemingly declining moral standards in today’s world and are concerned about moral decay eroding America’s greatness.

The space age gave us new products, new worlds to explore, and new hopes of a strong America. Now, President Obama has virtually gutted the space program which will dramatically affect America. The development of the atomic bomb completely changed the face of warfare; and now, the world is trying to contain nuclear proliferation, for better or worse for America’s future. Many feel that Obama sold us down the river with the recent nuclear treaty with Russia. Time will tell on this. Concerns to protect earth from ourselves and save the environment; global warming or the reverse, global cooling, whichever it is, over-population, and the threat of world-wide terrorism are major concerns facing Americans today not present in the Depression.

However, one concern is present now as it was in the Great Depression. Jobs, job security, and fear of financial ruin plagued both Depression era Americans and Americans today. One worry present now, not present in the Depression is the tremendous and ever-growing national debt of today’s world. The Great Depression did not have this vast obligation to leave their children and grandchildren, but we today do. We just hope the moral, social, and financial stability of our world today does not turn America into a second rate country.

So to most now, the Great Depression is a time so far removed from our world that it seems to be a far-distant myth back somewhere in the murky depths of the past — just dull, dry history. But it wasn’t. Many seeds from the Depression are still very present in America’s psyche, driving our actions, our social consciences, and our hopes and dreams today.  See Part 2 of this series for more comparisons.

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