Nick Taylor’s American Made: An Opinion
The Works Progress Administration (WPA) is one of the topicsin American history that few authors have been able to exhaustivelydescribe. Regardless, in order to address such an enormous topic inAmerica’s economic and social history, one has to consider whatnecessitated the actions taken by the government, and what came ofthe plans that were implemented. Without question, authors must seekto address the effect that the program had on America’ssocio-economic inidcators, especially education, unemployement, andpoverty. The program was actualized after America had faced one ofthe century’s worst economic crises, which had sent the entirenation and government into social disorder. In this book, the authorskillfully explains the conception of the idea and its functioning inthe largest democracy in the world. Without lacking content to backup his ideas, the content satisfactorily addresses the input of theRoosevelt and Hoover administrations in reviving America’s socialwork, and how the same positively impacted the country’s economy.As such, readers, especially those who were born in later years afterthe conception of the WPA, get a readable account of theambitious project, and how it affected aspects of America’seconomy, such as trade and commerce.
Thepeople’s hopes are rekindled by a government that had decidedsettle on rebuilding the nation after the long war. The authorexplains how the politics of the day had been instrumental inchampioning the rights of the people. In the United States, after theSecond World War, there was still a strong division between differentraces that made up the American community. However, the conception ofan economic plan to revive the entire society’s living standardsplayed an integral role in challenging political ideologies, whichultimately made it possible for America to get back to its feet.Nevertheless, there was still a divide among the followers ofTheodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson’s ideologies. The dividedopinion is what the author goes ahead to describe as “a little lessof sorrow and discontent and a little more of happiness”(122). While the Americans were largely united on the need to have asocio-economic plan to get them out of their problems, they were notyet decided on who would make the most effective leader, and whoseideologies were more pragmatic than the others’.
While the author explains the expansion of the WPA, there are somequestions that are left to be answered by the audience ofthe book. For instance, whereas one criteria for defining theprogram was its usefulness to the society, there is no room to definethe term ‘useful’ as it applies to the particular program. Someof the major players in the government administrations during theimplementation of the program had turned out to be demagogues.Despite the fact that they had acquired enough wealth for themselves,thanks to the capitalistic economic systems, these players stillcommanded respect from the poor and other supporters. As such, thereare still questions being raised as to whether it was necessary forthe government administration to establish more job programs or not.The author notes Roosevelt’s assertion of long term reliefprograms. However, economic analysts would question the fundamentalchanges that characterized the New Deal Agenda, which was highlyassociates with Roosevelt’s political ideology. By answering thesequeries, it will be possible to evaluate how Roosevelt’s 1935 Stateof the Union address created an avenue for the conception andimplementation of the WPA.
Arts was as one of the major commitments of the WPA. Governmentofficials and political analysts had recognized the fact that artswere a major opportunity for providing jobs to the American men andwomen at that time. However, in an independent opinion, the federaland state agencies scrambled carelessly to take control of theprogram’s artistic projects. While the methods that were used topromote artistic projects were quite successful, there was a problemcreating a balance with other sources of employment. This is whyduring the rebuilding years public funding of the arts projectsbecame a highly controversial issue in America. Regardless, throughthe support and funding of the American government, the United Statesgrew to become the center of modern entertainment, witnessed by thequality and amount of entertainment productions coming out of hertoday.
While the WPA program was a national recovery venture, it receivedits fair share of resistance, as some people feared its impact on theAmerican social classes (385). This was a clear indication that thebeginning of the New Deal had begun. The greatest fear that such aturn of events can trigger is comparison of the American economicsystem to Communism. One of the defining factors of the differencesin the World Wars were allegiance to either capitalism or communism.In the United States, being accused of having connections tocommunists was dire (396). By including this chapter in the book, theauthor is, therefore, making reference to the dilemma that theAmericans faced, attributed to the freedoms of expression. While atit, this opinionated paper supports the authors’ great admirationof Harry Hopkins, who was one of Roosevelt’s closest friends, andgreat supporter of the national development projects.
Issues related to the WPA are well explained in the book. However,the technique used may not be appropriate for those who do not likedetail in logical reasoning. While the author outlines the eventstaking place in America at that point, he gives a highly detailedpresentation of the socio-economic matters that affected the UnitedStates. At the same time, it can be concluded that, this is not abiased book, as the author avoids partisan view of matters.Ultimately, the author does the job of telling the new generation ofthe path that America took to bring itself to its feet during harshtimes.
Taylor,Nick. American-made:The Enduring Legacy of the WPA : When FDR Put the Nation to Work.New York: Bantam Book, 2008. Print.