Frank Stricker: Emeritus Professor of History Presents FDR’s New Deal to Osher Lifelong Learning Institute
On Feb. 11, Frank Stricker, emeritus professor of history at California State University, Dominguez Hills, presented the lecture “What FDR’s New Deal Did, What it Did Not Do and What We Can Learn From the 30s” to students in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) program in the College of Extended and International Education.
Speaking to an OLLI class of senior citizens, many of whom grew up in the aftermath of the Great Depression, Stricker focused on the lessons that could be gleaned from President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s efforts to recover the failing economy of the 1930s. He says that developing programs similar to Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the Civil Works Administration (CWA) could help the United States now to recover from the current economic recession.
“The history of the New Deal job programs shows that the federal government can act quickly and with a minimum of corruption and inefficiency to help people in dire need,” Stricker says. “One excellent example is the Civil Works Administration. Over the winter of 1933 to 1934, the Civil Works Administration employed four million in public projects,” says Stricker. “In four months, its employees built or improved 500,000 miles of roads, 40,000 schools and 3,500 playgrounds.”
Stricker claims that even before the current recession, we had a great deal of unemployment, although much of it was not captured in highly publicized monthly rates. He believes that there are four problems surrounding jobs: population growth, which always increases the number of potential workers, unemployment from the current recession, an ineffectual recovery from unemployment from 2001 to 2007, the numbers of “hidden” unemployed, who include part-time workers who want full-time work and lastly, millions of others who are continually discouraged from looking for a job for a variety of reasons.
“If we want to deal with the four causes of unemployment and end the stagnation of average [household] incomes, we ought to be creating three million new jobs — many of them government jobs — every year of Obama’s [projected] eight years in office,” Stricker says. “This would put the economy on a sounder basis, with more real spending by more Americans, rather than the financial bubble that fueled American prosperity before the meltdown.”
Stricker is currently writing a new book, Everybody’s Guide to Jobs and Unemployment: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. It will include the history of jobs and unemployment in America, the job market records of the Hoover and Roosevelt administrations, the social groups hit hardest by unemployment and how detrimental unemployment is to society.
- Joanie Harmon