Self-help in Hard Times
excerpted from a
People's History of the United States
by Howard Zinn
The war was hardly over, it was February 1919, the IWW leadership
was in jail, but the IWW idea of the general strike became reality
for five days in Seattle, Washington, when a walkout of 100,000
working people brought the city to a halt.
It began with 35,000 shipyard workers striking for a wage
increase. They appealed for support to the Seattle Central Labor
Council, which recommended a city-wide strike, and in two weeks
110 locals-mostly American Federation of Labor, only a few IWW-voted
to strike. The rank and file of each striking local elected three
members to a General Strike Committee, and on February 6, 1919,
at 10:00 A.M., the strike began.
Unity was not easy to achieve. The IWW locals were in tension
with the AFL locals. Japanese locals were admitted to the General
Strike Committee but were not given a vote. Still, sixty thousand
union members were out, and forty thousand other workers joined
in sympathy. Seattle workers had a radical tradition. During the
war, the president of the Seattle AFL, a socialist, was imprisoned
for opposing the draft, was tortured, and there were great labor
rallies in the streets to protest.
The city now stopped functioning, except for activities organized
by the strikers to provide essential needs. Firemen agreed to
stay on the job. Laundry workers handled only hospital laundry.
Vehicles authorized to move carried signs "Exempted by the
General Strike Committee." Thirty-five neighborhood milk
stations were set up. Every day thirty thousand meals were prepared
in large kitchens, then transported to halls all over the city
and served cafeteria style, with strikers paying twenty-five cents
a meal, the general public thirty-five cents. People were allowed
to eat as much as they wanted of the beef stew, spaghetti, bread,
A Labor War Veteran's Guard was organized to keep the peace.
On the blackboard at one of its headquarters was written: "The
purpose of this organization is to preserve law and order without
the use of force. No volunteer will have any police power or be
allowed to carry weapons of any sort, but to use persuasion only."
During the strike, crime in the city decreased. The commander
of the U.S. army detachment sent into the area told the strikers'
committee that in forty years of military experience he hadn't
seen so quiet and orderly a city.
The mayor swore in 2,400 special deputies, many of them students
at the University of Washington. Almost a thousand sailors and
marines were brought into the city by the U.S. government. The
general strike ended after five days, according to the General
Strike Committee because of pressure from the international officers
of the various unions, as well as the difficulties of living in
a shut-down city.
The strike had been peaceful. But when it was over, there
were raids and arrests: on the Socialist party headquarters, on
a printing plant. Thirty-nine members of the IWW were jailed as
"ring-leaders of anarchy."
In Centralia, Washington, where the IWW had been organizing
lumber workers, the lumber interests made plans to get rid of
the IWW. On November 11, 1919, Armistice Day, the Legion paraded
through town with rubber hoses and gas pipes, and the IWW prepared
for an attack. When the Legion passed the IWW hall, shots were
fired-it is unclear who fired first. They stormed the hall, there
was more firing, and three Legion men were killed.
Inside the headquarters was an IWW member, a lumberjack named
Wesley Everest, who was serving in the army in Washington while
the IWW national leaders were on trial for obstructing the war
effort. Everest was in army uniform and carried a pistol. He emptied
it into the crowd, dropped it, and ran for the woods, followed
by a mob. He started to wade across the river, found the current
too strong, turned, shot the leading man dead, threw his gun into
the river, and fought the mob with his fists. They dragged him
back to town, suspended him from a telegraph pole, took him down,
locked him in jail. That night, his jailhouse door was broken
down, he was dragged out, put on the floor of a car, taken to
a bridge, and hanged. According to a police report, there was
one bullet hole in his body.
No one was ever arrested for Everest's murder, but eleven
Wobblies were put on trial for killing an American Legion leader
during the parade, and six of them spent ten to sixteen years
Why such a reaction to the general strike, to the organizing
of the Wobblies? A statement by the mayor of Seattle suggests
that the Establishment feared not just the strike itself but what
it symbolized. He said:
The so-called sympathetic Seattle strike was an attempted
revolution. That there was no violence does not alter the fact....
The intent, openly and covertly announced, was for the overthrow
of the industrial system; here first, then everywhere . . . True,
there were no flashing guns, no bombs, no killings. Revolution,
I repeat, doesn't need violence. The general strike, as practiced
in Seattle, is of itself the weapon of revolution, all the more
dangerous because quiet. To succeed, it must suspend everything;
stop the entire life stream of a community.... That is to say,
it puts the government out of operation. And that is all there
is to revolt-no matter how achieved.
Furthermore, the Seattle general strike took place in the
midst of a wave of postwar rebellions all over the world. A writer
in The Nation commented that year:
"The most extraordinary phenomenon of the present time
. . . is the unprecedented revolt of the rank and file...."
In Russia it has dethroned the Czar.... In Korea and India
and Egypt and Ireland it keeps up an unyielding resistance to
political tyranny. In England it brought about the railway strike,
against the judgment of the men's own executives. In Seattle and
San Francisco it has resulted in the stevedores' recent refusal
to handle arms or supplies destined for the overthrow of the Soviet
Government. In one district of Illinois it manifested itself in
a resolution of striking miners, unanimously requesting their
state executive "to go to Hell".
In Pittsburgh, according to Mr. Gompers, it compelled the
reluctant American Federation officers to call the steel strike,
lest the control pass into the hands of the l.W.W.'s and other
"radicals". In New York, it brought about the longshoremen's
strike and kept the men out in defiance of union officials, and
caused the upheaval in the printing trade, which the international
officers, even though the employers worked hand in glove with
them, were completely unable to control.
The common man . . . losing faith in the old leadership, has
experienced a new access of self-confidence, or at least a new
recklessness, a readiness to take chances on his own account .
. . authority cannot any longer be imposed from above; it comes
automatically from below.
In the steel mills of western Pennsylvania later in 1919,
where men worked twelve hours a day, six days a week, doing exhausting
work under intense heat, 100,000 steel workers were signed up
in twenty different AFL craft unions. A National Committee attempting
to tie them together in their organizing drive found in the summer
of 1919 "the men are letting it be known that if we do not
do something for them they will take the matter into their own
The National Council was getting telegrams like the one from
the Johnstown Steel Workers Council: "Unless the National
Committee authorizes a national strike vote to be taken this week
we will be compelled to go on strike here alone." William
Z. Foster (later a Communist leader, at this time secretary-treasurer
to the National Committee in charge of organizing) received a
telegram from organizers in the Youngstown district: "We
cannot be expected to meet the enraged workers, who will consider
us traitors if strike is postponed."
There was pressure from President Woodrow Wilson and Samuel
Gompers, AFL president, to postpone the strike. But the steelworkers
were too insistent, and in September 1919, not only the 100,000
union men but 250,000 others went out on strike.
The sheriff of Allegheny County swore in as deputies five thousand
employees of U.S. Steel who had not gone on strike, and announced
that outdoor meetings would be forbidden. A report of the Interchurch
World Movement made at the time said:
In Monessen . . . the policy of the State Police was simply
to club men off the streets and drive them into their homes....
In Braddock ... when a striker was clubbed in the street he would
be taken to jail, kept there over night.... Many of those arrested
in Newcastle ... were ordered not to be released until the strike
The Department of Justice moved in, carrying out raids on
workers who were aliens, holding them for deportation. At Gary,
Indiana, federal troops were sent in.
Other factors operated against the strikers. Most were recent
immigrants, of many nationalities, many languages. Sherman Service,
Inc., hired by the steel corporations to break the strike, instructed
its men in South Chicago: "We want you to stir up as much
bad feeling as you possibly can between the Serbians and the Italians.
Spread data among the Serbians that the Italians are going back
to work. . . Urge them to go back to work or the Italians will
get their jobs. More than thirty thousand black workers were brought
into the area as strikebreakers-they had been excluded from AFL
unions and so felt no loyalty to unionism.
As the strike dragged on, the mood of defeat spread, and workers
began to drift back to work. After ten weeks, the number of strikers
was down to 110,000, and then the National Committee called the
In the year following the war, 120,000 textile workers struck
in New England and New Jersey, and 30,000 silk workers struck
in Paterson, New Jersey. In Boston the police went out on strike,
and in New York City cigarmakers, shirtmakers, carpenters, bakers,
teamsters, and barbers were out on strike. In Chicago, the press
reported, "More strikes and lockouts accompany the mid-summer
heat than ever known before at any one time." Five thousand
workers at International Harvester and five thousand city workers
were in the streets.
When the twenties began, however, the situation seemed under
control. The IWW was destroyed, the Socialist party falling apart.
The strikes were beaten down by force, and the economy was doing
just well enough for just enough people to prevent mass rebellion.
There were enough well-off people to push the others into
the background. And with the rich controlling the means of dispensing
information, who would tell? Historian Merle Curti observed about
It was, in fact, only the upper ten percent of the population
that enjoyed a marked increase in real income. But the protests
which such facts normally have evoked could not make themselves
widely or effectively felt. This was in part the result of the
grand strategy of the major political parties. In part it was
the result of the fact that almost all the chief avenues to mass
opinion were now controlled by large-scale publishing industries.
Some writers tried to break through: Theodore Dreiser, Sinclair
Lewis, Lewis Mumford. F. Scott Fitzgerald, in an article, "Echoes
of the Jazz Age," said: "It was borrowed time anyway-the
whole upper tenth of a nation living with the insouciance of a
grand duc and the casualness of chorus girls." He saw ominous
signs amid that prosperity: drunkenness, unhappiness, violence:
A classmate killed his wife and himself on Long Island, another
tumbled "accidentally" from a skyscraper in Philadelphia,
another purposely from a skyscraper in New York. One was killed
in a speak-easy in Chicago; another was beaten to death in a speak-easy
in New York and crawled home to the Princeton Club to die; still
another had his skull crushed by a maniac's ax in an insane asylum
where he was confined.
Sinclair Lewis captured the false sense of prosperity, the
shallow pleasure of the new gadgets for the middle classes, in
his novel Babbitt:
"It was the best of nationally advertised and quantitatively
produced alarm clocks, with all modern attachments, including
cathedral chime, intermittent alarm, and a phosphorescent dial.
Babbitt was proud of being awakened by such a rich device. Socially
it was almost as creditable as buying expensive cord tires.
He sulkily admitted now that there was no more escape, but
he lay and detested the grind of the real-estate business, and
disliked his family, and disliked himself for disliking them."
Women had finally, after long agitation, won the right to
vote in 1920 with the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, but
voting was still a middle-class and upper-class activity. Eleanor
Flexner, recounting the history of the movement, says the effect
of female suffrage was that "women have shown the same tendency
to divide along orthodox party lines as male voters." Few
political figures spoke out for the poor of the twenties. One
was Fiorello La Guardia, a Congressman from a district of poor
immigrants in East Harlem (who ran, oddly, on both Socialist and
Republican tickets). In the mid-twenties he was made aware by
people in his district of the high price of meat. When La Guardia
asked Secretary of Agriculture William Jardine to investigate
the high price of meat, the Secretary sent him a pamphlet on how
to use meat economically. La Guardia wrote back:
"I asked for help and you send me a bulletin. The people
of New York City cannot feed their children on Department bulletins....
Your bulletins . . . are of no use to the tenement dwellers of
this great city. The housewives of New York have been trained
by hard experience on the economical use of meat. What we want
is the help of your department on the meat profiteers who are
keeping the hard-working people of this city from obtaining proper
During the presidencies of Harding and Coolidge in the twenties,
the Secretary of the Treasury was Andrew Mellon, one of the richest
men in America. In 1923, Congress was presented with the "Mellon
Plan," calling for what looked like a general reduction of
income taxes, except that the top income brackets would have their
tax rates lowered from 50 percent to 25 percent, while the lowest-income
group would have theirs lowered from 4 percent to 3 percent. A
few Congressmen from working-class districts spoke against the
bill, like William P. Connery of Massachusetts:
I am not going to have my people who work in the shoe factories
of Lynn and in the mills in Lawrence and the leather industry
of Peabody, in these days of so-called Republican prosperity when
they are working but three days in the week think that I am in
accord with the provisions of this bill. . . . When I see a provision
in this Mellon tax bill which is going to save Mr. Mellon himself
$800,000 on his income tax and his brother $600,000 on his, I
cannot give it my support.
The Mellon Plan passed. In 1928, La Guardia toured the poorer
districts of New York and said: "I confess I was not prepared
for what I actually saw. It seemed almost incredible that such
conditions of poverty could really exist."
The stock market crash of 1929, which marked the beginning
of the Great Depression of the United States, came directly from
wild speculation which collapsed and brought the whole economy
down with it. But, as John Galbraith says in his study of that
event (The Great Crash), behind that speculation was the fact
that "the economy was fundamentally unsound." He points
to very unhealthy corporate and banking structures, an unsound
foreign trade, much economic misinformation, and the "bad
distribution of income" (the highest 5 percent of the population
received about one-third of all personal in come).
A socialist critic would go further and say that the capitalist
system was by its nature unsound: a system driven by the one overriding
motive of corporate profit and therefore unstable, unpredictable,
and blind to human needs. The result of all that: permanent depression
for many of its people, and periodic crises for almost everybody.
Capitalism, de spite its attempts at self-reform, its organization
for better control, was still in 1929 a sick and undependable
After the crash, the economy was stunned, barely moving. Over
five thousand banks closed and huge numbers of businesses, unable
to get money, closed too. Those that continued laid off employees
and cut the wages of those who remained, again and again. Industrial
production fell by 50 percent, and by 1933 perhaps 15 million
(no one knew exactly)-one-fourth or one-third of the labor force-were
out of work. The Ford Motor Company, which in the spring of 1929
had employed 128,000 workers, was down to 37,000 by August of
1931. By the end of 1930, almost half the 280,000 textile mill
workers in New England were out of work. Former President Calvin
Coolidge, commented with his customary wisdom: "When more
and more people are thrown out of work, unemployment results."
He spoke again in early 1931, "This country is not in good
Clearly, those responsible for organizing the economy did
not know what had happened, were baffled by it, refused to recognize
it, and found reasons other than the failure of the system. Herbert
Hoover had said, not long before the crash: "We in America
today are nearer to the final triumph over poverty than ever before
in the history of any land." Henry Ford, in March 1931, said
the crisis was here because "the average man won't really
do a day's work unless he is caught and cannot get out of it.
There is plenty of work to do if people would do it." A few
weeks later he laid off 75,000 workers.
The anger of the veteran of the First World War, now without
work, his family hungry, led to the march of the Bonus Army to
Washington in the spring and summer of 1932. War veterans, holding
government bonus certificates which were due years in the future,
demanded that Congress pay off on them now, when the money was
desperately needed. And so they began to move to Washington from
all over the country, with wives and children or alone. They came
in broken-down old autos, stealing rides on freight trains, or
hitchhiking. They were miners from West Virginia, sheet metal
workers from Columbus, Georgia, and unemployed Polish veterans
from Chicago. One family-husband, wife, three-year-old boy-spent
three months on freight trains coming from California. Chief Running
Wolf, a jobless Mescalero Indian from New Mexico, showed up in
full Indian dress, with bow and arrow.
More than twenty thousand came. Most camped across the Potomac
River from the Capitol on Anacostia Flats where, as John Dos Passos
wrote, "the men are sleeping in little lean-tos built out
of old newspapers, cardboard boxes, packing crates, bits of tin
or tarpaper roofing, every kind of cockeyed makeshift shelter
from the rain scraped together out of the city dump." The
bill to pay off on the bonus passed the House, but was defeated
in the Senate, and some veterans, discouraged, left. Most stayed-some
encamped in government buildings near the Capitol, the rest on
Anacostia Flats, and President Hoover ordered the army to evict
Four troops of cavalry, four companies of infantry, a machine
gun squadron, and six tanks assembled near the White House. General
Douglas MacArthur was in charge of the operation, Major Dwight
Eisenhower his aide. George S. Patton was one of the officers.
MacArthur led his troops down Pennsylvania Avenue, used tear gas
to clear veterans out of the old buildings, and set the buildings
on fire. Then the army moved across the bridge to Anacostia. Thousands
of veterans, wives, children, began to run as the tear gas spread.
The soldiers set fire to some of the huts, and soon the whole
encampment was ablaze. When it was all over, two veterans had
been shot to death, an eleven week-old baby had died, an eight-year-old
boy was partially blinded by gas, two police had fractured skulls,
and a thousand veterans were injured by gas.
In 1934 and 1935 hundreds of thousands of workers, left out
of the tightly controlled, exclusive unions of the American Federation
of Labor, began organizing in the new mass production industries-
auto, rubber, packinghouse. The AFL could not ignore them, it
set up a Committee for Industrial Organization to organize these
workers outside of craft lines, by industry, all workers in a
plant belonging to one union. This Committee, headed by John Lewis,
then broke away and became the CIO-the Congress of Industrial
But it was rank-and-file strikes and insurgencies that pushed
the union leadership, AFL and CIO, into action. Jeremy Brecher
tells the story in his book Strike! A new kind of tactic began
among rubber workers in Akron, Ohio, in the early thirties-the
sit-down strike. The workers stayed in the plant instead of walking
out, and this had clear advantages: they were directly blocking
the use of strikebreakers- they did not have to act through union
officials but were in direct control of the situation themselves;
they did not have to walk outside in the cold and rain, but had
shelter; they were not isolated, as in their work, or on the picket
line; they were thousands under one roof, free to talk to one
another, to form a community of struggle. Louis Adamica labor
writer, describes one of the early sit-downs:
Sitting by their machines, cauldrons, boilers and work benches,
they talked. Some realized for the first time how important they
were in the process of rubber production. Twelve men had practically
stopped the works! . . . Superintendents, foremen, and straw bosses
were dashing about.... In less than an hour the dispute was settled,
full victory for the men.
In early 1936, at the Firestone rubber plant in Akron, makers
of truck tires, their wages already too low to pay for food and
rent, were faced with a wage cut. When several union men were
fired, others began to stop work, to sit down on the job. In one
day the whole of plant # I was sitting down. In two days, plant
#2 was sitting down and management gave in. In the next ten days
there was a sit-down at Goodyear. A court issued an injunction
against mass picketing. It was ignored, and 150 deputies were
sworn in. But they soon faced ten thousand workers from all over
Akron. In a month the strike was won.
The idea spread through 1936. In December of that year began
the longest sit-down strike of all, at Fisher Body plant # I in
Flint, Michigan. It started when two brothers were fired, and
it lasted until February 1937. For forty days there was a community
of two thousand strikers. "It was like war," one said.
"The guys with me became my buddies." Sidney Fine in
Sit-Down describes what happened. Commit tees organized recreation,
information, classes, a postal service, sanitation. Courts were
set up to deal with those who didn't take their turn washing dishes
or who threw rubbish or smoked where it was prohibited or brought
in liquor. The "punishment" consisted of extra duties;
the ultimate punishment was expulsion from the plant. A restaurant
owner across the street prepared three meals a day for two thousand
strikers. There were classes in parliamentary procedure, public
speaking, history of the labor movement. Graduate students at
the University of Michigan gave courses in journalism and creative
There were injunctions, but a procession of five thousand armed
workers encircled the plant and there was no attempt to enforce
the injunction. Police attacked with tear gas and the workers
fought back with firehoses. Thirteen strikers were wounded by
gunfire, but the police were driven back. The governor called
out the National Guard. By this time the strike had spread to
other General Motors plants. Finally there was a settlement, a
six-month contract, leaving many questions unsettled but recognizing
that from now on, the company would have to deal not with individuals
but with a union.
In 1936 there were forty-eight sitdown strikes. In 1937 there
were 477: electrical workers in St. Louis; shirt workers in Pulaski,
Tennessee; broom workers in Pueblo, Colorado; trash collectors
in Bridgeport, Connecticut; gravediggers in New Jersey; seventeen
blind workers at the New York Guild for the Jewish Blind; prisoners
in an Illinois penitentiary; and even thirty members of a National
Guard Company who had served in the Fisher Body sit-down, and
now sat down themselves because they had not been paid.
The sit-downs were especially dangerous to the system because
they were not controlled by the regular union leadership. An AFL
business agent for the Hotel and Restaurant Employees said:
You'd be sitting in the office any March day of 1937, and
the phone would ring and the voice at the other end would say:
"My name is Mary Jones; I'm a soda clerk at Liggett's; we've
thrown the manager out and we've got the keys. What do we do now?"
And you'd hurry over to the company to negotiate and over there
they'd say, "I think it's the height of irresponsibility
to call a strike before you've ever asked for a contract"
and all you could answer was, "You're so right."
It was to stabilize the system in the face of labor unrest
that the L Wagner Act of 1935, setting up a National Labor Relations
Board, had been passed. The wave of strikes in 1936, 1937, 1938,
made the need even more pressing. In Chicago, on Memorial Day,
1937, a strike at Republic Steel brought the police out, firing
at a mass picket line of strikers, killing ten of them. Autopsies
showed the bullets had hit the workers in the back as they were
running away: this was the Memorial Day Massacre. But Republic
Steel was organized, and so was Ford Motor Company, and the other
huge plants in steel, auto, rubber, meat packing, the electrical
The Wagner Act was challenged by a steel corporation in the
courts, but the Supreme Court found it constitutional-that the
government could regulate interstate commerce, and that strikes
hurt interstate commerce. From the trade unions' point of view,
the new law was an aid to union organizing. From the government's
point of view it was an aid to the stability of commerce. Unions
were not wanted by employers, but they were more controllable-more
stabilizing for the system than the wildcat strikes, the factory
occupations of the rank and file. In the spring of 1937, a New
York Times article carried the headline "Unauthorized Sit-Downs
Fought by CIO Unions." The story read: "Strict orders
have been issued to all organizers and representatives that they
will be dismissed if they authorize any stoppages of work without
the consent of the international officers...." The Times
quoted John L. Lewis, dynamic leader of the CIO: "A CIO contract
is adequate protection against sit-downs, lie-downs, or any other
kind of strike."
The Communist party, some of whose members played critical roles
in organizing CIO unions, seemed to take the same position. One
Communist leader in Akron was reported to have said at a party
strategy meeting after the sit-downs: "Now we must work for
regular relations between the union and the employers-and strict
observance of union procedure on the part of the workers."
Thus, two sophisticated ways of controlling direct labor action
developed in the mid-thirties. First, the National Labor Relations
Board would give unions legal status, listen to them, settling
certain of their grievances. Thus it could moderate labor rebellion
by channeling energy into elections-just as the constitutional
system channeled possibly troublesome energy into voting. The
NLRB would set limits in economic conflict as voting did in political
conflict. And second, the workers' organization itself, the union,
even a militant and aggressive union like the CIO, would channel
the workers' insurrectionary energy into con tracts, negotiations,
union meetings, and try to minimize strikes, in order to build
large, influential, even respectable organizations.
The history of those years seems to support the argument of
Richard Cloward and Frances Piven, in their book Poor People's
Movements, that labor won most during its spontaneous uprisings,
before the unions were recognized or well organized: "Factory
workers had their greatest influence, and were able to exact their
most substantial concessions from government, during the Great
Depression, in the years before they were organized into unions.
Their power during the Depression was not rooted in organization,
but in disruption."
Piven and Cloward point out that union membership rose enormously
in the forties, during the Second World War (the CIO and AFL had
over 6 million members each by 1945), but its power was less than
before-its gains from the use of strikes kept getting whittled
down. The members appointed to the NLRB were less sympathetic
to labor, the Supreme Court declared sit-downs to be illegal,
and state governments were passing laws to hamper strikes, picketing,
The coming of World War II weakened the old labor militancy
of the thirties because the war economy created millions of new
jobs at higher wages. The New Deal had succeeded only in reducing
unemployment from 13 million to 9 million. It was the war that
put almost everyone to work, and the war did something else: patriotism,
the push for unity of all classes against enemies overseas, made
it harder to mobilize anger against the corporations. During the
war, the CIO and AFL pledged to call no strikes.
Still, the grievances of workers were such-wartime "controls"
meant their wages were being controlled better than prices-that
they felt impelled to engage in many wildcat strikes: there were
more strikes in 1944 than in any previous year in American history,
says Jeremy Brecher.
The thirties and forties showed more clearly than before the
dilemma of working people in the United States. The system responded
to workers' rebellions by finding new forms of control-internal
control by their own organizations as well as outside control
by law and force. But along with the new controls came new concessions.
These concessions didn't solve basic problems; for many people
they solved nothing. But they helped enough people to create an
atmosphere of progress and improvement, to restore some faith
in the system.
The minimum wage of 1938, which established the forty-hour
week and outlawed child labor, left many people out of its provisions
and set very low minimum wages (twenty-five cents an hour the
first year). But it was enough to dull the edge of resentment.
Housing was built for only a small percentage of the people who
needed it. "A modest, even parsimonious, beginning,"
Paul Conkin says (F.D.R. and the Origins of the Welfare State),
but the sight of federally subsidized housing projects, playgrounds,
vermin-free apartments, replacing dilapidated tenements, was refreshing.
The TVA suggested exciting possibilities for regional planning
to give jobs, improve areas, and provide cheap power, with local
instead of national control. The Social Security Act gave retirement
benefits and unemployment insurance, and matched state funds for
mothers and dependent children-but it excluded farmers, domestic
workers, and old people, and offered no health insurance. As Conkin
says: "The meager benefits of Social Security were insignificant
in comparison to the building of security for large, established
History of the United States