Chapter 37 - The Cold War Begins - Chapter 37 The Cold War...

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Chapter 37 - The Cold War Begins I. Postwar Economic Anxieties 1. The Americans cheered the end of World War II in 1945, but many worried that with the war over, the U.S. would sink back into another Great Depression. o Upon war’s end, inflation shot up with the release of price controls while the gross national product sank, and labor strikes swept the nation. 2. To get even with labor, Congress passed the Taft-Hartley Act, which outlawed “closed” shops (closed to non-union members), made unions liable for damages that resulted from jurisdictional disputes among themselves, and required that union leaders take non-communist oaths. Opposite of the Wagner Act of the New Deal, this new act was a strike against labor unions. 3. Labor tried to organize in the South and West with “Operation Dixie,” but this proved frustrating and unsuccessful. 4. To forestall an economic downturn, the Democratic administration sold war factories and other government installations to private businesses cheaply. Congress passed the Employment Act of 1946, which made it government policy to “promote maximum employment, production, and purchasing power,” and created the Council of Economic Advisors to provide the president with data to make that policy a reality. o It also passed the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, better known as the GI Bill of Rights, which allowed all servicemen to have free college education once they returned from the war. II. The Long Economic Boom, 1950-1970 1. Then, in the late 1940s and into the 1960s, the economy began to boom tremendously, and folks who had felt the sting of the Great Depression now wanted to bathe in the new prosperity.
o The middle class more than doubled while people now wanted two cars in every garage; over 90% of American families owned a television. 2. Women also reaped the benefits of the postwar economy, growing in the American work force while giving up their former roles as housewives. 3. Even though this new affluence did not touch everyone, it did touch many. III. The Roots of Postwar Prosperity 1. Postwar prosperity was fueled by several factors, including the war itself that forced America to produce more than it’d ever imagined. 2. However, much of the prosperity of the 50s and 60s rested on colossal military projects. o Massive appropriations for the Korean War, defense spending, industries like aerospace, plastics, and electronics, and research and development all were such projects. o R and D, research and development, became an entirely new industry. 3. Cheap energy paralleled the popularity of automobiles, and spidery grids of electrical cables carried the power of oil, gas, coal, and falling water into homes and factories alike. 4. Workers upped their productivity tremendously, as did farmers, due to new technology in fertilizers, etc. In fact, the farming population shrank while production soared.

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