Chapter 37 - The Cold War BeginsI. Postwar Economic Anxieties1.The Americans cheered the end of World War II in 1945, but manyworried that with the war over, the U.S. would sink back into anotherGreat Depression.oUpon war’s end, inflation shot up with the release of pricecontrols while the gross national product sank, and labor strikes sweptthe nation.2.To get even with labor, Congress passed the Taft-Hartley Act, whichoutlawed “closed” shops (closed to non-union members), madeunions liable for damages that resulted from jurisdictional disputesamong themselves, and required that union leaders take non-communistoaths. Opposite of the Wagner Act of the New Deal, this new act was astrike 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 administrationsold war factories and other government installations to privatebusinesses cheaply. Congress passed the Employment Act of 1946, whichmade it government policy to “promote maximum employment,production, and purchasing power,” and created the Council ofEconomic Advisors to provide the president with data to make thatpolicy a reality.oIt also passed the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944,better known as the GI Bill of Rights, which allowed all servicemen tohave free college education once they returned from the war.II. The Long Economic Boom, 1950-19701.Then, in the late 1940s and into the 1960s, the economy began toboom tremendously, and folks who had felt the sting of the GreatDepression now wanted to bathe in the new prosperity.
oThe middle class more than doubled while people now wanted two carsin every garage; over 90% of American families owned a television.2.Women also reaped the benefits of the postwar economy, growing inthe American work force while giving up their former roles ashousewives.3.Even though this new affluence did not touch everyone, it did touch many.III. The Roots of Postwar Prosperity1.Postwar prosperity was fueled by several factors, including the waritself that forced America to produce more than it’d everimagined.2.However, much of the prosperity of the 50s and 60s rested on colossal military projects.oMassive appropriations for the Korean War, defense spending,industries like aerospace, plastics, and electronics, and research anddevelopment all were such projects.oR and D, research and development, became an entirely new industry.3.Cheap energy paralleled the popularity of automobiles, and spiderygrids of electrical cables carried the power of oil, gas, coal, andfalling water into homes and factories alike.4.Workers upped their productivity tremendously, as did farmers, dueto new technology in fertilizers, etc. In fact, the farming populationshrank while production soared.