Free Custom «The Home Front During the World War II» Essay Paper

Free Custom «The Home Front During the World War II» Essay Paper

The success of the United States of America during the World War II heavily depended on the home-front. In due course of this war, the famous industrial boom which saw America come out of the Great Depression happened. Following the end of the war and following the industrial boom, the U.S. became the world’s most wealthy nation. In the years when the war was still on, the economy United States underwent a rapid expansion. On an annual basis, the nation’s gross national product (GNP) was increasing by 15 percent or even more. Between 1942 and 1945, production skyrocketed following an order of the then president of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt of the construction of the many planes, during this period, the U.S. also made exportations of massive quantities (which ranged at about fifty million pairs of shoes and two and half million trucks).[1] In addition, new industries such as rubbers, chemicals and electronics benefited from the government funding. As well, the Office of Scientific Research and Development was engaged in a number of contracts of varied projects with other scientists and universities. Rocket engines, radar and penicillin among other products which were regarded to be innovative were being perfected- under the federal program- to be used during times of war. In efforts to finance the war, the United States’ government spending for a period of four or so years, i.e. 1940-1944, rose by USD 89 billion to USD 98 billion. Between these years, there were few goods available for purchase by the domestic customer since America had greatly invested in war bonds which had seen savings being transformed to planes and tanks[2]. Despite the fact that the contribution of these war bonds towards defense spending was considerably little, they were very pivotal in increasing the level of personal savings to the 25% mark of the consumer income. Production actually continued to be war-oriented, a thing which made most of the consumer goods continue being scarce every now and then. Notably, consumer essentials such as fabrics, food as well as gasoline were subjected to rationing. For the wealthy American populace, higher taxes were imposed. These taxes were geared towards redistributing income as well as narrowing the socioeconomic gap that existed between the upper class and lower class residents. Besides such tax policies easing this 1930’s class tension, they also impelled Americans to have a sense of mutual sacrifice towards winning the war[3].

There were also other social and economic programs which had been created by the New Deal. However, these programs started trending down the slope following the flourishing of most of the business entities, which were well thought as indispensable to victory, as a result of government grants. Such businesses include Wrigley’s chewing gum, Coca-Cola and the Kaiser Corporation. As a result of the looming federal subsidies, tax breaks and low-interest loans, factories were able to not only expand their operations, but also to retool[4]. Most of the so considered big businesses expanded their business production to encompass weaponry among other military production; a move that was from since branded military-industrial complex.  This complex saw the involvement and collaboration between the armed forces of the United States of America, the force’s suppliers of weapons systems, the civil government and other goods and services. Power and wealth lay exclusively in the hands of the largest corporation, which safeguarded antagonism against the big businesses[5].

The Workforce

Although the Great Depression had rendered a great percentage of the laborers unemployed, these same laborers were reinstituted back to work by the very initial military buildup. Farmers who had earlier suffered both overproduction and low produce price now had their incomes doubled. Average weekly earnings, during the war, stood at seventy per cent profit. The job market changed. While industry jobs which were considered to be heavy were invariably being done by men, the whites occupied majority of the skilled positions. White male workers were absorbed in the military service. On the other hand, the minorities as well as the women populace were hired in the production jobs[6]. It is worth noting that both government and private employers were being encouraged at this time to consider women as potential workers. Those of the female populace joining the labor force following the World War II were customarily known as the production soldiers. The weekly standard work for these production workers was set at forty eight hours, though most of them more often than not worked overtime during the war period. Among the areas of work for these women laborers included such as operating large cranes used to move heavy artillery and tanks, loading and firing weapons, operating hydraulic presses, working as volunteer fire fighters, welding, riveting, operators of drill presses and being taxi cab drivers.  It is thus evident that the U.S. home-front during the World War II facilitated the participation of women in each and every facet of war industries - right from making military clothing fighter jets building. Moreover, southern blacks had to move to industrial cities in the west and north. Mexicans on their part had to come into the U.S.[7]  With the new labor market, the economic positions of the African Americans were boosted.

President Roosevelt in June 1941 issued the Executive Order 8802, which saw the creation of the Fair Employment Practices Commission (FEPC). The FEPC kicked out discrimination in the process of hiring employees. Two years down the line, the federal government further turned down labor unions’ law that had sidelined the minorities[8]. In addition, the War Labor Bound illegitimated unequal remunerations to non-whites and whites working at similar capacities. Prior to the war, the part of the populace made of the African Americans resided in the southern rural and agricultural areas but in a period of countable years, they became residents of the northern areas which were both urban and industrial. Although racial discrimination in workplaces was not fully eliminated, the number of the blacks holding skilled jobs doubled at the end of the war. The demands for racial equality, which at this time were on the increase, heightened further following unrelenting migration of the African Americans to the north[9]. With many of them having relocated to the cities north, began to have a sense of political power. They also had a representative advocate of civil rights within the White House. This notwithstanding, the policy of segregation (on racial basis) still stood firm in the armed forces. African Americans in the military occupied the inferior jobs and were at the same time left out from combat status. Nevertheless, as the war drew to an end, the military administration was forced to include black troops into combat following the shortage of manpower[10].

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Following the Pearl Harbor attack, communities of the West Coast developed hysteria against the Japanese. This feeling compelled the community leaders as well as the military to have all nationals who were considered to be U.S. enemies be taken away from the West Coast’s war zones. Although no reliable evidence was available as regards disloyalty, the president issued an order that both the first and second generation Japanese Americans be relocated and detained[11]. This order forced those of Japanese descent in California sell their possessions and as well uproot themselves and their families. During the WWII, Italy was also an enemy of the United States and as thus around sixty thousand Italians in the coastal areas of California had to relocate. While the greatest percentage of these Italians left by their own means, the key spokesmen for Mussolini – Italy’s fascist leader - were arrested and thrown into prison. It was in 1943 that these restrictions against Italians were lifted[12].

The Serviceman’s Readjustment Act of 1944 (G.I. Bill)

The 1944 Serviceman’s Readjustment Act, commonly referred to as the G.I. Bill, helped in availing vocational or college education for those WWII veterans who opted to return.  These veterans were the ones branded as G.I. Furthermore, the G.I.s received a one year unemployment compensation. This Act also availed loans for the returning veterans so as to enable them not only purchase homes but also commence businesses. The reason as to why this bill was crafted was to bar a repeat of the March 1932 Bonus as well as degeneration into the Great Depression once the World War II came to an end. Many of the Bill’s provision rested on a veteran’s group known as the American Legion[13]. It is this veteran group that called for the bill to be applicable to all individuals serving in the armed services even including the women and the African Americans. It is through this bill that fee for the entire education of the G.I.s was paid by government and as a result, many of the universities across the nation were motivated to expand their enrollments. The G.I. Bill was taken to be the very last pieces under the New Deal Legislation[14].

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The 52-20 clause in the G.I. Bill was yet another important provision. On its part, this provision made possible for all former servicemen to, on a weekly basis, receive USD 20 for a period of fifty two weeks annually as long as they were in search for employment. However, the percentage of this money that was distributed had hit 20% since most of these returning servicemen either got re-employed or trailed higher education[15]. Of great importance about this bill was the zero-down sum home loans and low interest for the servicemen, which saw a great population of the African American families migrate to the urban apartments and into the out-of-town homes. The Serviceman’s Readjustment Act of 1944 actually aided in the democratization on the American Dream. And although the rights of this bill have undergone modifications, they are still partially in existence. This regulation helped the equality quest since immediately after the war, the suburbs were dominated by the wealthy and upper class populace[16].

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It is evident that the United States of American underwent dramatic transformations in the World War II period. The mobilization that took place during this wartime saw the coming to an end of the Great Depression as well as saw the New Deal shift its focus to international concerns as contrasted to its earlier concentration on internal social issues[17]. Having had  come out of the war victorious, the U.S. became the preeminent power in the world, with a possession of two thirds of the global gold reserves and at the same time being in control of over half the world’s manufacturing capacity. The war actually had notable transformation on the United States’ economic Structure. The national government assumed complete power over the economy of the States with an aim of maintaining national security[18]. Cooperatives ties between scientific researchers, the government, business and labor saw productivity of the nation shoot up and this facilitated the realized victory at the end of the war. While most of the Americans viewed the World War II as a big skirmish for the protection of their liberties and power, others got inspirations that the same relieved them from racism and injustice. Therefore, the home-front was instrumental in the growth of the U.S. to super power position which in turn enabled it to marshal the required capacity to win in the war-front.



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