Dismantling the Federal Bureaucracy Has Left Us All Vulnerable to COVID-19Roundup
tags: Cold War, New Deal, Eisenhower, coronavirus
Teal Arcadi is a Ph.D. candidate in American history at Princeton University.
Casey Eilbert is a PhD candidate in American history at Princeton University.
Efforts to diminish the federal bureaucracy and its services can be traced to the conservative political movement that followed the New Deal and World War II, though such efforts gathered bipartisan support over time. The New Deal encompassed an expansion of social benefits, and then the administrative state needed to manage them. Politicians and bureaucrats built a safety net capable of protecting Americans from the perils the Great Depression. Employment programs and unemployment insurance put workers back on their feet, while old age pensions enabled older workers to retire and clear room in the workforce for others.
World War II brought further administrative growth. Federal management of the wartime economy stabilized material life for unprecedented numbers of Americans. Wartime production boosted domestic employment, while military service provided other economic possibilities. Even after the war’s end, the 1944 GI Bill provided veterans (especially those who were white, male and heterosexual) with affordable education and housing, launching them into the middle class.
None of this would have been possible without the bureaucrats to ensure programs ran smoothly.
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