A Great Victory Courtesy of the American Worker

 

Seventy years ago American industry was converting from wartime to peacetime production.  American workers during the War had performed a miracle.  The figures of the items produced are absolutely stunning.

During the War the US produced 324,000 military planes, 102,410 tanks, 2,382,311 other vehicles, 257,390 pieces of artillery, 105,055 mortars, 2,679,840 machine guns, 124 carriers, 8 battleships, 48 cruisers, 349 destroyers, 245 submarines, and 35,000 landing craft.  These figures only scratch the surface as the US also had to produce the tens of thousands of categories of other items, ranging from uniforms to Liberty transport ships, without which American, and Allied, forces would have ground to a halt.

This was accomplished in three years and eight months by a workforce from which sixteen million men in their prime were subtracted to serve in the Armed Forces.  Middle Aged men, young men waiting to be drafted and young women largely made up the workers who turned FDR’s “arsenal of democracy” into an unforgettable reality.  It was a magnificent accomplishment.  Something to remember on Labor Day.

Workers at Liberator Bomber Plant Fort Worth, Texas October 1942

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Published in: on September 7, 2015 at 4:50 am  Comments (8)  
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8 Comments

  1. […] By Donald R. McClarey […]

  2. Indeed, celebrate, but now ask: where did all of the money and wealth go?

    The national standard of living during World War II stayed level or possibly declined. Heavy government intervention did have the effect of boosting per capita income, though. And spending in several markets soared.

    Unions benefited because all new employees counted as “new union members,” which meant that the Union could extract dues from those employees. The government also extracted portions of an individual’s check for the purchase of war bond savings; of course, the bonds appreciated at a rate that did not keep up with inflation: burning money.

    A triumph indeed: when you devise ways to cheapen labor and flood the country with propaganda, you can exploit labor for great things.

    • “Indeed, celebrate, but now ask: where did all of the money and wealth go?”

      Much of it was saved and used to purchase houses, automobiles, start businesses, etc after the War. The American worker reaped a material reward as well as not having to live under either Nazi or Imperial Japanese rule. In regard to War Bonds they gave an excellent return which is why the vast majority of them were purchased by banks and other financial institutions rather than private citizens.

    • “The American worker reaped a material reward as well as not having to live under either Nazi or Imperial Japanese rule. ”

      Must have been why at least 1/5th the population lived in poverty during the 1950’s.

      Japanese American workers must have felt great to be free after their uncompensated interring.

      ” In regard to War Bonds they gave an excellent return which is why the vast majority of them were purchased by banks and other financial institutions rather than private citizens.”

      The bonds did not keep pace with the rate at which prices rose. Individuals worked harder under the promise of future consumption that failed to materialize because of the loss in purchasing power that the bond rates failed to reflect. It’s a classic trick and indeed related to how the United States has “managed” unemployment.

      • “Must have been why at least 1/5th the population lived in poverty during the 1950’s.”

        Poverty, as always, is a relative thing. Compared to the rest of the world, and indeed to the rest of world history up to World War II, the US beginning during World War II enjoyed a mass prosperity that we today have come to take for granted but which was very new in the history of Man.

        “Japanese American workers must have felt great to be free after their uncompensated interring.”

        As indicated actually by how few of them returned to Japan after the War.

        “Individuals worked harder under the promise of future consumption that failed to materialize”

        Simply an incorrect statement. Standards of living in America after the War were immensely higher than those prior to the War for the vast majority of Americans. As for War bonds you have not addressed my response that the vast majority of them were purchased by financial institutions. If they were such a lousy investment, why were banks more than willing to purchase them?

      • ‘the US beginning during World War II enjoyed a mass prosperity that we today have come to take for granted but which was very new in the history of Man.’

        There was a lot of wealth. No one denies that. But the wealth simply did not touch everyone.

        ‘Poverty, as always, is a relative thing’

        ‘Since the 1960s, the United States government has defined poverty in absolute terms. When the Johnson administration declared “war on poverty” in 1964, it chose an absolute measure. The “absolute poverty line” is the threshold below which families or individuals are considered to be lacking the resources to meet the basic needs for healthy living; having insufficient income to provide the food, shelter and clothing needed to preserve health.’
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poverty_in_the_United_States

        Under that measure, at least 1.5th of the United States lived in absolute poverty during the 1950’s.

        There is a reason that this book https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Other_America was written in 1962.

        ‘As indicated actually by how few of them returned to Japan after the War.’

        Few slaves returned to Africa after the Civil War. I guess that means things weren’t so bad for them. While we’re on the topic of wealth, the internment did indeed destroy a lot of wealth that Japanese Americans had worked hard to preserve or maintain, or have a shot at receiving in the first place. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internment_of_Japanese_Americans#Hardship_and_material_loss

        “Standards of living in America after the War were immensely higher than those prior to the War for the vast majority of Americans.”

        Likely false: “With wages rising about 65 percent over the course of the war, this limited success in cutting the rate of inflation meant that many American civilians enjoyed a stable or even improving quality of life during the war (Kennedy, 641). Improvement in the standard of living was not ubiquitous, however. In some regions, such as rural areas in the Deep South, living standards stagnated or even declined, and according to some economists, the national living standard barely stayed level or even declined (Higgs, 1992).”
        https://eh.net/encyclopedia/the-american-economy-during-world-war-ii/

        “As for War bonds you have not addressed my response that the vast majority of them were purchased by financial institutions”

        Your response appears false: “By the time war-bond sales ended in 1946, 85 million Americans had purchased more than $185 billion worth of the securities, often through automatic deductions from their paychecks (“Brief History of World War Two Advertising Campaigns: War Loans and Bonds”). Commercial institutions like banks also bought billions of dollars of bonds and other treasury paper, holding more than $24 billion at the war’s end (Kennedy, 626).”
        https://eh.net/encyclopedia/the-american-economy-during-world-war-ii/

      • “There was a lot of wealth. No one denies that. But the wealth simply did not touch everyone.”
        It touched most as the post war boom in auto sales and housing indicates.

        http://mercatus.org/publication/economic-recovery-lessons-post-world-war-ii-period

        “Since the 1960s, the United States government has defined poverty in absolute terms.”

        Rubbish. The definition of poverty is always subjective especially in a huge country where the cost of living varies wildly. The Johnson administration was eager to implement the Great Society “so lies, damn lies and statistics” were enlisted in the cause.

        http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2014/09/the-war-on-poverty-after-50-years

        There is a reason that this book https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Other_America was written in 1962.

        Yep, because the late Michael Harrington, an engaging fellow the one time I met him, was a socialist always eager to expand the State. The Kennedy administration was his golden opportunity.

        “Few slaves returned to Africa after the Civil War.”

        Red herring alert, red herring alert! The US was the land of economic opportunity as the Japanese-Americans knew, even after the internment of West coast Japanese during the War. Yes, many of the Japanese lost wealth as a result of the internment, a government action which says precisely nothing about economic conditions.
        “In some regions, such as rural areas in the Deep South, living standards stagnated or even declined, and according to some economists, the national living standard barely stayed level or even declined.”

        Average income would indicate peak prosperity surpassing all previous eras.

        That there were some regions that lagged behind is unsurprising since we are talking about a real nation and not some fictional utopia.

        “Your response appears false:”

        Nope:

        “By the end of the war it was estimated that eighty-five million Americans, over half the population of the U.S., held War Bonds. Banks, insurance companies and big corporations accounted for most of the $135 billion dollars in bonds purchased during the war, but over $36 billion of it was in Series “E” small-denomination certificates that were bought by individual citizens.”

      • A boom in sales does not indicate that the wealth was evenly distributed or accrued to all classes equally.

        ‘Rubbish’

        Do you have any better measure of poverty than the absolute poverty measure? Do you have any data?

        ‘Yep, because the late Michael Harrington’

        That’s a nice attempt to poison the well, but, what exactly was flawed about his book? Its conclusions certainly seem to agree with the (conservative) estimate that 1/5th the country lived in poverty.

        ‘Red herring alert, red herring alert!’

        No, I was pointing out why your reasoning was faulty.

        ‘a government action which says precisely nothing about economic conditions.’

        It says a lot about living in the United States of America when one belongs to certain groups.

        ‘That there were some regions that lagged behind is unsurprising since we are talking about a real nation and not some fictional utopia.’

        You said “standards of living in America after the War were immensely higher than those prior to the War for the vast majority of Americans.”

        That statement is not true. Taken on the national level, the standard of living was not “immensely higher” for the “vast majority” of Americans.

        ‘Nope:’

        Your source doesn’t give a source for its conclusion. Regardless, brute facts simply do not agree with you. The 25 dollar bonds could be purchased for 18.75. Talking in 1945 dollars, 18.75 was worth 27.92 in 1955. But the bond holder would only receive 25 dollars = bad investment and loss of purchasing power.


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