Americans, then as well as now, are not known to be thrifty. At the time, most Americans did not have anything near to a savings account that would help to sustain themselves for any amount of time. President Roosevelt, along with other Democrats, began to speak of the role and responsibility of the government to help take care of its own citizens.
Senator Paul Douglass, Democrat from Illinois, commented in 1936: “The impact of all these forces increasingly convinced the majority of the American people that individuals could not by themselves provide adequately for their old age, and that some form of greater security should be provided by society. ” (Goodwin, 1994, pg. 113)
This had come in the form of the Social Securities Act of 1935; one of the few programs that were able to slip by the long arm of the Supreme Court who, during must of Roosevelt’s Administration, declared many of his programs that came under “The New Deal” in order to get Americans back to work and to provide for those who could not, unconstitutional.
President Roosevelt became so enraged that he threatened to back the court, to increase the number of judges who would serve in the bench as well as to attempt to pass a law which forbade justices from serving past their 70th birthday. Despite the impossibility of such threats coming to fruition, the Supreme Court got back in line and some of Roosevelt’s programs were allowed to come to fruition. All those who reached the age of 65, would be entitled to government assistance and those who were currently working, would pay into the system from their taxes.
(Burns, 1999) The basic premise has not changed in over seventy years and not only constituted the first time the government took it upon themselves to care for a large segment of the population because in their minds, it was simply the right thing to do, but such programs have become an important part of the government’s budget. During the Lyndon Johnson Presidency, (1963-1969) as part of his “War on Poverty” specific attention was made to those called “working poor;” those who worked but could not pay their bills.
Food stamps and Medicaid programs were enacted in order to assist those who could not make their ends meet. No effort was exerted in order to assist people in making good financial decisions about their future. The money was given and less and less questions were asked about their future family and employment plans and if the two could coexist. The more children that mother had, the more money they would receive from the government. Mothers were actually having more children so that they could receive a larger paycheck from the government.
Sadly, the extra income would not go to support the child but extreme neglect would occur as the money would go to the mother in order to fuel her drug habit. This were usually the actions of the mother because to the simple, yet tragic truth that the father was not present in the home. Male desertion escalated at this time as previous definitions about marriage and family, in the post Feminist era, was turned on its head. Also, the idea of using welfare as a last means as it was accompanied by shame and disappointment, simply did not accompany a large percentage of those who were now receiving payments from the government.