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1950s

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  1. 1950s Focus Question: Why are the 1950s remembered as an age of affluence (prosperity)?

  2. Rocky Transition to Peace • Truman announced set of reforms: the Fair Deal • Raise minimum wage • Enact national health insurance program • With rising prices and unemployment, workers wanted wage increases and striking

  3. Congress Responds: Taft-Hartley Act • T-H Act limits power of unions to combat and prevent strikes • Closed shop or workplace where an employer agrees to hire only members of a certain union outlawed • Bans sympathy strikes by other unions

  4. Truman Defeats Dewey

  5. Election of 1948Truman Defeats Dewey • Truman campaigns on a whistle-stop tour to win the reelection against Dewey • Truman’s Fair Deal reforms blocked by Republican Congress • Congress did pass Truman’s proposal to raise minimum wage

  6. Election of 1950: Ike takes the middle of the road • “I like Ike” • Modern Republicanism voted in to office with Eisenhower • Social Security Benefits expanded • Arms buildup during peacetime to combat the Cold War • Interstate system designed & built

  7. Consumer Demand = Economic Growth • Due to large savings and more “real” income, people spend more money than ever before • Businesses advertise & offer charge cards • New & improved products encourage customers to get the newest product and latest designs

  8. Economy Shifts from Goods to Services • GM becomes the first US business to earn more than $1 billion a year • GMs success based on guaranteeing its workers wage hikes that were tied to the cost-of-living index

  9. Economy Shifts from Goods to Services • Fast-food restaurants and motel chains begin to compete for consumer business • New companies are selling franchises (agreements to operate a business that carries that company’s name and products)

  10. Blue-collar to White-collar Job Shift • White-collar workers outnumber blue-collar workers for the first time in US History • Blue-collar workers are part of middle class • White-collar workers are usually salaried, while blue-collar workers are paid by the hour

  11. Marriage Boom leads to Baby Boom • Marriages increased greatly • Married at younger ages • Increase in marriages leads to more babies being born = baby boom • More diapers, baby food, homes, cars, schools are needed to accommodate these new kids

  12. Family Roles • Dr. Spock encourages women to stay home to raise children in his books • Mass media (TV, magazines, movies) portray “traditional family” with working dads and homemaker moms • The number of women attending college dropped and many who do attend drop out to get married

  13. Leave it to Beaver & Father Knows Best TV families

  14. Middle Class Families Move to the Suburbs • New planned communities are providing needed housing for middle class families • New suburban communities revealed homogeneity being white and middle class • Americans move to the sunbelt • Population shift possible with invention of air conditioning and water projects

  15. The Suburbs

  16. The Middle Class Dream • Increased number of people commuting from the suburbs led to the production and sale of cars • Cars are a status symbol; new and better designs each year • Interstate system needed • New business along interstate: gas stations, motels, restaurants

  17. Life Expectancy • Dr. Salk created polio vaccine • Surgical techniques created saving lives • Use of antibiotics to treat diseases increases • Advances in medicine increase life span by ~ 2 yrs

  18. Nuclear Energy & Computers • Nuclear energy used for electricity • First electric digital computer called ENIAC performs 300 multiplications per second • Invention of transistor has allowed for smaller and more reliable computers

  19. Suburbia and Conformity • fostered conformity & materialism • same age, class, & income • Suburbs consisted of uniform, unidentifiable homes • “organization men” working for large corporations or government • Children grew up valuing “fitting in” above thinking for themselves

  20. The Beats • Rejected all forms of convention • Shunned traditional jobs and materialism of American life • Men wore beards. • Men and women wore dark clothes and berets • Studied Eastern religions: Hinduism and Buddhism

  21. Based on feelings & adventures Writing often flowed in a stream of consciousness and could go for pages without a period or punctuation Beat Literature

  22. Youth Culture • Rock n Roll was a new style of music that teenagers embraced • Radios and record players were inexpensive • Elvis Presley represented rebellion against music and manners of older generations • Hollywood catered to teens • Teens developed their own language

  23. Two Americas • Poverty was a moral and economic problem • People who needed assistance viewed as lazy • Elderly and children were misfortunate because they couldn’t work • Working poor had jobs

  24. Two Americas • Poverty line is the minimum amount of income needed to meet basic needs • Poor lived in cities • Mass produced clothing allowed for assimilation into society • No political power

  25. Inner Cities • African Americans, Puerto Ricans, Mexican Immigrants • Industry jobs disappeared from cities • Housing Act of 1949 destroyed many homes where low-income groups lived

  26. Rural Life • Migrant workers, farmers, Appalachia’s residents • Small farmers couldn’t compete with corporate farms • Migrant workers given low pay at corporate farms • Coal industry declined leading to no work for Appalachia's miners

  27. America’s Poorest Citizens • American Indians • Termination policy of 1953 ended federal aid to tribes, withdrew land protection, distributed tribal land among individuals • Voluntary Relocation Program encouraged Native Americans to move to cities

  28. Poverty • By 2000, overall poverty rate in the US decreased by half • Recession following 2001, the rate grew • Poverty rates of older Americans and children has dropped due to SS payments • African Americans made the most gains. More than half were in poverty in the 1950s, now this rate is 25%; three times higher than that of whites