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My Modern History Speech- Is It Good? Am I Making Any Historical Inaccuracies?

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Can you guys please read through my modern history speech and tell me what you think? It is meant to go for between 5 - 8 mins but mine goes for 9 mins, the teacher said he doesnt mind if we go over just dont blabble so I haven't blabbled :)

HYPOTHESIS: FDR and Stalin were effective in the introduction of their economic policies, however each attained major disadvantages that counteracted the positives.

Good Morning Mr Howley and class. Today I will be presenting a comparison between Franklin Roosevelt, President of the United States in the 1930s and Joseph Stalin, leader of the USSR in the same time frame. This comparison will first evaluate the effectiveness of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deals introduced in 1932 and 1933 in the midst of the Great Depression. Secondly, this comparison will analyse the achievements of the economic policies of Joseph Stalin, namely Collectivisation and the Five Year plans.
During the early 1930s, the United States was in midst of the Great Depression. Factories were closing and farmers were forced to destroy the crops they could not sell. Unemployment was at 24.9% with 15 million workers unemployed. A banking crisis was also occurring, with concerned Americans losing confidence in banks and withdrawing their funds, causing banks to close branches. However, Roosevelt gained power in November 1932, with a promise to help the Americans in financial strife, and to lead the country out of the depression. In his Inaugural Speech on March 4, 1933, FDR reassured the American people that everything was fixable.

“So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself..."

Roosevelt introduced Emergency Banking Act, whereby he closed all banks and sent agents to inspect their books over four days and only financially sound banks were allowed to reopen. FDR told 60 million Americans what he had in one his “fireside” chats, and people gradually put their savings back into banks, effectively saving the banking industry from collapse.

The second major aspect of the New Deal was its effect on unemployment. In 1929, the unemployment level was at 3.2%. However, the Great Depression of the early 1930s caused it to skyrocket to 24.9% as staff were laid off work by employers struggling to keep their businesses alive. To fix this, FDR introduced a series of alphabet agencies to give the unemployed work. Examples of this include the CCC (Civilian Conversation Corps) who strengthened river banks and planted trees. This caused the unemployment rate to steadily drop to 17.9% in 1939, as seen in this graph, from the Historical Statistics archive of the United States.
This drop in unemployment was also helped by the NRA (National Recovery Administration) where businesses were encouraged to set up codes of good practice and to charge a fair price for their products and pay their employees a fair wage. By displaying a blue eagle on their products, consumers could easily identity businesses that were part of the NRA campaign. (flick slide)

However, the effects of FDR’s New Deal are disputed. Although the level of unemployment dropped with the New Deal as more Americans re-entered the workforce, this came at great cost to the tax payers of America. Federal taxes actually tripled from $1.6 billion in 1933 to $5.3 billion in 1940. In fact, excise tax, personal income tax, corporate income tax, holding company tax and excess profit taxes all increased. Those mainly affected by this were the middle and poor classes, as it mainly fell disproportionately on them. In fact, to listen to FDR’s fireside chats, these people had to pay excise taxes on their radio and electricity. These taxes caused unemployment to average at 17% (flick back one slide), where unemployment had dropped to 12%.

Furthermore, the money that the New Deal bought to America was actually diverted away from southern USA, which was the poorest region and comprised FDRs most solid support. Most of the funds were diverted to the “swing” states of the west and the east, as FDR saw no need to spend money on the south, where support was predominately on his side. It seemed that the New Deals were far too ambitious for the mortgage owners and big businesses, as seen in this cartoon, with FDR in a truck pulling for the future, with the big business struggling to keep up. The New Deal was also motivated by financial gain, slugged by the same old money interests, causing it to crash. It is therefore uncertain whether the New Deals were effective at all in achieving their intended purpose.
At the same time, Joseph Stalin was embarking on an economic revival and change in Russia. He said in 1931:

“We are 50 or 100 years behind the advanced countries. We must make good this lag in 10 years or be crushed.”
Russia at that time was not as developed as the rest of Europe, with countries such as Germany powering ahead. Stalin thus introduced the Five Year Plans and collectivisation. He anticipated a 3 fold increase in oil output, 4 fold increase in iron and steel and a 5 fold increase in coal. However, it is doubtful that these levels were actually reached. In 1929, in Pravda, Stalin said “By the spring of 1930, we shall have 60,000 tractors in the field.” But such numbers of tractors did not exist, nor did the factories to create them.

Collectivisation aimed to centralise farming peasants in collective farms, called Holkhoz where peasants and farms were taken under state control. In total, 26 million peasants were collectivised which resulted in an increase in the procurement of grains, from 10.8 million tonnes in 1929, increasing to 23.3 million tonnes in 1933 and 31.8 million tonnes in 1937. The real amount of harvest in 1933 is actually estimated as 20% less than the official recorded amount of 23.3 tonnes.
However, the collectivisation in the USSR resulted in catastrophic deaths, in Kazakhstan alone, 1 million peasants died, and 6.5 million people died when Stalin engaged in “dekulakisation”, where the richer peasants “kulaks” were driven from their land. The collectivisation also created the worst famine in Russian history in 1932. It was predominately caused by government actions, as grain was seized from peasants. In total, 7 million people died in the famine, with 5 million people dying in Ukraine. It was not until 1950 that the peasant food consumption reached the same levels as the 1926 level. 97% of all peasant households were collectivised, with private ownership of land almost eliminated. Wages also fell by 50% between 1928 and 1936, as did living standards.

On the other hand, Stalin’s Five Year Plans did cause positive effects for USSR. In 1928, the USSR produced 25% as much steel as Germany, and this increased to 40% in 1940. New industries were developed, including aluminium and new industrial areas, as well as a new skilled workforce. The largest iron and steel complex in Europe was constructed at Magnitogorsk, however, it was found to be uneconomic as trains used up 40% of the coal they carried in the 1100km journey east.
In conclusion, FDR and Stalin were not as successful in their economic policies as the regular consumer is led to believe. Although FDR did reduce unemployment, and Stalin did help industrialise Russia and increase the efficiency of agriculture and farms, it came at a great cost. The people of America suffered with greater taxes, causing the loss of jobs that were created by the New Deal, and millions of Russians died in the famines caused by collectivisation under the Stalin regime.


Thanks a million! I am presenting today, some people went yesterday and went for like 13mins and got an A so being a bit over shouldnt be too bad :)

Edited by A200 (see edit history)

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Very well said. Good insight to the (then) current programs and contrasting the different approaches to somewhat similar Economic problems. Both countries required the effort to move forward and provide work for their populations. I wonder how the Agricultural program in Russia was doing while the US could not sell their product?

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