Eerily Relevant Today

These cartoons say a lot about the era, and the debates which continue today over how government should respond to crises. Also see part 1, Cartoons from the Depression.

#1) Like today, confidence was the real issue then too (the fundamentals are fine, just don’t dig too deep).

August 1931, by C. W. Anderson

1931-confidence-picture

#2) Jobless Recovery circa 1931. Caption is kind of fuzzy. It says, “I see by the papers everything is all right”.

January 1930, by Robert Brown

jan-1930

#3) False “green shoots” in Fall of ’31

November 1931, by Robert Brown

cigar-cartoon

#4) 1933 – In a fit of insanity which lasted throughout much of the depression, the American government enacted the Agricultural Adjustment Act, which paid farmers to destroy food and plant less crops.

June 1935, George Shellhase

agricultural-adjustment-act

#5) Another critique of the AAA, this one from a leading black newspaper. Many black farmers were forced off their land by the Agricultural Adjustment Administration. The act was declared unconstitutional in 1936.

May 1934, L. Rogers

anti-new-deal

#6) Broke but hoping.

January 1931, by Ed Graham

broke-but-hopeful

#7) Mixed signals.

October 1931, John Cassel

john-cassel

#8) Santa gets jacked.

December 1931, Ralph Fuller

santa-cartoon-depression

#9) Depression-era critique of Keynesian economics.


February 1936, Robert Day

By Robert Day, February 1936

#10) A comment on the government’s trials with New Deal constitutionality.

July 1936, Gregor Duncan

1936-new-deal

#11) Plan of action for the U.S.: “Spend, Spend, Spend”. Lots of little details in this one, and plenty of red-bashing.

1934, by Cary Orr in the Chicago Tribune

new-deal-cartoon

#12) Bread line, or bank-run?

January 1931, Chester Garde

1931-bread-bank-line

#13) Feed the rich.

1929, unsigned

1929, unsigned

#14) Agency Alphabet-Soup (if they only knew…)

1934, Author unknown

1934, Author unknown

Bernanke likes to highlight how different America’s response is when compared to post-1929.  But no matter how you slice it, we’re essentially doing the same thing – just on a much larger scale. They shoveled plenty of money around back then, and there is no true consensus on whether those programs succeeded.

The depression went on for a long, long time. We only really came out of it thanks to our elevated position after WWII, as America was least-devastated by war and in a position to capitalize on that fact.

Sources and more cartoons: