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Civics Education and
Home Schooling

Discussion Questions for
The Great Depression and the Cities

  1. You may have noticed (p. 15) that the need for more tax revenue in the Great Depression was one reason for eliminating prohibition. Is this a legitimate use of the power to tax citizens?
  2. Imagine that you were a city employee during the Great Depression, and the city council asked all city employees to contribute 2% of their monthly salary voluntarily to a fund to assist the needy. What would be your response to this request?
  3. Suppose you were the city manager of your city in the Great Depression, and the city council (your bosses) asked you to make recommendations to lower taxes by cutting city services. Which city services would you suggest that the city council cut? Give reasons for your recommendations.
  4. If a crisis like the Great Depression occurs again in America, what effect do you think it will have on illegal immigration to this country?
  5. In what way would a depression affect the following civic issues in America today? (a) The practice of “double-dipping” (obtaining retirement checks simultaneously from two or more different government entities); (b) nepotism in local government; (c) automatic salary increases for all employees each year.
  6. What responsibilities should newspapers have during a depression for reporting local-government activities in communities during a depression?
  7. It used to be a legal principle in America that public employees had no right to strike. Do you agree or disagree with this idea, and, in either case, how would your opinion be relevant in a depression?
  8. How do you think the examples in Chapter 8 of optimistic or pessimistic thinking would affect decisions by officials in your city in trying to adapt to a depression?
  9. If someone told you that the Great Depression eventually was “cured” because of intervention by the President of the United States and the Congress, what would be your answer?
  10. Do you agree with the policy of giving financial aid to able-bodied persons only if they worked on projects such as removing trash from city parks, sidewalks, streets, etc.? Do you consider such work degrading and undignified? Give reasons for your answer.
  11. If it is true that “unemployment was the Depression,” wouldn’t it be a good idea to give everyone a government job who needed work?
  12. Would a depression result in more or less centralization of government? Why or why not?
  13. If the Chamber of Commerce in your city asked you to give a speech about the Great Depression, what points in The Great Depression and the Cities would help you prepare for that experience?
  14. Some people contend that every crisis in government eventually produces good results. What positive benefits might have resulted from the Great Depression?
  15. If you know a few people who are 80 years of age or older, ask them to recall their most vivid memories of life during the Great Depression. What did you learn from what they told you?
  16. How does the saying, “Who pays the piper calls the tune,” relate to The Great Depression and the Cities? Give three examples.
  17. Throughout The Great Depression and the Cities, you read references to grants or money coming from the federal government. Where does the federal government obtain such money?
  18. Look up the words panic and depression in a dictionary. How are these words used to describe a crisis in economics and government?
  19. Do you think depressions are avoidable, or are they just something that must happen from time to time in any economic system?
  20. Check the Internet to see if you can find two or three explanations of the difference between a depression and a recession. Which definition do you think is best?


March 5, 2009

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