Read Lange's story behind the photograph here: "[The mother] said that they had been living on frozen vegetables from the surrounding fields, and birds that the children killed. She had just sold the tires from her car to buy food." The family had also sold their tent to buy food. "Most of the 2,500 people in this camp were destitute," Lange wrote.
I post this in response to Ron Moore's attack on the character and courage of the American people during the Great Depression, when one out of four Americans were unemployed and charities were overwhelmed. I ask Ron, what would you and other believers in free market fundamentalism (who still represent a significant political movement in the U.S.) have said or done as leader of the country about the thousands of starving migrant workers in CA? What you have done as leader of the nation when, in early 1932, some 95 people starved to death in New York City (source), and there were reports of starvation throughout Appalachia?
Here's what President Hoover said and did:
"Fearing that government aid would breed a sense of dependence among the poor, Hoover largely refused to extend assistance to millions of the nation’s unemployed and hungry who were overwhelming private relief agencies...."
In the summer of 1932, World War I veterans (known as Bonus Marchers) massed peacefully in Washington, D.C., to petition Congress for receipt of back pay and $500 veteran bonuses they had been promised. Congress refused to vote the pensions, on the grounds that the government did not have the money. The Bonus Marchers left the Capitol peacefully, in despair, but remained in tents in Washington for a month. (Click for details.)
President Hoover called out U.S. troops to remove the veterans. Led by the zealous General Douglas MacArthur, the army forcibly removed them. "MacArthur was brutal in his treatment of the marchers, using cavalry, tanks, and bayonet-bearing soldiers. In the riot that followed, U.S. troops clubbed women and children, tear-gassed the marchers, burned their shacks, and forcibly drove them across the Potomac River." -- Excerpt from summary of Herbert Hoover's administration on the American Presidents website, produced by the University of Virginia.
What shocks and appalls me is that Ron Moore and other free market fundamentalists approve of the action against the WWI veterans, and would simply tell the starving migrant workers and starving New Yorkers to "find a local charity" and/or "leave NY and go where the work is."
He himself would never need government assistance, he claims. "I would never allow that to happen. I would go where the work is and do whatever is necessary just like my folks did during the Depression."
His assumption is that the migrant mother, her seven children, and the starving New Yorkers weren't doing what was necessary. And he believes General MacArthur did right in attacking the World War I veterans and their families:-
"Yep. He did do right. Nasty, but right. The Bonus Marchers were rioting" he writes. "....they were trying to get something that wasn't theirs yet. The Marchers were in the wrong."
In short, free market fundamentalists in hard economic times would turn America into a totalitarian state. The government would wage war against its own citizens, and do nothing even if one quarter of the population was jobless, destitute, hungry and desperate.
For more of Ron's views, click.