1928 Hoover, "We in America are nearer to the final triumph over poverty than ever before in thie history of any land.  We shall soon be in sight of the day when poverty will be banished from this nation."

1928 consumer spending falling, slowdown in construction.  

Black Monday, October 28, 1929.    

Oct - Dec. 1929, unemployment jumped to over 4 million. 

By 1931, 5000 banks closed.

1933 over 25% unemployment.

1929-1933, GNP fell 29%, construction down 78%, manufacturing down 54%. 

Steel industry operating at 12% of capacity.

1932 Ford Hunger march, Detroit.

United Automobile Workers - Nov. 1936, sit-down strikes Cleveland & Flint, Mich.

GM forced to recognize union.


Calls for “science holiday”; fears of devastating weapons, desire for social readjustment to rapid technological change;

Fear of technological unemployment - mechanization making industry too efficient.

Railroad unions - over 28,000 workers displaced 1920s by the automatic loading machines, electric track circuits.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – 1921-1930 almost 72,000 jobs in Bell System vanished;

"talking pictures" displaced almost 10,000 musicians 1929-1931; John Steinbeck Grapes of Wrath

1939 Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel

1939-1940, Congressional hearings.


Scientists, engineers & businessmen - idea that technological change remained key to national progress – would bring wonderful new consumer goods.  Insisted that mechanization necessary to cut labor costs, which would generate ever-increasing consumer demand.

1930s continuous-sheet machine production, "It almost makes a fellow go crazy thinking about... the thousands of jobs it will eliminate.  It's terrific."

"trouble-making Communists, Socialists, and sociology professors."


Technocracy movement – idea that technological change too fast for US institutions to handle.

1932, Columbia University Dept of Industrial Engineering -"energy survey" - Howard Scott;

juncture in economic history - before 1900, technological change slow; next three decades fast.

19th century economy like "a slow-moving ox-cart which suffered little damage in collision"; 20th C like "a high-speed racing car hurtling down a highway."

data - industrial employment peaked in 1918 & declined thereafter, although production had continued to increase until 1929.

new economic system for the Power Age, "derived from the nature of the machine itself."

measurement in foot-pounds.

Need for US "to maintain a thermodynamically balanced load" across all industrial production.

managed economy, government run by engineers.

Introduction to Technocracy, The ABC of Technocracy.


Hoover - economy still "sound & prosperous". 

Treasury secy Andrew Mellon - crisis was "not altogether a bad thing.  Enterprising people will work harder, live a more moral life & pick up the wrecks from less competent people".


1932 election - Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

"the only thing we have to fear is fear itself".

New Deal, "alphabet soup" of agencies.

Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) - three million young Americans building parks. 

Works Progress Administration (WPA) - 8 million build bridges, dams, & schools, libraries, airports, playgrounds, hospitals & roads. 

Rural Electrification Administration (REA). 

1910, US behind Europe in extending electric power to rural areas. 66% of farmers in Germany, France, and Scandinavia by late 1920s. 

90% of US farmers unable to get distribution lines;

State fairs, ag expt stations promotive “electro agriculture,” Thomas Edison: “For the farm, electricity should kill every danger of frost.  It should draw water at practically no cost to overcome all dangers of drought, and it should even dry the soil when too great a rainfall threatens crops.” 

GE & Westinghouse– electric threshing machines, corn huskers, electric pumps, butter churns. 

farmers installed own generating systems – windmills,

1935 only one out of nine US farms had electricity –esp rare in Midwest & South. 

FDR, “Cold figures do not measure the human importance of electric power in our present social order.  Electricity is no longer a luxury, it is a definite necessity.” 

REA 46 states - progressive engineer Morris Cooke;

1936-37, 73,000 miles of electric lines

1941, reaching over 900,000 Americans;


1933 FDR Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) - dams & hydroelectric plants along Tennessee River. 

[precedent – Hoover Dam, Colorado River, electricity to seven states, irrigated one million farm acres).

many purposes - control floods; cheap hydroelectric power; support economic development, industrial growth, rural electricity, social improvement.

civil engineer Arthur Morgan - efficiency.

rivers & valleys as systems.

Engineering as social & economic planning.


EC recovery starting 1933,

FDR national radio “fireside chats". 


chemurgy - farm products for industrial uses;


technology as social solution;


1939 New York World's Fair - "The World of Tomorrow".

Trylon & Perisphere;

45 million visitors;

message of US greatness even in Depression.

Corporation exhibits:

Westinghouse "Battle of the Centuries" - Mrs. Drudge vs. Mrs Modern.  

AT&T dial system.  

DuPont "Wonder World of Chemistry" – “better things for better living" - "Miss Chemistry".  

GE “House of Magic”. 

RCA television.  

Westinghouse - humanoid robot Elektro.

GM "Futurama" – city of 1960 - “I Have Seen the Future”.