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  FATHER COUGHLIN, HUEY LONG, & UPTON SINCLAIR; VOICES FOR THE DISAFFECTED IN 1930s AMERICA

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UPTON SINCLAIR

migrant pea farmersCalifornia was was hit particularly hard by the Great Depression. Sinclair said, "California is 650 miles from North to South, much too big for one state," (I, Governor 31) and, thus, by size alone was at a disadvantage for relief efforts. Farmers were producing more food than people could afford to buy and manufacturing jobs were scarce as demand for output diminished. These factors, among others, were followed by the massive influx labor from other states as well as cheaper immigrant labor. No one hitherto had an answer in California, and the New Deal seemed a long shot with negligible assistance from its alphabet soup a seemingly longer shot. The time was right for Sinclair's message, and to many who heard it, it made good sense. And, now that his Socialist message was under the moniker of the Democratic Party, it seemed just right, if not all-American to many Californians.

When Sinclair hit the campaign trail, he was armed not with a new deal for the people, but with a new way of living and doing business: production-for-use. Since the stock market crash of 1929, many had become skeptical of capitalism, especially with the majority of the wealth in the hands of the few. Now, Sinclair proposed to mount a return to agrarianism, in so much as to duplicate the success of his Helicon House experiment in New Jersey. He had seen informal cooperatives working with success in California and they served as an inspiration to his message. These pragmatic cooperatives consisted of members who collected discarded fruits and vegetables, and then distributed them to other members in return for labor from the recipient (Hackett 2). In essence, these cooperatives were functioning in much the same way as Helicon House, and the cooperative members were employing Socialist principles though it was not being called that.

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Sinclair, outfitted with his experiences at Helicon House and with the California cooperatives, set out to tool an answer to the desperate economic situation around him. He outlined his proposal first by giving it the name End Poverty in California, or EPIC for short, and then byI, Governor setting a firm foundation for the movement by announcing "Twelve Principles of EPIC" in his 1933 publication, I, Governor of California and How I Ended Poverty: A Look to the Future:

1. God created the natural wealth of the earth for us of all men, not a few

2. God created men to seek their own welfare, not that of masters.

3. Private ownership of tools, a basis of freedom when tools are simple becomes a basis of enslavement when tools are complex.

4. Autocracy in industry cannot exist along Democracy in government.

5. When some men live without working, other men are working without living.

6. The existence of luxury in the presence of poverty and destitution is contrary to good morals and sound public policy.

7. The present depression is one of abundance, not scarcity.

8. The cause of the trouble is that a small class has the wealth while the rest has the debts.

9. It is contrary to common sense that men should starve because they raise too much food.

10. The destruction of food or other wealth or the limitation of production is economic insanity.

11. The remedy is to give the workers access to the means of production and let them produce for themselves, not for others.

12. This change can be brought about by the majority of the people and this is the American way.

(I, Governor 10)




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