During the second year of the Great Depression, the famous American author, Theodore Dreiser wrote in his [anti-capitalist] book Tragic America [1931):
I had heard much and studied much of present-day living conditions, but I also wanted to see for myself certain definite examples of life under our present economic regime … I visited the western Pennsylvania miners’ zone . . . and there I found unbelievable misery. Miners receiving wages of but $14 to $24 for two weeks’ work . . . Their food was of the poorest; I studied their menus. One of their main foods at that time was a dandelion weed.
I chose to visit Passaic, New Jersey, because I believe it to be a fairly representative small industrial city … A local minister told me of instances of eight and ten persons living in one or two rooms . . . The minister also told me of many cases of unemployment for over a year; in particular he mentioned one woman who, trying to earn a living for her family (the husband out of work) by making artificial flowers at the rate of 15 cents for 24 flowers, could not possibly earn more than 90 cents a day . . .
… on January 3, 193 1, James Golden, aged 50, an unemployed tin-smith, went into a bakery at 247 Monroe Street, and asked for something to eat. As Rosenberg, the proprietor, reached for a loaf of bread. Golden fell to the floor and died . . . Then there was John Pitak, 43, of 183 High Avenue, who committed suicide, leaving a wife and three children, because he could not find work . . .
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