What percentage of Americans receive assistance in any kind?
During the Great Depression, many Americans and immigrants lost their employment and ability to regularly provide themselves with food and shelter. Forget about medicine. We simply had no structure for medical care in those days. In fact most of the social programs we have today are the result of programs initiated by FDR's New Deal, and it steam rolled from there.
In the 1920's, many immigrants has been lured by the gear up of factories, some peripherally. For example, Mexicans legally were allowed into the country to work as migrants since many Americans moved from those jobs into factory work (and thus making up to 4x there former salary), and the Mexicans worked those now vacant jobs. Filipinos also worked in migrant labor. Some immigrants came to work in International Fair jobs in California. Others worked in the factories as the price of the automobile fell and many Americans purchased them, and there were so many factory vacancies that Italians, Ukrainians, Serbians, etc relocated from their countries to work them.
As the economy declined, Mexicans were repatriated to their country. In the rush, some American citizens of Mexican ancestry, were also forced to leave. Some European immigrants left.
Sharecroppers lost their jobs as crop prices declined, and many lost their homes as a result. Students of history often remember them from songs about Okies relocating to California, but many of them were from the South and they relocated to the North to escape discrimination and allocation of New Deal public assistance, much of it initially through the CCC in places like NYC, but then subsequent money through the WPA.
What would most likely happen today if the Dollar collapsed and the American government was concerned about its citizens?
Much of the movement of people in the Great Depression (1929-1941) was random. Since public assistance at first was nonexistent, people moved based upon rumor of work and climate. In those days, our population was 122 million and 34 million people had families with no full-time wage earner. 34/122 = 28% of the US population.
What about the facts today? How are they different? The US population today is 307 million. Three times the number of 1932. 92 million are on public assistance in one of more forms. 92/307 = 30%
92 million is 3x the number of families who don't have a full time wage earner. 33 million of those people are children (under the age of 18).
When we think of public assistance, we think of welfare. Let's break down the illusion that many of you have. Who is on public assistance? It's true that we have people who have receive welfare benefits who are poor. We also have people who are disabled. We have veterans. We have retirees.
None of this includes any children in families who currently have a full time job. No does it included students in college who might or might not have part time employment.
So only looking at 92 million who do receive government assistance, if the economy tanks, how would you feed 92 million people? How would you house 92 million if they lose their homes? How would you provide utilities for 92 million?
In 2009, over 2 million were in prison and are not included in the statistics above. Over 7 million were under correctional supervision.
National Guard/ Military Reserve in the US = 467,587
Because there were no jobs, and the government needed to put people back to work, and receive some sort of return for providing them jobs, some of these people were employed in camps like the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). While only 300,000 were employed at any one time, 9 million were assigned over it's history. Workers lived in camps and performed jobs like replanting trees. They received $30 per month of which $25 went back to their parent. $5 a month income.
20 million received public assistance of one kind or another. Many were unable to work like retirees. The average amount of assistance was $100 per month.
Imagine the difficulty today of finding the money and resources in the event of a global depression. We already have 92 million on assistance. Imagine even great unfathomable amounts on relief.