Tag Archives: Franklin D. Roosevelt
Or, Nero Was No Hero
But one of the good things about reading history is you learn a good deal. And, we know for sure that the big spending programs of the New Deal did not work. In 1940, unemployment was still 15%.”
— Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), speaking the untruth of the powerful, Feb. 6, 2009.
“[O]ne of the things that really has gotten dumber about our culture: the media constantly talks about truth as if it were always equidistant from two points. In other words, sometimes the truth is one-sided.” 
“[I]t’s exactly like saying ‘so-and-so says, two plus two equals five. But, of course, mathematicians say that it really equals four.’ The mathematicians are right. The people who say that two plus two equals five are wrong. The media blurs that constantly.”
— Susan Jacoby, from Bill Moyers’ Journal, PBS, Feb. 15, 2008.
That great economic historian, Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, took to the floor of the Senate last week to excoriate the memory of FDR and claim the New Deal didn’t end the Great Depression. In fact, Roosevelt’s New Deal programs put millions of average Americans to work and reduced unemployment from a high of over 35 percent to 14 percent. Aside from that, if FDR was such a failure, why did he win by 62.6 percent of the popular vote, and 98.5 percent of the electoral vote, in 1936, and 55 percent in 1940, with 84.6 of the EV? Why was he retained in office for 12 years, from 1932 until his death in 1945, the longest-serving president in our history, if he accomplished nothing toward solving the primary issue of that time the economic crisis? Some smart reporter should ask McConnell those questions.
“Only with the New Deal’s rehabilitation of the financial system in 1933-35 did the economy begin its slow emergence from the Great Depression.”
— Ben Bernanke, the Republican-picked Fed chief, from his book, “Essays on the Great Depression.”
“I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made.”
— President Franklin D. Roosevelt
In his first press conference on February 9, Obama put the screws to the GOP, albeit wrapped in enough padding that no blood was drawn but, to mix metaphors, this is Obama’s style wear them down with civility while you score with shots to the gut and dance away. Our ‘Gentleman Jim’ President nimbly peppered the punch-drunk Republicans just as ably as the original did in 1892 to win the heavyweight crown from the blundering beast that was John L. Sullivan who had only his ‘strong right arm’ as a weapon.
Pushed by such withered toads as McConnell, blatant numbskulls like Mike Pence of Baghdad street bazaars are ‘just like any open-air market in Indiana in the summertime’ fame, and the inchoate babblings of the evidently very corrupt new RNC chair Michael Steele, the GOP is collectively lurching toward irretrievable disaster, one every bit as bad as anything the Dimbulb Son who just left the White House wrought — you know, the one whose name must never be mentioned in public by any Republican ever again. They seem determined to take the mean-spirited, unpopular opinion on nearly every issue, just to gratify a shaky base of fringe nutcases, religious retrogrades, Fox News employees, Wall Street Journal editorial board members, Coulter cultists, racist rednecks, professional malcontents, crumb-bum lobbyists, and off-shored-assets tycoons channeling Leona Helmsley.
And This Day in Hell
“Them that’s got shall get,
Them that’s not shall lose”
— From “God Bless the Child (That’s Got His Own),” by Arthur Herzog Jr. and Billie Holiday, and recorded by her for Okeh Records in 1941.
“Free market capitalism — as a faith — really is an inverse of Marxism. It is a theology that believes their system will bring paradise on earth and moral perfection. When their system is in power in the real world, their true believers claim that any problem only happened because their ideology has not been applied with sufficient purity.”
— Larry Beinhart, “The Fall of a Free Market Prophet,” Common Dreams, Dec. 7, 2008.
“Sometimes the Invisible Hand is all thumbs.”
— Jared Bernstein, C-Span, April 16, 2008.
“The first panacea for a mismanaged nation is inflation of the currency; the second is war. Both bring a temporary prosperity; both bring a permanent ruin. But both are the refuge of political and economic opportunists.”
— Ernest Hemingway [Bush reversed the formula, but it’s still true today.]
So far we’ve seen the Top Dogs underline ‘dogs’ of Wall Street and Detroit parade before Congress insisting they need our tax money to bail them out. The former ‘Masters of the Universe’ have made so many stupid short-term decisions they have shamed their MBA parchment into so much worthless sheepskin accorded to those who can pay the tuition, or have the family clout, to squeeze them through college. To add insult to injury, the bankers who have fleeced us for billions in the name of providing credit to keep businesses going have refused to use our money to provide credit to keep businesses going, instead financing bonuses for themselves, luxury retreats at pricey resorts, and apparently precipitating a sit-down strike by 300 union workers at a Republic Windows and Doors factory in Chicago last month. Not only were these people unceremoniously fired and given one day to clear out, the company reneged on its contract to provide wages and vacation pay owed them and the severance pay they were guaranteed. That’s right Republic refused to pay wages and vacation pay already earned and blamed it on the Bank of America, while they hastily moved their Chicago equipment to Iowa. BoA received $25 billion of our tax dollars to avoid just this kind of situation. Fortunately, thanks to nationwide publicity for this sit-down strike, and support from near-President Obama, the Republic workers finally received their back wages and other pay, but let’s see this for what it was: A naked attempt to bust the union, and it was mostly successful. Republic’s union workers are still out of a job and the company has set up a low-wage non-union plant in Iowa. (Incidentally, inquiring minds would like to know: who is paying the salaries of Republic’s top executives and how much do they make?)
Morality and ethics hardly exist in the corporate boardroom but, if this isn’t wrong, what is?
How to correct it? Let’s hope President Obama takes a page from Franklin D. Roosevelt, especially his Economic Bill of Rights speech delivered January 11, 1944, during the Second World War, which included:
The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;
The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
The right of every family to a decent home;
The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
The right to a good education.
As FDR concluded: “All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.
“Americas own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for our citizens.”
If we have those rights, the economy will take care of itself.
What Does Late Jazz Sax Player Stan Getz Have to Do with Our Economic Meltdown? Read on: