Friday, November 14, 2008
Bloggin' Be My Life
Roosevelt and the Great Depression
By Richard E. Noble
Roosevelt comes in with a bang. He wins the popular vote by over seven million and the electoral vote 472 to 59 - not only that, but the Democrats sweep the house and the Senate. They now control two thirds of the Senate and three quarters of the house. Why?
The U.S. government, the capitalist system, and all of its institutions are in the state of collapse. The American monetary system has failed, the banking system has failed, the Stock Market has failed, agriculture has failed, industry has failed, the educational system has failed, labor and management are at war, housing has failed, and medical and hospitalization has failed. No matter where one looks out upon the horizon, one sees chaos, collapse and corruption.
Whether this is all a part of a super-wealth conspiracy to bankrupt the middle class and thus control them, the poor, and the rebellious working class; or the built-in inevitability of an unrestricted competitive system; or just the workings of fate, the people of the United States were desperate.
Since Hoover took over the reigns of state everything had degenerated and the Republicans seemed to have no answer.
They weren’t in favor of reform, relief, or revolution. Their only answers were poverty, police and Providence. The Republican Party had been in a state of known and visible corruption since the days of Ulysses S. Grant.
Roosevelt not only had the hearts and minds of the people but the Congress and Senate also. He was given the powers of a president at war and for the first four years they passed just about everything that he proposed.
Roosevelt had promised to try anything and if it didn’t work, try something else.
Hoover didn’t leave the vault as low as Benjamin Harrison had left it for Grover Cleveland, but he did his best to leave Roosevelt with as little as possible. In the four months between Hoover’s loss at the polls and Roosevelt’s inauguration, it seems that Hoover and his buddies did their best to leave Roosevelt with out a dime to work with.
The first thing Roosevelt did was to take hold of the money supply. He took the nation off the gold standard which even had Europe screaming foul. He stopped all gold from leaving the country, and pulled all gold certificates from circulation. He made owning gold illegal. He reduced the gold reserve backing on the American paper by nearly fifty percent, thus enabling him to double the amount of paper money in circulation.
The rich were now taking all of their money out of circulation and hiding it, or investing it in more prosperous foreign countries. If that Communist, Socialist, Dictator Roosevelt was going to take up the side of those lazy, poor, good for nothings who were trying to ruin this country, he wasn’t going to do it with their money.
Roosevelt did everything he knew to increase the revenue of the Federal Government, even cutting government salaries and wages, and then spent it as fast as he could on programs to put people to work or relieve those without work opportunities. By 1938 he had put all of the 15 million unemployed to work temporarily and half of them permanently.
He set up federal mortgage and loan companies that basically bought up mortgages and loans from the banks and returned them to the borrowers at rates of payment that they could afford. He did the same for small businessmen and farmers, plus guaranteed the sale prices of farm commodities. The government even bought the farmer’s surplus and gave the excess pork, butter, and bread etc., to the unemployed.
He got the banks straight and guaranteed deposits up to five thousand dollars. He subsidized medical care and tried to establish federal health care insurance. He plugged the holes in the Stock Market with a Securities and Exchange Commission that guaranteed a stock’s legitimacy. He put Joe Kennedy in charge of the operation. When critics asked him why he put the biggest thief the business world and the Stock Market ever knew in charge of the whole deal; the big bad wolf right inside the chicken coop ... he laughed and told them that it takes a thief to catch a thief.
He passes a National Industrial Recovery Act which set up public works projects, fair trade practices among business, and gave workers the right to strike and demand that bosses arbitrate grievances. Prior to this, strikes by workers were considered illegal and troops were sent in to break strikes and punish workers.
He opened up trade relations with Russia by recognizing the Soviet Union, the existence of which had been denied by the U.S. since 1917. This puts fire to the notion that America really had a communist in the White House.
He set up an emergency housing division that cleared slums and built public and private homes.
He tried to build up the Navy and the Air Force by proposing the Vinson Naval Parity Act but congress refused to appropriate the money. The country is so much against war or our entry into a war that in 1938 they try to pass the Ludlow Resolution. This resolution would not only deny the executive, but the congress the right to declare war without a national referendum except in case of invasion.
He passed a graduated income tax - charging millionaires up to 75% on every million after their first.
He starts a Federal Arts Project, a Federal Theater Project, a National Youth Employment Project; he even commissions history and science research and a writer’s project. He regulates the health and sanitation of food and meats, and drugs.
He starts building dam and river projects in Tennessee, Colorado and in Michigan, the Saint Lawrence Seaway; and in 1936 even the beleaguered Bonus Army that Hoover had beat-up gets the adjusted Compensation Act passed over F.D.R.’s veto, and over 1,500,000,000 in benefits are paid out to over three million veterans.
It seems that up until this period in time the country was allowed to progress without rhyme or reason or rule and regulation. There had been no referee, no judge of fair play, and nobody who cared or who could do anything about it. Roosevelt came and America had its Moses, the law giver. He had a law, a plan or a program for everything.
In his first eight years his only opposition seemed to be the Supreme Court. They had been placed in their positions before he got control. They tried their best to declare unconstitutional everything that he attempted. But as fast as they declared it unconstitutional, the legislature passed a different but similar law to replace it.
By 1938, the Right wing Republicans had finally gotten together with the Klu Klux Klan Democrats from Dixie and the tide began to turn. In the 1936 presidential election Roosevelt won by the largest electoral victory in a contested race in history ... 503 to 8. And even though 80% of the nation’s newspapers came out for and supported Governor Landon, Roosevelt won the popular vote by over eleven million. But with the mid-term elections of 1938 the Republicans recovered 81 seats in the house and 8 in the Senate.
War was coming.