Unbought & Unafraid

January 18, 2010 at 5:12 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR), was first elected to the Presidency in 1932. He was elected in landslides to 4 terms as president and died in office during his 4th term, after leading the nation through World War II. If he hadn’t died he would likely still be president. The Republicans passed a constitutional amendment after his death limiting Presidents to 2 terms. The rich people hated him and the common people loved him. And why wouldn’t they? He saved them from the utter despair of the Great Depression that was brought-on by the greed & corruption of unfettered Capitalism. His “New Deal” saved Capitalism by tempering it with a strong-dose of regulation and a touch of Socialism. He was born rich but understood the regular people. He had compassion, possibly because polio crippled him as an adult (it usually struck children) and left him without the use of his legs. His wife, Eleanor, was a strong-willed, independent woman who vocally & visibly assisted him in his quest to re-make American society.

Democrat FDR took office after 12 years of 2 Republican presidential administrations. During the 1920’s the country enjoyed a free-wheeling, zooming economy that ended in the devastating crash of 1929. Republican economic ideology called for leaving business alone to do its thing and leaving the people on their own to take care of themselves no matter what. So the government did very little for 3 years as the economy spiraled into ruin.

You think Obama has it tough? When FDR took office unemployment was about 37% for non-farm workers (in some cities it reached 80%)and those who were still employed took one wage cut after another, the average income for families had gone down 40%, crop prices had fallen 60% and 1 million families had lost their farms, 17% of mortgages were foreclosed, international trade had dropped by 75%, industrial production had fallen 45%, severe drought killed the crops throughout the middle of the nation, 5,000 banks had failed, there were 2 million homeless wandering the nation. By the day of Roosevelt’s inauguration, every bank in the nation was closed because the economy was nearly at a halt.

FDR knew there was no time to waste. He immediately set-out to bring “Reform, Relief, and Recovery” to America. His inaugural speech pulled no punches as he said, “Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men. . . . The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization.”

On the very day he took office, he had his entire Cabinet sworn-in, ordered all banks closed for 4 more days while reform legislation was drafted (that was done 5 days later!), and called Congress back into emergency session in 5 days. After he got Congress back he wouldn’t let them go until he passed more reform: of government (he cut the pay of many government workers to balance the budget), of agriculture (to “restore vitality to the demoralized farmers”), of partying (Prohibition was repealed). FDR was determined to “provide…relief to as many people as soon as possible.” So the jobless were to be employed on government projects (that’s where a lot of the infrastructure came from that later caused the economy to boom). Legislation was passed to stop home foreclosures, bring electric power to the rural population, and help workers share in the coming prosperity through fair labor laws. Within his first 100 days, FDR passed 15 major laws and gave 15 speeches to Congress. So, unlike the present occupant of the White House, FDR was more than just talk.

The economy immediately began to revive, but it was a slow crawl back to the pre-Depression level. In 1936, FDR ran for re-election. Here’s an excerpt from one of his speeches. This is what a President who cares about Americans, is unbought, and unafraid sounds like

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