Inside is an excerpt from Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1936 speech at the Democratic National Convention.
For out of this modern civilization economic royalists carved new dynasties. New kingdoms were built upon concentration of control over material things. Through new uses of corporations, banks and securities, new machinery of industry and agriculture, of labor and capital-all undreamed of by the fathers—the whole structure of modern life was impressed into this royal service.
There was no place among this royalty for our many thousands of small business men and merchants who sought to make a worthy use of the American system of initiative and profit. They were no more free than the worker or the farmer. Even honest and progressive-minded men of wealth, aware of their obligation to their generation, could never know just where they fitted into this dynastic scheme of things.
It was natural and perhaps human that the privileged princes of these new economic dynasties, thirsting for power, reached out for control over Government itself. They created a new despotism and wrapped it in the robes of legal sanction. In its service new mercenaries sought to regiment the people, their labor, and their property. And as a result the average man once more confronts the problem that faced the Minute Man.
The hours men and women worked, the wages they received, the conditions of their labor—these had passed beyond the control of the people, and were imposed by this new industrial dictatorship. The savings of the average family, the capital of the small business man, the investments set aside for old age—other people’s money—these were tools which the new economic royalty used to dig itself in.
Those who tilled the soil no longer reaped the rewards which were their right. The small measure of their gains was decreed by men in distant cities.
Throughout the Nation, opportunity was limited by monopoly. Individual initiative was crushed in the cogs of a great machine. The field open for free business was more and more restricted. Private enterprise, indeed, became too private. It became privileged enterprise, not free enterprise.
An old English judge once said: “Necessitous men are not free men.” Liberty requires opportunity to make a living-a living decent according to the standard of the time, a living which gives man not only enough to live by, but something to live for.
For too many of us the political equality we once had won was meaningless in the face of economic inequality. A small group had concentrated into their own hands an almost complete control over other people’s property, other people’s money, other people’s labor, other people’s lives. For too many of us life was no longer free; liberty no longer real; men could no longer follow the pursuit of happiness.
Against economic tyranny such as this, the American citizen could appeal only to the organized power of Government. The collapse of 1929 showed up the despotism for what it was. The election of 1932 was the people’s mandate to end it. Under that mandate it is being ended.
The royalists of the economic order have conceded that political freedom was the business of the Government, but they have maintained that economic slavery was nobody’s business. They granted that the Government could protect the citizen in his right to vote, but they denied that the Government could do anything to protect the citizen in his right to work and his right to live.
Today we stand committed to the proposition that freedom is no half-and-half affair. If the average citizen is guaranteed equal opportunity in the polling place, he must have equal opportunity in the market place.
Lots of the basic analysis in this FDR speech still holds. Some of the details are a little different today, but the royalists have once again wrecked the American economy.
The best way to counter the absurd claims from the right about FDR may be to just quote FDR. I wish President Obama would do so.
FDR once said he welcomed the hatred of the right, because it proved he was on the side of regular folks. So when Rush Limbaugh or CNBC or whomever starts in with the lies, it means Obama is starting off in the correct direction.
The more they lie, the more likely it is that the current incarnation of conservatism will completely crash and burn, just as its predecessor did seven decades ago. When people are losing houses and jobs, and can see that neighbors and friends are terrified that it may happen to them, they aren’t going to buy a bunch of baloney from rabid talk show hosts, even if those rabid hosts control 90% of the genre because large corporations insist on spewing right wing nonsense.
Nothing is going to justify the misery still to be caused by this economic catastrophe, but the utter destruction of so-called movement conservatism and its mindless media spokesbots would have a distinct long-term benefit in terms of moving our politics back from the edge of utter madness. People consuming oxygen to claim that FDR started or exacerbated the Great Depression with his New Deal policies deserve neither respect nor a platform, let alone a following.
Yes, people have a First Amendment right to say most anything they want, but that doesn’t mean any old nonsense should justifiably be disseminated by media conglomerates. If you wouldn’t give Britney Spears a platform on CNBC, you shouldn’t give Rick Santelli a platform on CNBC, because they likely have about the same understanding of basic economics, apologies to Ms. Spears.
Accusations of “socialism” in our time against Democrats, a few short months after a Republican Treasury Secretary and a nominally Republican Federal Reserve chairman threw untold billions at the big investment banks, to no lasting effect, is a kind of willful ignorance that threatens all of us. Why any journalist with even the most cursory knowledge of American history would entertain such folderol, let alone spout it, is beyond me. It is on a par with celebrity gossip and horrific crime stories, and has no more use.
Despite my occasional (or perhaps frequent) rants, I don’t think I’ve ever actually posted the ultimate, and shortest, rant possible, known internet-wide by the initials STFU. And I’ll try to refrain a few moments more, even days or weeks longer, if I can somehow manage.
But for crying out loud, this economic situation is serious. I’m relatively certain the Obama administration intends to restore the economy with or without the support of the current economic royalists, but to the extent the royalists are ensconced in places like the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and Wall Street, it might be helpful if the good and rational among them urged their more ignorant colleagues to consider the true gravity of the situation.
People are not losers, as CNBC’s Santelli called them, if they get a serious illness, lose their job or were the victims of the pernicious fraud that infected our financial system. Their kids certainly deserve better than to be insulted like that. The rapid deterioration of neighborhoods, schools and basic municipal services is not something that can be dismissed by the bloated financial parasites that have sucked the economy dry, thus causing the problem in the first place.
You know, maybe they can STF….well, I’ll hold off, for another instant at least.