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FDR Put Humanity First; the Sequester Puts It Last

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- 1934 days ago -
FDR placed the needs of the American people above petty budgetary concerns, but today's leaders lack his courage and vision.

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Kit B (276)
Saturday March 2, 2013, 8:36 pm
Official Presidential portrait of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. (Photo: Wikimedia)

In 1933 we reversed the policy of the previous Administration. For the first time since the depression you had a Congress and an Administration in Washington which had the courage to provide the necessary resources which private interests no longer had or no longer dared to risk.

This cost money. We knew, and you knew, in March, 1933, that it would cost money. We knew, and you knew, that it would cost money for several years to come. The people understood that in 1933. They understood it in 1934, when they gave the Administration a full endorsement of its policy. They knew in 1935, and they know in 1936, that the plan is working.—FDR, 1936

Eighty years ago this month, at the height of the worst economic crisis in our nation’s history, Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered on his promise to launch a New Deal for the American people. Not wedded to any one program, idea, or ideology, the New Deal was founded on the very simple premise that when the free market failed to provide basic economic security for the average American, government had a responsibility to provide that security. In Roosevelt’s day, this meant imposing the first-ever meaningful regulation of the stock market, shoring up the nation’s financial system by guaranteeing private deposits and separating commercial from investment banking, and providing jobs to the millions of unemployed through government expenditures on infrastructure. The Roosevelt administration also launched the country’s first nation-wide program of unemployment insurance to help the unemployed bridge the gap between jobs as well as Social Security to ensure that the elderly, after years of work and toil, would not suddenly find themselves utterly destitute.

Conservative critics of FDR’s polices say that these programs did not work—that unemployment remained high throughout the 1930s and that it was only World War II that brought us out of the Great Depression. As such, these same critics continually argue that the deficit spending that fueled the New Deal was the root cause of its inability to bring the unemployment rate down to acceptable levels. In short, they argue that government spending and government programs do not work, and that only the free market can provide the economic stimulus necessary to get the economy back on its feet again.

But as is the case today with the naysayers on climate change, the empirical evidence suggests that nothing could be further from the truth. During FDR’s first term, for example, the average annual growth rate for the U.S. economy was 11 percent. Compare that to the paltry 0.8 percent we have witnessed in the first term of the Obama administration. The nationwide unemployment rate also fell, from its all-time high of 25 percent in 1933 to 14 percent by 1935, which at the time represented the largest and fastest drop in unemployment in our nation’s history.

But far more damning to the conservative critique is the argument that tries to invalidate the New Deal by positing that it was World War II and not the relief programs of the 1930s that brought us out of the Great Depression. Conservatives love to trumpet this fact and often use it as part of their argument against deficit spending, never stopping for a moment to consider that government expenditures—and deficits—in World War II made the New Deal look like small potatoes. In fact, deficit spending in the New Deal never topped 6 percent of GNP, while in World War II it ran as high as 28 percent. In other words, World War II was the New Deal on steroids. Viewed from this perspective, it is FDR’s critics on the left—not the right—who possess the stronger argument. The problem with the New Deal was that it did not go far enough. In other words, the government should have spent more money, not less, if it was going to be successful in bringing the economic crisis to an end.

All this is not to say that free enterprise is incapable of producing economic growth—it most certainly is. But there are times when capitalism, left to its own devices, can fail. Franklin Roosevelt was willing to acknowledge this, and he spent the better part of his tenure in office trying to put in place programs that would make capitalism work for the average American, not just those at the top. Hence, his agenda was not to subvert or destroy the free market system, but rather to save it.

It took vision and courage to launch the New Deal—the vision to understand that when the free market systems falls short or fails, government has a responsibility to take direct measures to get the economy moving again, and the courage to engage in deficit spending at a time when orthodox economic theory argued that the only proper response to an economic recession or depression was to slash government spending and balance the budget.

Unfortunately, the leadership we possess in Washington today lacks the vision and the courage to follow FDR’s example and put in place the sort of common-sense programs that would stimulate the economy and put people back to work. Instead of providing jobs for millions by spending money on our failing infrastructure—now ranked 24th in the world—or investing in programs that would reverse the falling education rates of our children, or providing greater federal support for the basic scientific research that may unlock untold benefits for future generations, we instead speak of nothing but the deficit and the sequester, as if cutting spending in the midst of recession is the magic bullet that will lead us out of our economic malaise.

Franklin Roosevelt faced similar critics, who, much like today’s deficit hawks, insisted that he must cut spending and balance the budget no matter what the consequences for the average American. But FDR would have none of this. “To balance our budget in 1933 or 1934 or 1935,” he said,

would have been a crime against the American people. To do so we should either have had to make a capital levy that would have been confiscatory, or we should have had to set our face against human suffering with callous indifference. When Americans suffered, we refused to pass by on the other side. Humanity came first.

As it turns out, FDR’s decision to put “humanity first” was not only the right moral decision, it was also the right economic decision. For the deficit spending that he finally unleashed in World War II, coupled with the social and economic reforms put in place during the New Deal, led to one of the longest periods of economic prosperity in America’s history and the birth of the modern American middle class.

Sadly, all of the evidence to date suggests that our leaders in Washington are quite happy “to pass by on the other side” and let the sequester proceed without so much as a fight. With roughly 16 million people across the country still unemployed, this is surely “a crime against the American people.”
*** links within article at Visit Site***

By David Woolner, Next New Deal | Op-Ed | Truthout|

Tim C (2420)
Sunday March 3, 2013, 12:45 am

pam w (139)
Sunday March 3, 2013, 9:39 am
How to balance the free enterprise system with the ROBBER BARON culture?

Kit B (276)
Sunday March 3, 2013, 10:05 am

I had far more respect - limited though that may be, for those of the "Robber Baron" days, than that of the modern "nouveau riche" - they have build nothing, they contribute nothing they avoid all responsibilities for being active participants in this or any governing body. They are a drain on the economy, often with wealth gained by illegal means, though not punished for those deeds, and believing that money alone should give them the "keys" to the kingdom.

By focusing first on the very critical needs of the survival of the people and thereby the survival of the country FDR, though greatly misunderstood and most certainly reviled by today's republicans, was a model of humanity first.

Vallee R (280)
Sunday March 3, 2013, 10:22 am
Totally agree with this last comment Kit!

Gene Jacobson (290)
Sunday March 3, 2013, 11:21 am
"Franklin Roosevelt faced similar critics, who, much like today’s deficit hawks, insisted that he must cut spending and balance the budget no matter what the consequences for the average American. But FDR would have none of this. “To balance our budget in 1933 or 1934 or 1935,” he said,

would have been a crime against the American people. To do so we should either have had to make a capital levy that would have been confiscatory, or we should have had to set our face against human suffering with callous indifference. When Americans suffered, we refused to pass by on the other side. Humanity came first. "

For me, and I've said it many times here, that last sentence should be the mantra for ANY business, governmental or religious entity. People before dollars. Always and in every way. Anything less is immoral. That the dollars before people are still here as they were in the days of the Robber Barons, as they have always pushing an agenda that benefits them before it considers the needs of all of the people is no surprised. Their numbers have grown, their influence as well, when you control most of the world's resources and have by far the largest % of the world's income, whether you build things or not, you are going to be able to obfuscate with paid for junk science and lobbyists, accomplished amoral liars, any humane argument as somehow against the 98%'s interest. The good news is that people are no longer buying this particular brand of bullsquat and the days of influence of this narcissistic minority are coming to an end, even if they don't yet see it coming. I do. Some day there will be an accounting for those who do not put people before dollars. The sooner the better.

Fiona Ogilvie (565)
Sunday March 3, 2013, 1:07 pm

Angelika R (143)
Sunday March 3, 2013, 2:21 pm
Amen, Gene, yep! This "callous indifference" cannot and will not go unpunished much longer!
Thx Kit for digging out FED once more-probably not for the last time until this disaster is over. I can so well understand your desparation about "why don't people learn from history" !

Kit B (276)
Sunday March 3, 2013, 3:47 pm

“The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism -- ownership of government by an individual, by a group.”
(Franklin D. Roosevelt)

Roseann d (178)
Sunday March 3, 2013, 3:50 pm
Well said! We need an FDR today. Badly. Unfortunately, i doubt her or she would get near the presidency today. :-(( . Just look at Jill Stein.

Robert O (12)
Monday March 4, 2013, 12:33 am
Thanks a million Kit.

Craig Pittman (52)
Monday March 4, 2013, 4:43 am
Our inaction is a powerful part of the equation for the contuing rise of private power in government.
Power, wealth and greed are not only acceptable as portrayed by our media (tv shows & magazines) they have become part of the North American dream. The wealthy have seized power by default I am afraid.

Winnie A (179)
Monday March 4, 2013, 6:07 am

Joanne D (38)
Monday March 4, 2013, 1:20 pm
The other thing is, it's the Wall Street banks and the super rich (hand in hand with Big Oil, Big Ag, Big Pharma. in fact all the Bigs) that CAUSED the crashes. Therefore it is only reasonable that they are the ones who should pay for putting the U.S. back together. They are always yammering about personal responsibility. So why don't they take the personal responsibility to clean up their own messes?

Birgit W (160)
Monday March 4, 2013, 1:43 pm

Past Member (0)
Monday March 4, 2013, 2:37 pm
For a people-friendly solution, please sign;

Sheryl G (360)
Monday March 4, 2013, 3:10 pm
Kit's comment:

I had far more respect - limited though that may be, for those of the "Robber Baron" days, than that of the modern "nouveau riche" - they have build nothing, they contribute nothing they avoid all responsibilities for being active participants in this or any governing body. They are a drain on the economy, often with wealth gained by illegal means, though not punished for those deeds, and believing that money alone should give them the "keys" to the kingdom.

Gee, it's sad times when the Robber Barons of bygone days begin to look good. I however agree with the comment.


. (0)
Monday March 4, 2013, 3:21 pm
For his time, and situation, FDR was what this country needed. Sixty five years later, many of his social programs have been abused and have become huge weights on this economy.
Sadly, Social Security was created to be a supplement to income; for most it has become their major means. The programs to restore bridges and roads(which Obama promised to initiate in his first term), has become a federally run disaster.

Kit B (276)
Monday March 4, 2013, 3:30 pm

I do agree Dandelion - it does say something very sad when we reminisce about the Robber Barons.

l L (1)
Monday March 4, 2013, 4:59 pm
I don't see these programs as being abused and have become huge weights on our economies.
These programs produced more solvency and have been raided so many times for political missteps and we pretend that it never happen. And we pretend that the programs are not solvent cause they want to pocket the money and divide the spoils amongsts themselves and turn around and tell us we're not responsible for you.. You are your own problem. It has been the same thing for the last thirty years, no matter who the president.
Not counting what has been going on in society since President FDR. America has been transitioning from one crisis to another. Society has been fighting all the isms and all of the isms that it brings. where we stood in what decade and who was alive to have a moral compass and they have passed on. Those who ran the show coming home after WW2 in America had more compassion and believed in the quality of life and put humanity first. We had the bad people here but the poor may have been soldiers and their families. Giving people food was not a big deal. More people who gotten Food help and subsitities are whites and still are. Blacks are less receivers but receive as well. It was never in such amounts that you could become rich because of it.
The religious thought was preserving the families and children stabilities. It was never enough. If we could have ever gotten beyond that...the warlords with their false flags were hell bent in imperialising the world and destabilising countries for conquest of saving them to vote and be democratized.
Then one year we find our our formed post ww2 cia is running around the world with our troops under false flags and they come back sick and neglected and confused.. Told live with it , you are a burden.
Because our country is mixed we struggle to get along. We all want freedom and peace. But there have been grand schemes from different groups who control the flow of money for profit.
I mean America is at the mercy of itself.
These programs are not a drain on the economy and no one has taken advantage of anything. They are not easy to access and not easy to qualify for.
Not to mention on top of all of that; false flag wars(not one mind you) being experimented on unknowingly and the CIA and Bush dropping drugs in on us. America can't catch a break.
People don't want to hire certain races for the better jobs and if you do get it, your life is made so miserable cause they don't want you there in the first place.. even gender.
America says we are a city sitting somewhere.. To tell you the truth; I don't know who we are. We are a bunch of contradictions
Those who say they are moral don't act like it. They have no compassion or even understanding .
People who get these monies are not getting much and medicare the way it is you are paying money on the front middle and back. And all of you who claim we are getting so much.. are you thinking about all you get vs what the rest of us has to live off of? The money is in the budget.. you just don't want to pay it out but re direct it to the stockmarket or Rominey /Bains private accounts..

I don't know about SS being a supplimental income.

Shirley B (5)
Monday March 4, 2013, 5:35 pm
Hear , Hear to you all!

Kathryn Niell (112)
Monday March 4, 2013, 5:36 pm
It's amazing to remember that FDR was a member of the wealthy, privileged class, but that did not prevent him from having the morality to do what was right to get the country back on its feet in the 1930's. Now it's as if every politician has sold his/her soul to the Devil of the interests of corporations and special interests, and the People be damned. One day, I believe the People will have had enough and will rise up against the current oppressive system. I hope that day comes soon!

Sheryl G (360)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 6:04 am
“To those whom much is given, much is expected.”
John F. Kennedy, Uncommon Wisdom of John F. Kennedy: A Portrait in His Own Words

If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. - John F. Kennedy

"The things that will destroy America are prosperity at any price, peace at any price, safety first instead of duty first and love of soft living and the get-rich-quick theory of life.”
Theodore Roosevelt

You cannot continue to succeed in the world or have a fulfilling life in the world unless you choose to use your life in service somehow to others and give back what you have been given. That's how you keep it. That's how you get it. That's how you grow it. - Oprah Winfrey

Nothing brings me more happiness than trying to help the most vulnerable people in society. It is a goal and an essential part of my life, a kind of destiny. Whoever is in distress can call on me. I will come running wherever they are. - Princess Diana

Always start with confidence. When you are successful you must give back to society. Society gives us so much; we must reciprocate. - J. R. D. Tata - aviator and business magnate

“It was once said that the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life—the sick, the needy and the handicapped.”Hubert H. Humphrey, speech (1977)

Lois Jordan (63)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 3:46 pm
Thank you, Kit....the title says it all. America's been losing its "moral conscience" for many, many years. We've now sunk so far down that politicians are perfectly happy to prop up the banksters, CEO's and war machine, while hurting those most in need of help. When Bush said we were exporting our democracy to other countries, I'm sure we couldn't have believed that it meant we'd have none left here in America. But, that is now an obvious truth. Occupy was right: Banks got bailed out, we got sold out.

l L (1)
Wednesday March 6, 2013, 7:46 pm
You know when they drain the economy, the conditions are created to change the form of governing. Governing as now proven in the 30 states with republican governors and state senate. They drain the economy and then set up shop for their fascism. Same thing on the national level.. Drain our budgets and economies and bring in the nazis= neo-cons. Our way of life is being over thrown. I doubt any pettions are going to change anything. I hope it does.

l L (1)
Wednesday March 6, 2013, 7:52 pm
You know I am appalled to learn about all the things I have over the years. One of the saddest is germ warfare on the american public, Lsd , drugs hypocrisy and aids grown in a government petri-dish.
How can .. I believe in anything anymore.. I lived those years and knew what was in the magazines and papers in those days. i Just couldn't fathom how a government treat it's citizens like this.

It over whelms me. Now I understand how and why.

Susanne R (235)
Thursday March 7, 2013, 9:17 am
So nice to be reminded of this great man and great president! Why haven't we had a modern-day FDR? Is it that they don't make 'em like that any more, or is it that special interests don't let people like him make it to the forefront? I'm guessing the latter. Who's running this country anyway?
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