Friday, January 9, 2009

FDR's Fifth Term

Barack Obama spoke today on his plans for yet more economic stimulus. I did some searching for speech text and came up with this:

"In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days. In such a spirit on my part and on yours we face our common difficulties. They concern, thank God, only material things. Values have shrunken to fantastic levels: taxes have risen, our ability to pay has fallen, government of all kinds is faced by serious curtailment of income, the means of exchange are frozen in the currents of trade, the withered leaves of industrial enterprise lie on every side, farmers find no markets for their produce, the savings of many years in thousands of families are gone.

More important, a host of unemployed citizens face the grim problem of existence, and an equally great number toil with little return. Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment.

Yet our distress comes from no failure of substance. We are stricken by no plague of locusts. Compared with the perils which our forefathers conquered because they believed and were not afraid, we have still much to be thankful for. Nature still offers her bounty and human efforts have multiplied it. Plenty is at our doorstep, but a generous use of it languishes in the very sight of the supply.

Primarily, this is because the rulers of the exchange of mankind's goods have failed through their own stubbornness and their own incompetence, have admitted their failures and abdicated. Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men.

Stripped of the lure of profit by which to induce our people to follow their false leadership, they have resorted to exhortations, pleading tearfully for restored conditions. They know only the rules of a generation of self-seekers.

They have no vision, and when there is no vision the people perish"

"Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money, it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.

The joy and moral stimulation of work no longer must be forgotten in the mad chase of evanescent profits. These dark days will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves and to our fellow-men.

Recognition of the falsity of material wealth as the standard of success goes hand in hand with the abandonment of the false belief that public office and high political position are to be values only by the standards of pride of place and personal profit, and there must be an end to a conduct in banking and in business which too often has given to a sacred trust the likeness of callous and selfish wrongdoing.

Small wonder that confidence languishes, for it thrives only on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection, on unselfish performance. Without them it cannot live.

Restoration calls, however, not for changes in ethics alone. This nation asks for action, and action now.

Our greatest primary task is to put people to work. This is no unsolvable problem if we face it wisely and courageously.

It can be accompanied in part by direct recruiting by the government itself, treating the task as we would treat the emergency of a war, but at the same time, through this employment, accomplishing greatly needed projects to stimulate and reorganize the use of our national resources.

Hand in hand with this, we must frankly recognize the over-balance of population in our industrial centers and, by engaging on a national scale in a redistribution, endeavor to provide a better use of the land for those best fitted for the land."

"[The task] can be helped by preventing realistically the tragedy of the growing loss, through foreclosure, of our small homes and our farms."

It can be helped by the unifying of relief activities which today are often scattered, uneconomical and unequal. It can be helped by national planning for and supervision of all forms of transportation and of communications and other utilities which have a definitely public character.

There are many ways in which it can be helped, but it can never be helped merely by talking about it. We must act, and act quickly.

Finally, in our progress toward a resumption of work we require two safeguards against a return of the evils of the old order: there must be a strict supervision of all banking and credits and investments; there must be an end to speculation with other people's money, and there must be provision for an adequate but sound currency.

These are the lines of attack. I shall presently urge upon a new Congress in special session detailed measures for their fulfillment, and I shall seek the immediate assistance of the several States."

"It is the way to recovery. It is the immediate way. It is the strongest assurance that the recovery will endure."

"If I read the temper of our people correctly, we now realize, as we have never realized before, our interdependence on each other: that we cannot merely take, but we must give as well, that if we are to go forward we must move as a trained and loyal army willing to sacrifice for the good of [our country], because wthout such discipline, no progress is made, no leadership becomes effective.

We are, I know, ready and willing to submit our lives and property to such discipline because it makes possibly a leadership which aims at a larger good."

"I am prepared under my constitutional duty to recommend the measures that a stricken nation in the midst of a stricken world may require.

But in the event that the Congress shall fail to take one of these courses, and in the event that the national emergency is still critical, I shall not evade the clear course of duty that will then confront me.

I shall ask the Congress for the one remaining instrument to meet the crisis. . .broad executive power to wage a war against the emergency as great as the power that would be given to me if we were in fact invaded by a foreign foe."

"We face the arduous days that lie before us in the warm courage of national unity, with the clear consciousness of seeking old and precious moral values, with the clean satisfaction that comes from the stern performance of duty by old and young alike.

"We do not distrust the future of essential democracy. The people of the United States have not failed. In their need they have registered a mandate that they want direct, vigorous action.

They have asked for discipline and direction under leadership. They have made me the present instrument of their wishes. In the spirit of the gift I will take it."

Okay, what I looked for instead of the speech I had heard today from the mouth of our president-elect was a speech from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. This was his inauguration speech, March 4th, 1933. I did edit out paragraphs that weren't relevant for today, but short of that, this text could be substituted for Obama's speech, except for the following words that are Barry's own:

"For if we hope to end this crisis, we must end the culture of anything goes that helped create it, and this change must begin in Washington.

It's time to trade old habits for a new spirit of responsibility. It's time to finally change the ways of Washington so that we can set a new and better course for America."

I guess the New Deal v2.0 is the "change we can believe in." More to come.


Shaw Kenawe said...

I'm not sure if your final remark about "change we can believe in" is a whine or a snark.

It seems to me as well as quite a few other Americans that Barack Obama has been working diligently to get his team ready to hit the ground running on January 20.

This country faces enormous challenges, and no one person has the answer to all its problems.

Obama isn't the only one who understands that we face problems quite similar to those Roosevelt faced in his first term.

If Obama is using some of the ideas as a guide to develop programs to get our economy moving and people working, why is that a reason to snark "change we can...etc"?

Do people believe he should experiment with this situation--see what works and play around with more disaster?

There's nothing wrong with using the tools that other leaders used to solve economic problems in the past.

It is naive to think that Obama will do the exact same thing as did Roosevelt, since we do not live in the same times.

I pointed out in a post on my blog that a lot of people forget that after our last horrendous disaster (9/11), Pres. Bush had a 90% approval rating--that means a whole lot of Democrats were behind him and his policies for dealing with the terrorists who attacked us. And Bush also had a majority of Americans supporting him when he decided to invade Iraq. People have forgotten that he had this majority support. Well he did.

It was only after the American people began to see how disasterously the war was being conducted, only after the terrible blundering of Hurrican Katrina that his popularity eroded, and never recovered.

I bring this up to point out that it will do this country no good to whine and piss on Pres.-elect's plans--(he's not president yet). We have to see how his programs will play out.

We did it for Bush, we can do no less for Obama, as he faces the worst economic situation since Roosevelt did when he spoke to the American people and gave them something to hope for.

*she steps off her soapbox and quietly leaves the room*

Patrick M said...

Shaw: I'd file it under snark, if I were you.

First of all, it is my hope that President Obama will do the things that will get us out of this mess we're in.

But after the speech today, I'm lacking on hope (as in screaming obscenities at the TV), because there were two things I took out of the speech. And this was before I heard the reactions of the talkers.

First, I hear a program where we are going to be throwing TRILLIONS (with an f'ing "T") to 'fix' this problem. If you remember how much yelling I was directing at Bush and Boehner, and the assface (no need to name him), and all the big government Republicans, then you can see why the promise of more and bigger government solutions is bound to piss me off, especially when I see....

Second, there's a reason I went back and read through an entire FDR speech. It's because, in essence, Obama's economic plan (as far as I've seen) is essentially another plan to spend a lot of money, make a lot of 'make work' jobs, further entangle the government in every damn aspect of our lives, and ultimately make the situation worse for the next generation (New Deal 2.0). And we're probably not going to have a world war to rescue us this time.

The simple fact is that hope will not dig us out of this. We're facing a recession that has been delayed for years by continued government involvement in 'regulating' the economy, a mentality that we should only be growing, and reliance on building credit. Much of what Obama is facing is exactly what FDR did. And the New Deal isn't going to work any better this time than it did the last time.

And if you're familiar with that history, the New Deal just kept us limping along until a second recession in 1937, and only the fact that we had to gear up and fight a war saved us, eliminated our personal reliance on credit, and focused us as a nation.

So if Barack Obama wants to "trade old habits for a new spirit of responsibility" and "finally change the ways of Washington," then he's going to need to do one thing. And that's reverse a trend that's been going on since 1930!

Name: Soapboxgod said...

Patrick, if you can get your hands on a copy, I'd recommend a book titled:

The Roosevelt Myth by John T. Flynn

I'm reading it right now (my Grandfather sent it to me). It's eerily apropos to the political climate of today. Given your posting here, you'd probably enjoy it (if for nothing more than vindication).

Arthurstone said...

The life of John T. Flynn is indeed eerily apropos of the political climate of today. A fighter in the cultural wars which rage today between left (godless Marxists) and right (real Americans).

A Norman Thomas supporter turned Joe McCarthy acolyte.

Setting the stage for a generation of right-wing opportunists?

Michael Medved. David Horowitz. Hitchins. etc.

Patrick M said...

Soapster: I probably would. I'm assuming the premise is that the New Deal sucked and that it did nothing but grow and entrench government in our daily lives while providing "hope" until some external event saved us.

Probably why Arthur doesn't like the guy.

Arthur: It's never been about right wing vs left wing for me. It's about unlimiting personal freedom and limiting government (the usurper of personal freedom).

Shaw Kenawe said...

Much of what Obama is facing is exactly what FDR did. And the New Deal isn't going to work any better this time than it did the last time.

Critics have said the New Deal didn't work as well as it could have because Roosevelt did do ENOUGH--spend enough for recovery.

Also, in those days, there was no such thing as unemployment, Social Security, and other safety net programs. We have those programs in place to day so that even though the situation is bad, it isn't as horrid as in the '30s.

I'm not an economist, and neither are you, and economics is not an exact science anyway.

Obama at least has some of the best brains in the country advising him--chosen because of their expertise and not their ideological loyalties. Because his particular plans don't agree with your libertarian philosophy, that doesn't mean they're not viable and sound.

Even the best doctors will disagree on how to go about curing a life-threatening disease, but they do agree on one thing--they want to save the patient's life.

I think the same thing is applicable in this situation.

Shaw Kenawe said...

Crikey. That should read "...Roosevelt DIDN'T do ENOUGH--spend enough for recovery."

Arthurstone said...

Patrick M typed:

... limiting government (the usurper of personal freedom).


Somalia has a very weak, ineffective governmental institutions at all levels.

Ditto Haiti. Ditto Afghanistan. Ditto Sudan. Ditto Pakistan. Etc. Etc.

Be careful what you wish for.

Patrick M said...

Shaw: So it's a matter of throwing more money after the first trillion?

The problem is not that Roosevelt didn't spend enough. It's that the government got into the business of trying to drive the economy in the first place. And while I wouldn't necessarily want us get rid of everything that came out of the New Deal, it's the idea of government as a rescuer that is my issue. Because when government gets involved, there's usually larger consequences.

Related note: I watched a 2-hour show on the Dust Bowl last night (primarily because it fit into my current line of thought. Essentially, it was caused by the combination of a cyclical drought and overtilling of the land by farmers. They were lured out there by the promise of large tracts of "free land" by none other than the federal government (I forget which president is to blame for it). So naturally, disaster ensued. And of course it cost an assload of money to bail them out. But at least we got the concept of soil conservation out of it.

Arthur: There's a difference between a limited government and a weak government. A limited government has specific territory they manage and control, and their primary purpose is secure individual rights. A weak government is just weak, and could be any kind of government that isn't doing its job.

Satyavati devi dasi said...

government (the usurper of personal freedom).

Isn't this the basis for the anarchist movement?

Arthurstone said...

PatrickM typed:

'A weak government is just weak, and could be any kind of government that isn't doing its job.'

Ronald Reagan:

"Government isn't the solution government. Government is the problem."

And so his and subsequent Republican administrations set out to make this prophecy come true. Political cronyism, corruption and criminal acts have marked Republican/Conservative rule since 1981. The federal government has taken a drastic turn to becoming as corrupt and ineffectual as those I mentioned.

As I said. Be careful what you wish for.


Patrick M said...

Saty: Probably. That's why I favor a constitutional republic rather than the grabtastic ubermom that is our currents state of affairs.

Arthur: Yeah, it was conservatism that did everything. Whatever.

First of all, Reagan was one smart motherfucker. However, he was one man, and conservatism left the GOP shortly after he left office. It started to make a comeback in 1994, but was more or less gone by 2000, then essentially forgotten in the rush to bail shit out.

But you also have corruption and criminal acts, which the Dems have in equal measure. Need I even start in Chicago? Both parties need to exorcise (or maybe exercise (until heart attack)) the scum from their party. We'll take the specifics as they come.

So I know exactly what I'm wishing for.