Amity Shlaes’s Forgotten History: When Unions Go Bust, We All Do

Feb 23, 2011Lynn Parramore

Busting unions gave Calvin Coolidge the White House, but it gave America the Great Depression.

Busting unions gave Calvin Coolidge the White House, but it gave America the Great Depression.

For years, American workers' wages have stagnated even as they produced more. Since 2008, they have been socked with staggering new bills for bank bailouts and hammered by a Great Recession brought on by the very same banks. Now public sector workers are confronted by a new crop of Republican governors who want to put an end to unions. Union workers in Wisconsin have already conceded all of Governor Walker’s draconian demands. But they want to hold on to their right to bargain so that they won’t be at the mercy of the whims of political appointees or rogue school boards. Tens of thousands have swarmed Madison to show their support for the working people of Wisconsin.

Conservatives are tasked with coming up with a narrative that makes villains out of these working folks and heroes out of the powerful people who aim to squeeze them for what’s left of their economic security.

This is not easy. And you have to admire their ingenuity. Amity Shlaes, ever the eager revisionist, has whipped up a widely parroted narrative that contains just enough truth to give it the ring of plausibility. It goes like this: Governor Scott Walker is a paragon of virtue who will soon be embraced by the American public, just like his union-crushing predecessors Calvin Coolidge and Ronald Reagan. According to Shlaes’s account, Coolidge, then governor of Massachusetts, stood boldly against badly abused Boston policemen who walked off the job in 1919 and left the city unprotected against looters. After firing the policemen, Coolidge became a national hero and was promptly swept into the Vice President’s office on a wave of popular admiration. When President Warren Harding died, Coolidge took office and it was suddenly Morning in America. As Shlaes tells it:

“’Boston Police’ remained American code for the principle that union causes do not trump others. The concern that the U.S. might succumb to European-style revolutions lifted. Strikes abated. Wages rose without unions in Motor City. Private-sector union membership declined. Joblessness dropped. Companies poured cash, which they otherwise would have spent on union relations, into innovation.”

Let us fill in some finer detail, shall we?

As Shlaes admits, the Boston police force had been grossly abused with long hours and horrific conditions. And it was true that there was some disorder when they walked off the job, though she somewhat overstates the case. It is also true that Coolidge’s response made his reputation as a Republican politician.

But it was not exactly popular enthusiasm that wafted Coolidge into the White House. Actually, there was a huge orchestrated effort to push Coolidge by powerful financial interests. He ended up on the ticket with Warren Harding not so much because of his overwhelming appeal to the American public - he was known for being taciturn, unsociable, and downright weird (Alice Roosevelt Longworth wondered if he had been “weaned on a pickle”). Rather, it was his overwhelming appeal to American bankers.

They knew a good thing when they saw it.

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Young Coolidge, you see, had gone to Amherst College, where he had hardly any friends except Dwight Morrow, who became his bosom buddy. Coolidge went on to become a small town Massachusetts attorney representing banks, while Morrow became a senior partner in House of Morgan. When Morrow saw his pal Coolidge attracting attention in the Boston Police Strike, he wrote to everyone he knew and launched a national campaign to make a legend out of the uncharismatic Coolidge. Morrow and fellow Morgan partner Thomas Cochran lobbied tirelessly for Coolidge at the Chicago Republican Convention in 1920, and their lobbying paid off. Coolidge, first as vice president and then as president in 1923 when Harding died, became a valuable partner for the House of Morgan. Famously declaring that “the business of America is business," Coolidge stocked his administration with enough Morgan men to fill a banking convention. Historian Murray N. Rothbard notes that

“the year 1924 indeed saw the House of Morgan at the pinnacle of political power in the United States. President Calvin Coolidge, friend and protégé of Morgan partner Dwight Morrow, was deeply admired by J.P. “Jack” Morgan, Jr. Jack Morgan saw the president, perhaps uniquely, as a rare blend of deep thinker and moralist. Morgan wrote a friend: ‘I have never seen any president who gives me just the feeling of confidence in the country and its institutions, and the working out of our problems, that Mr. Coolidge does.’”

Coolidge got to the White House for crushing unions, where he slept ten hours a day and hopped on and off a mechanical horse in his underpants and a cowboy hat.

Here’s what America got: the Great Depression.

Coolidge’s real legacy was a huge upward shift of income during the “roaring twenties” away from ordinary people to the rich and powerful, who got even richer and more powerful thanks to his regulatory and policy inactivity. The best Average Joe could hope for under Coolidge was for his income to hold steady. The profits from that wondrous innovation and growth that send Shlaes into rhapsodies went to fatcats who turned the country into a casino and smashed the economy.

Reagan’s history is better known – or so you would think. His firing of 13,000 striking workers was, as Washington Post columnist Harold Meyerson put it, “an unambiguous signal that employers need feel little or no obligation to their workers.” After Reagan, employers were emboldened to illegally ditch workers who sought to unionize, replace permanent employees who could collect benefits with temps, and ship factories and jobs abroad. Ever-smiling with his friendly cowboy image, Reagan tried to lower the minimum wage for younger workers, weaken child labor, job safety and anti-sweatshop laws, and do away with training programs for the jobless. He also did his best to replace thousands of federal employees with temps without civil service or union protections. Under his watch, the share of the nation’s wealth held by the richest 1 percent of Americans went up 5 percent richer. Guess whose declined?

At the time, Americans were supportive, by slim margins, of Reagan’s stance against the air traffic controllers, who went on strike to win benefit concessions from the federal government. However, the comparison with Wisconsin workers is not exactly apples to apples. These workers have agreed to concessions, and only fight to maintain their right to collective bargaining. Intuiting correctly that the public may not be on their side in this battle, conservatives have relentlessly pushed the deceptive idea that public employees enjoy higher salaries and better benefits than their private-sector counterparts. But this has been widely debunked. Careful research has shown that when you adjust for skill levels, public sector workers are not overpaid relative to private sector pay scales.

After the Great Crash, Coolidge's bank-friendly, union-bashing policies didn't seem like such a great gift to America. And just like in the twenties, Reagan's signal that it was open season on unions energized a much bolder effort to hold down wages by corporate America: Over the next few years, workers by the thousands were let go, found their pay slashed, and turned into poorly paid part time employees. US income inequality reached Himalayan levels as people's share of the benefits from increased productivity took a sharp nosedive. Today, after the Great Recession, Reagan's anti-union attitude and enthusiasm for deregulation has also proven to be a dubious legacy.

Governor Walker says he’s fighting for ordinary Americans. So why does he want to require unions to re-certify every year, but we don’t hear a peep about corporations being required to renew their charters every year? Why does he want to control the salaries of public employees, but doesn’t have any interest in controlling the salaries of grossly overcompensated corporate CEOs? Why does he call for sacrifices from hard-working people who have been screwed by the economy through no fault of their own, and none from the financiers who caused the crisis?

Maybe it’s because he has quite a bit in common with Coolidge and Reagan after all. In Reagan’s case, as in Coolidge's, union-busting led to some of the biggest peacetime income re-distributions in modern history. Democracy got weaker, oligopolies got stronger, the rich got richer, and the rest of us got left behind.

The real lesson from Coolidge and Reagan is this: If Governor Walker and his Republican friends are allowed to crush the public unions, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Lynn Parramore is Editor of New Deal 2.0, Media Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, and Co-founder of Recessionwire.

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The Moral Imperative for Deficit Cutting

Feb 22, 2011L. Randall Wray

line-of-american-peopleThe majority of Americans want a government that serves the people.

Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI), head of the House Budget Committee, says that reducing the federal government's deficit is a "moral challenge".

line-of-american-peopleThe majority of Americans want a government that serves the people.

Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI), head of the House Budget Committee, says that reducing the federal government's deficit is a "moral challenge".

He's right. Finally, one politician who recognizes that the hysteria about federal budget deficits and debt has nothing to do with economics. There is no credible economic theory and no economic evidence that can lead one to conclude that the US needs to reduce its budget deficit during a time of widespread unemployment.

It is a morality play, plain and simple.

It is, as Ryan says, a debate about "different ideas about government". It is about "should", not "can". The government CAN provide a safety net that feeds our poor, that houses our homeless, that cares for our sick, that hires our jobless, that supports our aged in dignity. There is no question of affordability -- sovereign government can always afford to "credit bank accounts" (as Chairman Bernanke puts it) using keystrokes. The question is SHOULD the government do so?

On one side, we have the modern Hooverites, including Ryan. Nay, they say, government should not help its citizens. Quoting Grover Cleveland, Hoover used remarkably precise Ryanesque words: "Though the people support the government, the government should not support the people." President Reagan modernized that with the argument that "government IS the problem". (And just to prove that Democrats can be Hooverish, too, President Clinton's slogan was "The era of big government is over".) Ryan puts it this way: "Let's choose to put proper limits on our government and unleash the initiative and imagination of the world's most exceptional people."

It is not clear who those "exceptional" people are, but the past two decades have demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt that as government withdraws, it is Wall Street that is unleashed -- the "initiative and the imagination" of the Bernie Madoffs, Jamie Dimons, John Macks, Joe Cassanos, Dick Fulds, Bob Rubins, Angelo Mozilos, and Lloyd Blankfeins run loose. And when they crash the economy, causing unemployment and poverty to explode, according to Ryan's moral compass government should do nothing to help its citizens.

On the other side, we've got the modern New Dealers, who know that unbridled capitalism inevitably devolves to thievery. You need government to protect its citizens from the excesses. To be sure, New Dealers recognize the benefits of Schumpeterian entrepreneurial spirit, but they share the skepticism of Adam Smith who said that our captains of industry rarely meet except to plot against the best interests of our nation's workers and consumers. And they know that each time we experimented with laissez faire, it led to economic depression, brought on by the robber barons and their Wall Street financiers in the late 19th century, the Wall Street investment bankers of the 1920s, and the Wall Street investment bankers (yet again!) in the 2000s. (Does anyone see a pattern?)

Sandwiched between the Hoovers and the New Dealers, we've got the Clinton-Obama New Democrats who want to please Wall Street in order to keep the campaign dollars flowing, while also preserving some modicum of a safety net. Thus, they adopt the schizophrenic deficit dove position: deficits are OK now, to clean up the mess caused by Wall Street, but we've got to reign-in "entitlements" to balance the budget once the crisis is past. Oh, and let's not mess with Wall Street, which has surely learned its lesson this time around. These New Dems are unwitting and unscripted characters in a morality play they do not understand, confusing economics for morals. Hence, they hold their noses and side with the New Dealers for the current deficit debauchery, but to atone for their sins go with the Hoover deficit hawks for balanced budgets in the sweet hereafter.

Here's the problem for the Moral Right and the Schizoid Center. In poll after poll, the American people consistently reject spending cuts for any program other than "foreign aid". Indeed, they want more federal government spending for education, veteran's benefits, (national) healthcare, and Medicare -- areas our morality warriors plan to cut. According to the recent PEW survey, 45% of Americans are willing to cut global poverty assistance; no other category of federal government spending comes close to achieving a majority in favor of cuts, as the following table demonstrates. (Find the full report here.)

pew-deficit-table

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Note that aside from global poverty assistance, only military defense and unemployment assistance find slightly more support for cuts than for spending increases; in all other areas, Americans favor more spending. Even Medicare -- a favored target of deficit hawks -- finds nearly three times more Americans favoring spending increases than the tiny minority willing to cut it. And Social Security remains the most popular government program ever -- no matter how often the deficit hawks tell Americans that no progress can be made on deficit reduction without gutting Social Security.

Disingenuously, Representative Judy Biggert claimed that Republicans "have a mandate from the American people to cut spending". They have nothing of the sort. The mandate is loud and clear: Americans want investment in all those areas that will improve the quality of life now and in the future.

Nor do Americans want higher taxes -- except on the super rich. But since the super rich are the natural constituency for the Moral Minority and the New Dems, that idea has no chance.

In short, the problem is that if democracy ever had its way in America, the government would be substantially BIGGER, not smaller, and MORE generous, not less. Americans decisively reject modern Hooverism, in spite of the anti-government campaign run out of Washington over the past thirty years.

So what can the Moral Minority do? Deceive. Obfuscate. Scapegoat. Talk about "unfunded mandates", "unsustainable deficits", "debt burdens on our grandkids", "government is running out of money", "welfare queens", "illegal deadbeat aliens", "national bankruptcy". All deceptions.

I hope that Rep. Paul Ryan's admission that deficit hysteria is really about morality, not economics, gets wide coverage. The American people need to know that the morality campaign is well-financed by hedge fund manager Pete Peterson's billions. He and Ryan want to push their Moral Minority views on the Moral Majority.

But the Moral Majority of this country wants more education, not less. Americans want more publicly funded healthcare, not less. They want to help the homeless get off the streets. They want to help grandma and grandpa live a decent life in retirement. They support nutrition programs for mothers and infants. They want to rein in Wall Street and to jail the crooks. And they want government to play its appropriate role in all these matters.

And most of all, they want to leave the world a better place for the generations of Americans to come. As such, they do not, as Ryan put it, "choose to relegate America to another chapter in the history of declining nations." They want no part of the "dog eat dog", "every man for himself", Hobbesian vision hawked by the Morality Minority.

They reject Ryan's "case for limited government" and instead want a government that serves its people.

Let us start with honesty about budget deficits and government debt. There is no honest economic argument against running budget deficits when the economy is below full employment. While we can debate about which programs government ought to fund, and at what level, and about who ought to pay taxes, and how much, there is no legitimate concern about the size of the resulting budget deficit or growth of government debt.

Surely, in a democracy these spending and taxing issues should be decided by the voters, but in a process that is free of all the fear mongering about deficits. The Moral Minority wishes to conceal the truth behind the deficit hysteria because it knows that the majority rejects the minority's position as immoral.

It is not moral to cut nutrition programs for pregnant women and infants, and to eliminate funding of family planning. It is not moral to cut Social Security benefits while handing payroll taxes over to Pete Peterson to supply money to his hedge fund activities. It is not moral to cut the IRS enforcement budget to let Wall Street's tax cheats protect their fortunes. And it is not moral to withhold funding from Wall Street's regulators, such as the SEC (which the GOP plans to cut).

Yet, all of these are components of the Moral Minority's unpalatable platform. No wonder Ryan wants to hide behind his "moral imperative" to cut government -- to keep the debate in the religious arena of morality and away from the light that economics might shine upon it.

L. Randall Wray is Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

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Obama Can Revolutionize Rural America with Broadband, FDR-style

Feb 18, 2011David B. Woolner

FDR brought prosperity to rural America with the Rural Electrification Administration and the Tennessee Valley Authority. Obama can do the same with wireless internet.

FDR brought prosperity to rural America with the Rural Electrification Administration and the Tennessee Valley Authority. Obama can do the same with wireless internet.

In a speech delivered last week in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, President Obama unveiled his plan to bring high-speed wireless coverage to 98 percent of America. Such an initiative, he said, would spark "new innovation, new investment and new jobs," and, if successful, would connect "every corner of America to the digital age."

Investing federal dollars in bringing the benefits of high-speed wireless to rural America is not unlike the efforts Franklin Roosevelt launched more than 75 years ago to bring electricity to America's family farms. In Roosevelt's day, it is estimated that roughly nine out of ten farms in America lacked electricity. As such, most farm families still lived a life that was more reminiscent of the 19th century. With no electricity, there was no running water, and hence no indoor plumbing or bathrooms. Water had to be brought into the house from wells or a nearby stream and heat was provided by indoor stoves. No electricity also meant that most farms lacked the convenience of modern appliances and had no way to obtain entertainment or information over the radio.

Prior to FDR's administration, advocates of rural power had found private companies disinterested due to the high costs of extending lines into the countryside, so they turned to the federal government. But even though many of the ideas being floated at the time involved the development of rural access to electricity through public-private cooperation, such plans fell on deaf ears.

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All of this changed, however, with FDR's election to the White House. A strong believer in the need for the federal government to take the lead in the development of public power, FDR launched the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) in 1933 (which remains America's largest public utility) and in 1935 established the Rural Electrification Administration, or REA. The REA was a new federal agency whose sole purpose was to bring the benefits of electricity to rural America.

In its initial efforts, the REA tried to extend electricity to rural areas by providing low-cost government loans to private utility companies who would then be tasked with the job of building a full-scale rural electrical grid. But the agency soon found that most private companies were still not willing to participate in the program. As an alternative, and with the strong support of progressive Republicans like Senator George Norris of Nebraska, the REA then turned to the farmers themselves, urging them to form themselves into electricity cooperatives. These cooperatives would then receive low-interest REA loans, which would be used to finance the construction of local generating and distributing facilities and the lines needed to take the power to individual farms. The rural electrification program flourished under this formula, and by the time FDR died in 1945, it is estimated that nine out of ten farms in the country had electricity -- the exact reverse of the situation when he assumed office.

As predicted, rural electrification revolutionized life on the farm and remains one of the most significant -- if largely forgotten -- legacies of the New Deal. It vastly improved farm life, bringing running water and refrigeration, for example, which improved health and sanitation, as well as the radio, which linked farm families to the rest of the nation. It also made it possible for new labor-saving appliances and technologies to be introduced not only on the farm, but also in rural villages and schools, all of which improved the rural economy and quality of life.

President Obama's National Wireless Initiative is not unlike rural electrification. Properly administered and executed, it too can improve rural America's quality of life and has the potential, as the President observed, to "accelerate breakthroughs in health, education, and transportation." It also provides us with another example of how the federal government, in the tradition of the New Deal, can and must take the lead in improving the economic infrastructure of the country -- even in a digital age.

**For more on how FDR changed life in rural America, and how we can do it again today, check out Lynn Parramore's October, 2010 talk on the subject here. She joined other experts to talk about the enduring legacy of the New Deal.

David Woolner is a Senior Fellow and Hyde Park Resident Historian for the Roosevelt Institute.

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Revisiting the WPA to Remind America of its Potential

Feb 7, 2011Gray Brechin

fdr-we-need-you-150In remarks at the FDR Library on the 75th anniversary of the WPA, Gray Brechin gave this speech reminding us of the multifaceted impact of this successful government program.

fdr-we-need-you-150In remarks at the FDR Library on the 75th anniversary of the WPA, Gray Brechin gave this speech reminding us of the multifaceted impact of this successful government program.

As you all know, we Americans have been marinated in a fundamentalist ideology for the last 30 years. You know the drill: government is so inefficient and corrupt that any taxes we pay for it are extortionate and wasted. There's a corollary to that so often repeated that it's become common wisdom despite the fact that it's flat-out wrong. It goes: "Everyone knows that the New Deal didn't end the Depression, the War did." The latter cliche has served to belittle stimulus initiatives undertaken by both Presidents Roosevelt and Obama. But it's also more generally used as argument-ending proof that government stimulus programs to create jobs and get the nation out of an economic crisis are futile or actually prolong the catastrophe. The implication is that only a good worldwide bloodbath can do that -- ironically enough when all limits are taken off of government spending. (In fact, as Amy Goodman reported, Argentine President Nestor Kirchner said that President Bush told him that "the best way to revitalize the economy is war and that the United States has grown stronger with war.")

These twin mantras are repeated by people who have no idea that they use the New Deal every day. They ride over New Deal roads, enjoy public parks, cross bridges and drive through tunnels, use airports, hospitals, and libraries, and some even send their kids to schools and colleges built by New Deal agencies. We take for granted the public health that comes with clean drinking water that my grandparents could not. The PWA totally rebuilt the Chicago waste water system so that Chicagoans no longer had to drink their sewage. Much of this was put in place 75 years ago in the depths of the Great Depression in order to get out of it. Contrary to what we're repeatedly told, those programs worked; they employed millions of men, women, and youth, collectively lifting the country rapidly out of the Depression. Moreover, post-war prosperity was largely built upon the back of New Deal public works, which were then new. They are seldom, if ever, acknowledged for contributing significantly to that prosperity.

About six years ago, I was looking for a project more uplifting than the kind of environmental writing I'd done before. I thought it would be fun to work with a photographer to document what the WPA had done in California. I knew a little about the CCC and nothing about the PWA, NYA, CWA, FERA, or the REA. What followed happens to everyone who undertakes this kind of research: it's as if you were walking through a dense overgrown jungle, where you discover a strange ruin. You begin to dig and find that it's an immense building, and then that there are other often magnificent buildings connected by roads and canals, stadiums. It's more than just a city or a network of cities: it's a whole civilization that we built just 75 years ago, then allowed to be buried and forgotten as if by a volcanic eruption.

But here's where the analogy falls apart: unlike a forgotten civilization, we use this vast cultural and physical infrastructure all the time without knowing it. If you mapped them, you would see that both New York and DC are largely New Deal cities, and the great cities of the Sunbelt such as Las Vegas, Phoenix, Tucson, and Los Angeles were largely creations of the New Deal as well.

These are all things that I learned as I delved deeper. I quickly found that this huge legacy in one state alone couldn't be contained in a book, nor could uncovering it be done by just two people. So the book morphed into "California's Living New Deal Project" -- 'living' because millions of people and generations have benefited from the New Deal without knowing it, including strident critics of the Roosevelt administration. Indeed, they do not want to know it because to do so would fatally undermine that fundamentalist ideology I mentioned at the beginning.

With a seed grant from the Columbia Foundation and help from the Labor Institute at UC Berkeley, we built an interactive website now based at the Department of Geography, where I have an office. I work with others to map what the New Deal did for one state, relying upon a network of informants -- historians, historical societies, librarians, teachers, government employees, and just people interested in the New Deal, as well as research that I and my colleagues do. As the eminent California historian Kevin Starr said to me, it's just like a WPA project: a collaborative effort in which we are constantly learning from each other and seeing the landscape anew.

The WPA is best known of the public works agencies because it left plaques and markers, though nothing commensurate with what it achieved. The PWA left far fewer markers, the CCC and CWA none at all. Most New Deal projects are unmarked, so we are constantly being surprised. For example, we only recently discovered from records of the city park commission that the WPA planted 15,000 street trees in Berkeley, trees now in their maturity, overarching the streets and making the town extremely pleasant. WPA workers improved every park in San Francisco and, we suspect, the same is true across the country. You will sometimes find yourself in a forest, as I did in Georgia, where all the trees seem to be about the same age: 75 years. You could well be enjoying some of the 3 billion trees planted by the boys of the CCC, but none of this is marked. I have not yet figured out how to map the innumerable check dams and culverts built by the CCC to save our soil.

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Little of this is known, since the New Deal was interrupted and then killed by WWII. Because of that, the records that I thought I would rely on at the Library of Congress and National Archives are sketchy to nonexistent.

Last year, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities asked me to deliver the opening address at their annual conference in La Jolla. I put together a show of the immense expansion in federal aid to public education in all of its dimensions during a few years of the Great Depression, compared with the equally dramatic contraction of public enlightenment in our own time. The 200 college presidents were astounded when I showed them that New Deal agencies built thousands of schools, entire college campuses, magnificent academic buildings, public libraries and museums, zoos and aquariums, and teaching hospitals. Many of these buildings are embellished with murals and sculptures as well as uplifting inscriptions such as ENTER TO LEARN, GO FORTH TO SERVE or WHAT YOU WOULD HAVE IN THE LIFE OF A NATION YOU MUST FIRST PUT INTO ITS SCHOOLS.

The people responsible for building this invisible New Deal archipelago had a big idea: they believed they were building a civilization worthy of the name, a democratic civilization that would endure and be a beacon to the world then darkening with the fundamentalist ideologies of those times. They had no idea that we would let it fall into ruin because we were persuaded that we should not have to pay taxes, as, for example, the governor and university administrators are now doing at the University of California because (as they say) they have no alternative. The example of the New Deal shows that there is an alternative -- it's a matter of priorities.

Compare that munificent New Deal legacy with an amendment that Senator Tom Coburn attempted to tack on to the Obama stimulus package last year. Here it is: "None of the amounts appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used for any casino or other gambling establishment, aquarium, zoo, golf course, swimming pool, stadium, community park, museum, theater, arts center, or highway beautification project..." With the exception of gambling establishments strategically placed at the beginning of that sentence, all of these projects are things that WPA workers built and that we enjoy today, and about half of them are educational.

Or ponder an inscription in cream-glazed terra cotta on a magnificent PWA-built high school in Salem, Oregon: ENTER TO GROW IN WISDOM. Compare that with a new advertising campaign by Diesel jeans. It advises teenagers BE STUPID. That is, in a nutshell, the public, as opposed to the private, interest.

This progressive dismantling of the social contract has created in its wake an immense demoralization across the nation. To paraphrase the president who successfully launched us on the course to this decay and discord, it's nightfall in America. Rediscovering New Deal sites is therefore not just an antiquarian exercise. In their high purpose, their fine materials, their superb craftsmanship, the New Deal sites reveal an ethical dimension that neoliberal expedience has largely killed. They teach us that we are all in this together, that we are a community. They give us our moral compass back. That, for me, is their chief value.

I recently took the train across the country to give a talk in Hyde Park; I recommend it if you want to see for yourself how we are letting our cities and our physical infrastructure literally rust away, how we have become a gaudy but empty piñata. But all across the country I could look out my window and see public schools, post offices, water towers, parks and athletic fields built by New Deal agencies and still in use. No small town was untouched by the New Deal: I suspect that taxes did not seem so onerous when you saw them coming back to your community in those useful public assets that Senator Coburn wanted excluded from the stimulus package. Few in the most Republican-voting states know that their most beloved parks date from the New Deal, or that farmers still deliver their produce on all-weather farm-to-market roads built by WPA or CCC workers. Few know, when they are inspired by patriotic images of the Statue of Liberty or the Washington Monument, that these were restored by the WPA and the PWA. Those agencies left no markers to remind us that they had been there.

It's time to change that: we at UC Berkeley Geography are seeking funding to expand our California Living New Deal into a National Living New Deal inventory that will involve thousands of Americans in a collective act of rediscovery. Doing so, both young and old will learn the pleasures of doing primary research, but we'll also learn to see our country -- and our responsibilities as adults -- with fresh eyes.

And finally, I hope that we will at last honor the ingenuity and compassion of those visionaries with whom Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt surrounded themselves -- people who believed it was their Christian and Jewish duty to help those less fortunate, that it is better for society to uplift rather than to punish people, and far cheaper to build schools rather than prisons and worldwide military bases. I hope we will also honor the hard work with which our parents and grandparents successfully dug out of the Depression. We hope that through our own work, we will remind Americans what we, at our best, can accomplish together. And we might just learn the meaning of that sentiment by the Roman poet Virgil over the door of the enormous WPA-built County Administration Building in San Diego: THE NOBLEST MOTIVE IS THE PUBLIC GOOD. For my money, that sentiment beats the command from the private sector to BE STUPID.

Gray Brechin is an historical geographer, visiting scholar in the U.C. Berkeley Department of Geography and founder and project scholar of California's Living New Deal Project.

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FDR Drew on Thomas Paine in the Most Difficult of Times

Jan 28, 2011Harvey J. Kaye

fdr-radioside-150This coming weekend sees the birthdays of two great Americans: Thomas Paine, born on January 29, 1737 and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, born on January 30, 1882. They share more than a birthday weekend -- they both believed in America's purpose and promise.

fdr-radioside-150This coming weekend sees the birthdays of two great Americans: Thomas Paine, born on January 29, 1737 and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, born on January 30, 1882. They share more than a birthday weekend -- they both believed in America's purpose and promise.

In the winter of 1941-42, Americans faced their gravest crisis since the Civil War. The Japanese assault on Pearl Harbor had propelled the United States into the Second World War, a global conflict in which the very survival of freedom, equality, and democracy were at stake. And things did not look good at all. Germany had conquered most of Europe, Japan had overrun East Asia, and on every front from the Atlantic to the Pacific the Axis powers were advancing. At home, the reports of military disasters and setbacks triggered criticism of the government's handling of the war, rumors of invasion, and a sense of despair, if not defeat.

Though he had spoken to the nation in a Fireside Chat soon after securing a declaration of war from Congress, President Roosevelt recognized he would have to talk to his fellow citizens once again. He would not only have to clarify the military situation, but also reassure them of their strengths, mobilize their spirits and energies, and present them with a vision of a world worth fighting for.

Announcing that the President would deliver another Chat on Monday evening, February 23, at the close of the Washington birthday weekend, the White House did not reveal any details beyond requesting that everyone have a map of the world at hand. Still, Americans anticipated something important. Stores quickly sold out their maps. Newspapers rushed their own into print. And when Monday night came, 61,000,000 Americans, along with millions more around the world, tuned in to hear the broadcast.

Roosevelt understood that he needed to firmly engage American collective memory and imagination. Rallying support for the New Deal, he had regularly evoked historical images and personages such as Jefferson and Lincoln. But on this occasion, the nation's 32nd President would reach even more deeply into America's Revolutionary heritage, to the very crucible of war out of which the United States had emerged.

Seated at a desk behind a bank of microphones in a first floor White House room, Roosevelt opened up by recalling George Washington and his Continental army. Pointing to the "formidable odds and recurring defeats" they had suffered, the President recounted how their conduct had served as a "model of moral stamina" to ensuing generations. Contrasting their bravery and fortitude to the behavior of America's Tories -- those "selfish men, jealous men, fearful men" who preached defeatism and pressed for a negotiated peace -- he observed that America's first soldiers had never given up because they "knew that no man's life or fortune was secure without freedom and free institutions." And returning to the present, with isolationists in mind, he posited that the current "great struggle has taught us increasingly that freedom of person and security of property anywhere in the world depend upon the security of the rights and obligations of liberty and justice everywhere in the world."

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The present war, Roosevelt said, was a "new kind of war...not only in its methods and weapons but also in its geography." Referring to the maps he had asked Americans to have ready, he surveyed the far-flung battlefronts and communications and supply lines to show how the conflict was unavoidably a global struggle, involving "every continent, every island, every sea, every air lane in the world." While granting that Germany and Japan had the immediate advantage, and warning of further losses, the President defiantly added that despite the odds, American soldiers and sailors were fighting valiantly and performing magnificently. And he promised that the United States and its allies would turn back the enemy, regain the ground lost, and ultimately prevail.

The President spoke of the sacrifices Americans would have to make on the assembly lines and, even more heroically, at the frontlines. And scoffing at Axis propaganda that portrayed them as "weaklings" and "playboys" who were eager to "hire" others to fight for them, he exclaimed: "Let them tell that to General MacArthur and his men. Let them tell that to the sailors... Let them tell that to the boys in the Flying Fortresses. Let them tell that to the marines!"

Just as fervently, the President reiterated America's commitment to pursue the war in partnership with its allies and insisted that doing so required the kind of "national unity that can know no limitation of race or creed or selfish politics." And apparently envisioning the extension of New Deal liberalism to the "whole world," he enunciated the principles they would seek to apply globally: "disarmament of aggressors, self-determination of nations and peoples, and the four freedoms -- freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want, and freedom from fear."

Finally, after again acknowledging the awesome task Americans had before them, Roosevelt welded together past and present:

"These are the times that try men's souls." Tom Paine wrote those words on a drumhead, by the light of a campfire. That was when Washington's little army of ragged, rugged men was retreating across New Jersey, having tasted naught but defeat. And General Washington ordered that these great words written by Tom Paine be read to the men of every regiment in the Continental Army, and this was the assurance given to the first American armed forces: "The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the sacrifice, the more glorious the triumph."

So spoke Americans in the year 1776. So speak Americans today!

Harvey J. Kaye is the Rosenberg Professor of Democracy and Justice Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and the author of Thomas Paine and the Promise of America, from which these paragraphs are drawn. He is currently writing The Four Freedoms and the Promise of America. Follow him on Twitter: www.twitter.com/HarveyJKaye

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SOTU: Like FDR, Obama Could Become Teacher-in-Chief

Jan 19, 2011Harvey J. Kaye

fdr-roosevelt-at-podium-150He may not have legislative victories ahead, but he can still tell the real story of American history.

fdr-roosevelt-at-podium-150He may not have legislative victories ahead, but he can still tell the real story of American history.

Okay, Obama is no FDR -- at least not the FDR who placed himself "at the head of the urban and agrarian masses," as progressive critic Max Lerner put it in 1939, and led one of the great "upsurging movements of American democracy."

So I won't waste time suggesting that Obama, in his State of the Union Message this coming Tuesday evening, should try to sound like the Second Coming of Roosevelt-the-New-Dealer. To say such things would be foolish, not only because the Republicans control the House, but also because Obama -- despite his community organizing experience -- just doesn't seem to have FDR's progressive spirit in him. Nevertheless, Obama does have in him something of the 32nd president, and I would urge him to start exercising it.

Like FDR, Obama has more than oratorical talents. He also has teaching talents. We need him to put them to work to counter the bizarre renditions of America's past propagated by the likes of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Senator Jim DeMint, Governor Rick Perry, chalk-boarder Glenn Beck, media hound Sarah Palin, and AEI president Arthur C. Brooks.

I would seriously urge Obama, the former law professor, to go pedagogical.

I would press him to go up to the Capitol and speak not just as President and Commander-in-Chief, but as Head Teacher. I would tell him to instruct Congress and the nation in American history -- not just the tea party types, but Republicans and Democrats alike. I would encourage him to recover and project the narrative of American experience that reminds us all that the United States was founded as a Grand Experiment. It is an experiment in freedom, equality, and democracy and in extending those ideals. It is an experiment literally inscribed in American life through the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and Bill of Rights, the Gettysburg Address, the Four Freedoms, and the innumerable words and songs delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

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I would then have the president direct our attention and imagination to the National Mall and the monuments we have built to presidents and others who inspired generations to fight for, defend, and advance the nation's historic purpose and promise. I would tell him to fervently recite the words "All men are created equal... Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness... We the People... A new birth of freedom... Government of the people, by the people, for the people... Freedom of speech and expression, Freedom of worship, Freedom from want, Freedom from fear... and We shall overcome." And I would insist that in the wake of doing so, he go out into the nation and tell that story over and over again.

Franklin Roosevelt regularly spoke to Congress and the public of the American experience and what it promised and demanded. In fact, he wanted to emulate his presidential mentors, Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, by writing histories of the United States as they each had. But he did not, for he discovered that he was no author. Still, he articulated a narrative of the nation's history and prospects through his speechmaking. It was a narrative that rejected the story repeatedly told to bolster the rule and status of WASP Americans and the propertied and corporate rich of the Gilded Age. He proffered one in favor of expanding the "We" in "We the People," empowering working people in public and industrial life, and fashioning a social-democratic polity. And when he and his party suffered setbacks in 1938 and 1942, he did not retreat but, rather, sustained that narrative and vision.

Now, when the once-again ascendant right threatens not only Obama's own pro-corporate Health Reform Act, but Social Security itself -- as well as any chance of real recovery, reconstruction, and reform -- and guarantees to return us to the social and economic order of the Gilded Age, Obama cannot win significant legislative victories. But as "Educator-in-Chief," he can cultivate a more progressive American narrative and thereby encourage energies that might once again turn into movements.

Harvey J. Kaye is the Rosenberg Professor of Democracy and Justice Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and the author of Thomas Paine and the Promise of America. He is currently writing The Four Freedoms and the Promise of America. Follow him on Twitter: www.twitter.com/HarveyJKaye

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FDR is #1

Jan 19, 2011Bryce Covert

smiling-fdr-profile-150It should come as no surprise that FDR is pretty popular around here. But you don't have to take our word for it.

smiling-fdr-profile-150It should come as no surprise that FDR is pretty popular around here. But you don't have to take our word for it. A new poll by the United States Presidency Center in the UK found FDR topped academics' ranking of 40 US presidents, beating them out in in three of the five assessment categories: vision and agenda setting, domestic leadership, and foreign policy. He was only outranked in two categories -- George Washington was first for moral authority and Abraham Lincoln was first for the legacy with the most positive historical significance.

And they're not the only ones who feel this way. A group of American academics came to the same conclusion last year. For the fifth time in a row, that group picked FDR over all the faces on Mount Rushmore. He ranked first in overall accomplishments and topped the categories of party leadership, handling the US economy, and foreign policy accomplishments.

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In a time when the entire world is still badly hurting from a financial meltdown and brutal recession, it's no wonder that FDR's long and historic presidency stands out as one that got the job done. He led the country out of the Great Depression with bold legislation and steady leadership. And he was committed to economic and social equality throughout the world.

But what does our current president think of FDR? Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Thomas Ferguson has noticed something odd in how Obama speaks of the former leader -- a rewriting of history that distorts some of his accomplishments. Maybe Obama should talk to the hundreds of historians who voted FDR #1.

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In Times of National Trauma, the Nation Looks to the President

Jan 14, 2011David B. Woolner

Roosevelt historian David Woolner shines a light on today’s issues with lessons from the past.

President Obama's stirring address at the memorial service for the victims of the Arizona tragedy reminds us that the president of the United States is much more than merely the head of government. He is also our head of state -- the national figure we look to for guidance and comfort in times of national trauma.

Roosevelt historian David Woolner shines a light on today’s issues with lessons from the past.

President Obama's stirring address at the memorial service for the victims of the Arizona tragedy reminds us that the president of the United States is much more than merely the head of government. He is also our head of state -- the national figure we look to for guidance and comfort in times of national trauma.

Over the course of his twelve years as president, FDR found himself having to address an unprecedented number of national and international crises that required equally unprecedented leadership qualities. First and foremost, of course, was the trauma caused by the crash of 1929 and the subsequent rise of the Great Depression. In the midst of the profound anxiety and fear that had gripped the nation by the time Roosevelt assumed office in 1933, he famously rejected the harbingers of despair and instead counseled that "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." This line would not only go on to capture the imagination of a generation, but would also set the stage for the long struggle that lay ahead as the nation worked its way out of the worst economic crisis in history. In years that followed, FDR would return to this theme time and time again in speeches, major addresses, and via his famous "Fireside Chats" on the radio. By reminding the American people that they need not fear the challenges they faced and in fact had "conquered fear," FDR gave them the one thing they needed more than anything else: hope. Hope in themselves and in the future; hope in their ability to lift the nation out of its economic malaise; hope that together, the people and their leaders could transform the American government into an active instrument of social and economic justice.

But coping with the economic crisis was not the only challenge FDR had to face. He also had to guide the nation through the most destructive war in human history. For six long years, the forces of liberal democracy struggled against the anti-democratic forces of fascism in Europe and Asia. During these dark days, it is no exaggeration to say that democracy itself teetered on the brink of catastrophe, especially in the early years of the conflict. FDR understood this. He never doubted for a moment that the war was about much more than conquest or the mere acquisition of territory. It was, first and foremost, a moral conflict that threatened to bring about the destruction of modern civilization. Throughout his tenure as a war president, therefore, FDR insisted on couching the conflict in moral terms. It was for this reason that he joined Winston Churchill in drawing up the set of guiding principles known as the Atlantic Charter in August of 1941 to govern the conduct of Great Britain and the United States during the war. It was a document which, among other things, not only made it clear that neither government sought "aggrandizement, territorial or other" in the conduct of the war, but also insisted that "all peoples have the right to choose the form of government under which they live."

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FDR's most famous wartime address -- which came six months before the Atlantic Charter -- was animated by the same spirit. Here, the president, in asking the American people to make further sacrifices in support of Great Britain's effort to resist Axis aggression, did so not merely because such a sacrifice might serve to shield the United States from the ravages of war. Rather, he did so because he wished them to join a wider effort to secure a future based on four essential human freedoms: freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear -- "everywhere in the world."

Inspired by the president's simple yet eloquent language, the American people embraced the Four Freedoms as the war aims of the United States and, once in the conflict, would not rest until the forces of democracy would go on "to win through to absolute victory." In the process, they also came to appreciate that the United States could no longer afford to turn away from the rest of the world, but must accept its share of responsibility to provide the moral, political and economic leadership required to advance FDR's vision put before them in the dark days of January 1941.

Judging by the reaction of the press on both the left and the right to President Obama's moving remarks in Tucson, it appears that he too has risen to the occasion. His heartfelt speech not only crystallized the mood of the nation, but also reminded us of our common responsibilities as citizens, of the values we share and of the need for each and every one of us to use this tragic occasion, as he said, "to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy" and to never forget "all the ways that our hopes and dreams are bound together."

The president is right when he says that "only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to the challenges of our nation" in a way that would make the victims of this senseless tragedy proud. Only time will tell if his compassionate words will serve as a guide for us in the future.

David Woolner is a Senior Fellow and Hyde Park Resident Historian for the Roosevelt Institute.

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FDR's Second Bill of Rights: 'Necessitous Men are not Free Men'

Jan 11, 2011Harvey J. Kaye

fdrmain-150FDR envisioned a new definition of freedom and well-being -- one that we ought to remember.

fdrmain-150FDR envisioned a new definition of freedom and well-being -- one that we ought to remember.

On January 11, 1944 -- with American workers going "All Out!" on the home front and American soldiers, airmen, and seamen fighting European fascism and Japanese imperialism globally -- President Franklin Delano Roosevelt delivered his annual message to Congress on the State of the Union. In that speech, he reaffirmed his determination to pursue the Four Freedoms -- "Freedom of Speech, Freedom of worship, Freedom from want, Freedom from fear" -- both in the United States and abroad. He also articulated those freedoms anew, especially freedom from want and fear, in the form of an Economic Bill of Rights for all Americans.

Roosevelt knew full well that Congress, dominated by a conservative coalition of Republicans and Dixie Democrats, would never endorse it. And yet, based on polls commissioned by his administration, he had good reason to believe that most of his fellow citizens would support it. He also had reason to imagine that it would lead not only to victory in the upcoming November elections, but also to renewed efforts to extend and deepen freedom, equality, and democracy in a peacetime America.

Suffering from the flu and unable to go up to Capitol Hill to speak in person, the president sent the text of his message to Congress at midday and then presented it to the American people in a radio broadcast from the White House that evening. As ill as he was, he spoke vigorously and his remarks were reminiscent of a younger FDR.

He began by discussing his recent meetings with Churchill and Stalin at Tehran and the need to translate the wartime alliance into a permanent system of international security, and he then turned to the subject of the home front. To speed victory, but "maintain a fair and stable economy at home," FDR recommended five legislative measures to Congress, the first four clearly targeting corporate greed, the fifth evidently challenging labor. Specifically, he called on Congress to pass a "realistic" revenue act to increase taxes on profits; maintain the law allowing government to renegotiate war contracts to "prevent exorbitant profits and assure fair prices;" approve a law enabling government to more effectively control food prices; renew the Economic Stabilization Act; and enact "a national service law -- which, for the duration of the war, will prevent strikes, and... make available for war production or for any other essential services every able-bodied adult in this Nation."

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The president then looked ahead. Hoping to be heard on every front, he told Congress and the nation that, "It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known." And in favor of that, he proposed the recognition and adoption of a Second Bill of Rights.

He said: "This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights... They were our rights to life and liberty. As our Nation has grown in size and stature, however -- as our industrial economy expanded -- these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness." But, he continued: "We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. ‘Necessitous men are not free men.'" And evoking Jefferson and Lincoln, Roosevelt contended that, "In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident," and, "We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all regardless of station, race, or creed." This Second Bill of Rights included, he proffered:

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the Nation;
The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
The right of every family to a decent home;
The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
The right to a good education.

In sum, he stated, "All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being."

The vision and aspirations articulated by FDR and fought for by those whom we have come to call the Greatest Generation continue to resonate in American hearts and minds. It is up to liberals, progressives, and radicals to encourage their fellow Americans -- starting with Obama and the Democrats -- to pursue them.

Harvey J. Kaye is the Rosenberg Professor of Democracy and Justice Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and the author of Thomas Paine and the Promise of America. He is currently writing The Four Freedoms and the Promise of America. Follow Harvey on Twitter: www.twitter.com/HarveyJKaye

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How Roosevelt Saved Capitalism: The 74th Versus the 112th Congress

Jan 10, 2011David B. Woolner

Roosevelt historian David Woolner shines a light on today’s issues with lessons from the past.

Roosevelt historian David Woolner shines a light on today’s issues with lessons from the past.

Amid much fanfare, the 112th Congress convened for the first time last week. In his opening address, the new Speaker of the House, Republican John Boehner, urged his colleagues to move forward "humble in our demeanor, steady in our principles, and dedicated to proving worthy of the trust and confidence that has been placed in us." Reaching out to both sides of the aisle, he also observed that if the newly elected members of the House "brace ourselves to do our duty, and to do what we say we are going to do, there is no telling what together we can accomplish for the good of this great and honorable nation."

In the wake of the first midterm elections of the Obama presidency, it will be interesting to compare the 112th Congress's legislative accomplishments to those of the Congress that FDR inherited in the wake of the 1934 midterm elections. Like today, the 74th Congress convened at a time when the nation was in the midst of a continuing economic crisis and faced numerous threats abroad. Unlike today, however, the prevailing political philosophy of the 74th Congress -- and a good share of the public -- was vastly different. In 1935, thanks in large part to FDR's rhetorical skills and leadership, the people's faith in government as the protector of the common good was at one of its highest points in our history. United by a sense of common purpose and steadfast in the belief that government should act as the primary guarantor of social and economic justice, the 74th Congress gave us such landmark legislation as the Social Security Act, which not only provided old-age pensions and support for children and the handicapped, but also the established our country's first nationwide system of unemployment insurance. The same Congress also passed the National Labor Relations Act, which sought to stabilize labor relations and bolster unions' security. It guaranteed the right of workers to join unions and created the National Labor Relations Board, a three-member federal review board responsible for determining which unions would represent workers in specific industries or factories and for guarding against unfair labor practices by employers, employees, or unions themselves.

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The 74th Congress also passed many other important bills. It passed the Soil Conservation Act, which encouraged farmers to adopt more environmentally friendly practices in an effort to save one of nation's most precious natural resources -- its soil. The Rural Electrification Act brought the revolutionary benefits of electricity to the 9 out of ten farmers who did not have it when FDR took office. The Commodities Exchange Act established federal regulation of all commodities and futures trading activities and required all options to be traded on organized exchanges. The Public Utility Act facilitated the regulation of electric utilities. The Flood Control Act of 1936 committed the federal government to the protection of people and property on over 100 million acres of land through the US Army Corps of Engineers. And it passed the 1935 and 1936 neutrality laws, as well as five other significant pieces of legislation.

As even this brief summary of the work of the 74th Congress shows, under FDR's leadership these and other New Deal measures dramatically expanded the scope of the federal government's responsibilities in American life. Where Washington had previously been only a distant regulator of economic and social affairs, it was now the government's responsibility to maintain economic prosperity, mitigate the worst effects of unfettered capitalism, spread industrial and agricultural development to impoverished regions of the nation, guarantee workers' right to choose their unions, protect the bargaining rights of those unions, and conserve and develop the nation's vast natural and artistic resources.

Contrary to some critics' views, the New Deal was not intended to radically change the foundations of American capitalism. Rather, it revised that system in order to save it. Moreover, it did so not by abandoning government, but by strengthening it. For as FDR and the 74th Congress well understood, they had inherited a nation that was dominated by the forces of wealth and privilege. As a consequence, and as FDR once remarked, "[f]or 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." "Against economic tyranny such as this," he went on, "the American citizen could appeal only to the organized power of government."

A good share of the 112th Congress, particularly under the Republican leadership in the House, appears determined to take the country in the opposite direction. They would prefer to let market forces, rather than the "organized power of government," determine the social and economic fate of the nation. It is too early to tell whether their determination to reduce its role will succeed or whether the impact of these conservative forces on future generations of Americans will be as large as that of the 74th Congress. Over the course of its two-year tenure, that Congress passed a number of legislative initiatives that still benefit us today.

David Woolner is a Senior Fellow and Hyde Park Resident Historian for the Roosevelt Institute.

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