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Franklin D. Roosevelt Speeches: August 20th

Franklin D. Roosevelt Speeches


Much of our trouble came from what the President described as "a new basis in Government relation with business; in fact, a new relationship of Government with its citizens. . . .”

Even before the election of Mr. Hoover a terrible race began between the rising tide of bubble fortunes in the stock market and the rising tide of unemployment.  Mr. Hoover's own records in the Department of Commerce showed that there were 2,000,000 fewer men at work in the four principal fields of employment in 1925 than there had been six years previously, although the population and production had vastly increased and many new industries had appeared. . . .

This mobilization of business as the President practices it by promotion and advertising methods will always be defective.  His power to influence public opinion is great, but this driving will, as it has been well put, always be back-seat driving—ineffective and dangerous.  It was the heyday of promoters, sloganeers, mushroom millionaires, opportunists, adventurers of all kinds. 

It has been suggested that the American public was apparently elected to the role of our old friend, Alice in Wonderland.  I agree that Alice was peering into a wonderful looking glass of the wonderful economics.  White Knights had great schemes of unlimited sales in foreign markets and discounted the future ten years ahead.

The poorhouse was to vanish like the Cheshire cat.  A mad hatter invited everyone to "have some more profits.”  There were no profits, except on paper. . . .

Between that day when the abolition of poverty was proclaimed, in August 1928, and the end of that year, the market balloon rose.  It did not stop.  It went on, up and up, and up for many fantastic months.  These were as the figures of a dream.  The balloon had reached the economic stratosphere, above the air, where mere man may not survive.

Then came the crash.  The paper profits vanished overnight; the savings pushed into the markets at the peak dwindled to nothing.  Only the cold reality remained for the debts were real; only the magnificently engraved certificates not worth the cost of the artistic scroll work upon them!

So I sum up the history of the present Administration in four sentences:

First, it encouraged speculation and overproduction, through its false economic policies.

Second, it attempted to minimize the crash and misled the people as to its gravity.

Third, it erroneously charged the cause to other Nations of the world.

And finally, it refused to recognize and correct the evils at home which had brought it forth; it delayed relief; it forgot reform. . . .

The real point at issue is this.  Has the Republican Party, under a captaincy distinguished during the past four years for errors of leadership and unwillingness to face facts, whose whole theory of curing the country's ills has been to call his leading sufferers together in conference to tell him how they may be helped, has this party, I ask, under this leader, suddenly become the Heaven-sent healer of the country who will now make well all that has been ill?

In other words, has the Republican elephant, spotted with the mire through which it has wandered blindly during these past four years, suddenly by miracle overnight become a sacred white elephant of spotless purity, to be worshiped and followed by the people, or has it merely been scrubbed and whitewashed by cunning showmen in the hope that they can deceive a credulous electorate for four years more?

In contrast to a complete silence on their part, and in contrast to the theories of the year 1928, which I have shown that the Republican leaders still hold, I propose an orderly, explicit and practical group of fundamental remedies.  These will protect not the few but the great mass of average American men and women who, I am not ashamed to repeat, have been forgotten by those in power.