I just read something that you might find interesting. Let me quote a few brief fragments, and you see if you can guess who said it. (In some cases I will be quoting just parts of sentences, because including the whole sentence would tell you who the speaker is.)
“. . . those who are now twenty-five years of age, and who in spite of earnest search have been unable to find a job . . .”
“. . . one of the most significant facts of this age is the continuous unemployment of millions of good people.”
“. . . Yale graduates are actually working at jobs which pay [some very low figure] per week.”
“[someone] recently advertised for a housemaid; she received thirty applications for the job, and twenty-five of these were girls who had graduated from college. . ”
“Our young people may wait until we are ready for them to begin, or they may not; but they will not wait forever. During the past four jobless years, they have become terribly disillusioned.”
“. . . a rich land racked and mismanaged, with huge accumulations of goods and wealth, yet with millions of our people deprived and helpless.”
“We have millions of people with good bodies and minds who can’t get jobs.”
“. . . move increasingly to an enforced realization that unrestrained selfishness is ruinous to everyone.”
So who said all this, and when? I’m reading from New Frontiers, written in Nineteen Thirty- Four by Henry A. Wallace, who was then Secretary of Agriculture, under Roosevelt.
Much has been written about whether the current recession is comparable to the Great Depression of the thirties. There are differences. In 1933 the official unemployment rate was 25%; today it’s less than 10%. But the fact that the same rhetoric written in 1934 fits perfectly to describe the situation today should be a wakeup call for anyone who doesn’t think we need a radical job creation program. The only reason we have 10% instead of 25 % is because of Obama’s 700 billion dollar stimulus program. Everyone knew at the time that to actually get the country out of recession would require about twice that much. But conservatives in Congress would not even consider spending such an amount, so Obama didn’t even propose it.
In a way, we are much better off now than in the thirties. But in a way-- we are much worse off. The stock market crash of ’29 occurred very early in the Hoover presidency, and Hoover had almost 4 years to fix it by the election of 1932. But he did almost nothing; so when the election of ’32 approached, unemployment was at 25% and rising. The public was so disgusted with Republican incompetence that they not only elected a Democratic president—they elected a huge, lop-sided Democratic majority in both houses of Congress. So Roosevelt had a “rubber stamp” Congress to quickly pass the many radical programs needed to deal with the disaster which he had inherited. The few Republicans left in Congress were mostly noisy, ignorant obstructionists, just as Republicans in Congress are today. But they had too few votes to do much obstructing.
The Bush market bubble, and the crash which followed it, were caused by the same kind of Republican miss regulation which cause the last depression. But this time, it was our extreme misfortune that this crash occurred near the end of the second Bush administration, not near the beginning. The election of 2008 occurred well before the real depth of the disaster which Wall Street had caused had become obvious to most voters. And the inevitable unemployment surge, caused by damage which had already in occurred by the fall of 2008, would still not peak for nearly a year and a half.
Even so, the public was disgusted enough with Republican mismanagement to vote into office a Democratic president and a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress. But that majority was a slim majority. At no point in Obama’s presidency has he been able to count on having the 60 Senate votes needed to stop a Republican filibuster. So he and his party have been handcuffed—limited to passing only those things which the Republican leadership will allow them to pass. And the Republican leadership has made it clear that they desire all of his initiatives to fail. They have been willing to totally sabotage the administration’s efforts to save the country just so that Obama is not re-elected. They’ve admitted that they are willing to trash their own country for whatever short term political advantage they can gain by doing this.
Why isn’t sabotaging the country’s interest considered treason? It would certainly be considered treason in time of war. Oh, wait a minute—we are at war. The Republican leadership is betting that they can deliberately screw up the country for four years, and then blame Obama for it in 2012. And they assume they will get away with it, because their rich friends own and control most major media outlets, and because the Supreme Court has ruled that corporate dollars have an unlimited right of free speech. Will the American people be stupid enough to fall for this farce? I hope not. But I’m 72 years old and if the American electorate has any capacity for intelligence, I have not yet had the opportunity to catch them at it.