October 12, 1937 – FDR: A Fireside Chat
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He discusses the progress that had been made as the result of the Recovery steps the Administration had taken during the previous several months, but also what was still needed to happen for the recovery to continue.
In this Fireside Chat, he also had a word or two for the complainers in Washington who kept talking about “too much Government”.
FDR: The kind of prosperity we want is the sound and permanent kind which is not built up temporarily at the expense of (any) a section or any group. And the kind of peace we want is the sound and permanent kind, which is built on the cooperative search for peace by all the nations which want peace.
The other day I was asked to state my outstanding impression gained on this recent trip to the Pacific Coast and back, and I said that it seemed to me to be the general understanding on the part of the average citizen, understanding of the broad objectives and policies which I have just outlined.
Five years of fierce discussion and debate — five years of information through the radio and the moving picture — have taken the whole nation to school in the nation’s business. Even those who have most attacked our objectives have, by their very criticism, encouraged the mass of our citizens to think about and understand the issues involved, and, understanding, to approve.
Out of that process, we have learned to think as a nation. And out of that process we have learned to feel ourselves a nation. As never before in our history, each section of America says to every other section, “Thy people shall be my people.”
For most of the country this has been a good year — better in dollars and cents than for many years — far better in the soundness of its prosperity. (And) Everywhere I went I found particular optimism about the good effect on business which is expected from the steady spending by farmers of the largest farm income in many years.
But we have not yet done all that must be done to make this prosperity stable. The people of the United States were checked in their efforts to prevent future piling up of huge agricultural surpluses and the tumbling prices, which inevitably follow them. They were checked in their efforts to secure reasonable minimum wages and maximum hours and the end of child labor. And because they were checked, many groups in many parts of the country still have less purchasing power and a lower standard of living than the nation as a whole can permanently allow.
Americans realize these facts. That is why they ask Government not to stop governing simply because prosperity has come back a long way.
They do not look on Government as an interloper in their affairs. On the contrary, they regard it as the most effective form of organized self-help.
Sometimes I get bored sitting in Washington hearing certain people talk and talk about all that Government ought not to do — people who got all they wanted from Government back in the days when the financial institutions and the railroads were being bailed out in 1933, bailed out by the Government. It is refreshing to go out through the country and feel the common wisdom that the time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.
They want the financial budget balanced. But they want the human budget balanced as well. They want to set up a national economy which balances itself with as little Government subsidy as possible, for they realize that persistent subsidies ultimately bankrupt their Government.
They are less concerned that every detail be immediately right than they are that the direction be right. They know that just so long as we are traveling on the right road, it does not make much difference if occasionally we hit a “Thank you marm.”
The overwhelming majority of our citizens who live by agriculture are thinking (very) clearly how they want Government to help them in connection with the production of crops. They want Government help in two ways — first, in the control of surpluses, and, second, in the proper use of land.
82 years later . . .still complaining. Here is that Fireside Chat, October 12, 1937.
- Hiltzik: New deal provided a social bond for Americans (newsday.com)
- Jane White: Can Obama Channel His Inner FDR? (huffingtonpost.com)