President Roosevelt – Fireside Chat 13 – June 24, 1938 –
Seems the issue of a decent living wage and a sustainable middle class have been prevalent for American society for most of its existence, and certainly the burning issue for the 20th century – and now the 21st.
In 1938, some five years after taking office and in the midst of one of the most crippling and destructive economic downturns in America, President Roosevelt undertook the herculean task of getting the country back on its feet. Through a series of periodic “fireside chats”, FDR outlined and explained, in a dramatic sweep of transparency practically unheard of in American politics, the steps necessary and essential to any kind of economic recovery, but more importantly, any kind of prospering society.
One of those chats, the 13th since taking office, focused on continued economic recovery, the business-owner, the worker and the ongoing controversies surrounding those who wanted a return to the days before 1929. Responding to an improved economy, Roosevelt sought to balance the budget by cutting back many of the New Deal reforms. These cutbacks drove the economy into a new recession by the fall of 1937. President Roosevelt addresses the nation on the same day that he requested an increase in public spending from Congress to boost the economy. The Agricultural Adjustment Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act were permanent results of the new spending.
FDR: “Do not let any calamity-howling executive with an income of $1,000.00 a day, who has been turning his employees over to the Government relief rolls in order to preserve his company’s undistributed reserves, tell you — using his stockholders’ money to pay the postage for his personal opinions — tell you that a wage of $11.00 a week is going to have a disastrous effect on all American industry. Fortunately for business as a whole, and therefore for the Nation, that type of executive is a rarity with whom most business executives most heartily disagree”.
Needless to say, the people and the situations have changed to a degree, but the sentiment is the same, as are the underlying issues particularly now in the matter of the $15.00 an hour minimum wage.
Here is that complete Fireside Chat from June 24, 1938 with President Franklin Roosevelt.