…from the quill of Antisthenes the Younger
Many years ago I though that the reforms so robustly introduced by President Roosevelt during the Great Depression were necessary and mostly beneficial. Later, reading other books and having more time to think, I reversed my opinion.
So I was pleased to came recently across another article, shedding a less known, non-marxist light on the Presidential hero of the Left. Gary North, “My fellow Americans..”:
“Roosevelt offered an explanation for the depression. He demonized the bankers. This, of course, had been part of the Democrats’ political tradition ever since William Jennings Bryan hijacked the Party with his Cross of Gold speech in 1896. Roosevelt announced:
And yet our distress comes from no failure of substance. We are stricken by no plague of locusts. Compared with the perils which our forefathers conquered, because they believed and were not afraid, we have still much to be thankful for. Nature still offers her bounty and human efforts have multiplied it. Plenty is at our doorstep, but a generous use of it languishes in the very sight of the supply.
Here was the time-honored analysis of Marxists and socialists: nature as bountiful but perversely restrained by the institutions of capitalism. It was time to identify these unscrupulous manipulators.
Primarily, this is because the rulers of the exchange of mankind’s goods have failed, through their own stubbornness and their own incompetence, have admitted their failure, and have abdicated. Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men.
Money changers. Where had Americans heard that term before? In church. Jesus chased the money changers out of the temple. Roosevelt made it clear that he was prepared to do the same.
True, they have tried. But their efforts have been cast in the pattern of an outworn tradition. Faced by failure of credit, they have proposed only the lending of more money.
Quite true. The Federal Reserve System, created under Wilson in 1913, had the power to control the money supply through the control of credit, mainly through the purchase of U.S. government debt. But the public was not borrowing in 1933. Commercial banks were failing. Within days of the inaugural, Roosevelt unilaterally shut the banks, fearing more bank runs. (The bank “holiday” idea had been Herbert Hoover’s, as Hoover insisted in his autobiography, but Roosevelt had refused to support Hoover’s plan.)
The Federal Reserve System had been heralded by its proponents as the engine of financial stability, the guarantor of continuity of credit. Yet the nation in 1933 was facing the worst depression in its history. The FED’s monopoly over the money supply granted by the Federal government in 1913 in the name of financial stability had failed to work. But Roosevelt did not target the FED in his speech. He targeted commercial bankers, who were in no position to offset the public’s unwillingness to borrow money in the face of a 33% fall in prices, 1929—33. Few businessmen wanted to borrow dollars when they might have to pay off the loan with appreciating dollars.
Voters then, like voters today, did not understand central banking. They understood rhetoric about profit-seeking money changers.
Stripped of the lure of profit by which to induce our people to follow their false leadership, they have resorted to exhortations, pleading tearfully for restored confidence. They only know the rules of a generation of self-seekers. They have no vision, and when there is no vision the people perish.
Yes, the money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths. The measure of that restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit.
The great irony of this speech was lost on the listeners, and has been lost on, or buried by, the history textbook writers and even the historical monograph writers. Franklin Roosevelt had been one of these money changers. He had been the well-paid agent of the bond industry prior to his election as Governor of New York in 1928. Beginning in 1921, after he had lost his position as Undersecretary of the Navy under Wilson, and after he had gone down to defeat with Cox as the Party’s Vice-Presidential candidate in 1920, Roosevelt became Vice-President of Fidelity Deposit Company of Maryland.
He had gone to Groton, the elite prep school. He had gone to Harvard. He was the heir of the Delano fortune, which had been made in part by selling opium in China. He was a rich only son of a wealthy New York family.
His inaugural address looked as if it was the product of a rich man who had seen the moral light. On the contrary, it was designed to divert the public’s attention from a new deal for big business, which would strengthen the hand of the biggest corporations, whose managers desperately wanted price floors and protection against new competition.
This story was told in detail by Antony Sutton three decades ago: Wall Street and FDR (Arlington House, 1975), which is now available free of charge on-line. The historical profession paid no attention to this book, which was published by a conservative publishing house. As Sutton wrote at the time, the vast majority of historians of Roosevelt’s administration have been FDR apologists. The ones who know the story of his Wall Street connections deliberately have concealed this information, knowing full well that the public had been misled about Roosevelt’s background as a “money changer.” His Wall Street connections before his election as Governor make his inaugural address appear as a rhetorical deception without precedent in American history, which in fact it was.
Roosevelt had run the American Construction Council in the mid-1920s. It was basically an industry trade council dedicated to price-fixing arrangements. The A.C.C. had originally been proposed by Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover. Hoover and FDR were well acquainted with each other. This, too, the public has never suspected. Both men shared the same economic outlook: the Federal government as the source of economic order and protection. Both men were backed by the same Wall Street interests.
This was nothing new in 1932. Except for Bryan, who was a Populist and defender of direct government ownership of business, Wall Street had controlled the nomination of every major party Presidential candidate since the end of the Civil War. It still does.
Roosevelt had received donations for his 1928 campaign from Wall Street financiers, most notably Joe Kennedy. And, as Sutton shows, Roosevelt repaid them by creating a series of New Deal agencies whose primary function was to save the large corporations by allowing price-fixing under government authorization. The Supreme Court kept declaring these agencies unconstitutional, which is why Roosevelt proposed the Court-packing scheme in 1937 as a way to get a pro-New Deal majority on the Court.”
As if that was not enough, FDR also during the WWII glorified the mass murderer Uncle Joe and gave him anything he asked for. Roosevelt was the real father of the Iron Curtain.
[It is perhaps needless to write that my local library has no books by Antony Sutton or by Gary North.]