Western Mail, January 5th 1934
President Roosevelt and The America of the Future
Steps He May Take in Great Recovery Drive.
U.S.A. “Fight the Depression” Badge.
By GARETH JONES
Government is a government of the people by the politicians for the bankers and
the bootleggers!” said a New Yorker to me one day, and his smile had that
sneering quality which reveals bitter disillusion.
His mood reflected the thoughts of millions of his fellow-countrymen up to March,
1933. Then there was something wrong with the state of America: the banks
were toppling over like ninepins; the savings of many years had vanished like
snow in a burning sun; the ideals of individualism and private enterprise were
proving to be selfish and cruel. The Americans yearned for a new system
which would save them from collapse, but which would not bring with it the blood
and horrors of armed revolt.
This new system
was introduced in 1933, and its continuance was indicated this week by President
Roosevelt in his speech to Congress. This crippled leader who by his smile
can capture the hearts of his opponents, as Mr. Lloyd George could during the
War, is determined to build up a new United States, just as Hitler aims at
building up a new Germany.
His policy is
not merely a series of temporary expedients, but a permanent re-construction of
the American economic system. He wishes to arouse the American people to a
passion similar to that aroused in the Great War in order that a united nation
may march forward towards a higher state of civilisation.
of the New America were laid in 1933 and President Roosevelt referred to them in
his speech. “We have created a permanent feature of cur modernised industrial
structure and ... it will continue under the supervision but not the arbitrary
dictation of the Government itself.” he said.
Deal,” which is the name given to the new system, is, therefore,
to be continued. If we cast a glance ever the “New Deal” we shall be
able to envisage the America of to-morrow which Roosevelt is trying to build.
It was first the
National Industrial Recovery Act, a gigantic drive to limit commercial and
industrial competition; to increase wages; to lessen hours of Labour; and to
encourage Trade Unions. It gave labour new safeguards and elevated the
workers to equality of bargaining power with employers.
Codes were drawn
up between the industries and the Administration by which the employers
undertook to raise wages and to cut down the hours of employment. This
policy will certainly be one of the features of the new economic system in
Labour Board was given great powers to maintain industrial peace, and has
settled strikes and lockouts and averted disputes. More than 300,000
workers have returned to employment. The chairman of the Labour Board,
Senator Wagner, is shaping an organisation of industrial courts which may be one
of the outstanding features of the New America.
In 1933 great
steps were made towards protecting the worker and his family against old age,
sickness, and unemployment, for in this sphere the United States were decades
behind Great Britain.
obviously, these features of social life to which President Roosevelt refers in
his speech and which he intends to continue.
Public Works Programme
introduced a 3,300.000,000 dollars public works programme, designed to stimulate
industry and give employment to perhaps several mullion persons. There is
no doubt that this public works planning will be developed in the future.
of the “New Ideal,” which will probably form a part of the New America, was
the creation of an army of about 250,000 young men called the C.C.C. (Civilian
Each of these
steps is in the direction of a planned economy, and in his speech Roosevelt
stated: “A national plan in a generation or two will return many times the
What of the
future? The President is exceedingly vague, but if I had to guess his
programme I should say that it will be on the following lines:
(1) He will
strengthen the National Industrial Recovery Act; aim at making minimum wages
still higher and at cutting down hours of labour still more.
(2) He will
probably devote 500,000,000 dollars more to the direct relief of the unemployed.
(3) He may
either introduce a Federal Unemployment Insurance system or encourage the States
to introduce compulsory unemployment insurance.
(4) He will
probably introduce banking reform to regulate investment banking
(5) He may bring
in further measures of farm relief.
It is remarkable
that President Roosevelt can dominate American economic life in the way he does
without force. Had Ford been a German and stood out against Hitler as he
has done against Roosevelt he would long be pining behind the barbed wire
defences of a concentration camp. Roosevelt is the only ruler in the world
who is trying to introduce a planned economy without abandoning democracy.
For this reason his experiment will be of especial interest to the liberty
loving peoples of the world who wish to build up a better economic structure
without murdering freedom.
I hope when I
next go to America my New York friend will, as a result of Roosevelt’s
campaign, withdraw his cynical description of his Government and quote Lincoln
rightly and call the New America “a government of the people, by the people,
for the people.”