OF PRINCIPALITIES AND POWERS - “New Deal, Fair Deal, ... Raw Deal!”

(05/09/2013)

By Tony Russell
taorivertony@gmail.com

If the rich paid taxes, there would be no poor.
If the rich paid taxes, they’d know what money’s for.
It’s not for furs and diamonds, and a great big fancy car.
It’s not to pay our government to let them have a war.

Oh, where is the justice in this great big land of ours?
It’s in the hands of the chosen few, the schemers and the liars.
If they made the rich pay taxes, we’d have no national debt.
The poor could live and work and eat ‘cause there’d be no rich, I bet.
  - from Elaine Purkey’s song “If the Rich Paid Taxes”

When Franklin Roosevelt was told that he had been chosen as the Democratic nominee for president in 1932, the country was in the grip of the Great Depression. He flew to Chicago and told the crowd at Convention Hall, “I pledge you, I pledge myself, to a new deal for the American people!”

It was a new deal, and he delivered on his promise. Once elected, Mr. Roosevelt acted swiftly to give people not just a rhetoric of hope, but ambitious new efforts to lift them out of their desperate straits and forge a better life. Despite Wall Street’s opposition and Herbert Hoover’s attempts to force him to abandon his “socialist” notions (that sounds familiar, doesn’t it?), he and his administration swiftly created and set into action a virtual cascade of new agencies and programs. Together, they provided security, stability, and opportunity to people who had never known such things before.

The New Deal set out to protect workers like my parents against the common cruelties of the capitalist system, and assured them a more just share of its benefits. Government acted on common people’s behalf. It could be argued--and has been--that its reforms actually saved the capitalist system from itself, in a time when its greed and callousness had driven workers to the brink of revolution.

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