Wednesday, December 30, 2015
Marriner Eccles on unemployment
(Marriner Eccles, 1937. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.)
Marriner Eccles, chairman of the Federal Reserve from 1934 to 1948, spoke to Congress in 1933 on the problem of unemployment:
"It is a national disgrace that such suffering should be permitted in this, the wealthiest country in the world. The present condition is not the fault of the unemployed, but that of our business, financial, and political leadership. It is incomprehensible that the people of this country should very much longer stupidly continue to suffer the wastes, the breadlines, the suicides, and the despair, and be forced to die, steal, or accept a miserable pittance in the form of charity which they resent, and properly resent."
Unfortunately, we didn't get many statements like this from our government leaders during the most recent recession. New Deal leadership was often bold and frank. Modern leadership, by contrast, is often lethargic, restrained, and ambiguous. Perhaps the latter is inevitable, in a plutocracy.