The Fireside Chats of Franklin Delano Roosevelt

In the early spring of this year there were actually and
proportionately more people out of work in this country than in any
other nation in the world. Fair estimates showed twelve or thirteen
millions unemployed last March. Among those there were, of course,
several millions who could be classed as normally unemployed–
people who worked occasionally when they felt like it, and others
who preferred not to work at all. It seems, therefore, fair to say
that there were about 10 millions of our citizens who earnestly,
and in many cases hungrily, were seeking work and could not get it.
Of these, in the short space of a few months, I am convinced that
at least 4 millions have been given employment–or, saying it
another way, 40 percent of those seeking work have found it.

That does not mean, my friends, that I am satisfied, or that you
are satisfied that our work is ended. We have a long way to go but
we are on the way.

How are we constructing the edifice of recovery–the temple which,
when completed, will no longer be a temple of money-changers or of
beggars, but rather a temple dedicated to and maintained for a
greater social justice, a greater welfare for America–the
habitation of a sound economic life? We are building, stone by
stone, the columns which will support that habitation. Those
columns are many in number and though, for a moment the progress of
one column may disturb the progress on the pillar next to it, the
work on all of them must proceed without let or hindrance.

We all know that immediate relief for the unemployed was the first
essential of such a structure and that is why I speak first of the
fact that three hundred thousand young men have been given
employment and are being given employment all through this winter
in the Civilian Conservation Corps Camps in almost every part of
the nation.

So, too, we have, as you know, expended greater sums in cooperation
with states and localities for work relief and home relief than
ever before–sums which during the coming winter cannot be lessened
for the very simple reason that though several million people have
gone back to work, the necessities of those who have not yet
obtained work is more severe than at this time last year.

Then we come to the relief that is being given to those who are in
danger of losing their farms or their homes. New machinery had to
be set up for farm credit and for home credit in every one of the
thirty-one hundred counties of the United States, and every day
that passes is saving homes and farms to hundreds of families. I
have publicly asked that foreclosures on farms and chattels and on
homes be delayed until every mortgagor in the country shall have
had full opportunity to take advantage of federal credit. I make
the further request which many of you know has already been made
through the great federal credit organizations that if there is any
family in the United States about to lose its home or about to lose
its chattels, that family should telegraph at once either to the
Farm Credit Administration or the Home Owners Loan Corporation in
Washington requesting their help.

Two other great agencies are in full swing. The Reconstruction
Finance Corporation continues to lend large sums to industry and
finance with the definite objective of making easy the extending of
credit to industry, commerce and finance.

The program of public works in three months has advanced to this
point: Out of a total appropriated for public works of three
billion three hundred million, one billion eight hundred million
has already been allocated to federal projects of all kinds and
literally in every part of the United States and work on these is
starting forward. In addition, three hundred millions have been
allocated to public works to be carried out by states,
municipalities and private organizations, such as those undertaking
slum clearance. The balance of the public works money, nearly all
of it intended for state or local projects, waits only on the
presentation of proper projects by the states and localities
themselves. Washington has the money and is waiting for the proper
projects to which to allot it.

Another pillar in the making is the Agricultural Adjustment
Administration. I have been amazed by the extraordinary degree of
cooperation given to the government by the cotton farmers in the
South, the wheat farmers of the West, the tobacco farmers of the
Southeast, and I am confident that the corn-hog farmers of the
Middle West will come through in the same magnificent fashion. The
problem we seek to solve had been steadily getting worse for twenty
years, but during the last six months we have made more rapid
progress than any nation has ever made in a like period of time. It
is true that in July farm commodity prices had been pushed up
higher than they are today, but that push came in part from pure
speculation by people who could not tell you the difference between
wheat and rye, by people who had never seen cotton growing, by
people who did not know that hogs were fed on corn–people who have
no real interest in the farmer and his problems.

In spite, however, of the speculative reaction from the speculative
advance, it seems to be well established that during the course of
the year 1933 the farmers of the United States will receive 33
percent more dollars for what they have produced than they received
in the year 1932. Put in another way, they will receive $400 in
1933, where they received $300 the year before. That, remember, is
for the average of the country, for I have reports that some
sections are not any better off than they were a year ago. This
applies among the major products, especially to cattle raising and
the dairy industry. We are going after those problems as fast as we
can.

I do not hesitate to say, in the simplest, clearest language of
which I am capable, that although the prices of many products of
the farm have gone up and although many farm families are better
off than they were last year, I am not satisfied either with the
amount or the extent of the rise, and that it is definitely a part
of our policy to increase the rise and to extend it to those
products which have as yet felt no benefit. If we cannot do this
one way we will do it another. Do it, we will.

Standing beside the pillar of the farm–the A.A.A.–is the pillar
of industry–the N.R.A. Its object is to put industry and business
workers into employment and to increase their purchasing power
through increased wages.

It has abolished child labor. It has eliminated the sweat shop. It
has ended sixty cents a week paid in some mills and eighty cents a
week paid in some mines. The measure of the growth of this pillar
lies in the total figures of reemployment which I have already
given you and in the fact that reemployment is continuing and not
stopping. The secret of N.R.A. is cooperation. That cooperation has
been voluntarily given through the signing of the blanket codes and
through the signing of specific codes which already include all of
the greater industries of the nation.

In the vast majority of cases, in the vast majority of localities–
the N.R.A. has been given support in unstinted measure. We know
that there are chiselers. At the bottom of every case of criticism
and obstruction we have found some selfish interest, some private
ax to grind.

Ninety percent of complaints come from misconception. For example,
it has been said that N.R.A. has failed to raise the price of wheat
and corn and hogs; that N.R.A. has not loaned enough money for
local public works. Of course, N.R.A. has nothing whatsoever to do
with the price of farm products, nor with public works. It has to
do only with industrial organization for economic planning to wipe
out unfair practices and to create reemployment. Even in the field
of business and industry, N.R.A. does not apply to the rural
communities or to towns of under twenty-five hundred population,
except in so far as those towns contain factories or chain stores
which come under a specific code.

It is also true that among the chiselers to whom I have referred,
there are not only the big chiselers but also petty chiselers who
seek to make undue profit on untrue statements.

Let me cite to you the example of the salesman in a store in a
large Eastern city who tried to justify the increase in the price
of a cotton shirt from one dollar and a half to two dollars and a
half by saying to the customer that it was due to the cotton
processing tax. Actually in that shirt there was about one pound of
cotton and the processing tax amounted to four and a quarter cents
on that pound of cotton.

At this point it is only fair that I should give credit to the
sixty or seventy million people who live in the cities and larger
towns of the nation for their understanding and their willingness
to go along with the payment of even these small processing taxes,
though they know full well that the proportion of the processing
taxes on cotton goods and on food products paid for by city
dwellers goes 100 percent towards increasing the agricultural
income of the farm dwellers of the land.

The last pillar of which I speak is that of the money of the
country in the banks of the country. There are two simple facts.

First, the federal government is about to spend one billion dollars
as an immediate loan on the frozen or non-liquid assets of all
banks closed since January 1, 1933, giving a liberal appraisal to
those assets. This money will be in the hands of the depositors as
quickly as it is humanly possible to get it out.

Second, the Government Bank Deposit Insurance on all accounts up to
$2500 goes into effect on January first. We are now engaged in
seeing to it that on or before that date the banking capital
structure will be built up by the government to the point that the
banks will be in sound condition when the insurance goes into
effect.

Finally, I repeat what I have said on many occasions, that ever
since last March the definite policy of the government has been to
restore commodity price levels. The object has been the attainment
of such a level as will enable agriculture and industry once more
to give work to the unemployed. It has been to make possible the
payment of public and private debts more nearly at the price level
at which they were incurred. It has been gradually to restore a
balance in the price structure so that farmers may exchange their
products for the products of industry on a fairer exchange basis.
It has been and is also the purpose to prevent prices from rising
beyond the point necessary to attain these ends. The permanent
welfare and security of every class of our people ultimately
depends on our attainment of these purposes.

Obviously, and because hundreds of different kinds of crops and
industrial occupations in the huge territory that makes up this
Nation are involved, we cannot reach the goal in only a few months.
We may take one year or two years or three years.

No one who considers the plain facts of our situation believes that
commodity prices, especially agricultural prices, are high enough
yet.

Some people are putting the cart before the horse. They want a
permanent revaluation of the dollar first. It is the government’s
policy to restore the price level first. I would not know, and no
one else could tell, just what the permanent valuation of the
dollar will be. To guess at a permanent gold valuation now would
certainly require later changes caused by later facts.

When we have restored the price level, we shall seek to establish
and maintain a dollar which will not change its purchasing and debt
paying power during the succeeding generation. I said that in my
message to the American delegation in London last July. And I say
it now once more.

Because of conditions in this country and because of events beyond
our control in other parts of the world, it becomes increasingly
important to develop and apply the further measures which may be
necessary from time to time to control the gold value of our own
dollar at home.

Our dollar is now altogether too greatly influenced by the
accidents of international trade, by the internal policies of other
nations and by political disturbance in other continents. Therefore
the United States must take firmly in its own hands the control of
the gold value of our dollar. This is necessary in order to prevent
dollar disturbances from swinging us away from our ultimate goal,
namely, the continued recovery of our commodity prices.

As a further effective means to this end, I am going to establish a
government market for gold in the United States. Therefore, under
the clearly defined authority of existing law, I am authorizing the
Reconstruction Finance Corporation to buy gold newly mined in the
United States at prices to be determined from time to time after
consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the President.
Whenever necessary to the end in view, we shall also buy or sell
gold in the world market.

My aim in taking this step is to establish and maintain continuous
control.

This is a policy and not an expedient.

It is not to be used merely to offset a temporary fall in prices.
We are thus continuing to move towards a managed currency.

You will recall the dire predictions made last spring by those who
did not agree with our common policies of raising prices by direct
means. What actually happened stood out in sharp contrast with
those predictions. Government credit is high, prices have risen in
part. Doubtless prophets of evil still exist in our midst. But
government credit will be maintained and a sound currency will
accompany a rise in the American commodity price level.

I have told you tonight the story of our steady but sure work in
building our common recovery. In my promises to you both before and
after March 4th, I made two things plain: First, that I pledged no
miracles and, second, that I would do my best.

I thank you for your patience and your faith. Our troubles will not
be over tomorrow, but we are on our way and we are headed in the
right direction.

June 28, 1934.

It has been several months since I have talked with you concerning
the problems of government. Since January, those of us in whom you
have vested responsibility have been engaged in the fulfillment of
plans and policies which had been widely discussed in previous
months. It seemed to us our duty not only to make the right path
clear but also to tread that path.

As we review the achievements of this session of the Seventy-third
Congress, it is made increasingly clear that its task was
essentially that of completing and fortifying the work it had begun
in March, l933. That was no easy task, but the Congress was equal
to it. It has been well said that while there were a few
exceptions, this Congress displayed a greater freedom from mere
partisanship than any other peace-time Congress since the
administration of President Washington himself. The session was
distinguished by the extent and variety of legislation enacted and
by the intelligence and good will of debate upon these measures.

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