Wednesday, January 21, 2009

"We Have Nothing To Fear But Fear Itself"

Below is a video of Franklin D Roosevelt's inaugural address of 1933. Much of what he said, was echoed in what Barack Obama said in his own inaugural speech of yesterday.

We shouldn't be surprised at the similarities, mutatis mutandis, of the two speeches, since both were made when the US was sliding economically into the most turbulent of waters.

How much has really changed in the last 76 years?

Here's the Economist's take on what Roosevelt said:

It would be a pity if amidst the turmoil of current American affairs President Roosevelt's inaugural address received less than its dire approbation. Both for its brevity and its spirited determination it deserves to rank high among such utterances.

He began by saying that it was the time to state the truth frankly and boldly and to face the facts. American distress came from no failure of substance, but rather called for the stimulation, reorganisation and use of American resources, for the recognition of the over-balance of the population in the industrial centres and for an endeavour to provide better use of the land.

This task, which must be undertaken as if it were a war emergency, could be helped by definite efforts to raise the values of agricultural products, by preventing the growing loss, through foreclosure, of American small homes, and by the rational planning of transportation, communications and other public utilities.

There must be strict supervision of banking, an end to speculation with other people's money, and provision for an adequate and sound currency. International trade relations were in point of time and fact necessarily secondary to the establishment of a sound national economy, but in the field of world policy he would dedicate the United States to the policy of the good neighbour, who respects himself, respects his obligations, and respects the rights of others.

The American people, he was confident, realised as never before their interdependence upon each other, and that they must give as well as take. It was to be hoped that the normal balance of legislative and executive authority would be adequate to meet the emergency, but events must call for a temporary departure from the normal balance of public procedure.

He was prepared to recommend the necessary measures, and would seek to bring them to a speedy adoption within his constitutional authority, but if Congress failed him and the emergency remained critical, he would not hesitate to ask Congress for broad executive powers such as would be given him if America were invaded by a foreign foe.