Monthly Archives: May 2014


From Fine Books & Collections:
Two Views of the Stimulus Package that Launched FDR’s New Deal,

by Steven Raab and F. S. Naiden

Desperate Times (Part 1)
By Steven Raab

FDR assessed the crisis in ways
that are relevant for us today.

Plummeting stock prices, rising unemployment, jobs insecure, bank failures, real estate foreclosures: Sound familiar? The year is 1930. That was when Americans began to feel the effects of the economic downturn that began with the Stock Market Crash the previous October, and when a panic mainly limited to investors deepened into the Great Depression.

The realization that this downturn would be long and catastrophic left people stunned and demoralized. Towns of homeless people sprung up, while men who’d held high-paying jobs took to the streets in their once-expensive but now frayed clothing to sell apples and pencils. The Hoover administration took the position that it was not the place of government to intervene. It stood by and did little, which is why the shantytowns were called Hoovervilles.

Through 1930 and into 1931, the problem of unemployment in New York state grew increasingly critical, and it was obvious that neither local funding nor privately supported agencies could handle the crisis. As the leading industrial state, New York had an especial need to maintain and develop the wage-earner market. With the support of both labor and business, Frances Perkins, the state industrial commissioner, told Governor Roosevelt that public works projects were “the greatest source of hope for the future,” and she recommended the immediate implementation of local public works programs along with public employment clearinghouses. He set up an emergency employment committee to review options but was soon convinced that more drastic measures were necessary than the committee proposed.


Is the Postal Service Ditching at-the-door delivery?

Jamie Partridge, a retired letter carrier and organizer with Community and Postal Workers United, reports on attempts to eliminate at-the-door mail delivery

May 28, 2014 via Socialist Worker

Postal workers rally to defend door-to-door delivery (Lauriel Arwen)

DESPITE TELLING local KATU News that it’s “just an idea…we’re not really pushing for it…it’s just a discussion…they’re just talking about in Congress,” the Portland district of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is indeed soliciting property owners and managers to “convert” from at-the-door to at-the-corner-cluster-box mail delivery.

But the local letter carriers union is fighting back.

According to Jim Falvey, president of the Portland-area National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 82:

The Portland district has instituted a program that involves the solicitation of property managers and/or owners whose location has multiple delivery points. One example was Royal Villa, a 55-and-over retirement community located in King City near Tigard, with about 250 door-to-door deliveries. Postal management solicited the property-managing firm and offered to install cluster boxes free of charge and maintain them at no cost. In return, the postal service wanted to eliminate door-to-door delivery.

Postal management does not have to ask or even inform the residents that this “conversion” is going to occur if they get the cooperation of the manager or owner of the property.

Continue reading Is the Postal Service Ditching at-the-door delivery?

Librarians reimagine book clubs with the help of technology

Reprinted courtesy of: American Libraries Magazine and

By: Apryl Flynn Gilliss

Libraries have long embraced the reading public and provided public forums for book discussion, long before talk-show host Oprah Winfrey renewed interest in book clubs in 1996.

novelidea4webIn our more modern, connected, and ever-busy age, however, traditional library book clubs have been undergoing a quiet revolution. Lack of time, scheduling conflicts, mobility issues, desire for anonymity, and other factors have moved the conversation online—namely onto social media.

Tech-savvy librarians aware of these trends are using emerging technologies to both enhance physical book clubs and to replace them with online ones.

An online component

Melanie Gibson, a librarian at Bishop Dunne Catholic School in Dallas, Texas, has been using technology to complement her physical book club meetings.

Continue reading Librarians reimagine book clubs with the help of technology


“This nation asks for action, and action now.”
-Franklin Roosevelt, Inaugural Address, March 4, 1933

March 9—June 16, 1933

March 9  Emergency Banking Act
March 20  Government Economy Act
April 19  Abandonment of the Gold Standard
May 27  Securities Act
June 5  Abrogation of Gold Payment Clause
June 13  Home Owners Loan Act
June 16  Glass-Steagall Banking Act

March 31 Creation of Civilian Conservation Corps
May 12 Federal Emergency Relief Act
June 16 National Industrial Recovery Act
June 16 Emergency Railroad Transportation Act

May 12  Agricultural Adjustment Act
May 12  Emergency Farm Mortgage Act
May 18  Tennessee Valley Authority Act
June 16  Farm Credit Act

March 22  Beer-Wine Revenue Act


FDR Fireside Chat #1: On the Bank Crisis

March 12, 1933

LEOMINSTER DAILY ENTERPRISE, Leominster, Massachusetts, March 8, 1933

I want to talk for a few minutes with the people of the United States about banking — with the comparatively few who understand the mechanics of banking but more particularly with the overwhelming majority who use banks for the making of deposits and the drawing of checks. I want to tell you what has been done in the last few days, why it was done, and what the next steps are going to be. I recognize that the many proclamations from State Capitols and from Washington, the legislation, the Treasury regulations, etc., couched for the most part in banking and legal terms should be explained for the benefit of the average citizen. I owe this in particular because of the fortitude and good temper with which everybody has accepted the inconvenience and hardships of the banking holiday. I know that when you understand what we in Washington have been about I shall continue to have your cooperation as fully as I have had your sympathy and help during the past week.

First of all let me state the simple fact that when you deposit money in a bank the bank does not put the money into a safe deposit vault. It invests your money in many different forms of credit-bonds, commercial paper, mortgages and many other kinds of loans. In other words, the bank puts your money to work to keep the wheels of industry and of agriculture turning around. A comparatively small part of the money you put into the bank is kept in currency — an amount which in normal times is wholly sufficient to cover the cash needs of the average citizen. In other words the total amount of all the currency in the country is only a small fraction of the total deposits in all of the banks.

Continue reading FDR Fireside Chat #1: On the Bank Crisis

A Box Comes Home ~ John Ciardi

John-CiardiJohn Ciardi (1916–86), American poet and translator, was a gunner in the US Army Air Forces, serving aboard B-29 bombers in the Pacific theater of World War II. Following the war, Ciardi taught at the University of Kansas, Harvard University, and Rutgers University. This poem (1955) recalls the flag-draped coffin of an otherwise unidentified man named Arthur, and reflects on the relation between the man, the box, the flag, and the republic for which it stands.



A Box Comes Home ~ John Ciardi

I remember the United States of America
As a flag-draped box with Arthur in it
And six marines to bear it on their shoulders.

I wonder how someone once came to remember
The Empire of the East and the Empire of the West.
As an urn maybe delivered by chariot.

Continue reading A Box Comes Home ~ John Ciardi

FDR: The Forgotten Man at the Bottom of the Economic Pyramid

                                       Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Radio Broadcast Address, April 7, 1932

Although I understand that I am talking under the auspices of the Democratic National Committee, I do not want to limit myself to politics. I do not want to feel that I am addressing an audience of Democrats or that I speak merely as a Democrat myself. The present condition of our national affairs is to serious to be viewed through partisan eyes for partisan purposes.

Fifteen years ago my public duty called me to an active part in a great national emergency, the World War. Success then was due to a leadership whose vision carried beyond the timorous and futile gesture of sending a tiny army of 150,000 trained soldiers and the regular navy to the aid of our allies. The generalship of that moment conceived of a whole Nation mobilized for war, economic, industrial, social and military resources gathered into a vast unit capable of and actually in the process of throwing into the scales ten million men equipped with physical needs and sustained by the realization that behind them were the united efforts of 110,000,000 human beings. It was a great plan because it was built from bottom to top and not from top to bottom.

In my calm judgment, the Nation faces today a more grave emergency than in 1917.

Continue reading FDR: The Forgotten Man at the Bottom of the Economic Pyramid


1932 Acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago
From the American Presidency Project  (subheadings and emphasis added)


            Franklin D. Roosevelt accepts the nomination for President in 1932 in Chicago.


Chairman Walsh, my friends of the Democratic National Convention of 1932:

I appreciate your willingness after these six arduous days to remain here, for I know well the sleepless hours which you and I have had. I regret that I am late, but I have no control over the winds of Heaven and could only be thankful for my Navy training.

The appearance before a National Convention of its nominee for President, to be formally notified of his selection, is unprecedented and unusual, but these are unprecedented and unusual times. I have started out on the tasks that lie ahead by breaking the absurd traditions that the candidate should remain in professed ignorance of what has happened for weeks until he is formally notified of that event many weeks later.

My friends, may this be the symbol of my intention to be honest and to avoid all hypocrisy or sham, to avoid all silly shutting of the eyes to the truth in this campaign. You have nominated me and I know it, and I am here to thank you for the honor.

Let it also be symbolic that in so doing I broke traditions. Let it be from now on the task of our Party to break foolish traditions. We will break foolish traditions and leave it to the Republican leadership, far more skilled in that art, to break promises.

Let us now and here highly resolve to resume the country’s interrupted march along the path of real progress, of real justice, of real equality for all of our citizens, great and small. Our indomitable leader in that interrupted march is no longer with us, but there still survives today his spirit. Many of his captains, thank God, are still with us, to give us wise counsel. Let us feel that in everything we do there still lives with us, if not the body, the great indomitable, unquenchable, progressive soul of our Commander-in-Chief, Woodrow Wilson.


Roosevelt to War on ‘Economic Royalists’

Battle Today Is Like That of 1776, He Says, With New Set of ‘Royalists’ in Power

Reprinted July 10, 2000
By ARTHUR KROCK at the 1936 Democratic Convention
Special to The New York Times

FRANKLIN FIELD, PHILADELPHIA, June 27. — Under a cloud-veiled moon, in skies suddenly cleared of rain, to a mass of more than 100,000 people gathered in the stadium of the University of Pennsylvania, and by radio to unnumbered millions all over the nation and world, Franklin Delano Roosevelt tonight accepted the renomination of the Democratic party for President of the United States and, avoiding personalities of any description, defined the issue of this campaign as it appears to him.

fdr32olympics1 2The President said that, as the fathers of the Republic had achieved political freedom from the eighteenth-century royalists, so it was the function of those who stand with him in this campaign to establish the economic freedom they also sought to establish, and which was lost in the industrial and corporate growth of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Vice President John N. Garner of Texas, in this same place, renewed his pledge of allegiance to the President, made four years ago, and added a vow of fealty to the New Deal. The President was notified of his renomination by Senator Robinson of Arkansas, permanent chairman of the Democratic National Convention that closed today. Senator Harrison of Mississippi acted as proxy for Senator Barkley of Kentucky, temporary chairman, whose function it was to notify the Vice President, but who sailed for Europe on official business today.

Crowd Roars Its Enthusiasm

The arrival of the President in the stadium was greeted by a real demonstration, as distinguished from the artificial efforts of conventions. One hundred thousand people rose and roared unmistakable acclaim as Mr. Roosevelt entered the platform on the arm of his eldest son and clasped the hand of Vice President Garner while “The Star-Spangled Banner” was sung.

Continue reading Roosevelt to War on ‘Economic Royalists’

George McGovern: Barack Obama, Democrats Need a Backbone


The one-time presidential candidate discusses what it means to be a “McGovern Liberal.”

By Kira Zalan  | U.S. News & World Report   |  Dec. 2, 2011

George McGovern, the Democratic presidential nominee in 1972 who also served in the House and Senate, embodies liberal politics so much that his name is evoked pejoratively by conservatives. In What It Means to Be a Democrat, McGovern makes a plea to his party to uphold the values that it used to stand for. McGovern recently spoke with U.S. News about partisanship and what the Democrats should do next. Excerpts:

What does it mean to be a Democrat?

Democrats believe that the federal government is not our enemy, it’s our partner.

How is today’s Democratic Party doing?

I think it needs a little more backbone. I’m for President Obama and I hope he’ll be re-elected. But I think both he and the Democrats in the Congress need a little dose of backbone-itis to stand for the kinds of things that a progressive liberal party should endorse.

Should welfare programs be cut to help with the deficit?

Well, the first thing we need to do is to recognize the basic cause of our present $14 trillion [national debt]. When I was a youngster growing up in South Dakota, we never referred to the national debt, it was always referred to as the war debt because it stemmed from World War I. Well, what we have now, at least two thirds of it, is the war debt. We’re never going to make a substantial cut in that debt until we quit getting into these unnecessary wars.

Why do you think the antiwar movement didn’t gain traction with Iraq as it did with Vietnam?
Continue reading George McGovern: Barack Obama, Democrats Need a Backbone