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As Roosevelt Acted To Stop Farm Foreclosures, So Must Government Help Distressed Americans Today

I’ve been reading The Coming of the New Deal by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. This book, published in 1959, was the second of three titles in Professor Schlesinger’s The Age of Roosevelt  series.   

Described in the book is Franklin Roosevelt’s response in the first weeks of his administration to problem of farm foreclosures. I’m less interested on the specifics of the program—I know little of farms or banking—than I am in the fact that the actions detailed here took place at all. These are things that took place within the first weeks and months of the Roosevelt administration in 1933.   

( Above is a picture of a dust storm in the Depression-era Dust Bowl farm crisis. The farm is in Stratford, Texas. The photo is from 1935. Here is some history of the Dust Bowl and of farming in the 1930’s)

From The Coming of the New Deal—

“The mortgage question was causing more immediate unrest than anything else;, and the administration had already moves with vigor to relive the situation. At the end of March, Roosevelt reorganized the hodgepodge of federal agricultural credit instrumentalities into a single new agency, the Farm Credit Administration….It’s powers confirmed by the Emergency Farm Mortgage Act and supplanted in June by the Farm Credit Act, FCA refinanced farm mortgages, developed techniques for persuading creditors to make reasonable settlements, set up local farm debt adjustment committee, and eventually established a system of regional banks to make mortgage, production, and marketing loans and to provide credits to cooperatives. It loaned more than $100 million in its first seven months–nearly four times as much as the total of mortgage loans to farmers from the entire land-bank system the year before. At the same time, it beat down the interest rate in all areas of farm credit…Though anger still rumbled in the farm belt, FCA gave every evidence of getting at least the emergency debt problem out of the way.”

The response to the problem of farm foreclosures reported In New Deal are such a contrast to the go it alone ethic of recent years. It reminds us that government has a role to play in our economy and in our society.

In the days ahead, as we recover from the current financial crisis, let’s recall that government action has served us well before and is needed again to take us back to prosperity. 

Hopefully, larger Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, and a new Democratic President, will lead the way. Hopefully, our newly elected political leadership will have the courage and imagination to try new ideas and ask the American people to see that we are all connected in this life. 

Here is some very good history of the New Deal.

Here is a history of New Deal agricultural programs

President Roosevelt’s first Secretary of Agriculture, and future Vice President, Henry Wallace, was an interesting figure. American Dreamer–The Life And Times Of Henry A. Wallace by former Iowa Senator John Culver and John Hyde is a good book on Wallace and Depression era agricultural programs.

( Below is an Iowa farm foreclosure sale from the 1930’s)

digital file from original neg.

October 10, 2008 Posted by | Books, Campaign 2008, History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Obama & Noriega Seem More Organic Than Sanchez & Kirk In 2002

On Texas Primary Day, March 4, I’ll be voting for Barack Obama for President and Rick Noriega for the U.S. Senate.

( Please click here for a Texas Liberal History of the Texas Primary.)

Mr. Obama is black and Mr. Noriega is Hispanic.

Six years ago, Texas Democrats tried what was essentially a stunt by running Tony Sanchez for Governor and former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk, a black man, for the U.S. Senate.

It was a “dream team” or a “dream ticket.” It was going to bring a surge in minority turnout.


(Below is a print from the Civil War era called “The Soldier’s Dream of Home.”)

Now I have no problem with stunts. Look at the guy of the motorcycle in the picture—Good for him. He has drawn a crowd and I presume he is getting a check for that act. That sure makes him smarter than many bloggers.

Everybody needs an act to get by in this world.   

But Mr. Sanchez was a terrible candidate and Mr. Kirk was a total insider.  The idea that these men were going to bring out a larger minority turnout was pretty much a non-starter.

Six years later we again have the prospect of an all-minority top of the ticket in Texas. (Though of course here in Texas, land of John Wayne and all that, it is white folks who are in the minority.)  

This time around, the possible multi-racial combination at the top of the ticket has a more genuine feel.

For one thing, it’s a chance meeting. It is not a ticket cooked up in the backrooms. ( You’re telling me Mr. Obama still must win the nomination? Oh! Keep your fussy Felix Unger detail-orientated thinking away from the abstractions I hawk in this blog!)

For another thing, Mr. Obama seems to have tapped into a real feeling that we can have something more in this country than Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton.

Mr. Noriega also seems like real progress for Texas. He is as progressive a candidates we are going to see running for the Senate from Texas, and he combines his strong positions on issues with military service abroad.  

As for counting on Anglo urban “liberals” to value positive change more than they value order, and counting on minority turnout to bring home an election victory…..Yep–We are indeed thinking big in Texas for 2008.

(From a web profile of Martin Luther KingIt was not clear how SCLC and King could move from their civil rights work in the South to addressing the economic problems of poverty in the North and elsewhere. In 1966, King undertook a Campaign to End Slums in Chicago. After nine months the campaign ended in failure. King discovered the liberal consensus on race relations stopped short of fundamental economic change.)

(Please click here for the Texas Liberal Martin Luther King Reading & Reference List.)

Below is a picture of an organic farm. That’s nice. I’d like some crops from that field in my salad. This is how I see Obama and Noriega. 

Now look at this remote factory farm. It’s an alien landscape sucking up all our water. This reminds me of the soulless Sanchez and Kirk team from 2002. 

A simplification you say? Hey—That’s politics.  

Texas Liberal is leading the way in political history blogging in 2008.

February 12, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Martin & Malcolm, Politics, Texas | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments