Heather, i always feel guilty that i don't comment more often to thank you for what you do. so... thank you. sincerely. i don't know what we'd do without you.

no matter how bad the days are (and they've been pretty bad during these times), i always read your post before bed. the clarity, perspective, wisdom and sheer breadth of knowledge make me sleep better at night. you're a national treasure, and i just hope you know how much we all value you...

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Fannie Perkins was Secretary of Labor under FDR. She was the first female cabinet member ever. From Wikipedia: "In 1933, Roosevelt summoned Perkins to ask her to join his cabinet. Perkins presented Roosevelt with a long list of labor programs for which she would fight, from Social Security to minimum wage. "Nothing like this has ever been done in the United States before," she told Roosevelt. "You know that, don’t you?" Agreeing to back her, Roosevelt nominated Perkins as Secretary of Labor."

In her 12 years as Secretary of Labor she was largely responsible for the creation of social security, unemployment insurance in the United States, the federal minimum wage, and federal laws regulating child labor.

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I love it when you give us hope in the form of a history lesson. Thank you!

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My favorite part of President Biden's speech today was saying when the middle class does well so do the wealthy, but it doesn't work the other way around.

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"When suffering Americans begged for public works programs to provide jobs, Hoover insisted that such programs were a “soak the rich” program that would “enslave” taxpayers, and called instead for private charity."

One of the great *accomplishments* of later plutocrats was to convince a significant number of working class Americans that individualism is synonymous with patriotism, true Americans bootstrap themselves out of adversity, and that government *entitlements* destroy Americans' initiative. The idea was to have the oppressed and exploited identify their best interests with the vested interests of their oppressors and exploiters. For too many reasons to detail here - including weaponizing government itself against the labor movement and unions - it worked.

They are still at it. Just yesterday, at congressional hearings, Democrats grilled Big Oil honchos on what they knew about their *contributions* to global warming, when they knew it, and how they lied to the public about the dangers. On their side, Republicans heaped god's blessings on the American spirit made flesh in America's job creators in general and Big Oil CEOs in specific, which Democratic environmental protections in general and Joe Biden in specific are out to crucify. To prove their point (and mine here) they trotted out a former worker on the Keystone XL pipeline project to curse President Biden's cancelling it on Inauguration Day.

Republican rhetoric has lead a significant number of the economically insecure and undereducated to buy into a god given, dog eat dog, dog in the manger dystopia of unregulated greed, as the natural order of things - in which their job is to bootstrap themselves to wealth or to sit up and beg and be grateful for it.

In a fair and just society, government does not perpetuate the unearned privileges of the few or the undeserved burdens of the many. It does not use the power of government to preserve intergenerational personal fortunes while throwing generations of systemically disadvantaged on the whims and erratic mercies of charity.

Build Back Better translates the Golden Rule into the civic terms of social infrastructure. It recognizes that when government institutes justice as fairness, it ups everybody's opportunity for a good life.

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"The new system undercut fascism at home, too, where its adherents had been growing strong, and reminded Americans that when the government supported ordinary people, they could build a strong new future."

I like how HCR tucks her point so neatly and subtly into the text.

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Can someone please send this to Joe Manchin?

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On school days for three years, I made a once or twice-daily 20-mile roundtrip to get our son to a private middle school. The school is in Portland's West Hills at 1,000 feet above downtown. It wasn't a hardship. We enjoyed the time together, and the education benefits were enormous.

Why mention this? The steep part of the route snakes uphill through the city's scenic 5,200-acre Forest Park, including through two short, narrow tunnels. Atop the entrances etched in stone are the years they were built, 1940 and 1941.

I'm chagrined that until reading tonight's letter I didn't make the connection to the New Deal and its Works Progress Administration. There are much bigger and better-known WPA projects in the area, including Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood, where people ski even in summer.

I passed through those tunnels hundreds of times, never realizing that the projects must have created hundreds of jobs during the bleakness of the Great Depression. The projects also opened what in the 1940s and is today a critical route for the metro area.

The next time we head up to the West Hills and through the tunnels, I'll picture the workers drilling through basalt rock on a a heavily wooded steep slope to rebuild the country.

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Safety net for the unemployed and elderly. Build back better bridges and roads. Plus ca change... When ordinary people are given a more level playing field, they always build a better world for all of us. Why should we ever trust the rich to share, create jobs, pay their fair share? They never do. Why can't the Democrats seize this moment?

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Bravo, a clear message to us all, like a rising tide, good government lifts us all, what is happening now in the right wing of the GOP will cause democracy to wither on the vine

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My parents lived thru the Great Depression. My mom was born in August 1929 and my dad had just turned 8 when it hit. Being the archivist of family history (my story started in 1944 at the end of WWII) I have written not only my biografy, but have goaded my mom and dad to tell me of their life before mine.

My mom never talked much about it until my sister & I took her to her old childhood neighborhood in St. Louis, where I took fotos of buildings that she had lived in during her formative years in the 1930s. She said my grandmother “was always moving to get something better or cheaper.” In one house she said, “I lived there when I was 6 years old (1935). We lived in furnished rooms upstairs. Can't remember how many rooms or what floor. I slept in between my sister and my brother Billy. I don't know where my mom and other brother slept. I just see in my mind's eye the bed I slept in. It was one large bedroom with a sink, stove and table in it. The bathroom was somewhere else. I remember having a bath in a wash-tub in the kitchen area and that was after the others had their bath. Mom had to heat the water and dump the water so one tub-full served all four kids.”

“Two friends, Semi & Sonny Simon lived two houses up. My mom and us kids were very, very poor. Mom was a hard working woman, working sometimes two jobs, but we were still very poor and were on relief. They call it Welfare now. I was very skinny and was diagnosed as malnourished one time when I was sick. I was also hungry most of the time. I was skinny, malnourished and hungry because I wouldn't eat what we had to eat, like moldy vegetables, and oleo that tasted like lard and powdered milk. I thought Semi and Sonny were rich because they had the whole upstairs of that little house. They each had a bed of their own and they had a back yard with a swing set. Their house had a living room, dining room, two bedrooms, kitchen and bathroom. I really thought they were rich. I remember being there while the kids ate their breakfast. My mouth just watered for that bowl of corn flakes with real milk. Those kids wouldn't eat it and I wanted it so bad. If they would of left the room I would of cleared that whole table. I'm sure if Mrs. Simon had known how hungry I was, she would have given me some corn flakes.”

My dad was raised in rural Mississippi and wrote in his bio: “Then came the Depression (1929) then everyone got hungry at one time or the other. I have seen people with a wife and kids work for $3.00 a week and room and board. Then when Roosevelt made president they started the WPA (Works Progress Administration – 1935) and CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps – 1933), so soon as I got to be 16 I went into the CCC down by Ocean Spring Miss. across the bay from Biloxi. That way I got my clothes, eats and $5.00 a month, and they would send $25 back for the family to live on, which at that time made it pretty for them. All the kids went barefoot and grown ups could buy a pair of work shoes for $1.00 to $1.25, a pair of pants and shirt for .75¢ to $1.00 each. So, in those days money went a long way, but you had to work to get any.”

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Morning, all!! Morning, Dr. R!! I had no idea what today's Letter was going to be about (I should've known, though). After listening to Heather's chat on FB yesterday, I decided what this country needs is more good news. So here's what some good Americans have been up to:

California's Last Bookstore: https://www.cbsnews.com/video/the-last-bookstore-wins-global-fame-thanks-to-social-media/#x

Michigan's Seeds of Change: https://www.cbsnews.com/video/michigan-farm-helps-formerly-incarcerated-americans-grow-vegetables-and-opportunity/#x

Virginia's Military Mom Creating a Home and Hope: https://www.cbsnews.com/video/how-one-military-mom-mobilized-thousands-of-volunteers-to-bring-sense-of-hope-to-afghan-refugees/?fbclid=IwAR3lHnqv-3HtJaUuWfZpDTAP-otjmNi2JL-eL1y3hq0DXlKDKerW3Z_5mKc#x

Mississippi Shedding Its Racist Roots: https://www.cbsnews.com/video/shedding-its-racist-roots-a-mississippi-high-school-football-team-dominates-the-state/?fbclid=IwAR3lHnqv-3HtJaUuWfZpDTAP-otjmNi2JL-eL1y3hq0DXlKDKerW3Z_5mKc#x

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Good morning everyone. Thanks HCR for pinpointing the so very interesting juxtaposition of the "prosperity gospel" boondoggle, the neo-Victorian division of the poor into "deserving" (of charity) and "undeserving" (of assistance), and the Ricardian and social Darwinist presentation of the poor as subhuman species who have to be ground down into submission . . . The New Gilded Age, which started with Reagan, continues despite disastrous stock-market downturns because the kleptocrats and neo-fascists figured out how to counter the impulses of others who see greater equality in a more even distribution of wealth, opportunity, and education.

Some things to remember:

The New Deal was very much focused on white people; BIPOC folks did not benefit in any great numbers and Jim Crow was solidified during the time. The exception was in those places--like Tom Pendergast's Kansas City--where the thoroughly corrupt city boss system used the Black community as a bulwark against the industrialists who wanted to see them ousted. Harry Truman was in Pendergast's pocket when he went to Washington and it took a long time before he could clean the mud from his jacket as a result. This also pitted Black civic leaders against their white counterparts in ways that were invidious to their success after WW2.

The Great Depression ultimately ended because of the US entry into WW2 and the military-industrial complex that built up a few years before because of Lend-Lease. The New Deal was unable to lift everyone up, so it took a huge war effort to do so. The prosperity of the 1950s, like before the war, significantly benefited the white population far more than the BIPOC population. If you notice the trend lines from Reagan, the introduction of wars to pull the stock market out of a swoon was part of his strategy and that of most administrations (ironically most Republican administrations), so it has been well known that defense spending is a good juggernaut for prosperity. Which is what Eisenhower warned everyone about when he was leaving office.

The New Deal entrenched the idea--despite Frances Perkins--of the "nuclear" family as the proper model for western society, even though it is not a useful model for most people in the world. And it limited women's ability to gain education, jobs, and wages that would be equivalent to those of men. Before this time--and before unionization, which was an important component to New Deal economics--factory owners and big industrialists LOVED hiring women (single women, especially) because they could pay them less and they were more willing to work in terrible conditions because they needed to do so. If you recall a March 25 post, in which HCR broke down the issues surrounding the Triangle Shirtwaist fire?? in 1911? The whole reason for the Settlement House movement that peaked in the 1920s was that women and children were totally left behind in the drive to enrich white men. We are now seeing a significant re-awakening of similar rhetoric, aimed of course at non-white people, refugees, and others whose lives depend on doing the horrible work at terrible wages that white Americans consider unappetizing. That's why you will see very few white people in abattoirs--called, euphemistically, animal processing plants these days.

Roosevelt, egged on by the three women in his life--Frances Perkins, his wife, Eleanor, and his mother, Alice--did extraordinary things to start the process of wealth redistribution. But he did not have to combat the Forces of Evil at home to such a degree as Biden does today, because no matter the terrible behavior of the Republican Party and the Dixiecrats in the 1930s, they believed that governing was their duty. That is not the case today--power-mongering is their only ambition, and autocracy the goal. And the stakes, I believe, are just as high right now.

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Thanks Dr. Heather. Hopefully, the news Pramilla Jayapal gave Rachel tonight will lead to a new renewal starting this weekend.

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Lovely post!

I recently re-watched the 1997 film, Titanic, and your opening description made me feel like I was nodding to nobles in the dining room of the doomed ocean liner. The Great Depression was a much slower descent, but it was a much larger ship.

And the Republican answer to the drowning souls, even that long ago: swim harder.

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“Liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate the farmers, liquidate real estate,” Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon told President Herbert Hoover. “It will purge the rottenness out of the system.”Only an obsequiousness, wealthy man would conclude this is a healthy solution. Is there such a person as a civil servant anymore? A person willing to generate a PLAN that doesn’t have a “jingle” for a solution? No quick fix… we need a path to follow and use as a national guide to the American Community. You, Professor are a path builder. I am grateful.

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