A radio by address by Henry A. Wallace entitled "Recessions Don't Stop Themselves" about the then-current economic climate in the United States - from July 29, 1949.
December 2, 2011

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In retrospect, a visionary.


They say that everything old is new again - and in this case, everything new is old again. Old news is the fact that this country weathers through economic disasters on a periodic basis. The remedies, like insanity, are ones tried over and over again hoping to achieve different results. And subsequently we are routinely visited by the ghosts of disgusting familiarity.

In 1949 we were in the midst of yet another recession. This one was by and large the product of a Post-World War climate, a period where dramatic upheavals were taking place all over the world. The Cold War was a relatively new malady and a focus-point for alarmists everywhere. Our Foreign Policy was a shambles (the same shambles it is today but for mostly different reasons), our Domestic policy was busily being undermined by the legendary "do nothing" Congress (deja-vu you ask?) and we were starting on that gradual decline that has taken us to where we are today.

Former vice-President and Presidential Candidate for the Progressive Party, Henry A. Wallace laid out the situation in a radio address, part of the radio series Pro and Con on July 29, 1949.

Among the many things he crammed into fifteen minutes, he said:

Henry Wallace: “It is no answer to say that savings are high. The truth is that one-third of American families have no savings. And that most of the savings are in the hands of the top 10%. The wealthy 10% can’t buy all the products of our farms and factories. That is why there are 3 million fewer people working this summer than last summer. That is why farmers are making 1/10th less money. That is why business failures have doubled in less than a year. The President tells us the decline in industrial production has only been moderate. And as I look at those figures I see that the decline in the last seven months is as great as the decline in the first seven months of the 1929-1930 bust.

Wallace was acutely aware of what the problem was. As Secretary of Agriculture prior to his vice-Presidency, he oversaw many of the New Deal Recovery programs take shape to help put the country back on its feet. Clearly, in those 60+ years, not much has changed. Well, the stakes, the greed, the corruption and the incompetence have reached new highs. But the bottom line hasn't.

And that's where the insanity takes over.

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