We need new policies like FDR’s New Deal
In the March 31 column by Professor Steve Corbin, he discusses democratic socialism, but why did he fail to mention Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal farm policy? That was one of the most important pieces of government economic and cultural legislation in the 20th century. Could it be because he is hesitant in his cultural position to challenge powerful neo-liberalists (free market ideologues) for fear of ridicule? In my activism since 1965 listening to agricultural economists, it’s as if Roosevelt’s New Deal never existed.
Roosevelt’s New Deal farm policies (parity price floors on grains, supply management, grain reserves and sound crop rotations) provided economic stability to farm families and rural communities. I lived through the New Deal, and farmers and rural communities were prospering. Golly, on Saturday nights you couldn’t find a place to park in Rhodes and that economic and cultural experience was happening all across rural America.
In the early 50s, New Deal farm policies came under siege by powerful free traders, deregulators of banking institutions, grain cartels and industrialists. Roosevelt’s New Wealth ideology (parity price floors on grains) was a direct threat to the profiteering of the banking fractional reserve system that brings money into the economy by loan transactions. Because of parity prices, farmers did not have to borrow or have an off farm job to put a crop in and pay for family living expenses. Roosevelt and Henry Wallace, his Sec. Of Agriculture, understood if farmers had to borrow, the added interest cost would force farmers to produce more, and that would upset supply and demand and cause downward pressure on prices.
The same debt rule applies to urban workers who are underpaid. How many times has anyone heard the President of the Federal Reserve say “Farmers need a Parity Price and workers need a living wage?”
In 1953 Congress and President Dwight D. Eisenhower betrayed farmers and started to dismantle the New Deal. Next came specialization, the gradual process of moving animal production off the farm into the hands of giant agribusiness conglomerates. The first to go was chicken and egg production, then dairy cows and hogs, all of which provided income and food for farm families and was vital to good crop rotations.
The Green New Deal recognizes farmers and workers produce the wealth in this nation and it’s time they got good farm prices and living wages.