If the crash of 1929 and that of 2008 are similar, then let's study the voter anger that 1929 kindled to inform our understanding of what is going on today. In the thirties, voters turned sharply against their former Wall Street heroes and the name of big business20became mud for millions who felt misled by greedy financiers and took it out on the Republican Party.
To grasp what happened then and is happening now, look at the first inaugural address remarks of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He gave voice to the angst and anger of the times and gave us a clue to understanding what is going on today.
"Plenty is at our doorstep," he began, "but a generous use of it languishes in the very sight of the supply." Then he assigned blame. "Primarily this is because the rulers of the exchange of mankind's goods have failed, through their own stubbornness and their own incompetence, have admitted their failure and abdicated. Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the minds and hearts of men." He continued "true they have tried but their efforts have been cast in the pattern of an outworn tradition." Then, in remarks that could have been aimed squarely at the Hoover-esque bailout bill, he said "faced by failure of credit, they have proposed only the lending of more money. Stripped of the lure of profit by which to induce our people to follow their false leadership, they have resorted to exhortations, pleading tearfully for restored confidence." Then, reaching across the decades to articulate an ancient truth he said "They know only the rules of a generation of self-seekers. They have no vision and when there is no vision the people perish."
Finally, he came to his peroration. "The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths." In a barb that could have been aimed at the golden parachutes that spread their bounty across Wall Street this month, he said "the measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit."
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