I had the bad luck of being born in 1931 in the early years of the Great Depression but the good fortune also to have Franklin D. Roosevelt be elected the next year as the president. I experienced in my developmental years some of the programs developed by the Roosevelt administration to provide help to millions of destitute Americans.
Some say that Roosevelt emerged from his “blue-blood” upper class to save American capitalism. Perhaps so, but I felt in my youth that a man of great heart and mind must be sitting in distant Washington to serve the needs of his people. I wonder who will save capitalism today and serve the needs of our children?
We hear daily of citizens out of work, losing their homes; of schools cutting back on teaching staff, counselors, nurses; and of municipalities neglecting critical infrastructures.
The Durango Herald is to be commended for its Nov. 21 editorial “Food stamp cuts” for lambasting proposals in Congress to make major cuts in the federal program that provides needed nutrition for millions of families. Then, turn a page and read all about the sharply increasing upward mobility of the income and wealth of those already rich.
We should blush in shame before our neighbors! It is an outrage that the wealthy and powerful are doing this and another outrage that we are allowing it! American capitalism is failing the majority of our people. Roosevelt demonstrated that capitalism can be – and sometimes must be – regulated in order to meet the needs of the people. We must work to make our political leaders understand that the economic state of affairs is intolerable and unsustainable.
I remember, as a 14-year-old boy when riding home with my mother from downtown Des Moines, Iowa, in a streetcar, whispered news of Roosevelt’s death spread throughout the crowded car. Roosevelt had taken us all through the Great Depression and the horrors of World War II.
I would not experience such a shocked silence until the death of President John F. Kennedy and the solemn funeral procession that followed.
James K. McNeley