Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

Thought for the Day

We have always known that greed was bad morality; what we have learned is that greed is also bad economics.”  Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1933.


July 20, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. Of course in 1933, leaders like Roosevelt weren’t just reflecting their disappointment with the contracting economy after the speculative greed of the 20’s. That is the way someone on the left reads this now. Liberals in that day had one eye on the Soviet system and its impressive rational planned economy. Roosevelt had many similar policies brewing as he entered office. This rhetoric was employed towards implementing those plans. Some of the more radical plans were in fact attempted and became quickly forgotten failures when compared to his otherwise successful legacy.
    After Stalin turned out a murderous tyrant achieving efficiency by starving the Ukraine, agendas were trimmed back and economists like Keynes turned from planning and redistribution to merely moderating the swings in the business cycle and providing a modest safety net.

    Just a little context for an otherwise nice thought.

    Comment by stan | July 21, 2009

  2. Except that it’s mostly wrong, Stan. Roosevelt NEVER had his eye on the USSR as a model. He came from wealth and entered office still very conservative. He had no idea of a planned economy and was cautious with the programs of the New Deal–to the end he refused to nationalize the banks, although even the bankers would have cheered in 1933 as their banks were collapsing around their ears. Roosevelt had to be pushed into taking Keynesian measures (when John Maynard Keynes visited from England, he found FDR remarkably ignorant about economics) and only slowly became what we, today, would call “liberal.” What he had was a willingness to experiment–a fierce pragmatism.

    He also had to contend with a strong Socialist movement on the one hand and many Fascists on the other. When he was inaugurated in March 1933, democracies were collapsing across the world and newspapers here were urging that FDR be given dictatorial powers. He refused and later, when he would have overstepped, Congress and the Supreme Court found themselves remembering they were separate and equal parts of government.

    Read Jonathan Alter’s bestsellar about FDR and the New Deal, The Defining Moment.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | July 21, 2009

  3. I really believe that greed can decimate a person. Thank God I have always had the basics – food, shelter and a good family. Those things to me are worth more than gold.

    Comment by Paul | July 22, 2009

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