Campaign Address at Soldiers' Field, Chicago, Illinois
Franklin D. Roosevelt
October 28, 1944
"Those incompetent blunderers and bunglers in Washington have passed a lot of excellent laws about social security and labor and farm relief and soil conservation--and many others--and we promise that if elected we will not change any of them."
And they go--on to say, "Those same quarrelsome, tired old men--they have built the greatest military machine the world has ever known, which is fighting its way to victory; and," they say, "if you elect us, we promise not to change any of that, either."
They also say in effect, "Those inefficient and worn--out crackpots have really begun to lay the foundations of a lasting world peace. If you elect us, we will not change any of that, either." "But," they whisper, "we'll do it in such a way that we won't lose the support even of Gerald Nye or Gerald Smith--and this is very important--we won't lose the support of any isolationist campaign contributor. Why, we will be able to satisfy even the Chicago Tribune."
Tonight I want to talk simply to you about the future of America--about this land of ours, this land of unlimited opportunity. I shall give the Republican campaign orators some more opportunities to say--"me too."
We have astonished the whole world and confounded our enemies with our stupendous war production, with the overwhelming courage and skill of our fighting men--with the bridge of ships carrying our munitions and men through the seven seas--with our gigantic fleet which has pounded the enemy all over the Pacific and has just driven through for another touchdown.
For the American people are resolved that when our men and women return home from this war, they shall come back to the best possible place on the face of the earth--they shall come back to a place where all persons, regardless of race, and color, or creed or place of birth, can live in peace and honor and human dignity--free to speak, free to pray as they wish--free from want--and free from fear.
Now, what do those rights mean? They "spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being."
Some people--I need not name them--have sneered at these ideals as well as at the ideals of the Atlantic Charter, the ideals of the Four Freedoms. They have said that they were the dreams of starry-eyed New Dealers--that it is silly to talk of them because we cannot attain these ideals tomorrow or the next day.
Now, this Economic Bill of Rights is the recognition of the simple fact that, in America, the future of the worker, the future of the farmer lies in the well-being of private enterprise; and that the future of private enterprise lies in the well-being of the worker and the farmer. It goes both ways.
To assure the full realization of the right to a useful and remunerative employment, an adequate program must, and if I have anything to do about it will, provide America with close to sixty million productive jobs.
For example, business, large and small, must be encouraged by the Government to expand its plants, to replace its obsolete or worn-out equipment with new equipment. And to that end, the rate of depreciation on these new plants and facilities for tax purposes should be accelerated. That means more jobs for the worker, increased profits for the businessman, and a lower cost to the consumer.
In 1933, when my Administration took office, vast numbers of our industrial workers were unemployed, our plants and our businesses were idle, our monetary and banking system was in ruins--our economic resources were running to waste.
But by 1940--before Pearl Harbor--we had increased our employment by ten million workers. We had converted a corporate loss of five and one-half billion dollars in 1932, to a corporate profit (after taxes) of nearly five billion dollars in 1940.
I am sure that every man and woman in this vast gathering here tonight will agree with me in my conviction that never again must we in the United States attempt to isolate ourselves from the rest of humanity.
One of them is the American home--in our cities, in our villages, on our farms. Millions of our people have never had homes worthy of American standards--well built homes, with electricity and plumbing, air and sunlight.
The demand for homes and our capacity to build them call for a program of well over a million homes a year for at least ten years. Private industry can build and finance the vast majority of these homes. Government can and will assist and encourage private industry to do this, as it has for many years. For those very low income groups that cannot possibly afford decent homes, the Federal Government should continue to assist local housing authorities in meeting that need.
In the future America that we are talking about, we think of new highways, new parkways. We think of thousands of new airports to service the new commercial and private air travel which is bound to come after the war. We think of new planes, large and small, new cheap automobiles with low maintenance and operation costs. We think of new hospitals and new health clinics. We think of a new merchant marine for our expanded world trade
Three years ago, back in 1941, I appointed a Fair Employment Practice Committee to prevent discrimination in war industry and Government employment. The work of that Committee and the results obtained more than justify its creation.
America must remain the land of high wages and efficient production. Every full-time job in America must provide enough for a decent living. And that goes for jobs in mines, offices, factories, stores, and canneries--everywhere where men and women are employed.
During the war we have been compelled to limit wage and salary increases for one great objective--to prevent runaway inflation. You all know how successfully we have held the line by the way your cost of living has been kept down for the necessities of life.
However, at the end of the war there will be more goods available, and it is only common sense to see to it that the working man is paid enough, and that the farmers earn enough, to buy these goods and keep our factories running. It is a simple fact, likewise, that a greatly increased production of food and fiber on the farms can be consumed by the people who work in industry only if those people who work in industry have enough money to buy food and clothing. If industrial wages go down, I can assure you that farm prices will go down too. After the war, we shall of course remove the control of wages and leave their determination to free collective bargaining between trade unions and employers.
Despite all manner of wartime difficulties--shortage of farm labor and of new farm machinery--the American farmer has achieved a total of food production which is one of the great wonders of the world.
I am going to give you, very simply, some figures of recovery --and I am sure you will pardon me if I quote them correctly. For as I remarked at Fort Wayne this afternoon, it is my habit to quote figures correctly, even when I was Governor of the State of New York, many years ago.
I take it that the American farmer does not want to go back to a Government owned by the moguls of 1929--and let us bear it constantly in mind that those same moguls still control the destinies of the Republican Party.
For example, the work of the Tennessee Valley Authority is closely related to our national farm policy--our farm program, and we look forward toward similar developments which I have recommended in other places--the valley of the Missouri, the valley of the Arkansas, and the Columbia River Basin out on the far coast.
But, do you remember when the building of these great public works was ridiculed as New Deal "boondoggling"? And we are planning--almost ready to put into effect--developments at Grand Coulee, which will provide irrigation for many tens of thousands of acres, providing fertile land for settlement--I hope--by many of our returning soldiers and sailors.
If anyone feels that my faith in our ability to provide sixty million peacetime jobs is fantastic, let him remember that some people said the same thing about my demand in 1940 for fifty thousand airplanes.
We shall lift production and price control as soon as they are no longer needed--encouraging private business to produce more of the things to which we are accustomed and also thousands of new things, in ever-increasing volume, under conditions of free and open competition.
Small business played a magnificent part in producing thousands of items needed for our armed forces. When the war broke out it was mobilized into war production. Money was loaned to them for machinery. Over one million contracts and subcontracts have been distributed among sixty thousand of the smaller plants of our Nation.
We shall make sure that small business is given every facility to buy Government-owned plants, equipment, and inventories. The special credit and capital requirements of small business are going to be met.
And small business will continue to be protected from selfish, cold--blooded monopolies and cartels. Beware of that profound enemy of the free enterprise system who pays lip-service to free competition--but also labels every anti-trust prosecution as a "persecution." You know, it depends a good deal on whose baby has the measles.
That winning team must keep together after the war, and it will win many more historic victories of peace for our country, for the cause of security, and for decent standards of living here and throughout the world.
The creed of our democracy is that liberty is acquired, liberty is kept by men and women who are strong, self-reliant, and possessed of such wisdom as God gives to mankind--men and women who are just, men and women who are understanding, and generous to others--men and women who are capable of disciplining themselves.