Thom Hartmann: The Plot to Destroy America -- and What We Can Do to Stop It
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The following is an excerpt from Thom Hartmann's new book, THE CRASH OF 2016: The Plot to Destroy America--and What We Can Do to Stop It (Twelve Books, 2013).
There are very few Americans still alive who heard President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in March 1933, address the nation as he was being sworn into office. Which is why many Americans today believe that when FDR famously said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” he was talking about World War II. But Roosevelt said that long before Hitler had even fully consolidated his own power in Germany.
Instead, the fear—and the war—was here in America. He was speaking of the Great Depression.
The week of his inauguration, every state in the country closed their banks. The federal government couldn’t make its own payroll. A quarter of working-age Americans were unemployed— some measurements put it at a third— and unemployment in minority communities was off the scale.
While Herbert Hoover, when campaigning against Roosevelt in 1932, had denied there was hunger in America, and said, “Even our hoboes are well fed,” the truth was that the single largest “occupation” at the time among Americans was “scavenger”: people following food trucks and trains, catching the bits that fell off, or doing what we today call “Dumpster diving.”
It was so widespread that farmers guarded their farms with shotguns. Every night when restaurants dumped their uneaten food in trash cans in back or side alleys, crowds gathered to pick through, and often fight over, the leftovers.
Roosevelt spoke bluntly about that situation in Great Depression America.
“Values have shrunken to fantastic levels; taxes have risen; our ability to pay has fallen; government of all kinds is faced by serious curtailment of income; the means of exchange are frozen in the currents of trade; the withered leaves of industrial enterprise lie on every side; farmers find no markets for their produce; the savings of many years in thousands of families are gone.”
Dissatisfaction with our economic and political systems had reached such a height that machine guns guarded the Capitol and White House. “Hoovervilles”— tent cities of homeless people—had sprung up in every city of America. Bankers and the wealthy elite traveled with elaborate and heavily armed security details, and it was no longer safe for John D. Rockefeller to repeat his earlier publicity stunt of going out onto a New York City street to hand out shiny new dimes to beggars.
This was America during the last Great Crash, a crash that within a decade led to a world war killing more than 60 million people.
Eighty years later, we are well into the next Great Crash, which future generations will call the Crash of 2016. And this one could be even worse than the last one.
There are remarkable similarities between the coming Crash of 2016 and the last Great Crash, which began on Black Tuesday in 1929.
In fact, there are similarities between both these crashes, and the other two crashes in American history that both led to horrific wars. The first was the economic disaster of the late 1660s to the early 1770s that led Britain to pass (among other things) the Tea Act in 1773, sparking the Boston Tea Party and the Revolutionary War. The second was the Great Panic of 1857, which preceded the Civil War.
It was roughly eighty years from the Revolutionary War to the Civil War, and eighty years from the Civil War to the Great Depression and World War II. And here we are, eighty years after that great disaster. It takes about eighty years for those who remember to thoroughly die out.