Sunday, 29 July 2012

Could Have Been....Would Have Been

Just a moment of history and how things could have been.

On 29 October 1929....a fair-sized collapse of Wall Street occurred.  It would be a very fair statement to say that the entire stock market for the previous decade had been heated-up and reacting to public belief in absolute gains....when the true business sector was not progressing at that rate.  Rich people were getting rich.  Middle-class people were getting rich.  And the working class all had jobs, and were paying taxes.

Standing in the middle of this surge and soon-to-be-fall....was Herbert Hoover.  The best description of Hoover was given by President Coolidge....."wonder-boy".  Hoover was an engineer by trade, and generally felt that a good plan, with massive enthusiasm....usually fixed things.  To be honest, Hoover had as much understanding of the US economy.....as some shrimp fisherman has knowledge over nuclear technology.  So he invited a number of people who said they knew something....bits and pieces to be more precise, and generally....to build and mount his policy.  Whatever Hoover used over 1930 to the fall of 1932....was never a clear answer, and generally little to do with the failed banks.

Over this three year period, Hoover made various speeches and gave encouragement....but his policies were generally limited in nature.  The public works concept that we always associate with FDR?  Well....it actually started with Hoover.  He did try to kick half-a-million Mexicans out of the US...to bring work back into US hands....but then there weren't that many Americans willing to do work that Mexicans had done before (sound familiar?).  Finally, Hoover jumped onboard with the idea of having the largest income tax increase in American history....in 1932....having top-wage earners now pay 63 percent of their income to the US government.  You can figure the math, but just over sixty cents of any dollar you made as a top-grade earner....was yanked away.  Folks resorted to hiding their income.

So along comes the choice in 1932's election.  There's no doubt that FDR was going to fix whatever "wonder-boy" couldn't fix.  Programs were the key.  The media hyped up all the various programs.  Folks bought into everything suggested.  When FDR came around to outlaw the private ownership of gold in the US....this was to fix a "problem". When poverty was identified as a problem.....social security became the "fix".  When folks thought the military budget was bloated....almost a third of the Pentagon budget was cut over a two year period.

From 1932 election period to the the 1936 election period?  Nothing much really transpired.  The programs were all in effect and folks really couldn't say much of anything except nothing was seeming to work, and the depression was still in effect.

Somewhere out in Louisiana....over this period....Governor and then later Senator....Huey Long was shocking the regular people of Louisiana.  He had this odd vision of "share the wealth".  He'd take wealth from the rich and from companies....and just share it with the public.  In 1935, Huey Long was a household name throughout the south, and via radio.....was becoming a national topic.  For the 1936 election....Huey was likely to be running in the primary season against FDR (as a Democrat).  One of two scenarios would likely have occurred.

Huey would have gained enough wins throughout the south....that he might have been able to edge FDR out and be the national Democratic candidate for President.  If not.....he would have forced enough concessions and likely been the VP for FDR or sitting in the cabinet in some capacity.

So you can imagine 1937 and beyond with possibly President Huey Long in charge....a guy who would have turbo-charged the New Deal period, and gone to extremes on sharing the wealth.

A funny happen in 1935 though....Senator Huey Long was shot.  A simmering dispute over Long's pay-back involving a re-districting plan....had upset a relative of the guy who would be screwed over by a vastly different district plan.

Huey Long never makes it into the 1936 election season....never runs in the primaries....never has a chance to bring up this major share the wealth concept.  History falls into line with FDR, and marches on.

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