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On Reading Roosevelt

August 30, 2012, 12:29 pm

From his speech to the Commonwealth Club in 1932, Franklin Delano Roosevelt:

We did not think because national government had become a threat in the 18th century that therefore we should abandon the principle of national government. Nor today should we abandon the principle of strong economic units called corporations, merely because their power is susceptible of easy abuse. In other times we dealt with the problem of an unduly ambitious central government by modifying it gradually into a constitutional democratic government. So today we are modifying and controlling our economic units.

As I see it, the task of government in its relation to business is to assist the development of an economic declaration of rights, an economic constitutional order. This is the common task of statesman and business man. It is the minimum requirement of a more permanently safe order of things.

In two paragraphs, FDR sums the case for government regulation and oversight, the case for government full-stop, better, I think, than just about anyone, and certainly anyone recently.

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