Friday, October 10, 2008

a carousel of time

This is FDR, from his first inaugural address, March 4, 1933:

"...Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men.

True, they have tried, but their efforts have been cast in the pattern of an outworn tradition. Faced by failure of credit they have proposed only the lending of more money. Stripped of the lure of profit by which to induce our people to follow their false leadership they have resorted to exhortations, pleading tearfully for restored confidence. They know only the rules of a generation of self-seekers. They have no vision, and when there is no vision the people perish.

The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths. The measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit.

Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort. The joy and moral stimulation of work no longer must be forgotten in the mad chase of evanescent profits. These dark days will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves and to our fellow-men.

Recognition of the falsity of material wealth as the standard of success goes hand in hand with the abandonment of the false belief that public office and high political position are to be valued only by the standards of pride of place and personal profit; and there must be an end to the conduct in banking and in business which too often has given to a sacred trust the likeness of callous and selfish wrongdoing. Small wonder that confidence languishes, for it thrives only on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection, on unselfish performance: without them it cannot live."

The opposition couldn't afford rotten fruit to throw at him, so they just muttered "Commie rat bastard" and stumbled home to the poorhouse to die of consumption and yellow fever.

Roosevelt wrapped up the speech by saying:

"And so, my fellow Americans, I can't seem to feel my legs. Oh god. God! Falling!"

And he pitched right off the the platform, crushing an apple-vendor's cart and startling a young Helen Thomas on her first day on the White House beat as a second-stringer for the New York Tribune-Post-Republican-Democrat-Banner-Journal, a fine paper of the day.

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