Franklin D. Roosevelt

Address at Camden, N.J.

October 29, 1936

Mr. Mayor, my friends of Camden:

I am very, very grateful to you and to your City Government for naming this plaza in my honor. It is not very long ago that I read that some of the Federal funds intended for work relief were to be used to transform the plaza into a beautiful park; and it was suggested at that time that here is one case where grass has been made to grow in the city streets. (Laughter)

I have come to Camden today for one perfectly valid reason: it is the principal city of Southern New Jersey, and, so far as I recollect in a somewhat varied experience, I have never made a speech here before.

Because Camden is a good cross-section of many different types of people who earn their living—commuters, white-collar workers, factory workers, and shipyard workers—I want to say a few words about a subject which affects every one of you—your own lives and the lives of your families—the subject of human security.

We have heard much about it during the last three and a half years for the very simple reason that the Nation has needed human security. We have needed it for the farmer and for the city dweller alike.

You who work in offices or factories or shipyards are hit when business slumps. Your future is tied up with the stability of the business in which you work.

Holding on to a job in these past few years was not the only problem you faced. You had to think of your families. You had to think of your homes. You had to think of the savings in the bank. You had to think about your modest investments and your insurance policies, and your mortgage payments. None of these things was safe in those days.

Today things are very different. Business of all kinds has begun to get in the clear. You know that your jobs are safer, that there are more jobs to go around and better pay for jobs. The threat to your savings, your investments, your insurance policies and your homes is being removed.

None of this came by chance. It came because your Government refused to leave it to chance. It came because your Administration thought things through—thought of things as a whole -planned a balanced national economy and acted in a score of ways to bring it to pass. Today I want to mention only two examples out of many.

First, your savings. We did not leave them to chance. Today for the first time your deposits in every national bank and in eight thousand State banks throughout the country are insured up to five thousand dollars—a total of forty-nine million accounts. In other words, 98 1/2 percent of all bank accounts in these banks are insured. Never in all our history have we had as sound a banking structure as today. And I doubt very much if any of you will vote to go back to the unsafe banking conditions of 1932.

And once more, I remind the Nation that this month of October marks the end of one whole year in which there was not a single national bank failure—the first twelve-month period in fifty-five years that was free from such failures.

The other example I want to say a word about relates to the stability of what you and I call values. For twelve years before this Administration came into office, values of almost every kind of property were running up and down the scale like the mercury in a thermometer on a March day. Raw material prices were varying 400 and 500 and 600 percent. Real estate was alternately booming and collapsing.

As a result, the assets behind everything you and I owned were better one month and poorer the next. Bankers did not know what their portfolios would be worth from one month to the next. Commercial concerns had no assurance of the value of their bills receivable. Contractors could make only wild guesses in submitting their bids. Many stocks and bonds were worth crazy prices one month and very little the next.

After the crash, and after the long years of despair which followed it, one prayer went up from the American people—they wanted something to tie to—they sought stability because they knew that without stability they could not have security.

It has been our aim first of all to restore values to a normal and proper level. It is our aim to maintain them at a normal and proper level. In that way we believe there will be a greater security for the average American family no matter what may be the occupation of the members of that family.

My friends, today in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, I spoke very briefly in regard to the great Social Security Law which goes into effect next year. I spoke about those few business concerns and those few newspapers which are spreading false rumors in regard to this far-reaching Act. I told the people of Pennsylvania that for every dollar which the worker is asked to put into the fund under this law as a premium of insurance against old age, the employer is required to put in another dollar. And for the other form of insurance in the Act—unemployment insurance- the premium is paid solely by the employer and not by the worker. In other words, for the insurance which you get, you people are going to pay one dollar of premium and your employers are going to pay three dollars. Three to one, there is the rub! That is what the propaganda mongers really object to. Not satisfied with that, they are endeavoring to spread the unpatriotic suggestion that some future Congress may steal these insurance funds for other purposes.

And if these employers really believe what they are saying in their propaganda spread in pay envelopes, it proves that they have no confidence in our form of government. I suggest to them that it might be well for them to move to some other Nation in which they have a greater faith.

Your Administration has as its great objectives for all our citizens, in the cities and on the farms, in the West, in the South and in the East—greater permanence for employment, safety for earnings, protection for the home and a better security for the average man and his family. Those objectives can and will be attained. You and I are going to carry on until they are.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Address at Camden, N.J. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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