Franklin D. Roosevelt

Address at Harrisburg, Pa.

October 29, 1936

My friends of Pennsylvania:

Pennsylvania is at once a great industrial State, a great commercial State, a great mining State and a great agricultural State.

The Pennsylvania farmer, unlike the farmer in the West, can see his own city market within a few hours' drive, just as my neighbor farmers in the Hudson River Valley. And the Pennsylvania industrial worker and merchant know how important to their prosperity is the prosperity of their neighbors, the farmers.

Pennsylvania rightly calls itself the Keystone State. Great tides of immigration have swept through it. Great routes of commerce have crossed it from the very beginning—famous wagon-roads and railroads and water routes from the East to the West and the North to the South and back again. Pennsylvania knows that American commerce transcends State lines and becomes interstate and international.

But because Pennsylvania has these great problems of commerce and of industry it has, also, great human problems—and those are the problems with which you and I are most deeply concerned.

The machine age has served well the men and women who use its excellent products. The new problem is to see to it that the machine age serves equally well the men and women who run its machines.

That is a problem not for Pennsylvania alone, not even for industry alone. It is a problem for the Nation, and for all kinds of enterprise within the Nation. If modern Government is to justify itself, it must see to it that human values are not mangled and destroyed.

You and I know that that is sound morality and good religion. You and I know that it is also good business.

The simple fact of our dependence upon each other was either unknown or entirely ignored by the Republican leaders of the post-war period. Their doctrine was to give definite help at the top and to utter pious hopes for the bottom. Twelve years of that brought the inevitable crash.

When we came to Washington in 1933 it was our fundamental belief that faith without works is dead. We acted—not for a few of us but for all of us. That program worked.

But I am very much afraid that the Republican leadership is still the same. It still preaches the same heresy—class against class and region against region.

You do not need me to tell you this. They say it themselves, loudly. There are dozens of examples—but just take one. They are using it, for example, in what they call their market-basket campaign.

In the cities they make promises which they are careful to hide from the farmers. In the rural districts they make promises which they are careful to hide from the city dwellers. In the cities they promise to reduce food prices for the woman who carries the market-basket. In the country they promise to raise food prices for the man who grows the contents of that market-basket on the farm.

Now is that not a nice fairy story? You and I know that you cannot eat your cake in the city and have your cake on the farm. You and I know that after twelve years of that policy there was no cake, and there was very little bread. The American people are through with that kind of emptiness.

The prices of farm products have risen since 1932. It's a good thing for all of us that they have risen. We set out deliberately to raise them. It was their rise that helped to start all of us on the road to recovery again. Every home in America has benefited by that.

The prices the farmer was receiving in 1932 were so low that he had no cash income to buy industrial goods made in the cities. That threw people out of work in the cities. Today the farm's products bring more to the farmer. Here in Pennsylvania, for instance, cash income from farm production was 47 percent higher in 1935 than in 1932. That is typical of what has happened to farmers throughout the East and throughout the Nation. The farmer is able to buy more from the city. That means more people are at work in the cities, and that in turn means that the city dwellers buy more farm produce.

That is why the consumer's pocketbook has filled up faster than the price of food has gone up. The housewife pays more money for what she buys, but she has more money to buy it with, and she has more money left over after she has bought. Nationwide facts and figures prove this. Let us take a look at these figures. From 1929 to 1932 food prices in the United States dropped 35 percent, but understand this: factory payrolls in the same period went down 58 percent. That made a large hole in the workers' market-basket.

The average city family paid less for what it bought in those years. But that family had still less with which to buy.

Some retail food prices have risen higher than others. Other food prices have advanced very little. To be fair you have to strike an average. The average advance of food costs since 1932 is 24 percent, a quarter more than they were four years ago.

But compare that— again using average figures for the country —with the factory payrolls. These have gone up since the spring of 1933, not 24 percent but 77 percent. And if you take the average of all city dwellers, their incomes have gone up faster and farther than food prices have gone up. To sum up: the Republican market-basket of 1932 cost less but the American consumer did not have the cash to fill it. Our market-basket in 1936 has much in it because people have money in their pockets to fill it with.

It is true that there is often too wide a spread between what the farmer gets and what the consumer pays. For that neither the farmer nor the consumer is responsible, and both the farmer and the consumer suffer.

We are engaged very definitely in seeking to solve that difficulty. First, we are vigilant and on guard against monopolies which are contrary to sound public policy even though they are not actually illegal. Second, we are seeking new means to eliminate waste and unnecessary duplication in distributing the food supply of the Nation, to benefit both producer and consumer.

Through twelve years the Republicans proved that sectionalism will not work. We have proved in three and a half years that interdependence and unity will work.

Giving the farmer of Dauphin or Lancaster County a good break has given a good break to the steel worker of Pittsburgh, the coal miner of Scranton, the white-collar or factory worker of Philadelphia. And giving California, Minnesota and Texas a good break gives a good break to Pennsylvania, Ohio and New Jersey.

Ours has been a program of one for all and all for one. That doctrine has given us recovery. Continuing that practice will continue recovery.

You all remember that good old Republican slogan that was trotted out and polished up for every political campaign—the slogan of "the full dinner pail." And we know that the Republican leaders themselves were responsible for its sad end. Down to 1933, the full dinner pail turned out to be the empty market basket.

I know that the American people will not return to power those leaders who emptied the national market-basket. I know that the American people will go forward with those who are succeeding in filling it once more.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Address at Harrisburg, Pa. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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