Markets, Planning and the Moral Economy
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Markets, Planning and the Moral Economy

Business Cycles in the Progressive Era and New Deal

Donald R. Stabile and Andrew F. Kozak

Markets, Planning and the Moral Economy examines the rise of the Progressive movement in the United States during the early decades of the 20th century, particularly the trend toward increased government intervention in the market system that culminated in the establishment of President Roosevelt’s New Deal programmes. The authors consult writings from politicians, business leaders, and economists of the time, using a variety of historical perspectives to illuminate the conflicting viewpoints that arose as the country struggled to recover from the worst economic downturn in its history.
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Chapter 8: Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the moral economy

Donald R. Stabile and Andrew F. Kozak

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More than any president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt led the way in moving the US towards the moral economy and his rhetoric often took the moral high ground regarding the defects of the market economy. In his first inaugural address, for example, Roosevelt forcibly declaimed, ‘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’ (Roosevelt 1933a, p. 3). In making this call for a moral economy, he used an appeal that Edward Bellamy would have appreciated: If I read the temper of our people correctly, we now realize as we have never realized before our interdependence on each other; that we can not merely take but we must give as well; that if we are to go forward, we must move as a trained and loyal army willing to sacrifice for the good of a common discipline, because without such discipline no progress is made, no leadership becomes effective. We are, I know, ready and willing to submit our lives and property to such discipline, because it makes possible a leadership which aims at a larger good. (Roosevelt 1933a, pp. 6–7) As noted in Chapter 2, Bellamy had indicated that his cooperative common- wealth would operate through mutual cooperation and function as an army with all the discipline that entailed to produce what we have called a moral economy.

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