A Lesson From History We Did Not Learn

The Spamish philosopher George Santayana once said:

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Well, it appears that the American people and politicians failed to learn the lesons of the Great Depression. The debate over the so-called bailout of Wall Street is proog of that.

Here’s an extensive quote from the initial inaugural address of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1933 at the height if the Great Depression:

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.

Roosevel went on to call for strict regulation of the banks, lending insturionsand investment firms to prevent, as he put it, “speculation with oher people’s money.”

Whether those who have opposed this kind of regulation care to admit or not, it was this regulation that made the stock market so appealing to investors and made the American economy the envy of the world. And it is the dismantling of that regulation that has led us to the brink of another Great Depression.

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