This was not a specific problem. It was rather a line of principle to which the solution of every other problem was referred. As was said before, in no problem to be acted upon by the New Deal was it true that one solution and one only was imperative. In every case there was some alternative. But it was as if in every case the question was, "Which course of action will tend more to increase the dependence of the individual upon the Federal government?"—and as if invariably the action resolved upon was that which would appeal rather to the weakness than to the strength of the individual.
And yet the people to be acted upon were deeply imbued with the traditions and maxims of individual resourcefulness—a people who grimly treasured in their anthology of political wisdom the words of Grover Cleveland, who vetoed a Federal loan of only ten thousand dollars for drought relief in Texas, saying: "I do not believe that the power and duty of the general Government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering. . . . A prevalent tendency to disregard the limited mission of this power should, I think, be steadfastly resisted, to the end that the lesson should be constantly enforced that though the people support the Government the Government should not support the people Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the Government and weakens the sturdiness of our National character." Which was only one more way of saying a hard truth that was implicit in the American way of thinking, namely, that when people support the government they control government, but when the government supports the people it will control them.
Well, what could be done with a people like that? The answer was propaganda. The unique American tradition of individualism was systematically attacked by propaganda in three ways, as follows: Firstly, by attack that was direct, save only for the fact that the word individualism was qualified by the uncouth adjective rugged; and rugged individualism was made the symbol of such hateful human qualities as greed, utter selfishness, and ruthless disregard of the sufferings and hardships of one's neighbors; Secondly, by suggestion that in the modern environment the individual, through no fault or weakness of his own, had become helpless and was no longer able to cope with the adversities of circumstances. In one of his Fireside Chats, after the first six months, the President said: "Long before Inauguration Day I became convinced that individual effort and local effort and even disjointed Federal effort had failed and of necessity would fail, and, therefore, that a rounded leadership by the Federal Government had become a necessity both of theory and of fact." And, Thirdly, true to the technic of revolutionary propaganda, which is to offer positive substitute symbols, there was held out to the people in place of all the old symbols of individualism the one great new symbol of security.
After the acts that were necessary to gain economic power the New Deal created no magnificent new agency that had not the effect of making people dependent upon the Federal government for security, income, livelihood, material satisfactions, or welfare. In this category, its principal works were these:
For the farmer, the AAA, the FCA, the CCC, the FCI, the AMA, and the SMA, to make him dependent on the Federal government for marginal income in the form of cash subsidies, for easy and abundant credit, and for protection in the market place;
For the landless, the FSA, making them dependent upon the Federal government for a complete way of life which they did not always like when the dream came true;
For union labor, the NLRB, making it dependent on the Federal government for advantage against the employer in the procedures of collective bargaining, for the closed shop, and for its monopoly of the labor supply;
For those who sell their labor, whether organized or not, the FLSA-WHD (minimum wages and minimum hours), making the individual dependent on the Federal government for protection (1) against the oppressive employer, (2) against himself lest he be tempted to cheapen the price of labor, and (3) against the competition of others who might be so tempted. Thus for better or worse the freedom of contract between employee and employer was limited.
For the unemployed, to any number, the WPA, making them directly dependent on the Federal government for jobs, besides that they were kept off the labor market; For the general welfare and to create indirect employment, the PWA, causing states, cities, towns, counties, and townships to become dependent upon the Federal government for grants in aid of public works;
For home owners in distress, the HOLC, making them dependent on the Federal government for temporary out-door employment, rehabilitation, and vocational training, besides that these too, were kept off the labor market;
For bank depositors, the FDIC, making them dependent on the Federal government for the safety of their bank accounts;
For the investors, the SEC, making them dependent on the Federal government for protection against the vendors of glittering securities; For the deep rural population, the REA and the EHFA, making them dependent on the Federal government for electrical satisfactions at cost or less;
For those who live by wages and salaries the SSB, making them dependent on the Federal government for old-age pensions and unemployment insurance; also for stern protection against the consequences of their own personal thriftlessness, since half of what goes into the social security reserve fund is taken out of their pay envelopes by the government, whether they like it or not, the government saying to them, "We will save it for you until your winter comes." And since there is no saying anything back to the government this becomes compulsory thrift.
No individual life escaped, unless it was that of a desert rat or cave dweller.
It was thus that the hand of paternal government, having first seized economic power, traced the indelible outlines of the American Welfare State.
In the welfare state the government undertakes to see to it that the individual shall be housed and clothed and fed according to a statistical social standard, and that he shall be properly employed and entertained, and in consideration for this security the individual accepts in place of entire freedom a status and a number and submits his life to be minded and directed by an all responsible government.
When New Dealers speak in one breath of a welfare economy and with the next breath bitterly denounce pressure groups it may seem that they involve themselves in an ironical dilemma. It is easy to say: "What would you expect, since you have made division of the national income a matter of political bargaining where before it had been always a matter of economic bargaining?" Yet they are right, the New Dealers. In the welfare state pressure groups, representing wilful political action, cannot be tolerated. They will have to be suppressed at last, because in the welfare state the government cannot really guarantee social security until it goes to the logical end, which is to ration the national income in time of peace just as all goods and satisfactions are rationed in time of war.
PROBLEM SIX: THE DOMESTICATION OF THE INDIVIDUAL