June 23, 1934 - Editorial - The Country Needs a Rest, by Geroge Lorimer
What the country needs more than anything else right now is a long period of rest, not only from legislation but from experimentation, agitation, speech-making and confusion generally. The natural forces of business cannot function unless there is a respite, a breathing spell, a period of adjustment. This is a very simple statement, a very old-fashioned prescription. But the conviction is widespread and deeply held that the country has had enough stirring up, enough making over, for awhile.
No one free of blind prejudice and partisanship will deny President Roosevelt's recent statement that the Government, of which he is the head, has made "unceasing efforts to stimulate employment and increase American values." But, unfortunately, the collection of experiments and attempted reforms has fallen into no clearly discerned pattern or program, except that they run strongly to the left. Merely to apply to them the imaginative description of New Deal does not mean anything except as a process of rationalization after the event. Indeed, one of the most striking facts about the many measures adopted or attempted is the element of conflict and sheer inconsistency or contradiction involved.
The National Recovery Act seems to be leading into an ever-deepening mire of confusion, misunderstanding and cross-purposes. Nor does anyone seem to know, after a year of experimentation, just what the nation's monetary policy is, or what the plans are for a resumption of the gold standard, or what the dollar is to be worth in the future, or what efforts will be made to stabilize it in connection with the currency of other nations. Nor does there appear to be any certainty on the part of the business leaders of the country that the Government will be able to balance its budget withing the next few years.
It is argued, in behalf of measures like the Securities and Stock Exchange Acts, that even if they do have a deflationary effect, no such reforms could be had in good times. The devil, it is pointed out, can only be reformed when he is sick. Our objection is not to the intent of this legislation, but of its hasty, and in some particulars ill-informed character.
The country needs a rest because too many of those who are engaged in reforming and experimenting speak to the country in a babel of tongues. Each member of the new order regards himself as its only true apostle. There is no unity, but there is a tremendous outpouring of garrulous speeches and articles on every subject under the sun.
There is this much unity, however: an atmosphere of smug self-righteousness prevails. It is assumed, for example, that no effort was ever made before in behalf of farmers or laborers. Too much of an impression is given that it is quite dishonest to own property, and that the successful businessman is, in the nature of things, a sort of public enemy. Finally, some of these reformers in high official position, men whose utterances on all subjects fill the press and platform, give the impression, consciously or unconsciously, that Socialism or Communism is the only sensible form of organization.
From all this sort of thing, from these attitudes, these points of view, the country sorely needs a rest. It has been harried by noise, by confusion, by the loud and irresponsible talking of not always experienced persons. Its nerves will greatly improve with a period of even comparative quiet. (pg. 22)