Sunday, August 19, 2012

Frances Perkins on the "dreadful consequences of economic insecurity"

Her words are at least as significant today as they were in 1935. I am speaking of Frances Perkins (1882-1965), the first woman cabinet member, who served as Secretary of Labor from March 1933 to July 1945. When Perkins spoke on Social Security, she was encouraging a means to protect the people. Remember the Wall Street crash of 1929 and its impact on jobs and the economy.

Sound familiar?

Now that forces (think: Romney; think: Ryan) choose to favor the wealthy rather than protect the majority, her words carry a disturbing resonance.

Text of the entire 1935 speech is available on the Social Security Online History Pages. I bolded "We pay now for the dreadful consequence of economic insecurity--and dearly."  To read more about Frances Perkins, click on her name.

The establishment of sound means toward a greater future economic security of the American people is dictated by a prudent consideration of the hazards involved in our national life. No one can guarantee this country against the dangers of future depressions, but we can reduce these dangers. We can eliminate many of the factors that cause economic depressions, and we can provide the means of mitigating their results. This plan for economic security is at once a measure of prevention and a method of alleviation.
We pay now for the dreadful consequence of economic insecurity--and dearly. This plan presents a more equitable and infinitely less expensive means of meeting these costs. We cannot afford to neglect the plain duty before us. I strongly recommend action to attain the objectives sought in this report.

Frances Perkins, 1935 (see above for links)

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