In an interview by Thom Hartman on his radio show, Professor Richard Wolff compares Trump’s one-time stimulus to FDR’s effective ongoing recurring stimulus for the duration of the Depression, and beyond [Editor’s note: This is my quick and dirty transcript of a portion of the interview}:
“Let’s compare. Giving one thousand two hundred dollars to every taxpayer, maybe $500 to their kids, and maybe an extra few hundred to the unemployment check versus what was done in the 1930s.
“Roosevelt begins by creating the Social Security system, which we had never had. He declares, when the government was in much more trouble than it is today, revenue wise, and we had much more unemployment even than we have today, he dec;ares that the Social Security system is gonna give every American 65 years of age or older, a check every month, for the rest of their lives, rather than a one-time check for $1200.
“I mean were talking an elephant versus a flea. But that’s not all. A few months later he declares the unemployment compensation system. Everybody that’s out of work, and in those days it was tens pf millions, is npw gonna get a check from the federal government every week for a year or longer. Dwarfing by a multiple of many times $1200 per voter. And finally, the public employment program. From 1934 to 1941, fifteen million Americans were given a federal job, an important job doing all kinds of important things, so that unemployed people would have a job, had income, had the self-esteem that goes with it, would be able to make their mortgage payment, would be able to hold on to their home.
“None of that is being done now. People are being told “go do nothing.” No government program for them to be useful to one another. No planning for anything. I mean the level of failure of this system to either prepare for or cope with this kind of a disaster … it would make you think, “Gee, this is something new, nobody could prepare for it.” But that’s the opposite of the truth. We had a pandemic like this in 1918, worse than this one, at least it looks that way. We know exactly how it works and what needs to be done.
“A few years ago we had SARS, we had MERS, we had Ebola, I mean we know what this is, we know what the spread of the disease is. There is no excuse for the level of breakdown, and what you’re seeing is the cascade of consequences when the system has been focused on private profit maximization instead of meeting the needs of a society, which in any rational way would include preparing for something as well known as viral pandemics.”
The complete 8 minute 56 second interview is here: