Americans searching for comfort during dark news about lost jobs, home foreclosures, lost credit and collapsing businesses should turn to the inspirational words of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's 1933 presidential inaugural address, the celebrated "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself" speech.
The Great Depression crises facing the 32nd president nearly 76 years ago have eerie parallels with the calamities Barack Obama, the 44th president, will confront.
Excerpts of the FDR speech tell the story:
● "This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly."
● "(T)he only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance."
● "(T)axes have risen; our ability to pay has fallen; government of all kinds is faced by serious curtailment of income; the means of exchange are frozen in the currents of trade; the withered leaves of industrial enterprise lie on every side; farmers find no markets for their produce; the savings of many years in thousands of families are gone."
"Rulers of the exchange of mankind's goods have failed, through their own stubbornness and their own incompetence. . ."
●. "These dark days will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves and to our fellow men."
● "Recognition of the falsity of material wealth as the standard of success goes hand in hand with the abandonment of the false belief that public office and high political position are to be valued only by the standards of pride of place and personal profit; and there must be an end to a conduct in banking and in business which too often has given to a sacred trust the likeness of callous and selfish wrongdoing."
● "Our greatest primary task is to put people to work. It can be accomplished in part by direct recruiting by the Government itself, treating the task as we would treat the emergency of a war, but at the same time . . . accomplishing greatly needed projects to stimulate and reorganize the use of our natural resources."
"There must be a strict supervision of all banking and credits and investments; there must be an end to speculation with other people's money, and there must be provision for an adequate but sound currency."
● "I am prepared under my constitutional duty to recommend the measures that a stricken nation in the midst of a stricken world may require."