By Patrick Renshaw

ISBN-10: 0333428668

ISBN-13: 9780333428665

ISBN-10: 1349216054

ISBN-13: 9781349216055

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The Thomas amendment to the Agricultural Adjustment Act, which conferred on the President powers of monetary expansion by issuing greenbacks, remonetizing silver and reducing the gold content of the dollar, created the 14 AMERICAN LABOUR AND CONSENSUS CAPITALISM opening. The proliferation of 'alphabet soup' Federal agencies like the AAA and NRA, 'pump-priming', recovery, relief and Public Works all accelerated the process, made easier by leaving the Gold Standard. 'Well, this is the end of Western civilisation', Lewis Douglas remarked of the last step.

The Pittsburgh campaign speech in 1932 had committed him to cutting the cost of Federal government by a quarter. Yet by the end of the first Hundred Days, the most astonishing burst of legislation in American history, he had lost that decisive battle. Those advisers urging reflation had defeated those like Budget Director Lewis Douglas urging orthodox deflation. Characteristically, FDR's choice came not out of any real conviction but from his chaos of improvisation. Reflation was the ultimate consequence of a whole series of decisions taken for other reasons during the hectic passage of 16 major laws in three months, of which the NRA had merely been one.

Yet at what point did this acceptance occur? Frances Perkins told the President in March 1933 that 'We are beginning to appreciate today the close connection between the commerce of the nation and the number of persons employed... 12 She urged 'complete unionization' to release this purchasing power. A memorandum prepared by Leo Wolman, chairman of the NRA Labor Advisory Board, emphasised that the NRA should establish 'wages on high levels to develop and maintain wage-earner purchasing power comparable to our great mass production'.

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American Labour and Consensus Capitalism, 1935–1990 by Patrick Renshaw


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