Quotations from 

Tomorrow Without Fear


“[I]n our modern world, for the first time in history, what makes good morals makes good economics, too. As we organize our economy to provide more and better food for the hungry, the corner grocer and the farmer find their incomes increased…As we get the better distribution of income that will enable families with smaller incomes to live in comfort and decency and to share in the living standards which the better-income groups already enjoy, then and only then will our economy begin to operate with the sustained speed and power of which it has long been capable…As we have seen, this means rising standards of living not only at the bottom of the income scale, but at the top as well. Greater equity in sharing our economic pie costs no one anything. Instead it means a bigger pie for all of us to share and, hence, more pie for every one of us.”  — Page 84

“In order to prosper, each group among us which produces goods and services must have not only a product which people want, but also customers who can afford to buy it. Every breadwinner is not only a producer but a consumer as well. Whether he is a good customer or a poor one is determined by how much he can earn through selling his own product, whether that product be potatoes, beef cattle, electric turbines, washing machines, haircuts, or his skill as a carpenter or machinist.” — Page 13

“It always surprises me…that a people so proud of their achievements as we Americans often fail to realize how great some of these achievements actually are and how far we have come…Everybody knows that a handful of Pilgrims landed at Plymouth in 1620 and that today we are a nation of 140 million souls. Everybody knows that in 1776 we were thirteen colonies huddled along the Atlantic Coast and that today we are a mighty Union that spans a continent. But how many of us know that since the Civil War our total annual national production of all goods and services, including farm products and everything else, has been doubled every twenty years? Yet that is the cold record of our growth.” — Page 44

“I think I’ve said enough to drive home the point that in 1940 this nation didn’t know–or better, had forgotten–its own strength. The depression took a deep toll from us, not only in the goods we didn’t) produce, but in the brakes it put on our imagination, our courage, our confidence ourselves. There was a time when all of us knew that this was a big country and took it for granted that we always did things in a big way. We forgot that between 1929 and 1933, and it took us a long time to learn it again…Today we’re a big country once more, Again we do things in a big way. Everybody takes that for granted, We’re back in the groove.” — Page 31

“Better distribution of our national income, more wages paid out to the workers in the lower-income groups, narrower profit margins for business on each individual unit, will create the purchasing power which will put more men to work at good wages. This will mean higher incomes for everybody, including most of our businessmen, and a higher standard of living for everybody…The benefits of a better distribution of income do not lie in the fact that some people get a larger slice of our economic pie, but in the fact that our pie-what we all have to share-becomes so much larger. And it cannot be made larger unless we do get the better distribution of income. We’ve seen that again and again.” — Page 72

“If ever it has been demonstrated that prosperity cannot continue unless enough income is being distributed to all of us-farmers and workers as well as businessmen-to buy the increasing products of our increasingly efficient system, it was demonstrated in the twenties. If we need any demonstration of the fact that our economy can choke itself to death on too many profits, the twenties provide that demonstration…Even with the most business-minded administration in our history, even with falling taxes and a government surplus, even with everything that businessmen thought they needed to insure continued prosperity, we could not duck that basic issue for more than a few short. tinsel-decorated years.” — Page 23

“If there is one thing that is perfectly clear from our history, it is that wherever you find low wages, there you find low incomes, low living standards, and low profits. The place where high profits are to be found is in precisely those industries and those sections of the country where wages are high and living standards are high. That is why, it seems to me, the government should help the progressive businessman put his wages up by steadily raising the wage floor in order to prevent the low-wage competitor from being too great a drag upon him…And again let us remember that higher minimum wages directly increase the total purchasing power available to pay for goods in the stores.” — Page 59

“As I have said again and again, here were vast unsatisfied needs, here were vast potential markets. And alongside them were idle factories and idle men and women-7.5 million of them-eager to go to work. Our trouble was insufficient purchasing power in the hands of the families whose spending of it would at one and the same time have enabled us to satisfy those needs and to put those idle hands and idle plants to work producing at a profit more of the goods which most of us needed so badly.” — Page 72

“Before the 1929 crash many disciples of Adam Smith, the famed eighteenth-century Scotch economist, felt that our economy would work automatically if only monopolies could be eliminated and absolutely free competition assured for labor and raw materials as well as finished goods…Gradually most economists have been forced to desert his comfortable laissez faire theories in the face of the hard facts of our modern economic development. But quite properly his belief in the basic importance of monopoly control has persisted.” — Page 58

“By now I think you know why I have called this book Tomorrow Without Fear. When you look into the source of most differences between people and their conflicts over policies such as we have been discussing, you find that an amazing amount of it is based on fear and on the prejudices that are born of fear. I have no doubt in my own mind that the greater part of all that is mean and nasty and shameful in our history and in our life today can be traced to that one thing–fear…What are the occasions when we have fallen farthest short of our great traditions? They are always the occasions when we have allowed fear to blur our visions and to stifle our creative energies. How else can we explain the economic chaos of 1931 and 1932?  We were paralyzed by fear. How else can you put it?” — Page 87

“The future that we seek will not just happen. It will not come about by wishful thinking or by pushing some economic buttons. Our progress in the past took work and then more work, and so, too, will our progress in the years ahead. Our production of goods and services hasn’t been doubled every twenty years just by the parade of dates on the calendar. It took the hardest kind of work–not only physical effort to overcome physical obstacles, but the even harder moral effort–to overcome the ignorance, and prejudice, and fear that stood in the way of our national growth…There will always be those who say of any suggested forward move that it is visionary, impractical, and impossible. It is only because we, as a people, have always resisted this counsel and overcome these obstacles that we have got where we are today. And that must be our rule for the future, too.” — Page 76