By 1932, the worst had already happened; over 22 per cent of Americans had lost their jobs. And with such fast-shrinking job market, came floods of social tsunami. As fear raged, throes of financial panic followed. Desperate not to lose their life’s savings to the financial tsunami, people moved to gold. Sighted as the long-awaited goldmine, speculators went hellfire, doing what they knew best. Soon, it wasn’t whether but when the entire economic edifice would collapse.
Severely frightened, Americans only marked time, waiting for the next presidential election to kick Herbert Hoover out of the White House. And that they did in the 1932 elections. Franklin Roosevelt was handed a landslide victory to go out there and fix the economy as well as clean up the accompanying social wreckages.
Setting out to do exactly that, Roosevelt quickly looked for bizarre Americans – men and women having his kind of vision and passion, multifaceted mental rigor, patriotic toughness, selflessness, and especially, with nonpartisan attitudes. As if that was not enough, he said he was eyeing broad-based peak-performers and positive-participatory-spirited individuals who understood the country’s mood.
For him, Henry Morgenthau (not even with an economics degree) should be treasury secretary (finance minister), and the same way, Marriner Eccles, (a provincial banker without even a university education) should be chairman of the omnipotent Federal Reserve System (central bank governor).
Getting the best team was one thing, getting the team that would engage in persistent, heated, nonstop debating and brainstorming how to solve America’s economic problems was the most serious challenge. But for the master politicians, the best way of achieving that would be turning each cabinet meeting into the fiercest issue battlefield amongst them.
Within 100 days, the results couldn’t be more impressive. First, came America’s surprise exit of the gold standard. Followed, was the shocking devaluation of the dollar. Next an unprecedented expansive money supply – the dollar floods.
With these fiscal and monetary tsunamis let loose by the ever combative cabinet, floodgates of job soon followed government’s social interventionist policy, christened the ‘New Deal.’ Tightly focused on stopping the bleeding layoffs, as well as creating millions of jobs, and giving capitalism a human face, led the government rolling out such ever ambitious programs as the Works Progress Administration, the Civilian Conservation Corp, and the Agricultural Adjustment Administration.
With largest peacetime public spending, building 650 miles of roads, 800 airports, and hundreds of thousands of public buildings, seaports, bridges, and other infrastructure projects, soon turned out as the job-creating revolution with unmatched millions of jobs generated in such a mature manufacturing economy.
Also given government’s unparalleled soft loans and tax reliefs that empowered small businesses, entrepreneurs, and small farmers, a new industrial/service economy, robustly driven by a large army of creative risk-takers, innovators, inventors, and managers unfolded with millions of new jobs created.
And for the first time in the fittest survivalist capitalism, the New Deal programs had given a powerful voice to labor with collective bargaining power, as well as the nation’s powerless poor brought into government’s new social harmony agenda. Breaking the social capitalism taboo turned the US Europe’s and the world’s envious.
With unbelievably swift in prosperity, astonished Americans had no better way to sincerely express their deep gratitude to their activist President than to reelect and reelect him until he died in office in 1945 as America’s longest ever-serving president and the last to rule more than two-terms.
Surely, solving Nigeria’s today’s problems requires Roosevelt’s kind of ambitious economic agenda. It requires a complete rebirth based on new broadmindedness, work attitudes, and above all, confidence culture. In fact, it requires mustering courageous belief in our ability to solve our problems ourselves.
Just the same way FDR warned Americans “to fear fear itself” as well as warning his newly constituted cabinet, “You better come up with answers to America’s economic and jobs problems or prepare your handover notes,” which brought out the very best in FDR’s cabinet should be the way GEJ should go.
In other words, let’s agree that the inherent difficulty in solving our economic problem is caused by our negative perception toward it. In short, because we perceive it insurmountable so insurmountable it remains. But getting his cabinet out of this mental prison requires the President’s leadership bravery. However, it is getting this mental rehab that will become the tipping point. Rightly done, our problems will begin disappearing with some minimal force.
Not only making members of the cabinet sit up, it also will make finding any more hiding place for any fear-mongering government official problematic. And with the badly needed big picture, big push transformative blood injected in their blood veins, the insuperability fear will quickly disappear.
Mr. President, it’s now time to pose those frightening but inescapable questions during next Federal Executive Council meetings. Among these questions is: How – not whether – would government create 30 million jobs? By posing this question, it’s already clear you’ll be expecting nothing less than positive answers the next meeting. When that’s achieved, your next bombshell should be: ”Folks, since we now have the roadmap, my dear ministers, where will the money to pay for this come”? Without allowing any response, quickly demand they come back with where to find $1.2tn dollars needed for this ambitious economic miracle.
Projection of a no-nonsense posture has always helped great leaders like Napoleon, Roosevelt, and Deng deliver their transformative economic messages without misrepresentation. It’ll be surprising how it can quickly change cabinet members’ modes and attitudes.
But to truly blast to everyone’s ears that you’ve now declared war on our job problem, you need not only include Chief-Job-Creator to your official titles, the creation of an office of Presidential Adviser on Job Creation that makes you receive daily morning briefs on the state of jobs the same way you receive on national security will be necessary. With this, everyone knows you’re leading the job creation business.
Your new mode now makes everyone coming to FEC meetings more and more prepared and ready for each meeting’s rigorously heated debates. Since it is time to think outside the box, it is also time you attended each FEC meeting armed with your personal notebook with which to personally note each participant’s level of participation.
As the guardian of our nation’s secrets and commonwealth, always be guided by Cicero’s warning to Caesar that, “.the enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he’s known and carries his banners openly against the city. But the traitor moves among those within the gates freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears no traitor; he speaks in the accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their garments, and he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation; he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of a city; he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist.”
On this note, our dear President, remember how millions of our powerless fellow citizens – our widows, orphans, mentally and physically challenged, and aged pensioners – all today have no one else to look up to wipe their tears than you. Our dear President, never be misled by your eagle-eyed praise-singers for they will be your failure’s parrots.