Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Citing the 1939 Morgenthau quote

Sometime ago I blogged here about tracking down a 1939 Morgenthau quote that was going around the Internet, and I found Alan Caruba. There were a number of comments, some disbelieving. Another reader, Jared Nourse of Williams College, class of 2011, contacted me by e-mail with additional information:
    "I was recently browsing the web for the 1939 Morgenthau quote and came across your blog post of Feb 2009, which motivated me to look into the question further. I'm sure you've long since come to terms with the mystery, but I uncovered the full language of the original quote in a scholarly article, which sets to rest some of Anonymous' unease with the quote.

    Since your blog is the first result for a google search on "henry morgenthau quotes," I thought you might want to post a final update that includes the full language. Here it is:

      [U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau, Jr.]: No, gentlemen, we have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. And I have just one interest, and if I am wrong, as far as I am concerned, somebody else can have my job. I want to see this country prosperous. I want to see people get a job. I want to see people get enough to eat. We have never made good on our promises…

      But why not let’s come to grips? And as I say, all I am interested in is to really see this country prosperous and this form of Government continue, because after eight years if we can’t make a success somebody else is going to claim the right to make it and he’s got the right to make the trial. I say after eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started.

      Mr. Doughton: And an enormous debt to boot!

      HMJr.: And an enormous debt to boot! We are just sitting here and fiddling and I am just wearing myself out and getting sick. Because why? I can’t see any daylight. I want it for my people, for my children, and your children. I want to see some daylight and I don’t see it…

      —Transcript of private meeting at the Treasury Department, May 9, 1939, F.D. Roosevelt Presidential Library

    Horwitz, Steven. "Great Apprehensions, Prolonged Depression: Gauti Eggertsson on the 1930s." Econ Journal Watch 6.3 (2009): 313-36. Web.10 Aug 2010.

    He notes that Folsom cites the transcript as well.


    Jared Nourse"

Thanks, Jared, I'm posting your e-mail with your permission. I always appreciate a good citation (paper would be better), although if Jesus Christ himself said it, an FDR true believer would not be swayed.

Let's hope there is someone of intelligence and character left within the Obama administration who will take him aside and explain the facts to him. Unfortunately, I think it is Obama's intention and desire to ruin the country financially, so he has no reason to change direction.


Anonymous said...

"I think it is Obama's intention and desire to ruin the country financially"

What the fucking fuck? The President wants to ruin the country? Holy fuck you people are insane.

Norma said...

Anon 10/05: Usually I delete this type of garbage and gibberish, but am leaving it to show the impoverished language of the left.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering what the context of that quote was - thanks for bringing that to light. As far as what the Anon poster said, s/he is correct that it's pretty extreme to say that a president is deliberately trying to ruin the country financially, even if s/he expressed it rather inartfully. That's some serious, Area 51-level conspiracy theory stuff, and if we can't agree that the other side wants what's best for the country but simply has different ideas about how to reach that end, then I'd say this country is truly doomed. In any event, it's probably more accurate to say that Obama is more interested in achieving redistribution and giving handouts to his favored constituencies (unions, the poor) than in achieving economic growth (the benefits of which he seems to assume flow predominantly to the rich). I think it's also fair to say that he's so insulated by the media and the political class that he knows almost nothing about true free-market, non-Keynesian economics, except that it's incorrect. After all, if Paul Krugman said so, then it must be true, right?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the full quote.

rogue operator said...

Oh Anonymous, name me a single productive economic policy that Obama has endorsed. Or a free market oriented policy. Or one that expands freedom. Or one way he shrank the size and scope of government. Or (really) reduced the national debt (no CBO games like counting ten years of taxes for six years of so-called "benefits"). Or spoke well of America and its founding ideals, such as liberty. Or talked down socialist dictators like Fidel or Raul Castro or Hugo Chavez or Daniel Ortega or Manuel Zelaya? That is what we "crazy" people are taking into consideration. We want Obama to prove us wrong with more than occasional self-serving rhetoric, and he's not!

Anonymous said...

In case you have a genuine scholarly interest in the origin of this quote, I recommend consulting "From the Morgenthau Diaries: Years of urgency, 1938-1941," edited by John Morton Blum and published in 1965, which has the advantage of (a) being on paper; and (b) predating by decades both the Web and this latest round of debate regarding the New Deal.

Norma said...

Hi Norma here is the primary source right from the FDR library....

Jake Jacobs

NB: Henry Morgenthau, Jr. Diary, Microfilm role #50, May 9, 1939