tv Book Discussion on The Money Makers and Right Out of California CSPAN2 February 14, 2016 5:30pm-6:31pm EST
immigration [laughter] but he speaks to you. i think that radio is the most articulate -- marco rubio is the most articulate but he keeps getting younger. [laughter] i said before is like the guy in front of you at the rental car center bad that it's not a convertible sebring and he just flew in that he is demanding his convertible sebring. he had that look like kant you just take the hard top, we all want to go home.
come up and use the microphone to ask your questions. good evening. i'm the owner of the avid reader and i want to welcome the two authors to tonight's book event. they shared the same professional as historians and the same university. topics on the books this evening are founded in the same era and they also happen to be married but they are after all individuals as of course are there books. the author of right out of california the 1930s and the big business roots of modern conservatism in this book she examines the labor dispute in the agricultural year in california she said how this set of events caused dismissed leaders at the time to rethink their relationship to american politics. she finds in depression-era
california the crucible for strong-armed policies against farm workers that bolstered the conservative movement. kathryn is the chair of the history department and historian of anti-communism and the author of several books including challenging the secret government, red spy clean and enemies. eric has returned the money makers how roosevelt and keynes ended the depression defeated fascism and secured a prosperous peace. he makes clear that fdr regarded his fight against economic depression and the fight against fascism to be indistinguishable. comments historian kevin kruse he proves monetary policy should be central to our understanding of the roosevelt administration and depression and war. he is the author of numerous books on the progressive and the new deal era and he has written
for the american prospect, the financial times, times literary sub among others, so we are fortunate to be hearing from these noted historians under the newly released volumes of history so please welcome catherine olmsted and eric. [applause] >> thank you very much for doing such a wonderful display and for all of this and you for coming out. what we are going to do since this is slightly unusual that our books should have come out at the same time and as a set on the related topics certainly not something we could have planned if we tried it stressed good luck but since it is happening, we thought to do this event i would talk very briefly about the overlap between the two
books we connected and then kathy will talk for a few minutes about her book and i will talk for a few minutes about my book and then we will take questions. that is the general plan i think. the thematic connection between the two two books is both of them treat 1933 the year franklin roosevelt took office as a critical turning point in history when there is a pivot towards our own time. normally the narratives of history the trend is 1945 so the whole roosevelt administration belongs to the era before our own but for different reasons we are making cases that we should look at the beginning of the administration for the origin that we live in now and that is the case that he will talk about that's true and then we will be happy to take questions, so we will start first.
>> let me start by saying why i think it is an important turning point and then eric will give his argument. so, 1933 was the time when there were the biggest strikes in history, 50,000 strikes in california including 18,000 just in one coffin strike and they went on strike to demand that the workers -- that employers recognize the union and they went out on strike because they heard that franklin roosevelt wanted them to join a union and he would protect the right to unionize that means workers included african-americans come asian-americans, and mexican americans and included men and women and children. and they demanded the collective bargaining rights. these demands infuriated their employers and those employers
launched a counterrevolution against the labor law that continues today. here's the perfect the story roosevelt didn't even want to farm workers to join unions or go on strike. the labor law specifically excluded back or cultural workers that the agricultural workers didn't know that. now that we give may give you a little bit of background. it marks this pivotal turning point in economic history. in the economic balance of power between workers and employers and in the process of doing so, then helped transform the business man's view of the federal government. before the new deal, america's businessmen often supported an expansive role of the federal government because they don't have roads and the railroads that expanded the market and
they helped them prohibit alcohol and control labor and in particular, the government turned a blind eye to plan and employer's crackdown on striking during the big strikes. then in 1933, franklin roosevelt took office and the government began to intervene in the economy in new ways. they started serving organized labor as well as organized capital. washington empowered laborers by guaranteeing the right to join unions. now industrial unions because to get the best of the southern democrats roosevelt excluded farmworkers from the protection of the law but the farmworkers the league that roosevelt did support them so they went out on strike to demand the union recognition from their employer. roosevelt didn't encourage the strikes but they didn't break them either.
they threatened to withhold the new agricultural subsidies in the federal government from the growers who continue to use violence against the workers and refuse to go into mediation with the workers and the agribusiness man found the new deal support for the mediation especially the threat to withhold agricultural subsidies. and i call this in the book the conservatism because like the character in casablanca they are shocked to discover there is gambling going on in the café so they were shocked to discover the government was intervening in the economy as they pocketed the winning and the subsidy not to mention the canals that the government was building. they didn't just complain about the changes by the new deal. they organized once they smashed the front in the field they
attacked what they saw as the bigger problem which was the new deal itself, so rather they attacked the parts of the new deal that benefited labor and they were fine with the subsidies in the canal. they went over middle-class voters by hiring consultants to explain that the new deal or the creeping socialism was responsible not only for the strikes that cultural changes for increasing secularism, racial diversity and women working outside of the homes. in the stories i tell in the book there's a lot of great characters on the last, center and right all of who are emblematic of the left, center and right of the politics at the time there is caroline who was a 21-year-old from georgia, blonde, blue eyes, very petite. as she went out on the field to organize farmworkers she was a
fierce passionate organizer who spent years in state prison sentence and was also helped by writers and intellectuals on the left like langston hughes. the center was inhabited by the liberals who were trying to find a middle ground between what they saw as reactionary conservatism on the one hand and uncompromised radicalism on the other dream was one of them called upon by the sea and cataplexy. they included george who had been a journalist in the world war propaganda chief for the government by the 1930s was the head of the new deal on the west coast said he was deputized to go to the field to try to solve the strikes. another liberal mediator was a retired general and his friends thought he looked very
.-full-stop despite. he was a world war i hero who was called out of retirement by the government and sent to the valley in southeastern california. they had to flee for their lives they were threatened by the growers and the vigilantes and the center at the time included john steinbeck who wrote a wrote a lot of the stories that we know today but although he did a lot of research for his inaugurals, the history was very selectively edited in the accomplishments of women and people of color. and then of course there's the people on the right of the book but conservatives like herbert hoover who was a wealthy grover and organized other farmers and media barons to revise conservatism and start what would be the beginning of the
international political comeback for himself and then also there is the retired general who retired to san diego and became very concerned about the strikes in california and started a massive private surveillance network that surveyed people suspected of being on the left and people suspected of union organizing. san diego was stuffed full of hundreds of thousands of the finals not only in california and but mexico and throughout the united states. so these conservatives developed the ideas and techniques and nurture the individuals who shaped the political landscape that we are in today. herbert hoover helped discover next and in 1946 and then arranged for other businessmen to find the unknown lawyer's
campaign and the same industries and individuals who funded hoover went on to support the next would preside over the chance for nation of american and there is a direct line from hoover to mix into ronald reagan and the people that work for them. other plant i would like to make before i turn it over is the california businessman really discovered a potent technique for discrediting liberals. they discovered how to bash the center and perversely to do this at precisely those times when the center was distancing itself from work feeling the left. roosevelt after all there's no radical. he never wanted the government to takeover the banks take over the banks or the factories or
the farms. they wanted to raise their wages without the government intervening to redistribute wealth and for the most part the new deal maintained a social order that largely benefited white man. throughout the struggle's roosevelt and his advisers dismissed the radical alternatives. still, the attempts to distance themselves from the more radical alternatives were not comforted enough for the california growers and their allies and the new deals were attacked for being radical. to define the left of the enemy they claimed that it was the left and this was a technique that of course they would use down through the decades that they would portray. to bring this back they said
that it's like america only more so and i think they were similar to struggles elsewhere but more so they were ahead of their time it was the migrants and the immigrants from women and men foreshadowed in the coming transformation of american labor and they needed to maintain control over this multiethnic both a racial workforce and explain the bargaining rights. [applause] the conservatism in large part to the various policies in 1933
i will point out another way this is true which is to say with respect to the stance of modern conservatives towards franklin roosevelt united states dollar. a couple of weeks ago ben carson on the public radio marketplace program said we decoupled the dollar from the standard in 1933 and since that time it isn't based on anything. why would we be continuing to do that? ted cruz a couple of days ago said in the debate i think they should get out of the business of trying to juice up our economy and monetary stability and ideally tied to gold. on the basic facts of what he says, cars and is right carson is right in the first days of the new deal the dead become from the gold standard and ted cruz is right saying the best this led to the federal reserve
board and the business of trying if not exactly to juice the economy but to do this and it is moving slowly slowly as well as to slow down as it looks like it is getting out of hand instead of trying to keep the dollar value tied. they are wrong in the view that this is a bad thing. this is a book with the view of franklin roosevelt and his record coming into the dollar policy was a centerpiece of all of those achievements. the thing about the gold standard is there's only so much gold in the world when roosevelt stayed wrote that the total production of the whole world since the time of columbus would fit into the cuba 37 feet the figures estimate of how much
gold there is are generally in that range but not very much. there is any number of people making and wishing to trade in ever increasing quantity of stuff. that means it is deflationary. with a fixed quantity of gold and stuff it takes more stuff to buy the set amount of gold or less amount of stuff so if the money is tied to gold the fixed amount of say a dollar can buy more stuff were or to put it another way the price of stuff goes down and that is deflation. it's fine if you are a banker because he will deal with money so this is worth more than you are happy increasing the amount of stuff you can buy and the dollar you are getting feedback is more than you left. now most of us are not bankers and we deal with stuff which means it is worse. covert less money.
so they get squeezed squeezed and we can't buy as much and that is bad enough that deflation is also worse than that because we all make decisions on when to buy. if we know it is good to be worth more next weekend at the price of the thing we want to buy is going to be lower and later unless we need that now we will wait to buy it and we might be for even a further week to see if it holds on a little bit more which is to say a bit of deflation slows down economic activity and people make fewer purchases because if it is going to be worth more, why spend it now and a bit more can bring the economy to a halt which is what happened when franklin roosevelt became the president of the
united states prices have fallen so far since their peak in the great depression people wanted to hold their money unless they absolutely had to spend it instead of buying goods with it. unemployment was at a catastrophic level especially at 25%. that is the first thing roosevelt did upon taking office is to end the gold standard in the united states. he did this to shift expectations about prices so people would begin to think how they will start to go up because it won't be as much later. they can afford to buy things themselves and employee other people. with the shift in expectations, the great depression began right
there in march of 1933 and continue to strongly afterwards. franklin roosevelt first term in office for the first fastest years that the united states ever had. now by ending the gold standard and beginning to use the dollar as a tool to manage prices and expectations, roosevelt was hoping to spark the recovery but also knew a lot more was at stake. it'll became chancellor of germany where the prices have also been plummeting and unemployment have been rising to catastrophic levels. roosevelt already knew he told one of his a hitler was evil for the united states because for the worst of men it supported their hate and ridicule of their tolerance and couldn't exist permanently as the rule of law
and democracy and human rights. the support is one of the advisers warned him it seems to be a choice between the rising prices and a rise in dictators which meant the program of recovery in the efforts to manage the prices upwards wasn't only an effort to put americans back to work but the race to restore the united states to the strength sufficient to fight against fascism both at home and abroad. john maynard keynes is also on the title as a rather handsome portrait i think. [laughter] he is in there because he gave a p. expectations that could and should be managed in the way that i described and he argued forcibly deflation was far worse than that of inflation for the
reasons i already described and provided the basis for a lot of what roosevelt did. they cheered him on in his newspaper columns that also saw it became the postwar system of international monetary management and those became to realize by working with u.s. and other international officials over the world to create the system of international monetary fund and the world bank that is more or less still with us today how did these to operate in the respective spheres to work together and how that monetary policy that resulted from that interaction defeat fascism in
tell a? it's on it's for the camera. okay. nice to see you. i was intrigued because they talked about to bring it up to the president and comparative things, so my question is for you because what was interesting to me in the book is the whole idea of the farmworkers which i'm presuming were migrant workers and the fact that we don't get them organized until many years later was there any backlash because they were migrant or they seemed to be awfully nervy later on.
>> they were organized farmworkers in the 1930s because you have the multiracial and multiethnic workforce that speaks different languages and many of them have a prejudice against the different groups and then they are desperately poor so if you are a union organizer you have to realize that they will subsidize so it is total total out to us on your part as a union organizer. you get a contract and get paid more for picking cotton and everybody goes away. and you as an organizer tried to follow them that then that you have a different group of people and you have to start all over again with educating them. those are obstacles that don't
concern the growers. they use a lot of different techniques to stop the union organizing. they could work with local law enforcement to arrest them trade a lot were arrested for vagrancy which was this all-purpose charge that was put in jail for up to a month. then also there's the violence, and a lot of digital antiviolence and to strike in u.s. history three workers were killed by vigilantes into this wasn't uncommon. so because of that, it was remarkable that they were able to try to organize as long as they did and then finally, the violence and the lack of government support and
especially with world war ii and the program and a lot of nativeborn workers got jobs in the shipyards so that pretty much killed the organizing efforts until the 1960s took up the cause again. [inaudible] and the people of the south about dealing with the labor population. i would say no. the california growers see themselves as the southern planters even though they are the unintended beneficiaries of the southern planters negotiating a exclusion of
agricultural workers in the labor law so i didn't see a lot of interaction. there is a lot of the same attitudes because there is a big migration to california from the south so a lot of the growers are from the south and they have a lot of the same attitudes as the southerners but i didn't see much coordination. >> i wanted to follow-up on the geography follow up on the geography question so far as your book is set in california and you just answered that yes there is a context and the rest of the nation. california doesn't make it into the index of your book but was there a site to the monetary policy and were we leaders in this area? >> [inaudible] [laughter] california does make a brief appearance when they were working to get brandon woods through the congress they had to
get it by an act of legislation and they wanted to go to places where there were the representatives or senators. they were put to work campaigning in michigan and the places in the south and in new york and st. louis and federal reserve cities. they wanted to go to california because as one of them said that the secretary of the treasury said there were no swing votes to be had said they were not going to spend them in that direction. >> i would like to say more about the southern growers moving to california.
i think of them as being kind of local. we see all the other books about the growers in the multigenerational families that don't up the dynasties usually in the san joaquin valley but now you're talking about another group and some interactions that i have not heard about. stick there are two greek migrations in other states in the west. there is the african-american great migration that starts it accelerates in world war ii but also migration of southern whites throughout this time and in particular, a lot of cotton planters who come to california to start their own here because they know their industry and they want to take risks in california and california has a different pattern of landholding in the rest of the nation and
the south in that it is much more on average they are much larger and they are owned by corporations or wealthy individuals. some of them are very successful during world war ii they go to the cities that there is a migration into farmers as well. >> how might things have played out differently to commit to jail for choice does work the way to go and what it being less than that?
>> i take it that this question is for me. what would fdr have done if he had come into the white house in early 2009 with a majority in both houses of congress. first if roosevelt had democratic majorities in early 2009, he would have been in a better position than he was in 1933 because the party and 33 consisted in a large matter of democrats who were not always in favor of the new deal policies and became less probably in the course of the 30s so that is an important point that would have been in the stronger position had not occurred. i think the key difference between the two administrations is in large measure attitudinal. they had no use for bankers particularly in the early stages of the administration and some
financial matters were sort of disgust that he would reject advice from anyone that had a connection in the company but it was the man who came into the white house saying that he was glad they had been kicked out of the temple and he was clear he wasn't interested in advice from that quarter and that was a popular position to take. now if the president had taken that position in 2008 and 2009, would it have been as popular? counterfactual's are always tough but i do have the sense that there was a moment in the 20091 could have been more stern and whether that would have been better than we have is a whole other kettle of fish. it was far more aggressive as indicated giving the monetary policy from the white house van
president obama and that is because the federal reserve board we have now is a creation of the new deal and was a result of the banking act of 1935 so it's different than existed in 1933 but in part you probably know we have a perennial debate over raising the debt ceiling in the country and that republicans in congress have tried to use up and shutting down the government or the possibility of a default to get concessions out of the white house and a number of folks found a provision that would authorize the platinum claim or put it with some chileans of dollars on its space as a way of relieving the debt and then to go on spending so
technically even though it was largely a device the obama administration rejected that as a negotiating tool and i think they would have at least let it be known that he would have been considering maintaining a platinum claim. that seems like the kind of thing he would have talked about [inaudible] tequesta is there a difference between roosevelt and obama sense of how to use power or as perhaps president obama does not
as i talked about in the book on of the things he was good at giving his ginning up protests from outside into them saying to the press into and to the republicans and other folks who might object the politics if you don't let me do this, then the people over here who have encouraged they will get their way and this is an excellent way of shifting what was possible further towards where he was at the center of the political spectrum to be. i never noticed him doing anything quite like that. roosevelt had been a governor and a senator we have different classes which is probably true,
yes. i think in the way president obama does after a certain point he certainly didn't. that's not exactly contents is seeking so there is a superficial way that that is true. roosevelt you almost have to have that to run for president. they didn't have to meet them halfway. he would tell them the right thing to do and quite often that turned out to be right.
[inaudible] she came from georgia but she left when she was 12 and moved to new york so i'm not sure she was shaped by the context. she had the accent that made her effective because he or she is this cute little girl next-door type with a southern accent. she seemed very nonthreatening so the party likes to put her like to put her front and center and see how we are. but the other leaders was a man named pat chambers who came from ohio and i think the key factor
for both of them wasn't necessarily class or race or their own history but ideology. they had just come to communism and were fervent believers at that time that they thought it was the way to help american workers. they didn't have much of an understanding of the marxism as an advanced concept, but they were committed to this idea that they were going to help american workers they were the main leaders in california but also a lot of people who maybe didn't get the headlines were the first edition that came from the workhorse either the southern migrants who are african-american or mexican-american. so i guess the answer is it was a very diverse leadership.
>> why is california so central is a shift of power towards the west. and i want to return to the comparative. one of the things in the book is this incredible cast of characters you read and it's these intellectuals but pop up after a long train rides and multiple meals and the confluence of intellectual policymakers in between the incredible politicians it seems to me the cast of characters pales to what comes next in the 60s and 70s and the kennedy era but is there a certain nostalgia here with the unprecedented alliance for the intellectuals and progressive politicians?
>> my question is why california, why did the movement began in california? i think it has something to do with the precarious nature particularly in the agribusiness that there was a sense of the threat with thread with the labor organization, the growers because you have those that are right for a couple of weeks and if they are not picked then they go bad so they felt a particular anxiety about the organization that was even more so i would argue them a lot of the corporate owned industries in the other parts of the country. also in california they had a long tradition of meeting the government in order to build the canals and the railroads. so this sense of betrayal to
help the workers organize against them meant there's a little bit of something irrational in their anger at the administration which is benefiting them in so many ways. they really felt it was a personal betrayal they had been able to count on the federal government for all these years and now they no longer can. i had an extra few minutes to think about the answer. [laughter] so the question is about the various politicians in the administration and the various taking advice and things seem to be different a bit later this is obviously true. the secretary of the secretary
yourself as pretty smart and it takes somebody who is confident and comfortable with himself like franklin roosevelt who doesn't care that he's smarter. they were not quite as comfortable. the truman had been a senator sort of an embedded in the machine back in missouri. so from a different background he had been in touch with the progressives in new york and the reformers and intellectuals long
had it here and he spent a long time just reading books by himself. he was fairly comfortable with a wide variety of people i think. >> i'm sort of interested in hearing these questions to talk about the difference in the geographical center of the respective books. liberalism was happening in the 1930s and conservatism was of course in the south of also i argue in california. and herbert hoover trying to stop roosevelt from running again so it's interesting it becomes a center for liberalism in the 1930s it was anything
but. do you have anything to say to that? >> this is your question, not mine. [laughter] we both know that california remains largely conservative even down to now. in the republican fishhook and the coastal cities. it's real sort of political liberalism comes in very recent times. so california as a sort of the the sort of the west coast as a phenomenon. >> can you talk about the communist party movement i
noticed that they have more indexed entries dan combined. [laughter] sacramento was the heart of the empires of empire's about where they were headquartered and at where the union leaders were for the criminals in 1935. it was a very vibrant movement and they had a conspiracy trial in 1935. of the women working in 33 are moved to that and i thought that came after the second world war. >> there is a big increase working before and after that
it's sort of a gradual upward trend throughout the century and there's a lot of women who are working in the field in the 1930s because they are just desperately poor and you can't feed your family unless you have everybody including the children working in the fields of that's why there are so many. [inaudible] it was the road to hell so i just wonder if you can talk about the fear of hyperinflation and how that affected how they approached so they had gone through and they knew about the period. it's about the fear of inflation and how it shapes the political debate. it's very clear that in 1933
with severe deflation and prices having gone down for so long, the bankers particularly but also certain opinion makers and abundance are eager to say inflation is just around the corner and if we do what president roosevelt, we will have runaway inflation and the economy will be destroyed. that doesn't happen if that doesn't happen and we had the same kind of warnings since 2008 and that also hasn't happened so why is that? i pointed out that there's just certain interests who are always worried about inflation. if you are on a fixed income it's going to hit you where you live but if you are basically on any other business, it's not going to bother you quite as
much but i think also there's a psychological element to it as well. think about the language people use. it's all about sound money come in hard currency. people talk about it as if it is intrinsically bad but that means it might not be such a terrible thing. >> i was going to get around to this. what we finish my thought and then i won't answer that point. i think when ted cruise talks about cruz talks about having
the money tied to go gold that is as much a psychological point i think a lot of people like the idea of a race re- strained, even an arbitrary one on what the policymakers can do and that is the appeal of the gold standard even though the fact it is shiny and we like it. [laughter] i think it's the idea that will tie people's hands but it can't run away. and i think that there's a kind of psychology and when i say that's not an original observation with me, they talk about the psychology of the gold standard and does so in fact did freud have rather unflattering things to say. [laughter] so the notion goes back a long but there's there is a rational argument for the deflationary and also a cultural psychological and has a certain
appeal irrespective of whatever arithmetic you can do. now you asked about the marks and the german experience of course is a whole other thing and it's -- if you listened today you would think hitler became chancellor in 33 because they are terrified of inflation. but hitler didn't become chancellor and 33, he became in 43 and the severe deflation. why this is true i don't know except again there is a kind of cultural psychological interest in the re- re- strained. it's not quite a rational argument as much as a cultural and psychological.
it's a very different turning point. they will try to tear down the accomplishment for that and i wondered you see that as a sort of contradiction or is it part of how we define the turning point is that it doesn't just bring in a new system but also clarifies the opponents and what exactly they are fighting against. >> i think you said that brilliantly. that is the very definition of the turning point is that it isn't just the beginning of modern liberalism it's also the beginning of modern conservatism we are making the argument about in very different ways. >> i agree. [laughter]
spinnaker plays a symbolic role for the conservatives at that particular moment. it's the basis of rallying support which challenges roosevelt in the 1936 election and again it's a symbol of if we had left behind that serves as the point for a range of other discontent >> is there a wager between you? >> we are each mutually interested in the other's welfare. [laughter] so it's all good. [laughter]
>> do you think we should and? are there any other questions? >> you are talking about were talking about this for the edited [inaudible] i'm interested in knowing what he left out in the other books because they seem like they've included everything but since i wasn't here, i don't know how it was different on the ground. >> i looked at the battle of this was the first major serious book that got him a lot of attention, and it was a book that he did a lot of research
for and it's now being made into a major motion picture with james franco but it's a very well-done and appealing and riveting novel however, he did all this research and learned very well one of the leaders in the strike was a woman and new women participate equally and knew that it was 95% mexican-americans yet he wrote the story as the leaders were white men, the strikes and the growers of course and it was all a struggle among the various groups. it's an interesting story and it conveys the violence and brutality however it leaves out a way that women participate in
the strikes and mexican-americans were a majority of the workers at the plant in the california history. >> one of the problems with the federal reserve bank in the wilson administration was decentralized roosevelt wasn't a fan of thinkers so how did he reconcile and i think if i recall correct late it became a central bank during the administrations of how do you reconcile