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A White-Collar Worker Calls the New Deal "Downright Stealing"

Conservative critics of the New Deal disliked the new regulations on businesses and feared the long-term consequences of deficit spending, which they likened to socialism and the end of freedom. Some also expressed nativist or racist feelings that government programs helped people who weren’t “real Americans” and raised expectations for social equality. This author cleverly uses President Roosevelt’s own language like “mandate from the people” and “the forgotten man” to attack programs like Social Security.

[no address] 

18 January 1937 

[Dear Mrs. Roosevelt] 

I…was simply astounded to think that anyone could be nitwit enough to wish to be included in the so called social security act if they could possibly avoid it. Call it by any name you wish it, in my opinion, (and that of many people I know) is nothing but downright stealing… 

The president tells [businesses] they should hire more men and work shorter hours so that the laborers, who are getting everything now raises etc. can have a “more abundant life.” That simply means taking it from the rest of us in the form of taxes or otherwise. 

Believe me, the only thing we want from the president…is for him to balance the budget and reduce taxes. That, by the way, is a “mandate from the people” that isn’t getting any attention. 

I am not an “economic royalist,” just an ordinary white collar worker… Please show this to the president and ask him to remember the wishes of the forgotten man, that is, the one who dared to vote against him. We expect to be tramped on but we do wish the stepping would be a little less hard. 

Security at the price of freedom is never desired by intelligent people. 

M.A. [female]

Source | From Robert S. McElvaine, ed., Down & Out in the Great Depression: Letters from the Forgotten Man, (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1983), 148-149.
Creator | Anonymous
Item Type | Diary/Letter
Cite This document | Anonymous, “A White-Collar Worker Calls the New Deal "Downright Stealing",” SHEC: Resources for Teachers, accessed September 28, 2021,

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