Looking Back for Jan. 4, 1935
January 3, 2010
75 years ago
As we threw last year's calendar into the wastebasket and hung up the new one with 1935 printed at the top, we paused to wonder how the world would look to us the next time we had the job to do.
In many ways, it has been a curious and confusing year, the one we have just come through; the most confusing of all the five years that have passed since the Great Depression set in. There has been more running around in circles, more talk about the great events that were just about to happen, more excitement about the plans and projects to set the world right or shove it deeper into the hole, than in any previous depression year.
There is no question about the upswing in business and industry. It is shown in bank clearings, retail sales, car loadings, increase of postal receipts and many other ways. Income of farmers has increased to more than $1 billion during the previous year. Some of the improvement has been brought about by enormous expenditures of government money, which will eventually have to be paid back.
Yet the recovery has not been as great as we hoped. Nobody was making any money a year ago; nobody is making any now. Lots of people were out of work at the beginning of January 1934, almost as many are out of work now. A year ago, the only important money in circulation was handled by the federal government; today that still is true.
There were, of course, many exciting events in 1934. A king and a chancellor were killed in Europe; a couple of dictators put a lot of people to death without trial. Russia joined the League of Nations, and Japan and Germany withdrew from it. Mussolini made a lot of warlike gestures. But the big war that many were sure was going to happen in 1934 didn't come off. Maybe it will in 1935, but our guess is the other way. Nations can't fight when they are broke, and most of the ones that would like a scrap are broke.
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A great steamship burned and killed a lot of passengers, a man who may have had something to do with the Lindbergh kidnapping was arrested, a lot of aviation records were smashed and several railroads began experimenting with funny looking high-speed trains. Some folks went up into the stratosphere higher than anyone had ever gone, others went deeper below the surface of the sea than men had ever penetrated.
All of those things were interesting, even exciting, and in the old days, when business and industry were running smoothly and everybody who really wanted to work had a job, we called a good many of that sort of thing "progress."
What we would like to see in 1935 is real progress toward economic recovery, progress of the sort that derives from and is built upon every man standing on his own two feet and not leaning on the government. Whether there is anything of that sort ahead of us, however, we are not a good enough prophet to tell.
Emergency relief funds will be withdrawn soon
States, counties and municipalities will be taking care of their own chronic dependents after Feb. 1, when federal emergency relief aid will be withdrawn. This order will clear the federal relief rolls of about 4 million individuals who must be taken care of by local relief. The other 15 million will be given work on financed projects by the federal government.