THE FAILURE OF THE NRA by Bernard Bellush


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Launching a policy he had championed since the mid-1920's, FDR gave Congress a whopping cartelization plan during his Hundred Days legislative push. The NRA, according to New York City College history professor Bellush, was introduced to head off the populist demand of Hugo Black of Alabama for a 30-hour week. The crafty FDR ""sought to satisfy advocates of social reform, public works, trust-busting, organized labor, state capitalism, and economic planning,"" but Bellush ruefully finds that in its short life, the NRA merely succeeded in raising prices, driving smaller companies to the wall, and setting up company unions. The NRA had the power to ""legislate by decree""; its mammoth bureaucracy often did the bidding of business interests and followed the unsteady whims of General Hugh Johnson, its chief. Bellush shows that not only did the National Association of Manufacturers oppose the NRA, but the tame Socialist Party described it as ""essentially fascist."" Bellush has a pretty good idea why the NRA collapsed; prices soared, child labor and other abuses continued, and General Johnson rushed out--against FDR's better judgment--to back the employers against workers in the San Francisco general strike. As the economy improved even the two million emergency jobs created in the fall of 1933 couldn't stem growing public distaste for the NRA, despite parades, mass meetings, and the Roosevelt demagoguery against big business. A detailed reference, not a new analysis.

Pub Date: Dec. 8th, 1975
Publisher: Norton