20th Century, Americana, History, Minnesota, Uncategorized, Unemployment, Unions

Hunger March

tuul_program_structure_method_history_1929

1932
In the heart of the Depression, hunger marchers in downtown Minneapolis demand an $8 weekly relief grant.*

Minnesotans fared better than most during the first wave of the stock market crash due to the longstanding tradition of private charity. Eventually these reserves were depleted by the sheer numbers of the homeless and unemployed. Below is a citation of the intensity and desperation here by historian Raymond L. Koch:

“After the fall elections of 1930, which saw the Farmer-Labor party gain prominence at the state level of politics with the election of Floyd R. Olson as governor, pressure for action on relief needs rapidly increased from organizations of unemployed persons which had sprouted immediately after the great crash. The day after Olson’s first in- augural speech, a group of Twin Cities Communists arranged a march to the Capitol and staged a demonstration for unemployment relief. They were led by Karl Reeve, district organizer of the Communist party in Minneapolis and leader of a local chapter of the Trade Union Unity League, a Communist-front organization. The group distributed a circular that blasted the American Federation of Labor and the Farmer-Labor party and even accused Olson himself of being a “henchman of the Steel Trust.” Several weeks later the Trade Union Unity League scheduled William Z. Foster, a leading national Communist figure, to speak on March 2, 1931, in the Minneapolis Gateway district, a haven for transients and local homeless and jobless individuals. Mayor William F. Kunze banned the speech, but the league tried to hold a meeting anyway. The result was the “Gateway riot,” as it was called the next day after police broke up the assembled group.”**

For further amplification of the situation read the excerpt below:

“The summer relief crisis reached a peak on July 8, 1932, when approximately seven hundred “hunger marchers” demonstrated again in front of City Hall. They demanded a five-million-dollar appropriation for city relief, an eight-dollar-a-week grant to un- employed workers, and a slum clearance program. Invading the city council chambers, the demonstrators listened to two Farmer-Labor aldermen protest Mayor Anderson’s reappointment of one of the conservative members of the board of public welfare — Mrs. H. S. Godfrey — to another four-year term.”**

Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer. We seek Your insights into this snapshot of a vitriolic moment in the history of Minneapolis. Will You come and restore us into a right relationship with You and others so we do not replicate its offenses and judgments?

We begin by repenting of self-reliance instead of looking to You. Maybe we forgot the Lord’s prayer; “give us this day our daily bread”? Or the coin did not drop into our hearts until we reached the point of daily and literal hunger? In any case, Minneapolitans have judged You and Your Church as being an incompetent providers. Will You forgive when and where we have denied Your Greatness and clung to our depression?

It also seems apparent that this conflict was not solely about what relief was given, but who would get the credit. Prior to this crisis, it appears we helped the poor by a team effort between the cities’ board of public welfare channeled through the direct care of private charities. Where the politicians sought to convert welfare into votes; have mercy. Where private charities blew their own trumpets, and diverted gratitude rightfully Yours onto themselves; have mercy. Will You restore us as a people so that we are more concerned about aid reaching the needy rather than being publicity greedy?

Another bone of contention between protesters and philanthropies derived from the question how the aid would be given. Some with a Marxist worldview advocated for aid to be in the form of direct cash payments. Traditionalists sought a solution of workfare; those seeking aid could barter their labor for food or other assistance. Will You forgive this offense to You, and the drive to power that couldn’t bear to experiment with both methods?

Ultimately, these events originated a rift still extant: will we be a people who value independence, or dependence? In either case, proponents of both philosophies may deny or contain misbeliefs about the concept of interdependence.

Communism has some inherent motive conflicts; it wants equality of outcomes but must rely on capitalism to pay for its programs. It has inherent paradoxical beliefs regarding land and personal property. Simultaneously, it advocates the abolition of private property while seizing the property of those “haves” in order to give it to the “have nots”. It is also interesting to note in this context, that the proponents of a system which hates capital (money), simultaneously agitates for relief to be disbursed in cash rather than barter or another type of exchange in kind. Will You forgive these offenses within the Gateway Riot and the collectivists of the period?

Capitalism of this era also contains perfidy and forms of double-mindedness. Can a market seek a fair price if it is manipulated by its regulators? How can the Federal Reserve system get by without an audit; ever? Only twenty years after its creation it eliminates the gold standard that facilitates irresponsible investments, public debt, and the stock market bubble? Over 9,000 private banks that it conditioned to act as fractional reserve lenders went bankrupt; yet it had no motive in eliminating competition? If this is not duplicitous, then it appears intentional and criminal. Will You forgive the offenses by those who have manipulated the markets and the value of money?

Let us not forget the divisiveness of the Depression that was pushed by the spirit of religion. By this, I mean religion that exists for its own growth rather than humbly pointing seekers to G-d. Imagine the charity that could have happened in this time frame if the Protestants religious leaders of Minneapolis had cooperated with the Catholic leadership of Saint Paul? Imagine the magnanimous state of Minnesota if the leaders of the religion of the Farmer Labor Party had not fought the leaders of the religion of the Democratic Party who fought the leaders of the religion of Republicanism? Too often, we have endured hardship because of pride. For too long, we have suffered rather than compromise with a religious or worldview enemy! In Your mercy, will You forgive us the worship of the mechanics of our religion rather than You? Will You forgive us the bitter judgments of our religious enemies in Minnesota? Will You heal our double-mindedness as a society? We have demanded a gift rather than asked for it from You and our neighbor. Will You make us poor in spirit so we can be rich in love?
There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. The one who fears has not been perfected in love. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.*** I John 4:19-21 NIV

* P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
** Raymond L. Koch.“The Development of Public Relief Programs in Minnesota, 1929-1941.” University of Minnesota, 1968.
http://collections.mnhs.org/MNHistoryMagazine/articles/41/v41i04p153-170.pdf
*** http://biblehub.com/1_john/4-19.htm

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20th Century, government, History, Intercession, Labor, Minnesota, Politics, Uncategorized, Unions

Olson Becomes Governor

Unknown

Jan 6, 1931
Floyd B. Olson takes office as the state’s 22nd governor. *

Governor Olson was many things to many people, but perhaps he is most known as the leader of the Farmer Labor Party. Why is this so critical to Minnesota, and our collective memory? After Olson’s victory, “the Farmer-Labor Party would emerge as the dominant political force in Minnesota. It became one of the country’s most successful third-party movements.” **

This famed reformer wore his Progressive Socialist agenda on his sleeve, and was happy to distinguish his movement from either Republican or Democratic thought previously known in the North Star state. He clearly advocated for the minimum wage. As a former Industrial Workers of the World unionist, he proudly supported trade unions and their most prized reform; collective bargaining. To properly finance his progressive view of social justice he proposed a progressive income tax. (A progressive tax is simply a plan based on the idea that if you earn more, you should pay more.)

How then would his policy stack up against historic economic theory regarding the utility of the minimum wage? “In economic theory, a price floor creates a surplus in the market place because there is more supply than demand at the set price. This theory applies to the market for labor as well. Some argue that when the minimum wage is raised, more people want jobs because now they are more lucrative. However new jobs are not necessarily created. Based on this standard economic model, when demand for labor is greater than the supply, a labor surplus results, creating unemployment.” *** To interpret, higher wages may attract more to the job market, new jobs are not necessarily created, and based on historical data; there is more unemployment.

Further, what are the strengths and weaknesses of unionism and collective bargaining as proposed by our Governor? Below is a quote by Labor Economics expert James Sherk.

“A union’s monopoly over bargaining makes it a cartel that prevents employers from hiring workers who would do the same job for less than union wages. That benefits union members at the expense of their potential competitors. It also means that state and local governments must pay more to have the same work done. Without providing financing for the mandate, the act will force these governments to either cut services or raise taxes.” ****

By definition, a monopoly is the exclusive possession or control over something. So, perhaps it could be more accurately construed as “monopoly bargaining”, or were extreme tactics necessary in an era of bargaining with a monopoly? Memories of coping with giants of industry in the not-so-distant past would be a very plausible fear for these union strikers: U.S. Steel, International Harvester, James Hill and Weyerhauser.

According to the ideals of Governor Olson, for society to progress, it must have the tax base to right social wrongs and lift up the oppressed by the hand of government. “The income tax is the most just tax thus far devised because it is the most equitable tax; it is based on ability to pay,” he added.
Maybe this is why he borrowed from the collectivist visions of Karl Marx? Below are the first five planks of the original German interpretation of the “Manifesto of the Communist Party”, please note plank #2.

“1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.
2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
3. Abolition of all rights of inheritance.
4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
5. Centralization of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.” ******

Shall we pray? G-d, we give You honor as the Authority of Authorities, Provider of All to All, and Justice to all forms of Justice. We remember that Your Dominion is not a matter of talk, but of power. You are the Only Arbiter of Grace and Truth. You are the Only One who perfectly balances Justice and Mercy!

We acknowledge our separations from You through the leadership of Governor Olson. We chose to follow the false god of Progressivism. We admit that we cannot bring a utopia through humanistic means. We are not able to grant unalienable rights or take them away for that is Your work; Your mystery. Though we try through the ages, we cannot improve upon the Shema of Deuteronomy 6 or the recitation by Christ in Matthew 22:37.
“Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ “ *******
Will You forgive us where we failed to love You in this era, and where we failed to receive Your love in return? Our hands hold so tightly to power that we cannot grasp the manna You are giving us today.

We acknowledge our separations from You in our trust in the minimum wage during the Great Depression. We have limited our neighbor’s right to negotiate a wage with their employer, and infringed upon that individual’s will. Though we try through the ages, we cannot improve upon the divine positive laws of the 10 Commandments. To paraphrase, the seventh and tenth commandments tell us to respect and honor the property of others, and to be content with our property. How can we simultaneously respect and honor an employer whom we force to pay us more? How can we respect and honor our neighbor’s will if we interfere with it? Father, where allowed the real pain and discontent of the 1930’s cloud our boundaries and honor for other Minnesotans; will You have mercy?
We acknowledge our offenses to You and our neighbor in putting faith in collective bargaining and unions. (I do not condemn either of these ideas per se.) Chosen collectivism is beautiful and admirable. Look at the example of the early Church
found in Acts 2:44.
“All the believers were together and had everything in common.” ********
Where collectivism breaks with Your example, perhaps, is that it may negate the will of its’ neighbor. Why should a worker be required to join a union to work? If labor is the possession of each laborer, then forced collectivization could become extortion or ultimatum.
Why should an employer be required by a third party or law to negotiate with his employees on a collective basis? For example, the words ‘labor strike’ do not imply mutual submission with a boss towards a mutually defined goal, but a choice to break that relationship. Where we have broken faith with You, our neighbor, or our leaders through forced unionism or collective bargaining; will You have mercy?

Conversely, we acknowledge to You the damage done by the monopolies of this era whether the owners of industry or its workers? Have they offended You with their cartel-like power against the freedoms of  the wills’ of competitors and laborers? Culturally, we have rejected the reset You have ordained for Your people through the Jubilee. (See Leviticus 25) We were to blast the trumpet for liberty, canceling debts, restoring the poor, and returning land, but we seem to have forgotten. Will You forgive this great omission of ours? Are we separated from the blessings and covenant protections of Your economy because we don’t observe Sabbatical years in Minnesota? Will You show us how to reclaim this practice personally, and, by choice, restore this obedience within each corner of the free-market?

We acknowledge our offense to You and our neighbor through our faith in a graduated income tax. We, as a State, may have required more of our neighbor’s wealth than You. Below, the prophet Malachi reports to the peoples of Judah to give to G-d the 10% flat tax He required.

“You are under a curse–your whole nation–because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”

If this is to be Your example to us, then is it true that those who fail to participate actually rob You and their neighbor? I’m not thinking here in terms of money, but of themselves. Those who do not invest in society may not develop an interest in society, or experience the gratitude of an unmerited gift from one who invests heavily in them. The relationship between giver and receiver is broken when it is required instead of choice. Further, for a progressive tax model to be truly even, could it require a non-monetary investment of time in lieu of a financial contribution? Will You have mercy on the uneven nature of our remedies to inequality?

In spite of these pondering prayers, will You bless the heritage of Floyd B. Olson? Will You remember his attempts to relate and create policies that contribute towards a better life for regular Minnesotans? Will You give honor and favor to those who labor at the minimum wage? Will You come to the aid of those who belong to a union, employ union labor, and collectively bargain in good faith? We want society to mature without acknowledging the revenge, envy, and discontent inside. Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on Minnesota! Will You perfect the progress of our inner lives?

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” *********

* P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

** http://www.mnopedia.org/person/olson-floyd-b-1891-1936

*** https://edgewortheconomics.com/experience-and-news/edgewords-blogs/edgewords/article:02-28-2013-a-9-minimum-wage-and-a-lesson-in-price-floors/

**** Article by James Sherk, Research Fellow, Labor Economics https://www.heritage.org/markets-and-finance/report/mandatory-collective-bargaining-creates-more-problems-itsolves

***** https://www.minnpost.com/minnesota-history/2013/01/gov-olson-80-years-ago-proposed-progressive-taxes-and-unemployment-insuran

******* Quote of “Manifesto of the Communist Party” Chapter 2 (German original) https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/communist-manifesto/ch02.htm

******** http://biblehub.com/matthew/22-37.htm

******** http://biblehub.com/acts/2-44.htm

********* http://biblehub.com/malachi/3-9.htm

********** http://biblehub.com/ezekiel/36-26.htm

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