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December 16, 2010
Teachers, Then and Now
"New Deal or Raw Deal?," by Burton Folsom, is a book of FDR hidden historical facts, recommended by Thomas Sowell in his "Christmas Reading" article. One of the more interesting accounts is Massachusetts' refusal of the FDR administration's offer of money for Relief (what we now call Welfare) in 1933.
Page. 80 of "New Deal or Raw Deal?" states:
"Governor Joseph Ely [of Massachusetts] and other state officials still believed that relief should be a local and state function. They constantly worked to raise local money for local needs."
This fundraising effort included Boston Civic Symphony giving concerts, a charity exhibition football game between Boston College and Holy Cross, and even "A benefit wrestling match at the Boston Garden supplied $5,000 for local needs."
But the most interesting part was the efforts during the Depression made by Boston Mayor James Curley (who would become the next governor and strong supporter of FDR) raised, with the help of city officials, $2.5 million (a lot of money in those days) "from city employees; even the city's schoolteachers donated 2 percent of their salaries for six months in 1931 to feed the poor." The author cites as sources Charles H. Trout's book, "Boston, The Great Depression, and the New Deal" and J. Joseph Huthmacher's book "Massachusetts: People and Politics, 1919-1933."
I believe the salaries of civil employees, including teachers, were fairly comfortable by Depression standards, but were not huge. Still, these civil workers felt an obligation to help their fellow Boston residents with their own money, not just lip service advocacy of a federal program paid for by people from Indiana, California and Texas. Yes, you may be saying it was good politics - but why isn't such a donation by today's well-paid government employees not also considered good politics at this time?
Thomas Lifson recently wrote here about the enormous salaries of teachers in Illinois, a state where 14,000 teachers make more than $100,000 a year. Do you think such well paid public employees could chip in 2 percent to help those less fortunate than themselves, people who are their neighbors? Or has the habit of having the government administer aid sapped them of their charitable inclinations? Or will they just opt for the Outer Cabin on the "A" Deck on a cruise to Cancun?