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“No business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country”
“Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting. ”
“It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something..”
“But while they prate of economic laws, men and women are starving. We must lay hold of the fact that economic laws are not made by nature. They are made by human beings.”
“I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made.”
“The test of our progress is not whether we add to the abundance of those who have much. It is whether we provide enough to those who have little.”
“There are many ways of going forward, but only one way of standing still.”
“One thing is sure. We have to do something. We have to do the best we know how at the moment. If it doesn’t turn out right, we can modify it as we go along.”
Franklin Roosevelt: Message to Congress on Establishing Minimum Wages and Maximum Hours
May 24, 1937
“Today, you and I are pledged to take further steps to reduce the lag in the purchasing power of industrial workers and to strengthen and stabilize the markets for the farmers’ products. The two go hand in hand. Each depends for its effectiveness upon the other. Both working simultaneously will open new outlets for productive capital. Our Nation so richly endowed with natural resources and with a capable and industrious population should be able to devise ways and means of insuring to all our able-bodied working men and women a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. A self-supporting and self-respecting democracy can plead no justification for the existence of child labor, no economic reason for chiseling workers’ wages or stretching workers’ hours. Enlightened business is learning that competition ought not to cause bad social consequences which inevitably react upon the profits of business itself. All but the hopelessly reactionary will agree that to conserve our primary resources of man power, government must have some control over maximum hours, minimum wages, the evil of child labor and the exploitation of unorganized labor.”
A Message from FDR about the Living Wage
After many requests on my part the Congress passed a Fair Labor Standards Act, what we call the Wages and Hours Bill. That Act –applying to products in interstate commerce — ends child labor, sets a floor below wages and a ceiling over hours of labor.
Except perhaps for the Social Security Act, it is the most far-reaching, the most far-sighted program for the benefit of workers ever adopted here or in any other country. Without question it starts us toward a better standard of living and increases purchasing power to buy the products of farm and factory.
Do not let any calamity-howling executive with an income of $1,000.00 a day, who has been turning his employees over to the Government relief rolls in order to preserve his company’s undistributed reserves, tell you — using his stockholders’ money to pay the postage for his personal opinions — tell you that a wage of $11.00 a week is going to have a disastrous effect on all American industry. Fortunately for business as a whole, and therefore for the Nation, that type of executive is a rarity with whom most business executives most heartily disagree.
Franklin Roosevelt’s Fireside Chat, June 24, 1938
See also this Daily Kos article for deeper quotes: