In his first inaugural address March 4, 1933, Franklin Roosevelt called out financiers. Here are some of his remarks about that segment of society.
“This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. . .our distress comes from no failure of substance. . . Plenty is at our doorstep, but a generous use of it languishes in the very sight of the supply. . .
“Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men. . .
“Faced by failure of credit, they have proposed only the lending of more money. Stripped of the lure of profit by which to induce our people to follow their false leadership, they have resorted to exhortations, pleading tearfully for restored confidence. They only know the rules of a generation of self-seekers. They have no vision, and when there is no vision the people perish.
“Yes, the money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths. The measure of that restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit.
“Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort. The joy, the moral stimulation of work no longer must be forgotten in the mad chase of evanescent profits. These dark days, my friends, will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves, to our fellow men.
“Recognition of that falsity of material wealth as the standard of success goes hand in hand with the abandonment of the false belief that public office and high political position are to be valued only by the standards of pride of place and personal profit; and there must be an end to a conduct in banking and in business which too often has given to a sacred trust the likeness of callous and selfish wrongdoing.”
One initiative to bring more options was passage of the Federal Credit Union Act in 1934.
FDR’s Biblical Reference: A Holy Week Sonnet
Come to your Temple here with liberation
And overturn these tables of exchange
Restore in me my lost imagination
Begin in me for good, the pure change.
Come as you came, an infant with your mother,
That innocence may cleanse and claim this ground
Come as you came, a boy who sought his father
With questions asked and certain answers found,
Come as you came this day, a man in anger
Unleash the lash that drives a pathway through
Face down for me the fear the shame the danger
Teach me again to whom my love is due.
Break down in me the barricades of death
And tear the veil in two with your last breath.
The Question: Where are credit unions today with this ever lasting challenge to cleanse the temples of finance?