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Dateline Wausau: 'Buy Now' to end Depression

3:58 PM, Sep. 12, 2013  |  Comments
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1933: Governor asks people to 'Buy Now'

Gov. Albert G. Schmedeman declared the week of Sept. 25 "NRA Buying for Reemployment Week," according to the Sept. 16, 1933, edition of Wausau Daily Record-Herald.

The National Industrial Recovery Act, nicknamed NRA, was developed earlier that year by President Franklin Roosevelt and his advisers as part of his New Deal to pull the country out of the Great Depression. One step of the NRA was a President's Reemployment Agreement "to raise wages, create employment and thus restore business," according to an article about the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 found online at the Department of Labor's historical page at www.dol.gov/oasam/programs/history.

By signing the agreement, employers limited workweeks to 35 to 40 hours, with minimum wages of $12 to $15 per week, and generally would not hire youths younger than 16. Businesses that signed were allowed to display a blue eagle symbol with the motto "We do our part," and patriotic Americans were asked to patronize only those establishments.

Gov. Schmedeman's proclamation said that in some communities, all employers and all consumers had signed the agreement. "This is the ideal arrangement."

The governor encouraged residents to "be generous" in making purchases from Blue Eagle businesses, the newspaper reported. "This will create the cycle that will create more demand for products, consequently more need for labor, more purchasing power by labor, more products and so through the cycle," he was quoted as saying. "The Blue Eagle will keep the wheels of industry moving. The Bluye Eagle will make possible the rise out of the depression."

The NRA was disarmed by the Supreme Court in 1935 in its ruling on the case of Schechter Corp. v. United States. The case questioned "a code to improve the sordid conditions under which chickens were slaughtered and sold to retail kosher butchers." The court unanimously agreed that the act put too much government power into private hands and struck down the NRA, according to the Department of Labor article.

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