THE NRA PURCHASING POWER THEORYO
It would be a serious error to regard the NRA as a studied attempt to give institutional embodiment to an economic theory. It was primarily a plan of action to meet what was conceived to be an emergency. It respotided to concrete immediate objectives: to get idle workers on the payrolls of industry, to shorten hours, to raise wages, to put a "bottom" under prices, to outlaw "unfair competition," to abolish child labor. Theory was secondary to action, not action to theory.
It is in part for this reason that we have no formal official version of the economic doctrines underlying the NRA. There is instead an accumulation of public statements emanating from different government officials and varying widely in emphasis and completeness. To distill from these declarations anything approaching a clear-cut, well-reasoned, and consistent body of doctrine is patently impossible. For the most part they originated as propaganda dashed off in the campaign to "sell" the NRA to the public, and they reflect the confusion and incoherence characteristic of such material.
It need hardly be said that there is seldom in these statements any clear separation of the reform and the recovery aspects of the NRA program. In many cases it seems to have been simply assumed that recovery was a natural by-product of reform. The program itself, as we have pointed out in the preceding chapter, was essentially an embodiment of the long-standing reform proposals of organized labor and organized industry: higher wages, shorter hours, and collective bargaining on the one hand;