IN the summer of 1933 a Negro farmer from Georgia stood on the grounds of the White House to receive a medal from the President of the United States.He was honored because he was the first to plow under his quota of cotton. At that very time some fourteen million workers were unemployed and, in the words of the same President, a third of the nation was ill clothed. It may have been that the farmer who symbolized the campaign to destroy growing cotton had to borrow money to buy a decent shirt in which to appear for his award.
Someday America will look back on that episode with unbelief. Only a decade later, the Secretary of Agriculture, who flanked the President on the White House lawn, became the chief champion of plenty for this country and the world. The medalist, for the moment the nation's model farmer, had obeyed the Agricultural Adjustment Act of May 12, 1933. This, with its successor laws, marked the extreme of irony, not to say imbecility, to which the depression had brought the nation's economy. Millions were hungry and naked, while food and fiber were turned back to the clods or fields were left untilled. The economy of scarcity never found franker illustration. There was never a governmental policy carried out with such mingled satisfaction and shame. Officials who devised the program of "crop control" (read curtailment) tried to avoid responsibility