Depression Decade: From New Era through New Deal, 1929-1941

By Broadus Mitchell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XI
War to the Rescue

LAMENT FOR LAISSEZ FAIRE

A SINGULAR interlude in the New Deal was the "Investigation of Concentration of Economic Power" by the Temporary National Economic Committee. The committee enjoyed the blessing, perhaps the inspiration of the President, who in April, 1938, sent a message to Congress "calling attention to the need for a thorough study of the concentration of economic power and its injurious effects on the American system of free enterprise." Authorized June 16 of that year, the committee began hearings December 1 and continued them intermittently for eighteen months.

This was a full-dress inquisition, testimony of 552 witnesses consuming 775 hours and being published, with 3,300 technical exhibits, in 31 volumes, 6 supplements, and 43 monographs. Senator Joseph C. O'Mahoney of Wyoming was chairman, Leon Henderson was executive secretary (afterward "executive coordinator"), and relevant government departments had representatives, such as Thurman Arnold, Assistant Attorney General, Isador Lubin, Commissioner of Labor Statistics, and others from Commerce, the Federal Trade Commission, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and so on. The New Deal administration had done far more than any other in the country's history to practice collective control and enterprise, through government alone and in cooperation with private interests. Here it was making an about-face, vehemently accus

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