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FDR persuaded a nation to cut back

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in Leaders & Managers,Workplace Communication

The next time you have to deliver bad news about cutbacks or even just a change in procedure, take some cues from Franklin D. Roosevelt, who told the nation via radio in 1942 that it had to accept severe rationing and higher taxes to support the World War II effort.

Here’s how Roosevelt attacked the subject:

“The blunt fact is that every single person in the United States is going to be affected by this program. Some of you will be affected more directly by one or two of these restrictive measures, but all of you will be affected indirectly by all of them.

“Are you a business man, or do you own stock in a business corporation? Well, your profits are going to be cut down to a reasonably low level by taxation. Your income will be subject to higher taxes.

“Are you a retailer or a wholesaler or a manufacturer or a farmer or a landlord? Ceilings are being placed on the prices at which you can sell your goods or rent your property.

“Do you work for wages? You will have to forgo higher wages for your particular job for the duration of the war.

“All of us are used to spending money for things that we want, things, however, which are not absolutely essential. We will all have to forgo that kind of spending. Because we must put every dime and every dollar we can possibly spare out of our earnings into War Bonds and Stamps. Because the demands of the war effort require the rationing of goods of which there is not enough to go around.

“Because the stopping of purchases of nonessentials will release thousands of workers who are needed in the war effort.

“As I told the Congress yesterday, ‘sacrifice’ is not exactly the proper word with which to describe this program of self-denial.

“When, at the end of this great struggle we shall have saved our free way of life, we shall have made no ‘sacrifice.’ ”

—Adapted from FDR’s “Fireside Chat” of April 28, 1942, available online at http://www.mhric.org/fdr/chat21.html.

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