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The Townsend Plan - Pgm 2 (filmstrip soundtrack)

April 20th, 2008

In this post, an unusual 16" record that isn't a radio show, as I initially thought when I saw the disc.  This is a soundtrack record that originally accompanied a filmstrip to promote "The Townsend Plan" and is number 2 in an apparent series of these presentations.

The program is a bit dull in the first ten minutes where they go through many economic facts and figures, but picks up when the plan is actually explained and they address questions about the plan from everyday folks.  The dry, authoritative style would be something that comedians like the Firesign Theater would poke fun at in later years.  "A flag will wave on high only so long as the people beneath it are provided for!"

The Townsend Plan was a proposal by a physician, Dr. Francis Everett Townsend, that guaranteed a monthly pension of $200 per person (over $3,000 in 2007 dollars) with the stipulation that the money be spent by the recipients within a month.  The plan would have been paid for by a 2% tax on all business transactions.  The basic idea was to stimulate the economy by placing more money in circulation and end the Depression.

Townsend clubs sprang up all around the country and the Plan gained considerable attention, leading to the enactment of Social Security Act in 1935.  Townsend continued to lobby for the plan, since he still opposed Social Security and many other aspects of the administration's handling of economic policy.

This disc would appear to date from the late 1930's since it discusses the disadvantages of the Social Security Act and how the Roosevelt administration is using preparations for war as a means to lift the economy - it might have been produced as part of Townsend's push about the plan that lead to amendments to the Social Security Act in 1939.  The filmstrip and disc were likely used as informational programming by Townsend clubs to recruit new members or to motivate members to lobby their representatives.

You can read more about the Townsend Plan at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Townsend_plan .

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