During the fall of 1974, in the first few days of October, a young economic advisor to President Gerald Ford met with group of disadvantaged Americans to discuss the debilitating effects of inflation.
According to a Philadelphia newspaper, the group was composed of “six Blacks, four Indians, two Orientals and a few poor whites.” Group representatives relayed to the advisor “that many poor persons are forced to eat dog food, many Indian children are literally starving, and millions of Blacks have already lost the small gains they’ve made over the past decade.”
Here was the official’s reply: “Everybody is hurt by inflation, not just you people. If you wanted to examine who is hurt the most percentage-wise in their incomes, it’s Wall Street stockbrokers. I mean their incomes have gone down the most.”
Of course contemporaries denounced the advisor. The head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Rev. Joseph E. Lowery [right, at President Barack Obama’s inauguration], said: “To equate the plight of the Wall Street financier who may have to eat less steak and sip less champagne with the plight of the poor who are forced to eat dog food—and may have to eat the dog—is a statement to the nation and the world that the poor are expendable.”
A Democratic congressman from New York, Charles Rangel, called for the advisor’s resignation. Rangel reflected: “How can the man who is supposed to advise the President on crucial economic matters during this period of unemployment, which is double the national average in the Black community, and spiraling inflation make a statement that stockbrokers are suffering the most. I am aware that the impact of inflation is totally pervasive, but it is absolutely obscene and insane to place stockbrokers at the bottom of the economic ladder.”
Who was Ford’s advisor? The answer, and source of my anecdote, are in the comments. – TL