How could Charles Beard have erred so badly in arguing that the Constitution was written mainly to serve the signers' economic interests? In part Beard missed the mark because he was trying to hit something else—a Progressive agenda for reform, the excuse to transfer wealth from the haves to the have-nots. If the Founders were merely protecting their economic interests, Beard and his progressive friends were justified in supporting the redistribution of wealth.
The National Industrial Recovery Act (NRA) dramatically altered America’s traditional free-market system. Under the NRA, a majority of firms in any industry had government approval backed by force to determine how much a factory could expand, what wages had to be paid, the number of hours to be worked, and the prices of products. Whether or not a businessman helped write the code for his industry, he was bound by the terms and subject to a fine or jail term if he violated them.