New Deal Or Raw Deal?: How FDR's Economic Legacy Has Damaged America - Burton W. Folsom, Jr.

Posted by Wonky 8 years ago to Books
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This book has, at last, put so much into perspective for me. I listened to the audiobook. The calm, deliberate, clear narration was probably partly responsible for its powerful delivery. Free from all but mildly indignant intonation, which by other narrators might have been dripping with disdainful, sarcastic, and/or hostile intonation, it relays the facts in a digestible manner - allowing the listeners blood to simmer rather than boil.

The discussion of the NRA, AAA, WPA, and other early New Deal programs are eerily familiar. The historical facts surrounding these early programs read like excerpts from Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" and George Orwell's "1984".

Businesses "ordered" to fix prices and wages (NRA), and business owners being jailed and fined for NOT engaging in the practice? Henry Ford refusing to fold, calling the Act Un-American and unconstitutional. Thankfully, the Supreme Court unanimously killed the NRA in 1935.

Farmers being paid by the government NOT to farm their land (AAA). A bizarre program designed to combat a popular notion that "underconsumption" was a root cause of the Great Depression. Farm subsidies still exist to this day.

The WPA conveniently created jobs in red states, particularly in periods leading up to elections? This just became SOP for new and dirty politics. Allegiance to FDR's masterful manipulation of economic despair gained local politicians the federal government handouts needed to become local heroes in exchange for their souls. Many WPA created jobs only lasted so long as those job holders supported the New Deal and contributed earnings to Democratic political campaigns.

All this, just for starters...

The author identifies likely causes for the Great Depression, then discusses New Deal programs in relation to those causes, clearly demonstrating that the depression was extended by this massive explosion (and corruption) of government. He does not go to extremes, such as pointing out all of the prominent government positions held by Communists and Communist sympathizers (such as Harry Hopkins, Alger Hiss, Lauchlin Currie, to name a few). He never even directly labels FDR tyrannical, even though it is quite clear from the facts as presented.

Finally, the author applies the lessons learned from a fair assessment of New Deal programs to modern social and economic issues and the government's role (or lack thereof) in handling the issues.

It is a difficult thing to seek and learn the truth with so many forces attempting to rewrite and/or distort history. I recommend this book to anyone who prefers the truth in spite of the pain it occasionally brings with it.


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