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New Deal or Raw Deal?: How FDR's…
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New Deal or Raw Deal?: How FDR's Economic Legacy Has Damaged America

by Jr. Burton W. Folsom

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FDR’s New Deal while greatly increasing the Federal government’s power over markets, prices, and contracts provided jobs for millions, promoted investment, and recovered the country from the ravages of the Great Depression.
Or did it?
This is the question that Burton Folsom, Jr takes on in his 2008 book, New Deal or Raw Deal.
Folsom’s answer is a resounding no. He methodically dissects the various acts and policies from the National Industrial Recovery Act through the implementation of the minimum wage and social security to show how most, if not all of these programs, prolonged the effects of the Depression and were counterproductive to the long term wealth of the country.
Ultimately, however, Folsom falls into the same trap Roosevelt did. The problem with Roosevelt’s presidency was that developing the cult of his personality became the pre-eminent principle guiding his actions. Attacking that personality has become Folsom’s and he loses some of the power of his arguments by making Roosevelt the target as opposed to simply exposing the failed policies and practices.
Yet, Folsom has done us a great favor by being one of the first to charge this hill, relying on facts instead of myths to lay bare the real impacts of these policies.
Of course, there is tremendous relevance to today’s situation, in many ways. ( )
1 vote ldmarquet | Oct 17, 2009 |
Here is another book which should be studied in high schools and universities. Unfortunately, a serious challenge to the myth of FDR's greatness would never be tolerated among today's liberal academic establishment. It is hard to imagine that FDR was the greatest president of the twentieth century, as many historians allege, in the face of overwhelming and credible evidence to the contrary as presented by this author. The traditional story we are taught in school is that FDR guided America out of The Great Depression. In truth, when presented with unemployment and other economic data from that era, it is difficult to come to any other conclusion but that FDR's New Deal policies actually delayed the Depression and indeed led to a depression within a depression by the end of the 1930's. By the spring of 1939, after over six years of New Deal policies, unemployment was still over 20%! Judging by FDR's actions, one senses that he was less interested in economic recovery than he was in expanding his own political power. He regularly funneled taxpayer money into patronage jobs in swing states to assure his own and his party's victories in the elections of 1934 and 1936. This was outright vote buying and was not even the least bit subtle at times. For example, in the four months before the 1936 election, FDR directed that 300,000 men be signed up for government jobs with the WPA (Works Progress Administration). In the month AFTER the election (after FDR secured victory), all 300,000 jobs were promptly terminated! Another unsavory tactic employed by FDR was to use the IRS against his political enemies. According to his son, Elliott, FDR "may have been the originator of the concept of employing the IRS as a weapon of political retribution." Consequently, many of his political enemies wound up audited and sometimes jailed. FDR was also downright hostile to business throughout the 30's, taxing them exorbitantly. In 1942, he signed an executive order taxing 100% of personal income over $25,000, saying it was necessary to win the war. So what finally did get the country out of the depression? According to the author, it was two main factors. One was WWII, which put many of the unemployed to work overseas, as soldiers or home, working in munitions factories. The second was FDR's death in 1945, which resulted in Truman becoming president. He was far less hostile to business and poll data from that time reflect a sharp increase in optimism about business. Less uncertainty about onerous taxes and regulation eventually led to expanded production and thus the U.S. economy was able to "absorb the returning soldiers and those who had previously worked to make war equipment." This well-researched and thought-provoking book seems doubly relevant during our current economic crisis. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in history, economics and politics. ( )
2 vote cranmergirl | Apr 18, 2009 |
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[This] book deserves a wide audience, especially when so many intellectuals and politicians appear so eager to implement a vigorous return to New Deal principles and policies.
 
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A revisionist perspective on FDR's presidency and the New Deal argues that such government programs as social security, minimum wage, and farm subsidies didn't work in the 1930s and do not work now, in a critical report that traces many modern problems to the FDR administration.… (more)

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