FDR and the depression

Isthis economically sound, or Republican theory?


Grade A #1.

Since no one has picked this up in ten years (it is dated from 2004) it’s safe assumption to believe that historians and economists have studied the same data and found these two people’s findings to be wanting.

Thanks. :slight_smile:

I love this.

Obviously the non-Rooseveltian policies from 1929-1933 should have been continued indefinitely because they were working so well! All they had to do was wait until 1936! Nobody wouldn’t have minded if you told them to keep Hoover! What revolution?

It is difficult, if not unreasonable to ascribe such power to a “local boy” when the situation was global . . .

BTW, I was a child during this time, in a family of a single mother and three children, and we simply did what we had to, in order to survive – a garden, trapping game, raising chickens for meat and eggs – you quickly learn that the idea is to survive, and enjoyment of any part of life in general was totally out of the question . . .

Exapno already pointed out a passage that seems suspect.

If I’m reading this right, they took growth figures from before the depression and projected them forward as if the depression hadn’t occurred. And they then compared the actual historical figures to these hypothetical figures based on there being no depression. Which is a pretty pointless baseline. It’s like saying first aid is a bad idea because people who receive first aid after a car accident have a higher death rate in comparison to people who didn’t have a car accident.

Even I, an Instrumentation Engineer completely ignorant of economics, had a vague idea like that.

I have heard that the watch word of the Depression was, “G-d damn Roosevelt”, while I thought it should be, “G-d damn Hoover.”

My paternal Grandfather was working construction under some New Deal program-He called the “The WP”, but I wonder if it was the Public Works Act-he built some parks here in Arkansas-and my Grandmother told me that she slept on a screened porch with three children and a butcher knife under her pillow.

This particular conservative meme is nothing new… libertarians and particularly constitutionalists have been bandying it about for years. As has been pointed out, it is nothing more than yet another attempt at right-wing revisionism. From where these people stand, FDR was teh debbil. A liberal socialist. A Democrat, by god and must never be viewed as a success. Even if it means rewriting history…

Surely he was popular with both parties during the Second World War.

It was, for the most part, a popular war, and it happened on his watch. So yes, he enjoyed a fair measure of support during the war. But there were plenty of detractors during his first two terms. In fact, one is struck by the similarities of the 1920’s - 1930’s and the 2000’s - 20-teens. A period of frantic “prosperity” (mostly on paper) manipulated by some large institutions to create a large disparity in wealth, followed by an economic crash, a significant segment of the populace more concerned with maintaining the status quo than with improving conditions, election of a popular forward-thinking leader and repeated attempts to demonize that leader and roll back improvements by the right wing…

One of the first significant moves Roosevelt made toward ending the depression was to bring about the end of prohibition. This opened up huge new markets for American grain and other agricultural products and ended the expensive and wasteful enforcement apparatus that was in place. But the prohibitionists were the religious right of their day and it earned FDR a permanent hatred by those people. To this day, my aged dad (a lifelong fundamentalist who came of age during the depression) curses FDR and is heard to state that he could never vote for a democrat because Roosevelt ended prohibition and turned demon rum loose in this country.

Imagine, if you will that Barack Obama had, as one of his first official acts had ended the “war on drugs” (yes, I present that as a hypothetical, in reality a president could not do that single-handedly). Suppose that the money saved by removing drug cases from the law-enforcement and legal systems had instead been available to improve the lot of those in poverty…to enhance education, improve infrastructure, or just to make sure everyone had adequate nutrition. Then imagine the backlash from the “christian moralists”, the religious rightists, the shootists and the so-called family values crowd. They would never acknowledge the administration’s achievements or the improvement in people’s lives. Instead they would be calling down the wrath of their strange gods on the president and the nation that allowed us (U.S.) to become a nation of drunkards and drug-addled losers. Whether we actually were or not.

Probably the WPA, the Works Progress Administration.

Not in the least. The *war *was popular with both parties. In particular, all the isolationists - in both parties - who had been denouncing his every move up till and including the morning of Dec. 7, 1941 simply pretended that the past never happened and were immediately in favor of kicking [insert slur] asses. But that didn’t mean they had to like Roosevelt or his handling of the war or anything that he and his administration said or did at any given moment. Nor did the people in the larger Republican party who had hated him for nine years suddenly rush to love him. He did slightly worse in the 1944 election - as a sitting war President - than he had in peacetime 1940 when he was running for an unprecedented third term while being buried under piles of odium calling him a dictator.

Prohibition was ended by a constitutional amendment, a process in which a president has little role.

Forget about that. I want to know who the hell thinks the Depression lasted until 1943. I know my father had no trouble at all getting a job then before he got drafted.

They taught me that it did in school. My Father told me so, too, and he lived through it.

Sudden periods of unemployment are a puzzle for economists since market should adjust to shocks until a clearing wage is found. Contemporary economic theory mostly blames unemployment on sticky wages. This means when an economic slowdown occurs and a business loses 25% of its income it could either cut everyone’s salary by 25% or fire 25% of employees. Since given everybody a paycut would anger all of your employees and firing employees angers people who are no longer with the company, businesses, instead of reducing the wages to market clearing wages, people become unemployed. At some point either the economy starts growing again or inflation erodes the nominal wages to match the market clearing wages.
The economic wisdom at the time of the great depression was that sticky wages were a good thing. If people made less money they bought less stuff and if they bought less stuff there would be fewer jobs and a downward spiral would result. This is why Hoover had a high wage policy and tried to keep big business from lowering wages toward a market clearing wage.
FDR kept most of Hoover’s high wage policies and added a fascist element in the NRA. These sector cartels were designed to keep prices high, keeping wages high, and demand high. The NRA was declared unconstitutional in 1935 so it only had two years. After the NRA, the wagner act made it easier for labor to organize, which had as a result higher wages.
It is very likely Hoover and FDR’s high wage and high price policies had a very negative impact on unemployment and extended the great depression. Remember there was a depression in 1920 that ended in 18 months with little to no governemnt intervention. However, what Ohanian and Cole ignore is the reason for the Great Depression in the first place, monetary policy. If monetary policy had been better then the depression could have ended quickly and if it had been agressive enough it could have made all the stupid Hoover and FDR policies ineffective at holding back the economy. FDR’s monetary policies were much better than Hoover’s so you can credit that to him even as you condemn him for horrible policies such as the NRA and Wagner Act.

Beg your pardon…fascist??

Yes, of course. But FDR spearheaded the drive for repeal of prohibition, and even made it a platform plank in the 1932 election. Had the president been opposed or indifferent to repeal it is unlikely the 21st amendment would have been passed at the time, although it probably would have happened sooner or later anyway. It is not incorrect to say that FDR, in his first administration brought about the end of prohibition, although it certainly was not accomplished single-handedly.