Chinese New Year in Chilly Tarrytown, 4707 The Year of the Ox 1-31-09

Chinese New Year in Chilly Tarrytown

The Year of the Ox – 4707

By

Richard J. Garfunkel

January 31, 2009

 

 

 

Once again we are in a the first month of 2009, and we have just segued out of the western New Year to the ancient Chinese New Year, 4707, the Year of the Ox. People born in the Year of the Ox are patient, speak little, and inspire confidence in others. They tend to be a bit eccentric and bigoted, and they anger easily. They have fierce tempers, and though they speak very little, they speak with authority and are often quite eloquent. They can be aggressively stubborn, and hate to be opposed. They are usually compatible with people born under the sign of the Snake, Rooster, and Rat. The past years of the Ox were; 1913, 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, and 1997.  Those born in ox years tend to be painters, engineers, and architects. They are stable, fearless, obstinate, hard-working and friendly. Some of the entertainers born under the sign of the Ox are; Jack Nicholson, Charlie Chaplin, Jane Fonda, Meg Ryan, Uma Thurmon, Jet Li, George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai, Richard Gere, and Anthony Hopkins. Political leaders include President Barack Obama, Napoleon, Margaret Thatcher, along with madmen; Hitler and Sadaam Hussein. Some athletes are boxer Oscar De La Hoya, and soccer star Wayne Rooney along with artists Van Gogh and Picasso, musicians, as extreme in style, as; Tchaikovsky Johann Sebastian Bach and Bruce Springsteen. Other notables include; Da Vinci, Darwin, Freud, and the late Princess Diana.

 

The Ox is one of twelve real or mythical animals that make up the cycle of the Sino zodiac of the lunar calendar. According to Chinese legend, the twelve animals quarreled one day as to who was to head the cycle of years. The gods were asked to decide, and they held a contest: whoever was to reach the other side of the river would be first, and how the rest finished would determine the rest of the twelve year cycle. The Ox is second in the cycle because the Rat rode on his back until they both neared the shore, and then the rat leaped off the ox’s back and reached the shore first.

In the Gregorian calendar, Chinese New Year falls on different dates each year, a date between January 21 and February 20. This means that the holiday usually falls on the second (or in very rare cases third) new moon after the winter solstice. In traditional Chinese Culture, lichun is a solar term marking the start of spring, which occurs about February 4.

Alongside the 12-year cycle of the animal zodiac there is a 10-year cycle of heavenly stems. Each of the ten heavenly stems is associated with one of the five elements of Chinese astrology, namely: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. The elements are rotated every two years while a yin and yang association alternates every year. The elements are thus distinguished: Yang Wood, Yin Wood, Yang Fire, Yin Fire, etc. These produce a combined cycle that repeats every 60 years. For example, the year of the Yang Fire Rat occurred in 1936 and in 1996, 60 years apart.

The Chinese character for “Yin Earth” represents a field or a garden. It is associated with the quality of moderate, peaceful, intellectual, charming and charitable kind of person. People born in a day of “Yin Earth” are often moderate and harmonious and slim..

It is also interesting to note that Yin earth Ox has appeared in some significant dates in American history, as the Declaration of Independence on 4th July, 1776, and the Pearl Harbor attack on 7th December, 1941 are both Yin earth Ox day. So could 2009 be a year of significance to us under a new President bringing a lot of changes? It so happens that the new U.S. President Barack Obama is also a yin earth person, and his birth elements bear similarity with Abraham Lincoln, who is also a yin earth person.. Naturally he will be the focus of the world in 2009, the yin earth year. It is interesting to note that George W. Bush is a yin metal person and he also became president in 2001 – a yin metal year that started 8 years of turbulence. Hopefully Barak Obama will bring out the peaceful and healing quality of yin earth for the benefit of the world.

The Ox will be the year when the new leaders will commence reconstruction and consolidation of their position and power. This could bring new development in international relationship and improvement in the economy and sure more attention will be pay to the earth aspects, housing, rebuilding, agriculture, and caring for the earth. These themes related to the earth element will be the focus of most new leaders in 2009.

In summary, the industries that will perform well in the year of the Ox will be industries related to Wood and Fire elements. Wood industries are fashion, textile, publications, furniture, and environment protection. Fire industries are entertainment, finance, energy. The earth industry such as property, hotel, mining, insurance etc is still active but not making obvious profit with strong competition. The metal industry such as machinery, engineering, computer, and high tech industries will enter a year of investment. And the sectors relating to water such as shipping, communication, drinks, spa will not be doing so well.

In general, the yin Earth Ox year, with earth on top and earth below, is symbol of a peaceful and relaxing garden, It is a place to rest and calm down to refill our energy and reflect on the past and plan for the future. The theme is of healing and cure from the turbulent time period of 2001 through 2008 and the beginning of the reconstruction and healing of our world. We should focus on earth themes – rebuilding, construction, housing, agricultural improvement to ensure sufficient supply of food, and make progress to reduce CO2 emission and bring back nature to our environment and mother land. The new breed of leaders will take this year to consolidate their power and to gain confidence and trust of the people through bringing stability instead of aggressive performance. Still there will be international conflicts and unrest as most of the new leaders coming up in 2008 are not expecting good luck in 2009, but such events may be less turbulent.

Meanwhile, many confuse their Chinese birth-year with their Gregorian birth-year. As the Chinese New Year starts in late January to mid-February, the Chinese year dates from January 1 until that day in the new Gregorian year remain unchanged from the previous Gregorian year. For example, the 1989 year of the snake began on February 6, 1989. The year 1990 is considered by some people to be the year of the horse. However, the 1989 year of the snake officially ended on January 26, 1990. This means that anyone born from January 1 to January 25, 1990, was actually born in the year of the snake rather than the year of the horse. Many online Chinese Sign calculators do not account for the non-alignment of the two calendars, using Gregorian-calendar years rather than official Chinese New Year dates.

Traditionally the color red is worn on and during the Chinese New Year to scare away evil spirits and bad fortunes. Good luck is encouraged, by opening doors, windows, switching on lights at night to scare away ghosts and spirits, and candy is eaten to insure a “sweet year.” One also will avoid bad luck by not buying shoes, pants or having a haircut. It is said that on the first day of the New Year one should not sweep the floors or buy any books! I did buy two new books on FDR when I was in Hyde Park on the occasion of FDR’s 127th birthday

 

According to custom the entire house should be cleaned before New Year’s Day. On the eve of the New Year’s all cleaning equipment should be stored away. Shooting off firecrackers on New Year’s Eve is the Chinese way of sending out the old year and bringing on the new. One should open all their doors in windows to allow the old year to escape forever. If one cries on New Year they could be cursed to cry throughout the year. Of course the color red is the chosen one for the holiday. Red is a bright and happy festive color, which is sure to help bring the wearer a sunny bright future. It is considered lucky to hear a songbird or a swallow or a red-colored bird. One should not greet a person in their bedroom, and therefore even the sick should be dressed and be seated in the living room. The use of knives and scissors should be avoided because their use may cut off good fortune. No borrowing or lending should be done on the New Year and the use of off-colored language is strictly forbidden.

 

Despite all of these forebodings, we did celebrate another edition of our annual Chinese New Year’s fandango. On a cold clear night here in the lower Hudson River valley, all our guests arrived safely and without much of a problem. It did flurry on Friday and this past Wednesday we did have a snow/rain/slush storm. We are also facing a dicey forecast for this coming Tuesday! We lucked out again with the weather. But on Saturday we were well prepared for the coming feast. All of our guests were given culinary assignments and came through remarkably well. Meanwhile the party was called for 7:30 pm and by 8:15 o’clock everyone had made their arrivals. We served the appetizers downstairs, and the main courses and desserts upstairs.

 

Among the guests this year was our old buddy Keith Stupell, who came up by train from Babylon on the Hudson. This was the third year in a row that Keith made the journey. By the way, he is the proprietor of Carole Stupell’s on 29 East 22nd Street. Keith, not only has been carrying on the famous name of his mother, who was one of the most well-known retailers in NYC history, but is a world’s leading philatelic expert, whose collection of stamps and ephemera is almost unrivaled on our planet. If you had forgotten, or had not known, Carole Stupell invented the “bridal registry.”

 

Linda’s old Barnard classmate Abby Kurnit, who is semi- retired from teaching in the chemistry department at Pelham High School and her husband Jeff, who is a professor City University of New York, brought two types of homemade rice. They both are Life Members of the Village Light Opera Guild, and over the years we, along with the Koerners and the Adises, have seen many of their fine productions.

 

Another tennis friend, Diona Koerner, who is a retired chemistry professor from Marymount /Fordham, was accompanied by Ron, her lawyer husband. They both brought a homemade chicken dish. The Koerners have been at each and every Chinese New year party on Watch Hill Drive. My old buddy Mount Vernon buddy Warren Adis, who is a professor at Iona College, and his wife Mary brought a Chinese coleslaw dish. Warren also has made every Chinese New Year’s party that we have held. We have traveled often to the New York museums with the Koerners and the Adises. Both Mary and Diona are English gals by birth, and they have similar interests in chemistry and geology. Warren and I met in the third grade (1952) in Mrs. Krohn’s class at the William Wilson/Traphagen School in Mount Vernon and have had many adventures that included being at the NCAA hockey finals in Syracuse in 1967 when our two schools, Cornell and Boston University, collided for the title.

 

Sol and Linda Haber play tennis with Linda and me in our weekend indoor games. Sol, who played basketball at Yeshiva of Flatbush, long after Warren and I were through shooting the roundballs in Mount Vernon, hits an excellent serve and a potent forehand. Sol is a dentist who specializes in oral surgery and Linda, who is by training a CPA is in the real estate business in Westchester County.  Linda prepared an Asian inspired-salad. Accompanying the Habers were Linda’s sister Mady Schloss with her husband Marty. They brought a bottle of wine and a deck of 50 Feng Shui cards, which teach how to achieve a healthy and harmonious lifestyle. 

 

Another tennis friend, Dave Tannenbaum, an independent CPA and an expert on regional high school and colleges sports since his days at Dewitt Clinton and LIU, brought scallion pancakes. Dave and I usually try to get to the New York State Section I Basketball finals at the County Center each year.

 

Back again were John Berenyi and his wife Eileen, who hail from Connecticut. John has been a frequent guest on my radio show, and we are working on a sustainability and resiliency initiative for the City of Mount Vernon. The Berenyis brought grapes for dessert. As it turned out, Rosalie Siegel did graduate work with John’s wife, and Linda Haber knew the Berenyis when they all lived in Manhattan. Neil Goldstein, the former head of the American Jewish Congress, and now the Executive Vice-President of the Israel Energy Project has been a guest on my radio show, The Advocates, http://advocates-wvox.com , returned with his wife Laura and they brought a delicious bottle of plum wine.  As it turned out, Abby Kurnit knows Neil’s wife, because they taught at Pelham together for many years.

 

Stan Goldmark, my old friend from Mount Vernon, also made his second appearance at our Chinese New Year celebration. Stan and I met way back in 1957 in Ms. Van Allen’s class, and currently he works in the plastic business and lives in Cold Springs Harbor.  Stan made a great shrimp and vegetable dish.

 

Rosalie Siegel, who is also a Mount Vernon gal, and a former flat mate of Linda’s from Barnard,  works for the Port Authority, came with her long-time companion Jeff Tannenbaum, a financial writer. They brought assorted crudités and a new book on FDR written by his first grandson Curtis Roosevelt (nee Dall). Glen Hockley, a member of the White Plains Common Council came this year with wife Melody who was away last year, and they brought tangerines. Leslie Morioka, Barnard alum, who is a partner of the prestigious New York law firm White and Case, brought us oodles of lo mein noodles Another old friend Paul Feiner, who is the Supervisor of the Town of Greenburgh, found time before celebrating his wife’s birthday and, stopped over with a bottle of wine.

 

One of this year’s newest arrivals was Rosemary Uzzo, a top-notch educator from Yonkers, who spent 35 incredible years on the Yonkers’ Board of Education, brought her brilliant friend Cau Pin, a professor from China, who is now teaching Mandarin in the Yonkers School district. Cau told us about her home in Shandong Province and the university she attended and where she taught psychology. She also brought her computer and entertained us with pictures from her homeland. Rose and Cau Pin brought 100 wonderful homemade dumplings and fortune cookies. The dumplings disappeared with incredible speed. Also Rose, ever the educator brought an old edition of a book about the Teddy Roosevelt’s of Sagamore Hill.

 

Also newcomers were Allegra and Larry Dengler from Dobbs Ferry. Allegra is the Co-chairperson of the Greenburgh Office of Energy Conservation, and her husband Larry, a lawyer is a trustee of their village. They brought an excellent chicken and rice dish.

 

We supplied the Tsing Tao Chinese beer, other soft drinks and libations, plus egg roll appetizers from Sam’s Club. Linda made Asian inspired salmon, sweet and sour meat balls, along with an excellent minced beef dish with hoisin sauce and pickled ginger in lettuce wraps. For dessert we had oranges, tangerines, grapes, fortune cookies, sponge cakes, and brownies.

 

In keeping with the red theme of the holiday, we had cherry tomatoes and radishes on a tray close to loads of Chinese sauces.  Red and white plastic plates, cups and plastic utensils made set up and clean up very easy!!  We had our usual Chinese decorations and candles lit at the front door to lead our guests to our home.

 

Finally after four hours of culinary debauchery the party ended and everyone escaped into the cool clear air. By the way, “Happy New Year” is conventionally thought to mean in Cantonese, Gung hei fat choi. But that really means, “Congratulations and be prosperous.” In reality the Cantonese saying for “Happy New Year” is Sun nin fai lok. So either way, thanks for coming, we had a great time so let’s look forward to a better year than the last!

 

In January of 2008, I wrote in last year’s Chinese New Year’s report, that we hoped the Democrats would remain in control of the House and the Senate win the White House. That thankfully came true! This year’s hope is for a renewed effort for peace in the Middle East, withdrawal from a stabilized Iraq, suppression of the Taliban in Afghanistan, and economic recovery here in the United States. Sun nin fai lok!

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

Hyde Park and FDR's Birthday. A Wintry 1-30-2009

Hyde Park and FDR’s Birthday

A Wintry Day
January 30, 2009

By

Richard J. Garfunkel

I try to get to Hyde Park at least twice a year on January 30th, the date of the late president's birth (and my daughter Dana's also) and also on April 12th, when he passed away in Warm Springs, Georgia. Today it was bleak and there were snow flakes in the air, not much different then the day he was born in 1882 to James and Sara Delano Roosevelt. Like each year, there is a ceremony in the Rose Garden. The invocation was from the Reverend Charles Kramer, Rector, Saint James Episcopal Church in Hyde Park, where FDR worshipped and served as a vestryman. Mr. Andrew Rich the new head of FERI (Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institution) spoke, and said, “This is an important moment in our country as we welcome a new president. The Great Depression exacted more than an economic toll on the nation. The state of despair between 1929 and 1932 continued right up to FDR's inauguration. His challenge was trying to restore the economic health of the nation, but also its psychological health,”

Then wreaths were presented by various folks representing Hyde Park, the March of Dimes, Val-kill and other related FDR/ER foundations. Eventually ten wreaths were laid at the Rose Garden during the ceremony. They formed a semi-circle around the graves of the former president and his wife, Eleanor. The final wreath was from the president and was put in place by Brig. Gen. Patrick Finnegan, dean of the academic board at the United States Military Academy at West Point. Finally, Catherine Gregory, secretary of the Hyde Park Historic Society, remarked, as she began tearing up when she thought of what FDR meant to her mother, “I was born in 1932,” she said, “and my mother would listen to the radio when Roosevelt would give talks.” Gregory said her mother depended on the president, because he represented hope. She agreed it was no small thing to instill in people the idea that all is not lost and better days lie ahead. “Hope is what keeps you going,” Gregory said.

The Honor Guard was made up of a contingent of West Point Cadets in the same way that they did during the late president's funeral, 63 years ago. There was a salutary volley by enlisted men of the US Army and taps were sounded. After the benediction and the concluding remarks, the attendees and the guests walked slowly back to the Henry A. Wallace Visitor's Center. At the center there were some added remarks which included an introduction and a welcome by Cynthia Koch the Library's Director. It was said that FDR had grand plans for this particular part of the Hudson River Valley at Crum's Elbow. The speaker stated that if FDR had lived another 20 years in retirement the local area may have been quite different. I mused to a Park Ranger, that if he had lived another 20 years the world would have been quite different, and for my money's worth, a lot better. The Ranger nodded in agreement. So another visit ended, I had bought two new books on FDR, mailed my post cards and letters, had my magazines and covers “franked” (cancelled) by my own hand, and headed out of the grounds. I can remember vividly my first visit over 50 years ago and how empty Hyde Park was in those bygone days. There was little traffic on sleepy Route 9 in the mid part of the 20th Century. So I headed south to Poughkeepsie, turned east on Route 55 towards the Town of Lagrange and the Taconic Parkway. It isn't a very long trip back and it is always wise to drive on the Taconic in daylight, especially in the winter. So I'll look forward to spring and hopefully I'll make my way up again to the aging house that overlooks the Hudson River that Franklin Roosevelt so loved.

 

The Advocates with Alida Brill 1-28-09


 “The Advocates”
 With
Richard J. Garfunkel
 WVOX – AM Radio 1460- 12 Noon Wednesday
January 28, 2009
All archived shows at:
http://advocates-wvox.com
On Wednesday, January 28, 2009, at 12:00 Noon, I will be hosting my show “The Advocates” on WVOX- 1460 AM, and you can also listen to the program’s live streaming at www.wvox.com. One can call the show at 914-636-0110 to reach us on the radio.  Our guest on Wednesday will be Alida Brill, the co-author of, Dancing at the River’s Edge- A Patient and her Doctor Negotiate Life with Chronic Illness. Our subject will be “How one copes with chronic pain and the importance of a strong doctor/patient relationship.”
Alida Brill is a writer and a social critic whose interests span diverse topics. She has published books, essays and monographs on such issues as the debate between freedom and control in democratic society, privacy rights, the ethics surrounding decisions about dying and death, the policy and politics of reproductive technologies, intolerance and prejudice, community transition and economic dislocation, the changing meaning of patriotism, censorship, pornography and popular culture, women’s equality, girls at risk and the coded journals of Beatrix Potter.
She is the co-author (with Herbert McClosky) of Dimensions of Tolerance: What Americans Believe about Civil Liberties, Basic Books, 1983 (second revised edition 1985.) She is the author of Nobody’s Business: The Paradoxes of Privacy, Addison-Wesley, 1990 (second revised edition 1991.) A Rising Public Voice: Women in Politics Worldwide, which was published in the spring of 1995 in collaboration with the United Nations. This book was distributed to every delegate of the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women, in Beijing, China, as well as being featured at the NGO forum that accompanied the Conference.
Dimensions of Tolerance won the Choice Award as outstanding political science book of the year. Ms. Brill is the author of many articles, book reviews and essays, published in both popular and professional periodicals and journals as well as appearing on webzines. She has been a featured speaker at a variety of conferences for more than twenty-five years, and a guest lecturer at many universities and colleges.  She is a frequent contributor to anthologies and her longer essays and monographs have appeared in numerous volumes, including, Freedom, Fantasy, Foes and Feminism: The Debate Around Pornography, in Women, Politics and Change; Tomorrowland at 40: Lakewood, California, in Rethinking Los Angeles; From the Shards, in To Mend the World: Women Reflect on 9/11.
Besides her work as an author, for more than a decade, Ms. Brill was the director of a national research program on the lives of women and men entitled, The Changing Role of Gender in American Institutions at the Russell Sage Foundation in New York. She was co-director of the Women’s Dialogue US/USSR, one of the first programs which opened up a personal dialogue between American and Soviet women on issues relating to women’s lives and domestic policies. She has served as a program consultant for the YWCA of the USA, Rockefeller Foundation, The Girls’ Clubs, The American Jewish Congress as well as other non-profit organizations. At the Feminist Press of the City University of New York, she served as a board member as well as creating a national and international publishing imprint. She has served on numerous boards, including Save Venice, Inc. and The Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience as well as serving on committees of the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Council for Research on Women. Prior to moving to New York, Alida Brill was a research director at the Survey Research Center of the University of California, Berkeley, where, with the late Professor Herbert McClosky, she conducted large-scale national surveys on American attitudes and opinions, as well as co-directing a research program on Citizenship, which was sponsored by the Russell Sage Foundation. Alida lives in New York City, and her website is www.alidabrill.com
Her latest book, Dancing at the River's Edge: A Patient and Her Doctor Negotiate a Life With Chronic Illness, was released January 8, 2009 (Schaffner Press, Inc.) It is a personal dual memoir, written in collaboration with her physician Dr. Michael Lockshin.
Meanwhile, the mission of the “Advocates” is to bring to the public differing views on current “public policy “issues. “Public policy,” therefore, is what we as a nation legally and traditionally follow. Over the years, the “public policy” of the United States has changed or has been modified greatly. As an example, “free public education” is the public policy of the United States.
 
My essays on FDR and other subjects at can be accessed at http://www.richardjgarfunkel.com. One can also listen to all of the archived shows at: http://advocates-wvox.com.
 

The Advocates with Jill Alcott Baskin 1-21-09

 “The Advocates”

 With

Richard J. Garfunkel

 WVOX – AM Radio 1460- 12 Noon Wednesday

January 21, 2009

All archived Shows at:

http://advocates-wvox.com

 

On Wednesday, January 21, 2009, at 12:00 Noon, I will be hosting my show “The Advocates” on WVOX- 1460 AM, and you can also listen to the program’s live streaming at www.wvox.com. One can call the show at 914-636-0110 to reach us on the radio.  Our guest on Wednesday will be Ms. Jill Alcott Baskin, CEO of Alcott & Partners, Inc., who has more than 23 years of development and event management experience that combines both institutional and independent work in the not-for-profit and corporate arenas.  Our subject this week is “Charity for the 21st century, how you can enrich your own life and improve society by participating in philanthropic activity. “

 

During the past few years, the role of philanthropy and the non-profit sector has become more prominent and widespread, owing in part to the high profile of Irish rock singer Bono's campaign to cancel Third World debt to developed nations; Bill Clinton's Global Initiative; the Gates Foundation's massive resources and ambitions, such as its campaigns to eradicate malaria and river blindness; and billionaire investor and Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett's donation in 2006 of $31 billion to the Gates Foundation.

 

A seasoned fundraising, non-profit marketing and special events professional, Ms. Alcott Baskin opened Alcott & Partners, Inc. in 2001.  Alcott & Partners, Inc. (API) is a consultant company that specializes in developing customized, goal-oriented fundraising campaigns and events for local, national and international non-profit organizations and corporations. 

Her diverse clientele includes: the Atlantic Salmon Federation; World Wildlife Fund; American Tap Dance Foundation; Coalition for the Homeless; Save Our Everglades Campaign; Save Our Everglades Foundation; Gay Men’s Health Crisis; 1998 Goodwill Games for Turner Sports; Lois Bronz Children’s Center; Lower Eastside Service Center and the Angelica Patient Assistance Program (to benefit the Coler-Goldwater Hospital); Robbins Wolfe Eventeurs, among others.  In addition, Ms. Alcott Baskin volunteers on the Development Committee of the Maritime Aquarium and is a global business career mentor via the Emlyon Business School in Lyons, France.

 

Some of her proudest professional accomplishments include eight year’s of work for the Wildlife Conservation Society where she spearheaded the re-opening events of the Central Park Zoo, the launch of the Society’s Junior Committee and Corporate Entertainment Program; and its first ever LIVE Jazz Festival in cooperation with CD 101.9 radio. 

 

Other impressive achievements include strategizing major events for the League of Conservation Voters where she increased revenues by 30 percent, the World Wildlife Fund where she spearheaded a New York based major gifts campaign that raised more than $1 million; the American Tap Dance Foundation where she has helped increase gala revenues seventeen-fold over a 7 year period; and, the Atlantic Salmon Federation where she spearheaded a program that tripled annual revenues over a five year period.

 

Jill Alcott Baskin, a graduate of Barnard College, Columbia University was raised in Larchmont, New York and now resides in Norwalk, CT with her husband. Ms. Baskin website is www.alcottpartners.com/bio .

 

Meanwhile, the mission of the “Advocates” is to bring to the public differing views on current “public policy “issues. “Public policy,” therefore, is what we as a nation legally and traditionally follow. Over the years, the “public policy” of the United States has changed or has been modified greatly. As an example, “free public education” is the public policy of the United States.

 

My essays on FDR and other subjects at can be accessed at http://www.richardjgarfunkel.com. One can also listen to all of the archived shows at: http://advocates-wvox.com. You can also access last week’s guest Judy Cheng-Hopkins’ interview in the Journal News at

http://www.lohud.com/article/2008901130345.

 

Next week I will be hosting Ms. Alida Brill, the co-author with Dr. Michael D. Lockshin, of Dancing at the River’s Edge. A Patient and her Doctor Negotiate Life with Chronic Illness. In future weeks I will be hosting Mr. Chris Breiseth recently retired CEO of the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute, author Nora Eisenberg, and Ms. Cynthia Koch, current Director of the Franklin Roosevelt Presidential Library.

THE NEW DEAL SOCIAL and ECONOMIC CHANGE 1933-1939 1-20-09



THE NEW DEAL

SOCIAL
and ECONOMIC CHANGE

1933-1939

Richard
J. Garfunkel

January
20, 2009

 

I.
     
The Crash 1929 and Its
Aftermath

A.
  
The economy 1919-29

1.
   
The boom after WWI

2.
   
Growth of National Income in
the early 1920’s

3.
   
WWI debt owed to the United
States by the Allies

4.
   
Recurring business cycle

B.
  
The Stock Market Collapse of
1929

1.
   
Overvalued stocks

2.
   
Margin debt owed to brokers

3.
   
Stock Market value in 1932;
17% of  Sept ’29 value

4.
   
Reduced consumer spending

5.
   
Over-saturated automobile
market

6.
   
Reduction of immigration-
reduced housing

C.
  
The Depression

1.
   
Collapse of raw material
prices

2.
   
Decline of exports

3.
   
Collapse of German economy

4.
   
The Smoot-Hawley protective
tariff

5.
   
Retaliatory foreign tariffs
and trade restrictions

6.
   
British withdrawal from the
Gold Standard

7.
   
Liquidity crisis over the
Federal Reserve’s policies

II.
  
The Aftermath 1929-32

1.
   
Business Failures per
100,000 concerns

a.
    
1928 -109

b.
   
1929- 104

c.
    
1930- 122

d.
   
1931- 133

e.
    
1932- 154

f.
     
1933- 100

g.
    
1934- 61

h.
    
1935- 62

2.
   
Gross Nation Product (Goods
and Services of U.S.A.)

a.
    
1929- 103.8 Billion

b.
   
1930- 90.7

c.
    
1931- 75.9

d.
   
1932- 58.3

e.
    
1933- 55.8

f.
     
1934- 64.9

g.
    
1935- 72.2

h.
    
1936- 82.5

i.
      
1937- 90.4

j.
     
1938- 84.7

k.
   
1939- 90.5

l.
      
1940- 99.7

m.
  
1941- 124.5

 

                                                                        2                     

 

3.
   
Employment and the %
Unemployed (thousands)*

            a.   1928- 46,057         4%    

b.
   
1929- 47,925         3

c.
    
1930- 46,081         6.3

d.
   
1931- 42,727         16.5

e.
    
1932- 38,727         29.4

f.
     
1933- 38,827         30.5

g.
    
1934- 41,474         23.3

 

* US
Bureau of the census, “Historical Statistics of the United States 1789-45

Washington,
DC, US Government Printing Office 1952

 

 3.
   
Labor
Force and its Components & the % of Unemployed **

                      Civilian labor force and
Non-farm Employees

a.                   1928  4.2           6.9    

b.                   1929  3.2           5.3       

c.                   1930  8.9           14.2         +168

d.                 1931    16.3         25.4         +55

e.                   1932  24.1         36.3         +43

f.                    1933  25.2         37.6         -.04

g.                 1934    22.0         32.6         -14

h.                 1935    20.3         30.2         -8

I                     1936  17.0         25.4         -16

J.                   1937  14.3         21.3         -13
(1933-37  -44%)

k.                   1938  19.1         27.9         +31

l                   1939    17.2         25.2         -10

m.                1940    14.6         21.3         -16

n.                   1941  9.9.          14.4         -34  (1933-41 –62%)

 

**The Statistical History of the United States-by Ben
Wattenberg ,Basic Books, 1976, page 126

 

1                              5      All Production Workers Average hourly
earnings and weekly earnings

 

                                                a.                1928                     .579                         $27.80

                                                b.
                 1929               .590                             $28.55

                                                c.                 
1930                   .589                         $25.84

                                                d.                 
1931                   .564                         $22.62

                                                e.                1932                     .498                       $17.05

                                                f.                 1933                     .491                         $17.71

                                                g                   1934                   .580                         $20.06

                                                h.                1935                     .599                         $22.23

                                                i.                   1936                   .619                         $24.39

                                                j.
                  1937                   .695                         $26.80

                                                k.                1938                     .716                         $24.43

                                                l.                   1939                   .720                         $27.05

                                                m.                
1940                   .739                         $28.54

                                                n.                 
1941                   .814                         $33.62

 

III.
 
The Social Atmosphere

1.
   
National Conditions:

a.
    
Vast unemployment

b.
   
Collapse of commodity prices

c.
    
Failure of the farms

d.
   
Immigration from the farms
to the Coasts

e.
    
Breadlines

f.
     
Bank failures

g.
    
Social unrest

2.
   
Political Consequences

a.
    
Shift in power

b.
   
1860-1932 GOP the dominant
party

1.
   
Controlled the Senate for 62
years

2.
   
Controlled the House for 46
years

3.
   
Two Democratic Presidents
(16 years) Cleveland

       and
Wilson

4.
   
Loss of Congress and the
Presidency

5.
   
GOP unused to minority
statue

c.
    
Senate          
         Dems   Reps    Other  

1.
   
1933-4       60        35        1

2.
   
1935-6       69        25        2

3.
   
1937-8       76        16        4

4.
   
1939-40     69        23        4

d.
   
House

1.
   
1933-4       310      117      5

2.
   
1935-6       319      103      10

3.
   
1937-8       331      89        13

4.
   
1939-40     261      164      4

e.
    
Presidency- Electoral Votes
and %

1.
   
1932          472               57.4

2.
   
1936          523               60.8

3.
   
1940          449              
53.5

                                                                       

 

IV.
The
Rise of the New Deal- (Phrase written for FDR’s 
acceptance speech at 1932

     
Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Theodore Roosevelt’s Square Deal, 

      Woodrow
Wilson’s New Freedom)

 

1. The First New Deal 1933-4
Aims  ( The first Hundred Days)                        1.        

a.
    
Unemployment and poverty
relief

b.
   
Economic Recovery

c.
    
Economic and Social Reform

2.
   
Phase One- Stop the Panic-
Bring back confidence in the government

a.
    
The Hundred Days-
Legislation- 1933

1.
   
Unemployment relief- jobs-
CCC, PWA, FERA

2.
   
Banking and Security
Reform-FDIC

3.
   
Regional Development- TVA,
CWA

4.
   
End of Prohibition- Repeal
of the Volstead Act

5.
   
National Planning- NRA , NLB

6.
   
Farm Relief- AAA, FCA

b.
   
Executive Action

1.
   
Fireside Chats

2.
   
Publicity

3.
   
Bank Holiday

4.
   
Reversing the panic

5.
   
Support of Business

 

6.
   
Phase Two- Social Change and
Reform- 1934

a.
    
The Emergence of Labor,  Federalization and  Regulation

1.
   
Labor Laws- NRB, NLRB
(Wagner Act)

2.
   
Housing- FHA

3.
   
Regulation- FCC-SEC

4.
   
Transportation- NRAB-
railroads

 

7.
   
The NRA- National Recovery
Administration

a.
    
Government and Business
Cooperation

b.
   
AAA factories couldn’t
prosper while farms were in a

      depression.

c.
    
Pump- Priming

1.
   
PWA- Harold Ickes- Interior
Dept.

2.
   
FERA- Harry Hopkins -

3.
   
Monetary Expansion- going
off the Gold Standard

      deficit
spending- Keynsian  economics.

d.
   
Electoral Support- first and
only time Presidential Party gains

      seats in
both Houses

 

                                                                       

8.
   
Criticism over the pace of
progress

a.
    
Thunder on the Left and the
Right

1.
   
The Left:

a.
    
Huey Long

b.
   
Father Coughlin

c.
    
Francis Townsend

d.
   
Norman Thomas

e.
    
Upton Sinclair

f.
     
The LaFollettes

2.
   
The Right

a.
    
Herbert Hoover

b.
   
The Liberty League

c.
    
Business community

V.
  
The 2nd New Deal
1935- Response to Criticism

1.
   
New Legislation and its
Impact

a.
    
Social Impact- REA- rural
electrification

b.
   
Soil Conservation- SCS-
helping farmers

c.
    
National Youth Act- NYA-
social involvement

d.
   
Old Age Pensions- SSB-
Social Security

e.
    
Employment- WPA- helping
employ non factory labor

f.
     
Bituminous Coal Labor Board-
labor in the minds

2.
   
Judicial Review

a.
    
Supreme Court rules NRA
unconstitutional

b.
   
Other laws  (Social Security, NLRB, Tax reform,

      utility
dissolution threatened by Court review

 

3       
 Electoral Coalition

a.
    
Political referendum of 1936

1.
   
Landslide- winning 46
states- 60.8% of the vote

2.
   
Uniting different groups

a.
    
Urban workers

b.
   
Farmers

c.
    
Ethnic and racial minorities

d.
   
Intellectuals

e.
    
Southern poor

 

b.
   
Consequences

1.
   
Legislative dominance 1936
to the 1970’s

2.
   
New constituencies and
favored legislation

a.
    
Labor laws

b.
   
Farm subsidies

c.
    
Welfare

d.
   
Religious and ethnic
toleration- job set-a-sides

e.
    
Educational opportunities

f.
     
Medicare, Medicaid

                                                                        5

V.
  
The Third New Deal- 1937-8

1.
   
Electoral success versus
Judicial Review

a.
    
Court Re-organization

1.
   
Legislation to expand the
Court from 9 to 15 members

2.
   
Age criteria ( many of the
Justices were over 70 years old, 7 were appointed by Republican Presidents and
most were conservative)

3.
   
Congressional Coalition
halts plan

4.
   
Justices retire

5.
   
Legislation upheld

b.
   
Roosevelt eventually
appoints all new court

 

2       
Third New Deal Legislation

a.
    
Farm Security- FSA- 1937,
Fed. Crop Ins. Corp. FCIC 1938

b.
   
Housing -USHA- Housing
Authority -1937

c.
    
Regulation- CAA- Civil
Aeronautics -1938, Maritime Labor Board- MLB Fair Labor Standards Act

d.
   
Federal Reorganization- BOB-
Bureau of the Budget, Federal

Security Agency, 
FSA

3.
   
Electoral Purge of 1938 and
political set-backs

 

VI-
Evaluation
of the New Deal

1.
   
Criticism from the Right

a.
    
Government intervention in
the economy and society had gone

      to far.

b.
   
Market mechanism impaired

c.
    
Too much reliance on
government

d.
   
Too much concentration of
power in Washington

  

2.
   
Criticism from the Left

a.
    
New Deal saved a
capitalistic system that failed

b.
   
Achieved only minor reforms

c.
    
Recovery did not really come
until WWII

d.
   
Inequalities of income were
not noticeably narrowed

e.
    
Relief from poverty was
stingy and limited

3.
   
Both sets of these arguments
were rejected by a majority of the electorate and

      historians.

 

4.
   
Programs universally
applauded: CCC, FDIC, TVA, Social Security

5.
   
WPA was on one hand the most
popular and the most unpopular!

6.
   
Much of the New Deal was
unknown to most of the public.

7.
   
The New Deal enmeshed
politics and economics- regulated or “safety-net capitalism

8.
   
Did not bring full economic
recovery! Unemployment remained high and economic activity never fully
recovered to 1928 levels.

            

In
Roosevelt’s own words this introduction to the first volume of his collected
papers and addresses possibly sums up his thoughts on the philosophy of the New
Deal:

           

            There were inconsistencies of methods…inconsistencies
born of insufficient knowledge. There were

                inconsistencies springing from
the need of experimentation. But through them all, I trust that there

                also be found a consistency and
continuity of broad purpose.

 

                Consistently I have sought to
maintain a comprehensive and efficient functioning of the representative

                form of democratic government in
its modern sense. Consistently I have sought through that form of

                government to help our people to
gain a larger social justice. 
 

 

Basically
we aim at the assurance of a rounded, permanent national life. Change from what
historian Arthur Schlesinger called “single-interest” government, to the goal
of a comprehensive and efficient functioning of the representative form of
democratic government. FDR’s desire for a “rounded permanent national life,”
expressed his idea of a stronger sense of community mutuality and obligation,
man to man, and man to land, which were in his view the only basis of a lasting
security. Probably the most central concept of the New Deal, at least in terms
of frequency was interdependence. In private, FDR mixed the satisfaction of
achievement with disappointment that the New Deal system had not come closer to
his intentions. But he often acknowledged its flaws as democracy’s price.

 

After
the war, he said, there must be renewed efforts to achieve resource and public
works planning… In the meantime, shortcomings should be noted in the spirit of
a remark he made in 1936, so often quoted.

 

            The immortal Dante tells us that divine justice
weighs the sins of the coldblooded and the sins of the

                warmhearted in different scales.
Better the occasional faults of a government that lives in the spirit

                of charity that the constant
omissions of a government frozen in the idea of its own indifference.                     

 

 

New Deal vs
WWII Spending as a Percentage of the Budget and GDNP- Unemployment and the
New Deal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Billions

National

Defense

Unem

Civil

Em-

WPA

Increase/

GDNP

Increase/

Def %

Defense

 

 

Year

US

Debt

Spending

%

Labor

ployed

 

Decrease

 

Decrease

Budget

As % of

 

 

 

Budget

 

 

 

Force

millions

Mill

% change

 

% change

 

GDNP

 

 

1928

3.7

17.6

1.3

4.2

47.1

45.12

na

 

97.4

 

0.35

0.01

 

 

1929

3.8

16.9

1.4

3.2

47.78

46.21

na

-24

103.6

6.3

0.37

0.01

 

 

1930

4

16.2

1.5

8.8

48.52

44.18

na

175

91.2

-11.9

0.38

0.02

 

 

1931

4.1

16.8

1.6

16.3

49.35

41.3

na

86

76.5

-16.1

0.39

0.02

 

 

1932

4.3

19.5

1.7

24.1

50.1

38.03

na

48

58.7

-23.3

0.40

0.03

 

 

1933

5.1

22.5

1.4

24.9

50.88

38.05

na

4.4

56.4

-3.9

0.27

0.02

 

 

1934

5.9

27.5

1.1

21.7

51.65

40.31

na

-12.9

66

14.5

0.19

0.02

 

 

1935

7.6

28.7

1.1

20.1

52.28

41.67

na

-7.3

73.3

11.1

0.14

0.02

 

 

1936

9.2

33.8

2.7

16.8

53.02

43.99

1.995

-16.4

83.8

14.3

0.29

0.03

 

 

1937

8.8

36.4

2.2

14.3

53.77

46.06

2.227

-14.8

91.9

9.7

0.25

0.02

 

 

1938

8.4

37.2

1.7

19

54.32

44.12

1.932

38

86.1

-6.3

0.20

0.02

 

 

1939

9.3

40.3

1.9

17.2

55.22

45.74

2.911

-9.5

92.9

7.9

0.20

0.02

 

 

1940

10.1

43

2.2

14.6

55.64

47.52

1.971

-15

101.4

10.2

0.22

0.02

 

 

1941

14.2

49

7.1

9.9

55.91

50.35

1.638

-33

126.4

24.7

0.50

0.06

 

 

1942

35.5

72

27.1

4.7

56.41

53.75

na

-52.5

161.9

28

0.76

0.17

 

 

1943

83

137

70.4

1.9

55.54

54.47

na

-55.3

198.6

22.7

0.85

0.35

 

 

1944

100

201

86.1

1.2

54.63

53.96

na

-41.6

219.8

10.7

0.86

0.39

 

 

1945

106

259

93.7

1.9

53.86

52.82

na

63

223.1

1.5

0.88

0.42

 

 

1946

66

269

53.3

3.9

57.52

55.25

na

105

222.3

0

0.81

0.24

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

a) Unemployment dropped 57% from 1933
thru 1937/ In 1933 an additional 25% was employed only part-time.

 

 

b) A cutback in spending  (C18) and a tightening of the Federal
Reserve caused Recession of 9/37 thru 4/38

 

 

c) Aggressive spending reduced the
1938 surge in unemployment (F18)

 

 

 

 

 

 

d) WPA employment 1935-6 thru 1941
averaged about 2.2 million per year. Added to the employment number

 

 

total unemployment was in the single
digits. Note WPA jobs dropped during the Recession and bounced back in 1939

 

adding to the total employment. (I18)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

e) The percentage of the defense
spending as part of the GNDP stayed basically the same from 1930 thru 1940.

 

 

Defense spending as part of the
budget was virtually the same in 1934 as it was in 1940. In 1940 unemployment

 

 

was 14.6%. If one includes 2 million
WPA workers the figure is much lower, without large defense outlays.

 

 

f) Total spending during the New Deal
was in fiscal years, one-half 1933 through 1940- was approximately $65
billion

 

g) Spending during WWII 1942 through
1945 was $324 Billion. If one includes 1941 it is approximately $340 billion
or

 

5.3 times the amount in approximately
half the time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

h) The National Debt doubled from
1933 through 1940 and from 1940 through 1945 it went up 6 times.

 

 

 

i) NA – WPA was created in 1935 and
basically suspended in 1941

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

               

                       

 

 

FDR, the New Deal and Revisionism of the Right 1-20-09



FDR, the New Deal and Revisionism of the Right

By

Richard J. Garfunkel

January 20, 2009

 

 

Most critics of the
New Deal and its sea change affects regarding the future of State's
Rights, interstate commerce, war powers, civil rights, the “Establishment
Clause,” collective bargaining, public power (TVA and Niagara Falls),
woman's rights, “choice,” and a plethora of other important issues,
see this as a usurpation of the Founders intent. Truthfully that may be
correct, but so what! The Founders never envisioned any of the following that
the country and the world has seen. They compromised on “slavery” and
look where it got us; strife and disaster for two centuries.

 

The Founders had
wise intent, and were socially progressive compared to their
day. Certainly the Declaration of
Independence
was a radical departure from what had almost always
existed, but it was tempered by the US Constitution; a more conservative document. Thankfully the Bill of Rights was added and that
changed the Constitution from a
framework of government to a unique document truly protecting the individual
from the dictates of a potentially
malevolent “state.”  But as it was said by Harold Ickes, (I
believe, and therefore paraphrase) “The Bill of Rights doesn't mean a thing to a hungry man!” And of
course Harry Hopkins said, “People need to eat every day, they don’t eat in the
long run!” Therefore, if our Constitution
doesn’t allow the government to protect people in need, it is a failure. If the
federal government ignored the plight of New
Orleans, under the aegis of the 1920's courts,
would justice or the “general welfare” be served?

 

Of course millions
upon millions of words have been written about these subjects. Therefore the
thrust of my thoughts are not on how conservatives feel about the loss of
individual rights, but on the necessity of change, and how “critical need”
fostered that change. Conservatives bellow about the confiscator nature of
the New Deal and how rights have been usurped to the detriment of the Country.
In other words owning a machine gun or an AK 47 is a right and if every one had
a gun by their side, crime would disappear and the rights to “life and
liberty, no less property” would be better protected. As far as I
remember, Wyatt Earp, and others like him, limited the carrying of guns in
Tombstone, Dodge
City and other places and brought civil order and
peace. I could just imagine millions of people carrying weapons and every time
someone looked cross-eyed at someone else, or they had a tough time at home, or
in the office, there would be a shoot-out. Mass murders, as we have evidenced
in the past 25 years, do not come with penknives, sticks, bats or etc. Those
crimes are actuated by the use of powerful, local weapons of mass destruction,
guns!

 

Of course one
doesn’t have to look far or listen very hard to hear the new “revisionist”
clamor on the right.

“Obama has
drawn the wrong lessons from the New Deal,” said Burton Folsom Jr., the
author of a new book that has helped reignite the controversy, “New Deal
or Raw Deal? How FDR's Economic Legacy Has Damaged America.” Folsom argues that Roosevelt's role in creating jobs is vastly overstated;
that he increased taxes too much, particularly on wealthier Americans; and that
his spending saddled Americans with debt for years.

But Jonathan Alter, who wrote “The Defining Moment,” a book on
Roosevelt's first 100 days in office – high on Obama's reading list – said
“the idea that none of it worked is just right-wing nonsense.” One
can hear Mr. Alter and his reflections on this subject on the July 26, 2007
edition of The Advocates, http://advocates-wvox.com.

But of course comments on the success or failure of the New
Deal don’t only come from some author’s trying to make a “fast buck” by pandering
to the right-wing. Rep. Virginia Foxx hopes to persuade her colleagues not to
release the second batch of financial industry bailout money and will press her
case before the House of Representatives.

 

Rep.
Foxx stated, “I don't think that we should make the same mistakes that were
made in the (1930s). We should learn from history,” Foxx also said, “The
policies of Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal were not really effective in turning the economy around, in March
of 1940, the unemployment rate was 14 percent.”  

A columnist named Ellis Washington, currently a professor of
law and political science at Savannah
State University,
said:

At the ascendancy of
our 44th president of the United
States and a new administration, I have one
simple question to ask: Constitution or corruption? The latter principle of
governance has dominated politics beginning with the liberal Theodore Roosevelt
(1901-09) and his “Fair Deal.” Next came the socialist junta of Woodrow Wilson (1913-21) followed by FDR
(1933-45) where the apotheosis of
leviathan government
over every aspect of our lives was ubiquitously called
“The New Deal.” Nevertheless, I truly believe that we can reform our decadent ways and return to the original intent of the Constitution's
framers
. How?

In the early 1930s,
FDR used the pretext of the Great Depression to take Theodore Roosevelt's and
Wilson's experiments in socialism to a more comprehensive level with his
blatantly unconstitutional New Deal
programs
, including Social Security, Aid to Families with Dependent
Children, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Federal Housing
Administration, the Tennessee Valley Authority, Works Progress Administration,
the Securities and Exchange Commission and Fannie Mae,
just to name a few leviathan federal programs that have denigrated the liberty
and freedom of every American citizen. America is essentially a welfare
state where almost daily more of our liberties are confiscated by the
government. President-elect Barack Obama has promised to give America
“FDR, part II.” God help us all.

Mr. Ellis goes on to discuss Rep. John Shadegg, R, Ariz., proposed an “Enumerated
Powers Act,” or EPA (H.R. 1359 in the 110th Congress)
.

“If
this important bill were passed, it would force all 535 members of Congress to
literally cite chapter and verse of how their proposed legislation
lines up with the Constitution. The implication being if they could not clearly
show the constitutionality of their legislation, ipso facto it would
be deemed unconstitutional and summarily rejected from even given the respect
of a vote by Congress, because the proposed bill would have to first pass
constitutional muster to even be considered.”

Of course, Washington
not only denigrates the social advances brought on by reform Presidents like
Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, but states the following:

 “Can you imagine how many welfare programs and
multi-trillion dollar spending plans America is currently entangled in
would be stopped dead in their tracks if Congress simply followed the original
intent of the Constitution's framers and enacted Rep. Shadegg's Enumerated
Powers Act? Government by definition and necessity would become smaller and
decentralized. The people would have
more of their own money to do with it what they will, and lazy bums who have
lived all their lives off other people's money would be compelled to get off
their butts and get a job
. It would be tantamount to a third American
Revolution.”

These comments are not the ravings of a mad man, but very typical of the
right wing revisionists that abound in the land. As FDR characterized, in his
famous 1944, “My Little Dog Fala” speech, “the fiction writers, inside and
outside of Congress,” is quite apt.

One proto typical internet contribution came from a blog contributor, Mr.
Robert French, who stated about the New Deal:

Liberals
will tell you that these actions saved the economy then and will do so now.
Baloney! What they conveniently ignore is the fact that, after four-plus years
of FDR's vaunted programs, the economy was still in a deep hole and in 1937
plunged even deeper. After that, things started uphill very slowly but almost
certainly because of the cyclic nature of the economy, not any of the
government programs. The economy didn't really recover until World War II
descended upon us… If Obama accomplishes anything, it will probably be to make the recession longer and more severe.
It will, however, make the government bigger and more able to control our
lives, which, one suspects, is probably the real goal.

Note he has already predicted that if President-Elect Obama “accomplishes
anything he will make the recession longer.”  In the mind of GOP/right-wing, the Depression
was a set-back that would have righted itself eventually. According to these revisionists,
if the economy were left alone, recovery would have eventually happened As
Herbert Hoover said, “Prosperity is just around the corner.” Not only did
recovery not come in the forty months of the Hoover Administration that
followed the late October1929, stock market crash, but Hoover,
in a campaign speech almost three years later to the day, On October 31, 1932,
predicted with a Roosevelt victory, “The grass
will grow in the streets of a hundred cities.” Well the grass did not grow in
the 100 cities under the New Deal!

As HW Brand has written in his new book on FDR, Traitor to his Class, “Herbert Hoover hated Roosevelt
during the campaign, and he hated him even more after the election,” He never
really understood what FDR’s landslide victory really meant. He even thought
that the slight up-tick in the economy right before the election was a sign
that his “patient policies has all but ended the depression, only for the
economy to swoon again as a result of Roosevelt’s victory, which frightened
investors and made them withdraw from the marketplace.” As Brand, wrote, “Like
many other counterfactual claims, Hoover’s
couldn’t be disproved.”  Hoover finally came to his senses decades
later.  Regarding his limitations on his
perspective, Hoover
said, “my education was that of an engineer, and I do not know all the nuances
of economics.”

Bob Schlesinger, the son of the late FDR biographer, Arthur M. Schlesinger,
Jr., wrote, Barack Obama, according to today's Times, has studied FDR's first 100 days, seizing on the
idea that Roosevelt had a “conversation
with the American public.” This is both smart and foreseeable—but he needs
to recognize his and the strategy's limitations. To understand why, ask
yourself how often FDR gave his famed fireside chats. The answer may surprise
you. It's smart because of the obvious historical
parallels—a Democratic president taking office at a time of economic crisis and
accompanying national psychological distress. It's foreseeable because Obama's
speech-giving skill is his greatest asset. Bob Schlesinger, who is an editor
and writer with US News and World Report,
was also on The Advocates on August 8, 2008.

Right after reading Schlesinger’s remarks on the internet, an unsigned
remark chimed in reflecting the revisionist right-wing:

The first thing that
FDR did was to move us to a socialistic
type of government
with the confiscation
of gold
. Who would of thought that it would be illegal to own your own real
money (gold) in the land of the free? I suppose any comment on the turnaround
from the depression would have to be that we bombed those Axis industrialized
nations into oblivion that would have been our competition in the world in a
gigantic war. Having thus done that we proceeded to be most prosperous nation
on the face of the earth for around 30 years. After that we decoupled our money
from any real standard. If what we have to look forward to is history repeating
itself, look out! Here comes WW-III…. Oh let's not forget BHO can communicate
real nice. That gives me a warm fuzzy.

On a side note to Mr.
Schlesinger, I think it is a shame that
you get paid to give your opinion because of your last name and not talent.

Note how it has been ingrained in many people’s minds that without World War
II the Depression would have never ended. Does that mean that the $350 billion
spending for the war, which was 5.5 times the total spent by the New Deal in
7-8 years, was the amount that should have been allocated by the government for
the recovery? Somehow the right-wing wants it both ways. On one hand they decry
the spending and the effort of the New Deal, and on the other hand they
assuredly feel that we needed greater spending!

From another perspective, Representative Henry Waxman, a Democrat from California seems to
believe that the New Deal also didn’t spend enough. When asked how the spending
in a stimulus package today would have a different effect than FDR’s spending
on federal programs, which did not significantly lower unemployment until the
start of World War II, Waxman said Roosevelt
did not spend enough.

“Well, a lot of
economists tell us that what Roosevelt failed to do was to spend as much money
as was needed to get people back to work and get the economy moving again,” he
said.

“It wasn’t until World War II when we had major expenditures that the
Depression was finally resolved,” said Waxman. “We’re going to be looking at
that experience. But I think what we are facing now is unique. But we’ve got to
approach it with what we’ve learned from the past but think through what we
need for the future.”

But was it Roosevelt alone, or the southern Dixiecrats of their day, and their
conservative GOP allies, who started to demand a cutback in spending? The
sharp, but short Recession of September 1937, seems to indicate that any cut
back in spending would send the economy back into a quick tailspin and slump.
That sharp economic setback, caused by the Fed’s tightening and budgetary
threats by the Congress to restrict the New Deal spending, cost the economy 4
million jobs, stultified steel production and reversed many gains of the
previous years. Quick intervention by the President and a reversal by the
Federal Reserve, ended the recession in the spring of 1938, and the recovery
was again on its way.  

For more of the same, Michelle Malkin reminds us
of the UCLA study that concluded that FDR's policies not only did not end the Great Depression… but instead
actually prolonged it. Two UCLA economists say
they have figured out why the Great Depression dragged on for almost 15 years,
and they blame a suspect previously thought to be beyond reproach: President
Franklin D. Roosevelt. After scrutinizing Roosevelt’s
record for four years, Harold L. Cole and Lee E. Ohanian conclude in a new
study that New Deal policies signed into law 71 years ago thwarted economic
recovery for seven long years.

“Why the Great Depression lasted so long has always
been a great mystery, and because we never really knew the reason, we have
always worried whether we would have another 10- to 15-year economic slump,”
said Ohanian, vice chair of UCLA’s Department of Economics. “We found that a
relapse isn’t likely unless lawmakers gum up a recovery with ill-conceived
stimulus policies.”

In an article in the August issue of the Journal of Political Economy, Ohanian
and Cole blame specific anti-competition and pro-labor measures that Roosevelt promoted and signed into law June 16, 1933.

How this
squares with history is a mystery to me and thousands of economists, professors
and historians. First of all, the Depression did not last 15 years and the New
Deal certainly reversed the free-fall of the economy that the country was
experiencing in March of 1933. On one hand they believe that the Depression
lasted 15 years (1929 through 1945), and on the other they feel World War II
ended it. There was certainly not a Depression from 1942 on when unemployment
reached 1.9%,

Of course
criticism of the New Deal doesn’t only reside in the hearts of aberrant
right-wing nuts, far out Members of Congress, or apostles of the “marketplace”
as a partner with G-d, but with establishment figures like Ms. Amity Shlaes.

Shlaes a graduate Yale University
magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree,[ writes a syndicated
column for Bloomberg News]. She is a senior
fellow in economic history at the Council on Foreign Relations. Her many
appearances on television and radio include commentary on public radio for Marketplace.

Her Wall Street Journal piece on New Deal job
creation noted that such jobs may not always increase productivity. She wrote a
column for the Financial Times for five years, for which
she won the International Policy Network's Bastiat Prize for Journalism in 2002. Before
that, she worked at the Wall Street Journal, where she was a member
of the editorial board. She has
also written for The New Yorker, The American Spectator, Commentary Magazine, Foreign Affairs,
National Review, and The New
Republic
, among others. Her obituary of Milton
Friedman
appeared in The New York
Sun
.

On 2 September 2005, Shlaes wrote a column for the Financial Times
arguing that the George W. Bush administration's response to Hurricane
Katrina
showed that it had been well prepared for the disaster and
that George W. Bush had not been hindered by consideration of federalism
in his response. Ten days later, in another Financial Times column,
Shlaes noted that there had in fact been delays in responding to Katrina, but
argued that the Bush Administration should not be held responsible for them,
because they were simply an unfortunate result of federalism

In July 2008, Shlaes wrote a column defending Senator Phil Gramm's
comment that Americans were “whiners” with respect to the economy.
Shlaes endorsed Gramms's argument that the United States was not in a true
recession, saying that at the time, the US GDP had not shrunk during two
consecutive quarters

Of course Ms. Shlaes is one of the leading revisionists of the right.
She is avid defender of George W. Bush, and held that he should not be
responsible for the terrible follow-up regarding hurricane Katrina. She blames
that on “federalism.” Also, she seemed to be a recent “recession” denier, as
her statements in support of Phil Gramm seem to indicate. But this so-called
respected journalist was a member of the
Wall Street Journal’s
editorial board. In her
best-selling book, The
Forgotten Man, a New History of the New Deal
, she basically states:

That both
Presidents Hoover and Roosevelt failed to understand the prosperity of the
1920s and heaped massive burdens on the country that more than offset the
benefit of New Deal programs. The real question about the Depression, she
argues, is not whether Roosevelt ended it with
World War II. It is why the Depression lasted so long. From 1929 to 1940,
federal intervention helped to make the Depression great—in part by forgetting
the men and women who sought to help one another.

Even though
Shlaes talks about Hoover
and FDR not understanding the underlining prosperity of the 1920’s, in fact,
there are a number of accounts that the Depression had really started long
before the 1929 Stock Market crash. Many believe, including the eminent
historian, David M. Kennedy, the author of the Pulitzer and Parkman prize-winning
book,
Freedom From Fear, The American People in the Depression and War,
that the Depression
started in the early 1920’s and that the economic conditions in that halcyon
era were much overstated. He believes that the book,
Only Yesterday
, published in 1931, by
Frederick Lewis Allen, (1890-1954), which many of us read in the 1950’s and
1960’s presented a much rosier picture of the “flapper” era. Kennedy, like
others, realized that the 1920’s, as with the war years that preceded that
period, had artificially strengthened industries that were endemically flawed
and hurting before the Great War. The country’s largest employers in those days
were the farms, the railroads, and the coal mining industry. Supplying Europe during the war built American fortunes and turned
us from a debtor to a creditor nation.

After
the war, while Western Europe was suffering from a lack of food and fuel,
American mines, farms, railroads, and shipping created a false economic bubble
that started to end when Europe once again became
self-sufficient. In that period,
farms couldn’t grow enough food
for needy Europe mouths, and between coal and
grain shipments the railroads were booming. But there were economic rumblings
being heard and even though there was a return to the pre-war wealth, there
would be great change stirring in the wind. Did President Calvin Coolidge, who
seemed to hate government, and sleep away his afternoons at the White House
really care? There many warnings, and in the in the words of Alan Greenspan, an
atmosphere of “irrational exuberance.” Author Kennedy even believes that the low unemployment
figures for that period were way over –stated. The collapse of pre-war Europe and the economic balance of employment and trade
sowed the seeds for a future world-wide economic meltdown.

Before the Crash of 1929, more
wealth was in the hands of fewer people then any other period in our long
history. Unrestricted capitalism led to wild speculation in the market places,
an eventual credit crunch, and since we didn't believe in “safety
nets” or entitlements, the ensuing collapse devastated our social order.
In Arthur M. Schlesinger Junior’s great works, on that period, which include The Crisis of the Old Order, and the Coming of the New Deal much of this
history is accurately reported and eloquently described. As in 1929, tax
policies from Reagan on, with the exception of the eight prosperous years of
the Clinton Administration, favored the rich, have shrunk the middle class, and
have concentrated more wealth in fewer hands than at any time since the crash.

This period
of “wonderful nothingness, which is what the 1920’s has been variously
described, ended with the fall of one of its great characters and swindlers,
Richard Whitney and the Bull Market in late October of 1929.

The Dow Jones Average had hit a high of on September
3, 1929, at 381.17. The market had been a bit shaky throughout the fall.
Richard Whitney (1888-1974), who had graduated from Groton and Harvard, as did Franklin D.
Roosevelt, but was admitted to Pocellian, unlike the late President, was a Wall
Street legend. He was a member of the New York Stock Exchange at age
twenty-three, was elected to the Board of Governors at thirty-one, and was the
head of his own investment company. He was the mirror of the “old guard” of the
New York Stock Exchange, which was a loose group of wealthy investors who
crafted and guided its direction and destiny. As the leader of this group and
at that time in the fall of 1929, he was a Vice-President of the Exchange and
its acting President. At the beginning of the Panic on “Black Thursday”,
October 24, 1929, he moved on the floor in the midst of the selling frenzy, and
placed huge orders in an attempt to bring confidence back to the marketplace
and to try to stem the avalanche of selling. He placed an order for 10,000
shares of US Steel at 205, which was 40 points above its current selling price.
He also placed other orders for his group in a number of other blue-chip
stocks. These orders were estimated to be in the range of $20 million. No one
in history had ever spent that type of money in a single afternoon. Of course
since he was associated with the House of Morgan, many traders assumed that
Morgan was behind such incredible action. This legendary effort seemed to work
for a while, and the market, which had dropped precipitously, seemed to take
pause. That day over 12.9 million shares had changed hands and the market had
lost an incredible amount of its value. Over the weekend investors thought over
the situation and decided to sell their holdings and the market absorbed a
record 13% loss in value. This set the stage for its ultimate collapse. On
“Black Tuesday”, October 29, 1929 the selling reached a historically un-reached
crescendo. The losses were incredible and with record 16.4 million shares
traded, the market lost another 12%. The market crash had wiped out an
incredible amount of wealth. It would eventually bottom out at 41.22 on July 8,
1932 to a level not seen since the 1800’s. By April of 1942 it would have lost
75% of its 1929 value and the Dow Jones Industrial Average would not
recover to its 1929 levels until November of 1954. Richard Whitney would still
represent the “old guard” as its spokesperson. He served multiple terms as its
President from 1930 onward and would be a frequent witness in front of
Congressional Hearings until 1935. Because reform elements had indicated he
would be opposed fore re-lection in 1935, he chose not to run again.
Ironically, he was a terrible manager of his own money. He borrowed from
friends and investors by using the name of JP Morgan as his assumed backer. It
was estimated that he had borrowed over $30 million and by 1938 he declared
bankruptcy and owed over $6 million personally. He was indicted, and pled
guilty to misuse of funds and spent three years and four months of his
five-to-ten year sentence in the Big House at Sing Sing.

 

The panic and collapse of the economy, brought on by the
crash resulted in a massive deflation that President Herbert Hoover called the
“Depression.” The New Deal, authored by Franklin D. Roosevelt, stopped
the bleeding, but because of the severity of the collapse it could never
resurrect the artificially inflated, halcyon days of the 1920’s. Of course
present day business -oriented “talking heads” like to say that the New Deal
prolonged the slump. Of course they have conveniently forgotten that the 1920’s
made the “Techie Bubble” of 2000 look like a walk in the park.

 

Many seem to have
forgotten or have totally ignored the disaster that we faced in 1933. After
three and one-half long years of inaction from the Hoover Administration that
left us an enduring and unending legacy of breadlines, shanty towns (Hooverville’s),
hobos riding the rails, abandoned farms, beggars, apple selling retailers
on the streets, unemployment in the tens of millions, social unrest, starvation,
and a net loss of population, as more left America then immigrated, we were
mired in an economic situation unlike any in history. What we learned quickly
from that era was that state's rights solved few problems, and that the south,
which was almost completely in ruins, embraced the New Deal with the most open
of arms. State's rights sustained “Jim Crow” laws which kept
African-Americans, and white tenant farmers uneducated, impoverished,
and certainly regarding Blacks, unable to vote. State's Rights enabled a
dictator like Huey Long to run Louisiana
like his own private fiefdom. State's right's allowed workers, women and
children to be abused by unscrupulous employers as wage slaves. Even with the
great centralized power FDR and the New Deal would bring to Washington, it
would take legislation like the Wagner Act of 1935, and the rise of
unionization, decades to reverse much of the state’s rights abuses of both its
minority citizens and its workers. Therefore without the enhanced federalism of
the New Deal, the country may have faced a greater threat to its unity than
even the Civil War posed.

 

FDR understood the
problem of regionalism, the power and the abuse of the “solid south,” and the
feelings of conservative wing of the Democratic Party. He had made an effort to
bring the southern and northern wings of the Democratic Party together with his
efforts to rehabilitate the image of Thomas Jefferson. He had Jefferson placed
on the nickel coin replacing the Indian head, had the magnificent Jefferson
Memorial built and sought to re-cast him as one of the founding fathers of the
Democratic Party with Andrew Jackson. But when it came to his policies, many of
these same southern committee chairmen thwarted his efforts in the latter
period of the New Deal. Because of their negativity, FDR attempted to purge
many of them in the primaries of 1938. This effort failed miserably, and FDR
learned his lesson. Later on FDR would need them to support Lend-Lease, and he
traded their support for issues he needed against those he could not win,
immigration quota reform, and anti-lynching legislation.

 

The size of
the economic cataclysm is almost hard to perceive. Even though the Department
of Commerce listed unemployment at 25% many estimates believe it ranged as high
as 36% and the most likely number is probably a bit above 30%. The amount of
new capital financing had declined 95% since 1929. The amount of new building
contracts had declined by at least 75% in those same years. The Dow Jones
Average was off 90% since its high in late 1929, and there were 5000 bank
closings since the crash, which eliminated nine million, pre FDIC uninsured
accounts. US Steel, which had almost a quarter of a million full-time employees
in 1929, now employed no one but executives. Schools in major cities and some
states virtually shut down for lack of money. In the first half of 1933,
250,000 homes were taken over by the banks, and over 1000 families per day were
cast homeless into the streets. This is what Franklin Roosevelt inherited on
March 4, 1933.

By 1933,
business failures had risen almost 50% from the end of 1928 (109 to 154 per
hundred thousand). From 1933 to 1935, only two years they dropped to almost 40%
from the 1928 levels (62 to 109 per thousand). Unemployment rose from 3% in
1929 to 25% in 1933. From 1933 through 1937 unemployment dropped 44% to 14%.
This figure did not include over 2 million workers employed by the WPA. As to
the Gross National Product, by 1933 it had dropped from $103.6 billion in 1929
to $56.4 billion in 1933. This represented a loss of 44% of the total goods and
services of the country in 3 years. In FDR’s first administration it rose
approximately 64% to $92 billion. By 1940, with defense spending still only 22
% of the federal budget (from 1928 through1932, defense spending represented an
average of 38% of the US Budget), and 2% of the GNP, the GNP had risen to
$101.4 billion or 4% higher than 1928! 
Because of the New Deal, hourly wages which had dropped from 58 cents
per hour in 1928 to 49 cents for hour in 1933 (a drop of approximately 25%)
rose 74 cents per hour in 1940. This represented a strong recovery of 28% from
1928. These figures are undeniable.

FDR took bold
decisive action in the
Hundred Days,
and fifteen pieces of major legislation
passed. The hemorrhaging of the banking crisis ceased, stability was brought
back to the market places, and the NRA which came out of the National Recovery
Act was the first of many regulatory efforts which would eventually include,
the SEC, the AAA, the CCC, the PWA and the WPA.

On May 7, 1933, Roosevelt extolled the CCC in a fireside address on the
radio:

“First, we are giving opportunity of employment to one-quarter of a
million of the unemployed, especially the young men who have dependents, to go
into the forestry and flood prevention work. This is a big task because it
means feeding, clothing and caring for nearly twice as many men as we have in
the regular army itself. In creating this civilian conservation corps we are
killing two birds with one stone. We are clearly enhancing the value of our
natural resources and second, we are relieving an appreciable amount of actual
distress.”

The goal of the WPA was to employ
most of the unemployed people on relief until the economy recovered. Its
administrator, Harry Hopkins testified to Congress in January 1935 why he set
the number at 3.5 million, using FERA data. At $1200 per worker per year he
asked for and received $4 billion.

“On January 1 there were 20 million persons on relief in the United States.
Of these, 8.3 million were children under sixteen years of age; 3.8 million
were persons who, though between the ages of sixteen and sixty-five were not
working nor seeking work. These included housewives, students in school, and
incapacitated persons. Another 750,000 were persons sixty- five years of age or
over. Thus, of the total of 20 million persons then receiving relief, 12.85
million were not considered eligible for employment. This left a total of 7.15
million presumably employable persons between the ages of sixteen and
sixty-five inclusive. Of these, however, 1.65 million were said to be farm
operators or persons who had some non-relief employment, while another 350,000
were, despite the fact that they were already employed or seeking work,
considered incapacitated. Deducting this two million from the total of 7.15
million, there remained 5.15 million persons sixteen to sixty-five years of
age, unemployed, looking for work, and able to work. Because of the assumption
that only one worker per family would be permitted to work under the proposed
program, this total of 5.15 million was further reduced by 1.6 million–the
estimated number of workers who were members of families which included two or
more employable persons. Thus, there remained a net total of 3.55 million
workers in as many households for whom jobs were to be provided.”

The WPA employed a maximum of 3.3
million in November 1938. Worker pay was based on three factors: the region of
the country, the degree of urbanization and the individual's skill. It varied
from $19/month to $94/month. The goal was to pay the local prevailing wage, but
to limit a person to 30 hours or less a week of work.

As to the great Harry Hopkins,
later in his illustrious career he served as FDR’s special ambassador during
World War II. On his initial visit to war-torn Britain in early January of 1941,
he met with Prime Minister Winston Churchill to discuss Lend-Lease aid. At the end
of Hopkins’ tour of Britain
with the Prime Minister they ate dinner at the Station Hotel in Glasgow, Scotland.
Churchill drew out Hopkins with praise for
Roosevelt and a reference to “the Democracy of the great American Republic.”
Hopkins, who was quite ill from the affects of the long-grueling trip and his
own weakened constitution sat for a moment after Churchill’s remarks, and the
rose to face the Prime Minister.

“I suppose you wish to know what I am going to say to President Roosevelt
on my return.” In his soft-measured voice, “Well I ‘m going to quote you one
verse from the Book of Books in the truth of which Mr. Johnson  (Tom Johnson, the secretary of state for
Scotland and a member of the party) and my own Scottish mother were brought up:
‘Whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy
people shall be my people, the God my God.’” The dropping his voice, he added, “Even
to the end.” No one could have said it better. Churchill sat with tears in his
eyes.

This vignette reveals just a
fragment of what made up the great Harry Hopkins, who was one of FDR’s greatest
New Deal lieutenants.

The National Industrial Recovery Act on June 16, 1933, created the Public
Works Administration (PWA) and budgeted several billion dollars to be spent on
the construction of public works as a means of providing employment,
stabilizing purchasing power, improving public welfare, and contributing to a
revival of American industry. Simply put, it was designed to spend “big
bucks on big projects.”

Under the leadership
of Harold W. Ickes, the Secretary of the Interior, the PWA epitomized the
Rooseveltian notion of “priming the pump” to encourage economic
growth. Between July 1933 and March 1939, the PWA funded the construction of
more than 34,000 projects, including airports, electricity-generating dams, and
aircraft carriers; and seventy percent of the new schools and one third of the
hospitals built during that time. It also electrified the Pennsylvania Railroad
between New York and Washington, D.C.
Its one big failure was in quality, affordable housing, building only 25,000
units in four and a half years. It provided the federal government with its
first systematic network for the distribution of funds to localities, ensured
that conservation would remain an element in the national discussion, and
provided federal administrators with a broad amount of badly needed experience
in public policy planning.

When Franklin D.
Roosevelt
was elected as president, he appointed Henry Wallace as
his Secretary of Agriculture. In 1933 Wallace drafted the Agricultural
Adjustment Act (AAA).

The AAA paid farmers
not to grow crops and not to produce dairy produce such as milk and butter. It
also paid them not to raise pigs and lambs. The money to pay the farmers for
cutting back production of about 30% was raised by a tax on companies that
bought the farm products and processed them into food and clothing. The AAA
also became involved in trying to help farmers destroyed by the creation of the
dust-bowl
in 1934.
By
the time the Agricultural Adjustment Administration began its operations, the
agricultural season for many crops was already under way.

The agency oversaw a large-scale destruction of existing cotton crops and
livestock in an attempt to reduce surpluses. No other crops or animals were
affected in 1933, but six million piglets and 220,000 pregnant cows were
slaughtered in the AAA's effort to raise prices. Many cotton farmers plowed
under a quarter of their crop in accordance with the AAA's plans.

Large farms benefited from the AAA policy of reducing surpluses, having
“gross farm income increased by 50% during the first three years of the
New Deal.”  The increase in gross income
for farmers was largely paid for through government subsidies.

These of
course are the major programs. FDR would have to fight the Courts over the
constitutionality of many of his programs, and a number would be voided. As for
example,
in 1936 the Supreme Court
declared the AAA unconstitutional. The majority of judges (6-3) ruled that it
was illegal to levy a tax on one group (the processors) in order to pay it to
another (the farmers). In 1938, another AAA was passed without the processing
tax. It was financed out of general taxation and was therefore acceptable to
the Supreme Court.

This struggle
of course opened up the next phase of reform with his Second New Deal.
Eventually the Court ruled Social Security to be constitutional, and a number
of these very old Justices finally resigned after FDR’s effort to re-organize
the Federal court system (The Court Packing!). Eventually, he was able to put
his total imprint on the court despite losing his abortive court reform
initiative. But with all of his success, new generations of his critics have
been spawned in the 60+ years since his untimely death.

As per
example, I came across another article decrying the New Deal by William L.
Anderson, an assistant professor at Frostburg
State, Maryland, MD.

This article has
covered only a small portion of the post–New Deal Supreme Court’s crimes against the Constitution. For lack of space, I have not dealt with
the Court’s rulings on asset forfeiture, which has accompanied the government’s
“war on drugs,” nor have I dealt with the various Court assaults on free
speech, religious beliefs, and civil liberties.

To be able to fully
gauge the effect that the New Deal has had on our lives today through the
Supreme Court, a deforestation of North America
would be needed to write a volume large enough. However, there are two
consistent themes that have emerged in the past seven decades. The first is
that private property is considered to be an anachronism, useful only insofar
as it serves as a mechanism to raise tax revenues for government. The second is
that the U.S. Supreme Court and all U.S. courts, federal and state, are
expected to be movers and arbiters of social change. To put it bluntly, the
courts see themselves as having a mission to implement the policies of the
Progressive Era. Unfortunately, what the political classes see as being
“progressive” actually is little more than a regression into tyranny in which the
state has absolute power.

 The
“right wing” of this country always seems to trash the rights of the
many for the rights of the few, by hiding behind “original
intent.” Again the Framers had no understanding of the modern
world that would come about. As Franklin Roosevelt said, “out of this
modern civilization, economic royalists carved new dynasties…The royalists of
the economic order have conceded that political freedom was the business of the
Government, but they have maintained that economic slavery was nobody's
business.”  (FDR’s speech accepting re-nomination to the Presidency,
June 27, 1936.)

 

Also in his Second
Inaugural, the late President said, “The test of our progress is not
whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we
provide enough for those who have too little.” (Second Inaugural, January
20, 1937)

 

Little really has
changed in the minds of many of the old and new critics of the New Deal. But,
did we go back to unrestricted capitalism, and therefore trash the SEC, NASD,
and the Securities Laws of 1933, 1934, and 1940, wages and hours, child labor
laws and the like? No, thankfully! Should we go back to the great enduring
capitalistic legacy of the “Triangle Shirt-Waste Fire?” Or maybe we
should trash the reform legacy of Ida Tarbel, Upton Sinclair, Sinclair Lewis,
and others who revealed to the public the abuses of private capital and power.
Meanwhile how many judges did the “economic royalists” own? How
many of them came from the bosom of private capitalism and the world of
property? (Thankfully Holmes, Brandeis, and Cardozo didn't!)

 

The new president
has to face another generation of problems that has come out of an era of greed
and profit without a concern for economic sustainability and resiliency. In a sense
this all goes back to the real legacy of Ronald Reagan. It is hard to believe
that Reagan, who voted for FDR all four times he ran for president, would place
a picture of Calvin Coolidge in a place of honor in his office. What had Reagan
really learned? Interestingly, as much as Reagan seems to replicate Calvin
Coolidge more than Herbert Hoover, George W. Bush seems to have done the
impossible. He seems to have replicated Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover.

 

Hopefully when
Barack Obama takes the oath on this coming Tuesday, January 20, 2009, he will
be able to convey, in his own way and style, the same confidence, vision,
thoughtfulness and leadership FDR expressed on March 4, 1933. FDR’s remarks on
that famous day conclude my thoughts.

 

 

The former Governor of New
York rode to the Capitol with President Hoover. Pressures of the economy
faced the President-elect as he took his oath of office from Chief Justice
Charles Evans Hughes on the East Portico of the Capitol. He addressed the
nation by radio and announced his plans for a New Deal. Throughout that day
the President met with his Cabinet designees at the White House.

Below is the text of FDR’s First Inaugural!

image

 

 

President Hoover, Mr. Chief Justice, my
friends: This is a day of national consecration, and I am certain that my
fellow Americans expect that on my induction into the Presidency I will address
them with a candor and a decision which the present situation of our nation
impels.

This is pre-eminently the time to speak the
truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly
facing conditions in our country today. This great nation will endure as it has
endured, will revive and will prosper. So first of all let me assert my firm
belief that the only thing we have to fear. . .is fear itself. . . nameless,
unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert
retreat into advance.

In every dark hour of our national life a leadership
of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the
people themselves which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will
again give that support to leadership in these critical days. In such a spirit
on my part and on yours we face our common difficulties. They concern, thank
God, only material things. Values have shrunken to fantastic levels: taxes have
risen, our ability to pay has fallen, government of all kinds is faced by
serious curtailment of income, the means of exchange are frozen in the currents
of trade, the withered leaves of industrial enterprise lie on every side,
farmers find no markets for their produce, the savings of many years in
thousands of families are gone.

More important, a host of unemployed citizens
face the grim problem of existence, and an equally great number toil with
little return. Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the
moment. Yet our distress comes from no failure of substance. We are stricken by
no plague of locusts. Compared with the perils which our forefathers conquered
because they believed and were not afraid, we have still much to be thankful
for. Nature still offers her bounty and human efforts have multiplied it.
Plenty is at our doorstep, but a generous use of it languishes in the very
sight of the supply.

Primarily, this is because the rulers of the
exchange of mankind's goods have failed through their own stubbornness and
their own incompetence, have admitted their failures and abdicated. Practices
of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public
opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men.

True, they have tried, but their efforts have
been cast in the pattern of an outworn tradition. Faced by failure of credit,
they have proposed only the lending of more money. Stripped of the lure of
profit by which to induce our people to follow their false leadership, they
have resorted to exhortations, pleading tearfully for restored conditions. They
know only the rules of a generation of self-seekers. They have no vision, and
when there is no vision the people perish.

The money changers have fled their high seats
in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the
ancient truths. The measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we
apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit.

Happiness lies not in the mere possession of
money, it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort. The
joy and moral stimulation of work no longer must be forgotten in the mad chase
of evanescent profits. These dark days will be worth all they cost us if they
teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to
ourselves and to our fellow-men.

Recognition of the falsity of material wealth
as the standard of success goes hand in hand with the abandonment of the false
belief that public office and high political position are to be values only by
the standards of pride of place and personal profit, and there must be an end
to a conduct in banking and in business which too often has given to a sacred
trust the likeness of callous and selfish wrongdoing. Small wonder that
confidence languishes, for it thrives only on honesty, on honor, on the
sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection, on unselfish performance.
Without them it cannot live.

Restoration calls, however, not for changes
in ethics alone. This nation asks for action, and action now. Our greatest
primary task is to put people to work. This is no unsolvable problem if we face
it wisely and courageously.

It can be accompanied in part by direct
recruiting by the government itself, treating the task as we would treat the
emergency of a war, but at the same time, through this employment,
accomplishing greatly needed projects to stimulate and reorganize the use of
our national resources.

Hand in hand with this, we must frankly
recognize the over-balance of population in our industrial centers and, by
engaging on a national scale in a redistribution, endeavor to provide a better
use of the land for those best fitted for the land. The task can be helped by
definite efforts to raise the values of agricultural products and with this the
power to purchase the output of our cities. It can be helped by preventing
realistically the tragedy of the growing loss, through foreclosure, of our
small homes and our farms. It can be helped by insistence that the Federal,
State, and local governments act forthwith on the demand that their cost be
drastically reduced.

It can be helped by the unifying of relief
activities which today are often scattered, uneconomical and unequal. It can be
helped by national planning for and supervision of all forms of transportation
and of communications and other utilities which have a definitely public
character.There are many ways in which it can be helped, but it can never be
helped merely by talking about it. We must act, and act quickly.

Finally, in our progress toward a resumption
of work we require two safeguards against a return of the evils of the old
order: there must be a strict supervision of all banking and credits and
investments; there must be an end to speculation with other people's money, and
there must be provision for an adequate but sound currency.

These are the lines of attack. I shall
presently urge upon a new Congress in special session detailed measures for
their fulfillment, and I shall seek the immediate assistance of the several
States. Through this program of action we address ourselves to putting our own
national house in order and making income balance outgo. Our international
trade relations, though vastly important, are, to point in time and necessity,
secondary to the establishment of a sound national economy. I favor as a
practical policy the putting of first things first. I shall spare no effort to
restore world trade by international economic readjustment, but the emergency
at home cannot wait on that accomplishment.

The basic thought that guides these specific
means of national recovery is not narrowly nationalistic. It is the insistence,
as a first consideration, upon the interdependence of the various elements in
and parts of the United
States. . . a recognition of the old and
permanently important manifestation of the American spirit of the pioneer.

It is the way to recovery. It is the
immediate way. It is the strongest assurance that the recovery will endure.

In the field of world policy I would dedicate
this nation to the policy of the good neighbor. . .the neighbor who resolutely
respects himself and, because he does so, respects the rights of others. . .the
neighbor who respects his obligations and respects the sanctity of his
agreements in and with a world of neighbors.

If I read the temper of our people correctly,
we now realize, as we have never realized before, our interdependence on each
other: that we cannot merely take, but we must give as well, that if we are to
go forward we must move as a trained and loyal army willing to sacrifice for
the good of a common discipline, because without such discipline, no progress
is made, no leadership becomes effective. We are, I know, ready and willing to
submit our lives and property to such discipline because it makes possibly a
leadership which aims at a larger good.

This I propose to offer, pledging that the
larger purposes will hind upon us all as a sacred obligation with a unity of
duty hitherto evoked only in time of armed strife. With this pledge taken, I
assume unhesitatingly the leadership of this great army of our people,
dedicated to a disciplined attack upon our common problems.Action in this image
and to this end is feasible under the form of government which we have
inherited from our ancestors.

Our Constitution is so simple and practical
that it is possible always to meet extraordinary needs by changes in emphasis
and arrangement without loss of essential form. That is why our constitutional
system has proved itself the most superbly enduring political mechanism the
modern world has produced. It has met every stress of vast expansion of
territory, of foreign wars, of bitter internal strife, of world relations.

It is to be hoped that the normal balance of
executive and legislative authority may be wholly adequate to meet the
unprecedented task before us. But it may be that an unprecedented demand and
need for undelayed action may call for temporary departure from that normal
balance of public procedure. I am prepared under my constitutional duty to
recommend the measures that a stricken nation in the midst of a stricken world
may require.

But in the event that the Congress shall fail
to take one of these courses, and in the event that the national emergency is
still critical, I shall not evade the clear course of duty that will then
confront me. I shall ask the Congress for the one remaining instrument to meet
the crisis. . .broad executive power to wage a war against the emergency as
great as the power that would be given to me if we were in fact invaded by a
foreign foe.

For the trust reposed in me I will return the
courage and the devotion that befit the time. I can do no less. We face the
arduous days that lie before us in the warm courage of national unity, with the
clear consciousness of seeking old and precious moral values, with the clean
satisfaction that comes from the stern performance of duty by old and young
alike. We aim at the assurance of a rounded and permanent national life.

We do not distrust the future of essential
democracy. The people of the United
States have not failed. In their need they
have registered a mandate that they want direct, vigorous action. They have
asked for discipline and direction under leadership. They have made me the
present instrument of their wishes. In the spirit of the gift I will take it.
In this dedication of a nation we humbly ask the blessing of God. May He
protect each and every one of us! May He guide me in the days to come!

Letter to John McCain 1-20-09

John McCain, US Senator

241 Russell Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510

 

January 20, 2009

 

Dear Senator McCain:

 

Since this is Inauguration Day, it now seems a new era has dawned on Washington, and hopefully, the nation, I wanted to drop you a line and express my sentiments. Much has been discussed on the air, over the past week, regarding the upcoming, and hopefully, potential great legacy of our next president. Many people in the media have expressed the idea and thought that America has changed, and it has voted for a new direction. In part that is true.

 

Unfortunately, with a victory of approximately six percent there is little evidence that President Barack Obama has engendered a large national consensus or that the vote was even a philosophical one. Therefore, as a long-time political observer, activist, writer, part-time radio show host, (The Advocates –WVOX AM 1460, www.wvox.com ) and politically involved person, I believe that the true reason was the incredible unpopularity of George W. Bush and your failed campaign. George W. Bush should have been impeached twenty times over for complete incompetence and idiocy, but the Constitution limits any President to impeachment for high crimes and misdemeanors. The paradox of Bill Clinton lying about sex and the activities of George W. Bush regarding; Abu Ghraib, Gitmo, Katrina, the US Attorney firings, illegal wire tapping, lying about WMDs, cooking the books on Iraq, Walter Reed scandals, under-deployment of poorly armed troops, and a plethora of other indiscretions is laughable to any sane person.

 

As in 1933, when conditions were much worse, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt crushed the incumbent President Herbert Hoover. President Hoover was not the cause of the Crash or the ensuing Depression, but his inability to cope with the problems that grew exponentially were correctly and electorally placed at his doorstep. Of course Roosevelt did not have the burden of race, inexperience and youthfulness. In the case of George W. Bush, he did not directly create the conditions that caused our financial collapse and possible ruin as a nation, but he is more responsible for it than any other human in the country. As to the past election, you were obviously George Bush’s stand-in, and if Obama had been named John Smith Powell, was born to two Protestant parents, was five years older, and had served a full term in the US Senate, he may have also crushed you by a similar margin.

 

To Obama’s undying credit, he overcame all of his surface liabilities, including a middle name like Hussein, and really cruised to a well-deserved victory. One could also say that the collapse of the economy and your “strange” campaign and ineffectual debate performances, would have opened the door to any one else is probably true. Certainly your cynical and moronic choice of Sarah Palin for your running mate sealed your fate, and I and millions of others will be eternally grateful for your poor judgment and incredible faux pas. She was incompetent then, and is certainly incompetent now. Many, many millions of words have been written about her, and most have been true, but too kind. She is, in a sense, what is terribly wrong with certain parts of America and people like you who “carry water” for the flat-earth thinkers amongst our vast population. Thankfully most of these souls reside in the dwindling number of “red states.” Sarah Palin will be forgotten in a few short years, but unfortunately the tragic legacy of George W. Bush will be burned in our memories for decades to come.

 

I am much, much closer to your age then I am to President Obama’s and I voted and strongly supported Hillary Clinton in the New York State primary. I am sorry she lost her bid for the nomination, but in retrospect, President Obama can relate much better than Hillary to the vast majority of Americans. Can you in your wildest imagination believe that your victory would have engendered any excitement or hope? I can just imagine your losing the popular vote and squeezing in with a small Electoral College margin. The despair that would have befallen on this country would have been too great to imagine.

 

My sense is that you have spent too many years supporting George W. Bush, and the Karl Rove style politics that has ruined this country. British MP Leo Amery, an adamant foe of Neville Chamberlain, who during a debate in the Commons, on May 7, and 8, 1940, indicated, “enough was enough…”  He goes on to quote Oliver Cromwell, as he said to the Long Parliament when he thought it was no longer fit to conduct the affairs of the nation: “You have sat too long for any good you have been doing. Depart I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!” Therefore, in that same sense, you have sat too long and you should go into retirement with him now.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

Richard J. Garfunkel

 

 

The Advocates with Michael Cohen 1-14-09

 “The Advocates”

 With

Richard J. Garfunkel

 WVOX – AM Radio 1460- 12 Noon Wednesday

January 14, 2009

All archived Shows at:

http://advocates-wvox.com

 

Wednesday, January 14, 2009, at 12:00 Noon, I am hosting my show “The Advocates” on WVOX- 1460 AM, or you can listen to the program’s live streaming at www.wvox.com. One can call the show at 914-636-0110 to reach us on the radio.  Our guest today is Michael A. Cohen, author of Live From the Campaign Trail: The Greatest Political Speeches of the 20th Century and How They Shaped America. He was here last on October 22, 2008 talking about his book and the upcoming campaign.

Mr. Cohen will discuss the Bush legacy some of the new issues facing the country in 2009. The following are some of the questions that will be addressed:

·        As a person who has studied politics and the White House, what be the immediate and long-term legacy of George W. Bush’s presidency?

·        What will his defenders try to do to burnish his reputation?

·        How do you see Joe Biden’s public role differing from Dick Cheney?

·        What is your impression of Barack Obama’s cabinet, its strengths and weaknesses and what can we expect in the First Hundred Days?

Michael A. Cohen is a Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation where he co-helms the Privatization of Foreign Policy Initiative. Previously, Mr. Cohen has taught speechwriting and political rhetoric at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. He also served in the U.S. Department of State as chief speechwriter for U.S. Representative to the United Nations Bill Richardson and Undersecretary of State Stuart Eizenstat. He has worked at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Foreign Policy magazine, and as chief speechwriter for Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT).

He holds a bachelor’s degree in international relations from American University and a master’s degree from Columbia University. Mr. Cohen blogs regularly at democracy arsenal, and serves on the board of the National Security Network, which focuses on increasing grassroots involvement in foreign policy decision-making.

Meanwhile, the mission of the “Advocates” is to bring to the public differing views on current “public policy “issues. “Public policy,” therefore, is what we as a nation legally and traditionally follow. Over the years, the “public policy” of the United States has changed or has been modified greatly. As an example, “free public education” is the public policy of the United States.

 

One can find my essays on FDR and other subjects at http://www.richardjgarfunkel.com. One can also listen to all of the archived shows at: http://advocates-wvox.com. Next week I will be hosting Ms. Jill Alcott Baskin, specializes in environmental projects. One can see her website at www.alcottpartners.com/bio

FDR and Unemployment 1-10-09

FDR and Unemployment

1-10-09

Letter to the Lake County Bee Blog- www.record-bee.com

 

This article is typical of the claptrap that is promulgated by the apologists for the New Deal critics. In fact, unemployment went down every year in the FDR’s first two administrations. The unemployment by March of 1933 had reached almost 25% and another 25% were only working part time. We were in economic slippery slope that saw the closing of thousands of banks, breadlines, Hoovervilles, hobos riding the rails, Okies abandoning the dustbowl plagued farms, food commodity prices tanking and all sorts of other disasters created by the Harding-Coolidge bubble years, and the inaction and failed policies of Herbert Hoover. Only when the new Dixiecrats of the south, who controlled Congress by the late 1930’s and their conservative Wall Street GOP buddies and allies, pressured FDR on spending did we hit another severe economic bump. That cutback in spending, to create a balanced budget, caused a severe, but short recession that was quickly ended by priming the pump once again. In fact, if one took in to account employment through the WPA, and PWA, and not including the CCC, unemployment dropped to about 8%, not far different of what we experienced under Reagan. It is obvious to all, but a few troglodytes of the right that FDR saved America and thus capitalism. That is why he is written about in over 1000 books, of which the vast amount over 95% are quite favorable.

Speaking of reality in unemployment, in fact, according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 1981, Ronald Reagan's first year in office, the U.S. average unemployment rate stood at 7.6 percent. During Reagan's presidency, it reached a high of 9.7 percent, and had declined to a level of 5.5 percent when Reagan left office. The rate from when Reagan entered office through his last year declined by 2.1 points, far less than the eight-point drop for which Brooks credited Reagan. (Besides that obvious reality in November of 1981, ten months into the Reagan Administration, unemployment had risen to 8.5% and continued to rise to almost 10% through February of 1983.) When Reagan left, with 5.4% unemployment and a huge national debt, his successor failed completely. The low tax rates on the top brackets caused more deficits, and even the Bush popularity (95%) brought on by the swift victory in Gulf War I, couldn’t save his administration. He was beaten by an unknown governor from Arkansas and his vote total of 37% was on of the lowest by an incumbent in way over 100 years.

Remember, today government employs about 16% of our workforce as opposed to 4% in 1928, which also includes teachers. If one took into account the employment in our universities and colleges supported by their tax-exempt status and the huge defense spending that hires millions in related industries which depended on that part of the budget, unemployment would be very close to 16%.

Since 1928 there have been 13 presidents, 7 Republicans (Hoover, Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush Sr, and Bush Jr) and 6 Democrats (FDR, Truman, JFK, Johnson, Carter and Clinton).Six of the seven Republican Presidents had unemployment increase while in office.  Ronald Reagan is the only Republican President since 1928 to leave office with a lower unemployment rate. All six Democratic Presidents had unemployment decrease or stay the same while in office.  The worst Democratic performance was Jimmy Carter, who had the same unemployment rate when he left office as when he entered. Viewing the President's 4 year term gives an even more pronounced effect. Of the Republican President's 9 terms, unemployment has increased in 7 of the 9 terms. Of the Democratic President's 10 terms, the unemployment rate never increased. Also, according to the NY Times, OP-Ed, of October 14, 2008, written by Tommy McCall, a former editor of Money Magazine, in the 80 years since the election of Herbert Hoover, there have been 40 years each of Democratic and Republican administrations. If one invested $10,000 in the 40 years of the democratic presidents the return on that investment would have been$300,671. Conversely, if one invested that same $10, 000 in the 40 years of GOP rule, the return would have been $11,733. If you exclude out Hoover’s four years the return would have been $51,211.

Now, as in 1929, less people own more of America! In the midst of this incredible increase in executive compensation, Ronald Reagan’s administration lowered the highest tax brackets by more than 60% from 71% to 28% in 1986, while raising the bottom tax rate from 11 to 15%. In reality the Reagan Administration created two tax brackets. The poorest earners paid up to 15% and multi-millionaires paid a little more than double? Did this increase revenue to the Treasury? No! No wonder we experienced record deficits. Did it increase wealth to the wealthiest? Yes! Recent articles have debunked the “urban myth” promulgated by the flat-taxer’s and other anti-tax groups that tax cuts increase revenues. In fact, tax cuts without expense reductions create greater deficits. With that in mind, the Reagan years offered some of the biggest deficits, (tripling the National Debt), continued high unemployment, averaging over 7% in his tenure, and great private sector increases in wealth.

 

Therefore let us get on to problems at hand the country is in trouble, we have just experienced one of the worst and most incompetent presidents in history, and any one has to be better.

The New Deal was Not Socialist, but Saved Capitalism 1-10-09

An extract from Dan Fitzpatrick’s piece in http://thestreet.com/story/10456590/1/

Franklin D. Roosevelt enacted the same kind of “shovel ready” projects that Obama is now focusing on. It got FDR re-elected 3 times, so it makes sense to repeat a successful political strategy. Actually, FDR's last successful bid for re-election was more due to global conflict than the economy, which was actually made worse in 1938 by all of his “efforts” to help the economy. Oh, and if you look at those who were advising FDR — all quite brilliant people — it is a virtual “Who's Who” list of socialists who expressly disavowed capitalism and were advocates of “central planning” and government controlled business enterprises. Sound familiar? This is not my opinion; it is documented fact…and I wouldn't even debate anyone on it — I'd just refer them to the plethora of reference sources on the subject.

To Dan Fitzpatrick from Richard J. Garfunkel

 

Just read your piece and even though you regard yourself as a student of history, your understanding of the New Deal, (FDR) and what it accomplished seems quite skimpy and uninformed. Constantly I hear references from people like you that FDR was surrounded by “socialists.” But there is no indication of that. Berle, Tugwell and Moley, who the heart of the Brains Trust, were top-notch thinkers who were assigned the task of first stopping the collapse of our economic society, the potential panic and initiating the effort to turn around the economic “black hole” we were quickly descending into. Tugwell was very conversant in farm matters, and he was recruited by Moley who understood the Depression as originating with the steep decline of commodity prices in 1921. Though Tugwell proposed a more planned economic approach, both Berle and Moley thought that a “planned economy as incapable of contemporary explication of implementation.” Moley said that “business could plan for itself.” Certainly the Securities Acts of 1933, and 1934, which were crafted by Benjamin Cohen and Thomas Corcoran, were not from the hands and minds of socialists. In fact, the markets suffered in those days what we have just gone through, a period of speculation and greed, abated and assisted by administrations that were not interested in regulation, transparency and common sense. The 1920's, as chronicled in Arthur Schlesinger's masterful work, “The Crisis of the Old Order,” on FDR and the New Deal, revealed 50 years ago what had happened. In terms of history, if you and other revisionists think you can re-write that reality, you are dead wrong. The 1920's prosperity was built of the resurrection of the (pre 1914) railroad industry that was going broke over cut-throat capitalistic competition. The First WWI saved the railroads, which was one of our biggest employers. Throughout the war, and after, when Europe needed wheat and coal, the railroads and the country prospered. But by the mid 1920's that need ended, and markets didn't understand the new reality at all. The Coolidge Administration was always asleep at the switch and the Crash of 1929 was inevitable. Hoover's lack of direct action made the situation a lot worse and the problems of liquidity, high tariffs and government indifference led to the disaster of 1932 and 1933 that was facing the incoming FDR administration. To make a long, long story short, FDR saved capitalism, and the markets and the GNP grew substantially every year until the short, but ugly Recession of Sept. 1937 to April 1938, which was brought on by GOP and Southern Dixiecrat pressure on the Federal Reserve to tighten credit and to cut off spending by the New Deal. After the loss of 4 million jobs, FDR asked the Congress and the FED to prime the pump with massive spending the economic implosion was halted and reversed. In fact, we didn't spend enough!

 

The last eight years, authored by the incompetent and disastrous GW Bush has put us in an economic hole that is frightening. He did nothing about health care costs (17% of GDP) the educational black hole, the Enron collapse, the burgeoning war debt (unpaid for)the “derivative” and debt-swapping mess, and the lack of oversight. The tax cuts for the super rich, the lack of transparency, the excessive compensation and golden parachutes for the business moguls, the selling of our debt to China, our trade deficits, our dependence on foreign oil, our on-going no-end wars, our outflow of jobs to China through Walmart, our lack of domestic job creation and much, much more hallmarked the worst Presidency since James Buchanan. So your worries about Obama and his plans are typical and a hollow echo of the past. The free marketeers always want deregulation and then cry for bailouts when they are in trouble. Unfortunately by going along with these robber barons, we are forced to bail many of them out, or we will all sink. When is this country going to wake up to certain realities; one: we are not as rich as we think, two: we are way too leveraged on every level, personal, corporate and governmental, three: we need higher taxes on the rich to pay some bills and get our house in order? We also need a restructuring of entitlements, labor contracts and executive compensation. The working person should not shoulder all the costs brought on by the big speculators and the banks who allowed this colossal debt to grow. Get wise, the Depression was much worse than you newcomers have ever imagined. Start reading some history, not revisionist claptrap by Milton Freidman and Amity Schlaes.