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

An extract from Dan Fitzpatrick’s piece in

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.


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