Kenny's Reviews > The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression

The Forgotten Man by Amity Shlaes
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's review
Oct 10, 09

bookshelves: current-events
Read in October, 2009

It's amazing the lies we're told in the name of education. Like the myth of JFK, I was fed a fairytale about the Great Depression, FDR, and the nobility of collective action.

All these were lies. America is based upon individual, not collective, rights. In fact, the Bill of Rights are individual, not collective, rights, and the concomitant obligations are also individual. When the collectivists -- statists, in Mark Levin's words -- get their way, economies stagnate, employment shrinks, and millions suffer economic privation, and all we have to show for it are a few post offices and park trails.

Schlaes' book is indispensable and quite readable, giving inarguable evidence of the Socialist/Communist leanings of many of the prime movers during FDR's three terms. (After all, in the 20s, many of these same people traveled to the USSR to admire the "Socialist experiment" and came home and wrote books and newspaper articles lionizing Joseph Stalin, the world's second greatest butcher after Mao.) But history has revealed the folly of their collectivist notions, even if public education has not.

A couple of pertinent paragraphs from the Afterword:

"Along the way the New Deal created a lot of jobs -- millions. Those jobs did indeed cause significant business activity. Industrial production -- factory activity, basically -- came back to 1929 levels around the time of Roosevelt's reelection in 1936. All of these outcomes are taken as evidence of the success of spending. [Keynsian theory, thoroughly discredited by this book and history, still inexplicably holds sway in the Obama administration. kk:]

"But what really stands out when you step back from the 1930s picture is not how much the New Deal public works achieved. It is how little. Notwithstanding the largest peacetime appropriation in the history of the world [until now, with the Bush/Obama stimulus packages (kk):], the New Deal recovery remained incomplete right through the 1930s. From 1934 on -- the period when the spending ramped up -- monetary troubles remained. But they could not take all the blame for the Depression. The story of the mid-1930s is the story of a heroic economy struggling to recuperate but failing to do so because of perverse federal policy. The worst factor was Roosevelt's war on business. But one can also make the argument that lawmakers' preoccupation with public works got in the way of allowing productive businesses to expand and pull the rest forward.

"What was wrong with those public works jobs? Many created enduring structures . . . ut the public jobs did their work inefficiently. That was because they were scripted to serve political ends, not economic ones."

"Perverse federal policy." Sound familiar?

Lord help us learn from the past before it is too late.

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