Posts Tagged ‘rhetorical optimism’

‘The Forgotten Man’ Demands Unfavorable Comparison Between Obama And FDR

February 18, 2010

From Wise and Frugal Government:

History Repeating Itself and Not in a Good Way

Do yourself a favor and get a copy of Amity Shlaes’ The Forgotten Man, A New History of the Great Depression. Barack Obama’s presidency and his economic policies are placed in context once you read Shlaes’ account of FDR and his policies. Written in 2007, there is no way Shlaes could have manipulated the similarities.

Consider this account of the Roosevelt Administration in 1937, four and a half years after the New Deal was introduced and the economy refused to budge. She refers to this time as “a depression within the Depression. “
“…the Economist would conclude…that the United States “seemed to have forgotten, for the moment, how to grow.”

Yet Washington was doing all the wrong things. Officials in the capital seemed arrogant, obsessed with numbers, and oblivious to the pain the nation was suffering. People were angry that Congress and the president had recently raised taxes. With business so hard, why make it harder?” (2)

Sound familiar? Shlaes continues with a story of the treasury secretary giving a speech before the Academy of Political Science during this time:
“There had been a national emergency in the past, the secretary told listeners. But now it no longer existed. The secretary then went on to conclude that the country must now “continue progress toward a balance of the federal budget.”

A member of the audience laughed out loud in shock. The remark seemed so much at odds with the painful reality of that November.

…Washington had already made thousands of efforts to help the economy, yet those efforts had not brought prosperity.” (3)

Policy is not where the similarities end. “Roosevelt offered rhetorical optimism, but pessimism underlay his policies. …Roosevelt cared little for constitutional niceties and believed they blocked progress. His remedies were on a greater scale and often inspired by socialist or fascist models abroad.” (6)

And finally: “The problem was their naivete about the economic value of Soviet-style or European-style collectivism–and the fact that they forced such collectivism upon their own country.” (7)
Arm yourself with historical fact. Read The Forgotten Man. For as Jefferson said, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”

Sure sounds familiar to me.

I mean, “rhetorical optimism” sounds a lot like “hope and change.”

The basic premise of Amity Schlaes’ The Forgotten Man is one shared by economist Robert Higgs, namely, that the paralyzing uncertainty over the FDR administration’s strategy actively discouraged business from investing or hiring as they struggled to respond to the government’s numerous and simultaneous counterproductive policies.

This is something that has been going on since Obama took office.

Some recent articles I’ve written on this area (all having numerous supporting resources):

Obama’s Backdoor Taxation And The Coming Consequences Of Obamanomics

Obama Bank Restructure Attacks Market, Terrifies Investors, Hamstrings Economy

VIA CNBC: ‘Many Firms Reluctant To Hire Because Of [Democrats’] Taxes, Rules’

Obama Job Summit Deliberately Snubs Primary Job Creators

Liberals Say Recession Behind Us While Small Businesses Go Belly Up

Obama Continues Rampant Dishonesty With Stimulus ‘Jobs ‘

Why Is American Unemployment Under Obama Rising Faster Than In Other Countries?

Even Liberals Realizing Obama Has Been Total Bust At Creating Jobs

China Alarmed By Obama’s Deficits, Shocking Irresponsibility

Miniumum Wage Increase Means Maximum Employment Decrease

Tax Increases on ‘Rich’ People Planned by Democrats Would Hit Over A Million Small Businesses

An important article for consideration is this one:

Obama Administration Admits It Will Leave Unemployment Higher Than It Found It

because it jives so well with what history told us about the result of FDR’s policies as told by his very own treasury secretary:

“We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. And I have just one interest, and if I am wrong… somebody else can have my job. I want to see this country prosperous. I want to see people get a job. I want to see people get enough to eat. We have never made good on our promises… I say after eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started… And an enormous debt to boot!” – Henry Morganthau, FDR’s Treasury Secretary, May 1939

In April 1939, for the record – a full six years and change after FDR assumed office – unemployment was still at 20.7%

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