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Fdr's Folly: How Roosevelt and His New Deal Prolonged the Great Depression Paperback – 15 Oct 2004
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A thought-provoking study of the Great Depression argues that Roosevelt's flawed economic policies had profound and dangerous impact on America and that the New Deal actually prolonged the hardship rather than provided a lasting solution. Reprint. 15,000 first printing.
From the Inside Flap
"Admirers of FDR credit his New Deal with restoring the American economy after the disastrous contraction of 1929--33. Truth to tell-as Powell demonstrates without a shadow of a doubt-the New Deal hampered recovery from the contraction, prolonged and added to unemployment, and set the stage for ever more intrusive and costly government. Powell's analysis is thoroughly documented, relying on an impressive variety of popular and academic literature both contemporary and historical."
-Milton Friedman, Nobel Laureate, Hoover Institution
"There is a critical and often forgotten difference between disaster and tragedy. Disasters happen to us all, no matter what we do. Tragedies are brought upon ourselves by hubris. The Depression of the 1930s would have been a brief disaster if it hadn't been for the national tragedy of the New Deal. Jim Powell has proven this."
-P.J. O'Rourke, author of "Parliament of Whores and "Eat the Rich
"The material laid out in this book desperately needs to be available to a much wider audience than the ranks of professional economists and economic historians, if policy confusion similar to the New Deal is to be avoided in the future."
-James M. Buchanan, Nobel Laureate, George Mason University
"I found Jim Powell's book fascinating. I think he has written an important story, one that definitely needs telling."
-Thomas Fleming, author of "The New Dealers' War
"Jim Powell is one tough-minded historian, willing to let the chips fall where they may. That's a rare quality these days, hence more valuable than ever. He lets the history do the talking."
-David Landes, Professor of History Emeritus, Harvard University
"Jim Powell drawstogether voluminous economic research on the effects of all of Roosevelt's major policies. Along the way, Powell gives fascinating thumbnail sketches of the major players. The result is a devastating indictment, compellingly told. Those who think that government intervention helped get the U.S. economy out of the depression should read this book."
-David R. Henderson, editor of "The Fortune Encyclopedia of Economics and author of "The Joy of Freedom
The Great Depression and the New Deal. For generations, the collective American consciousness has believed that the former ruined the country and the latter saved it. Endless praise has been heaped upon President Franklin Delano Roosevelt for masterfully reining in the Depression's destructive effects and propping up the
country on his New Deal platform. In fact, FDR has achieved mythical status in American history and is considered to be, along with Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln, one of the greatest presidents of all time. But would the Great Depression have been so catastrophic had the New Deal never been implemented?
In FDR's Folly, historian Jim Powell argues that it was in fact the New Deal itself, with its shortsighted programs, that deepened the Great Depression, swelled the federal government, and prevented the country from turning around quickly. You'll discover in alarming detail how FDR's federal programs hurt America more than helped it, with effects we still feel today, including:
- How Social Security actually increased unemployment
- How higher taxes undermined good businesses
- How new labor laws threw people out of work
- And much more
This groundbreaking book pulls back the shroud ofawe and the cloak of time enveloping FDR to prove convincingly how flawed his economic policies actually were, despite his good intentions and the astounding intellect of his circle of advisers. In today's turbulent domestic and global environment, eerily similar to that of the 1930s, it's more important than ever before to uncover and understand the truth of our history, lest we be doomed to repeat it.
"From the Hardcover edition.See all Product description
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All this is useful, because too often, especially in the mainstream media, we are fed a monotonous diet of New Deal propaganda.
On the other hand, the book does contain a serious flaw, in that it uncritically accepts the Milton Friedman monetarist view of the depression; namely that if only the Fed had been a bit more expansionary, all would have been well.
But how can a government agency creating new claims on goods and services without any corresponding production - in other words 'money out of thin air' - be of any assistance to economic growth? Not surprisingly, the author does not say.
So yes, by all means read this for an accessible discussion of the New Deal, but look elsewhere for some economic background to the 1929 depression.
Time and time again FDR and his arrogant underlings were driven by ideology to impose obstacles to the economic recovery of the country. In an era where unemployment was rife New Deal policies made it almost impossible for businesses to employ more staff. New Deal demagogues made it clear that businesses were the enemy and were then mystified as to why investment plummeted.
In an era of chronic banking weakness the New Dealers demonised the strongest banks and encouraged the smaller more precarious ones to continue as they were. With unemployment sky high the New Dealers introduced labor laws that strongly discouraged businesses from expanding. With food shortages widespread FDR's agriculture policies resulted in food being burnt rather than sold. With black unemployment especially high Roosevelt introduced laws enabling compulsory unionisation, with the unions free to block blacks from joining. Almost every New Deal policy had the result of prolonging and deepening the depression.
This was accompanied by some outrageously authoritarian tactics by the administration, for example jailing business people for violating the price fixing agreements that were brought in, in one case a dry cleaner was imprisoned for three months for the 'crime' of charging five cents less to clean a shirt than the price government had fixed. They really did believe that they had both the ability and the right to micromanage the economy in this manner.
Towards the end of the book Powell goes away from the purely factual accounts of the New Deal failure to speculate on what would have happened if it had not been for the New Deal, if FDR had not managed to diminish the world's greatest democracy so thoroughly could the rise of fascism and communism worldwide have been avoided? It is an interesting question.
As a quick note about the previous review of this book on the 10th of July 2007, the writer of that review has clearly not read this book and is simply advertising her political prejudices by pretending to have done so. Anyone who thinks that Powell is engaged in partisan point scoring has plainly not read the book as he is almost as devastating about Hoover's errors such as imposing tariffs and tax rises and his criticism elsewhere of other Republicans such as Theodore Roosevelt and George W. Bush are on record.
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Classes. The ramifications of government control are clearly evident. HURAH!